After "decades of quiet progress" international scientists have taken a major step in their quest to harness nuclear fusion to generate cheap and clean electricity.
Seven countries have signed an agreement in Brussels to launch the largest fusion-energy experiment ever conducted.
The collaboration paves the way for the construction of a multibillion dollar International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) in southern France.
The US, China, the European Union, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea and the Russian Federation are joint sponsors of the project, which will experimentally generate up to 500 million watts of energy.
An international collective of physicists and engineers is working to complement and lend expertise to the ITER initiative, and researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison are firmly placed among them.
"[ITER] is a major threshold that we've been waiting to get to for 20 years, " said Raymond Fonck, a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor of engineering physics and the chief scientist of ITER's US project office.
"The project is the number one priority in fusion research in the country and the world, and essentially takes us to a regime we've never been to before."
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