The European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) and the Brazilian
government, this past June 5th, set the terms of an agreement in the
field of nuclear fusion research that should be signed in the next
Brazil-European Union Summit, due October in Stockholm.
"Brazil interests us because it is a very important member country from the technical, technological, scientific and political points of view," said today the director of Euratom, Octavio Quintana, during a press conference in the Brazilian capital, Brasília.
The aim of nuclear fusion research is to find a faster and more effective way of solving energy scarcity worldwide and replacing fossil fuels.
"It is as if a water tub and a lithium battery were capable of producing enough energy to supply a family of four during 30 years," said Quintana, underscoring the importance of clean energy generation.
Instead of splitting atoms, which is what present day nuclear plants do, using the process of nuclear fission, research on nuclear fusion sets out to emulate the reactions of the sun, by fusing the atomic nuclei.
"The agreement with Euratom is an important step forward in negotiations for Brazil to join the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER)," a project for generating clean and cheap energy, stated the director of the Department of Scientific and Technological Affairst of the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Relations, Hadil da Rocha Vianna.
In addition to the European Union, the ITER project includes the United States, China, South Korea, India, Japan and Russia.
According to Vianna, the cooperation agreement between Brazil and the Euratom was negotiated over the course of seven months and provides for exchange of scientific and technical information, exchange of scientists and engineers, promotion of seminars, and conduction of studies and projects.
Brazil already has two small nuclear fusion machines ”“ one in the University of São Paulo and the other in the National Institute for Space Research (Inpe), in the city of São José dos Campos, in the interior of the state of São Paulo.
However, in order to become a member of the ITER project, which aims to build a large nuclear fusion reactor in Cadarache, in southern France, Brazil must build a domestic nuclear fusion laboratory, acknowledged the president of the National Commission for Nuclear Energy, Odair Dias Gonçalves.
With an estimated cost of 10 million Brazilian reais (US$ 5.1 million), the laboratory should be established still this year in the city of Cachoeira Paulista, approximately 200 kilometers away from the state capital São Paulo, and should begin operating within a year and a half.
Gonçalves underscored that Brazil is one of a few countries in the world that are not currently experiencing an energy crisis, but that the country will need a more diversified energy matrix from 2040 onwards.
"The next step, therefore, is greater investment in the Brazilian nuclear matrix," said Odair Gonçalves.