Massive Chinese fusion reactor parts end journey in France

SAINT-PAUL-LES-DURANCE, France, April 13 (Reuters) - Four massive parts for an international nuclear fusion project arrived in southern France on Friday after a four-month journey from their production site on the Yangtse river in China.

The four vapor suppression tanks, each weighing about 100 tonnes and measuring eight by nine meters, were delivered to the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) site in Saint-Paul-lez-Durance, French authorities said.

They will be used to build a prototype fusion reactor to generate electricity in a process similar to the nuclear fusion that powers the sun. The project is more than halfway towards the first test of its super-heated plasma by 2025 and first full-power fusion by 2035.

The ITER project is a cooperation between Europe, the United States, China, India, Japan, Russia and South Korea with an estimated cost of about 20 billion euros ($25 billion).

Member countries contribute the lion's share of the ITER budget my manufacturing components in their own factories and then shipping them to France where they are assembled.

Some of the 250 ultra-heavy components, which travel by sea, canal and road, are so large that France had to spend 110 million euros adapting roads to accommodate them.

The biggest components, some of which weigh nearly 600 tonnes, will be shipped to ITER in 2019-20. (Reporting by Jean-François Rosnoblet Writing by Geert De Clercq Editing by Alexander Smith)