The US ITER Project Office at Oak Ridge
National Laboratory competitively awarded a multi-year contract to General
Atomics to produce superconducting magnets for the central solenoid of ITER, an
experimental fusion facility that aims to demonstrate the feasibility of fusion
energy for the commercial power grid.
The central solenoid (CS) system is crucial
for the success of the ITER device, as it induces the majority of magnetic flux
change necessary to initiate the plasma, generate the plasma current, and
maintain this current during operation. The central solenoid contributes to
shaping the plasma and acts as a large transformer, driving plasma current.
The CS system is composed of six coil packs
that use a superconducting niobium-tin cable-in-conduit conductor, held
together by a massive pre-compression structure. Upon assembly, the CS will be
nearly 40 feet high and weigh more than 1000 tons, making it the world’s
largest pulsed superconducting magnet.
Nuclear fusion occurs naturally in stars,
like our sun. When hydrogen gets hot enough, the process of fusion occurs,
releasing energy. Fusion holds promise as a safe and abundant energy source.
ITER will allow scientists to explore the physics of a burning plasma at energy
densities close to that of a commercial power plant.
ITER is designed to produce 500 MW of fusion
power for over 400 sec. Inside the tokamak, plasma temperatures will reach over
100,000,000 C. The ITER machine will be the largest tokamak ever built.
Based in San Diego, General Atomics has a long history
of fusion innovation, including the Department of Energy DIIID National Fusion
Facility. DIIID is the nation’s largest magnetic confinement experiment and has
contributed to key physics findings relevant for the design and operation of
States is one of seven ITER members, along with the
People’s Republic of China,
the European Union, India, Japan, the Republic
of Korea, and the Russian Federation.
The ITER facility is currently under construction in France near Cadarache in