ITER reaches major construction milestone

June 3, 2020, 3:58PMNuclear News

The 1,250-ton cryostat base is positioned over the ITER tokamak pit for installation. The base is the heaviest lift of the tokamak assembly. Photo: ITER

ITER, the world’s largest international scientific collaboration, is beginning the assembly of the fusion reactor tokamak that will include 12 essential hardware systems provided by US ITER, which is managed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The first major machine element to be installed is the 1,250-ton base of the cryostat, which was placed into the tokamak assembly pit on May 26. ITER is located in southeastern France.

Details: The installation of the cryostat base was the culmination of a 10-year effort. Manufactured in segments by Larsen & Toubro at its factory in Hazira, India, it was assembled and welded on-site at ITER under the supervision of the Indian Domestic Agency. The elements for the base section were delivered to the ITER site in December 2015 and finalized in July 2019. Taking over from the Indian Domestic Agency, the ITER Organization then proceeded with preassembly work before moving the component into the assembly hall in April.

The cryostat itself, which measures 30 meters high and 30 meters in diameter, is considered one of the most crucial components of the ITER machine. It will act as a thermos, insulating the magnetic system at cryogenic temperature from the outside environment.

What’s next: The 12 hardware systems include superconductors for the toroidal field magnet system and ORNL-developed pellet injection technology for plasma fueling and performance. These components will help ITER achieve its mission to demonstrate a self-heated burning plasma and 500 megawatts of fusion power.

The 60-foot-tall central solenoid magnet, also fabricated under ORNL management, is considered the “heart” of ITER because it will initiate and drive the plasma current inside the tokamak. The first shipment of central solenoid modules will begin later this year, according to ORNL.

They said it: “The start of ITER tokamak assembly is a momentous milestone for the project and makes the fusion community—at Oak Ridge and around the world—excited for the future,” said Kathy McCarthy, director of the US ITER project.

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