The National Spherical Torus eXperiment Upgrade (NSTX-U) is an innovative magnetic fusion device constructed at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL). In 2016, because of the failure of the PF-1a upper divertor coil, which experienced a coolant blockage, the NSTX-U operation was suspended. A postmortem investigation indicated that an undetected gradual deterioration of coil inductance preceded the coolant blockage leading up to the operational suspension. The project team decided that all inner poiloidal field (PF) upper and lower coil pairs, denoted PF-1a, PF-1b, and PF-1c, shall be replaced with new coils of improved design and manufacture. The new prototype inner PF coils from four suppliers across the globe were evaluated at PPPL following a prototype technical evaluation procedure. Mechanical inspection and electrical testing were performed to qualify each supplier.

This paper discusses the details of the mechanical and electrical tests and measurements performed on the complete coils. The test results were used to assess quality of turn-to-turn and turn-to-ground insulations of the prototype coils. Two prototype coils were power tested at PPPL for five pulses to reach its rated current and maximum temperature following the completion of low-power electrical testing. During pulses, the conductors experience a near adiabatic temperature rise and hoop stress. Between pulses, cold water enters the inlet, and a cooling wave propagates through the coils as slugs of cold water heat up to the conductor temperature and then pass through the coil to the outlet. Results show that full power testing did not change coil electrical characteristics. Each prototype coil was then sectioned into two halves to permit examination of the internal insulation, conductor spacing, and vacuum pressure impregnation quality. The high-voltage breakdown test of sectioned coils was performed to evaluate turn and ground insulation breakdown voltage. The estimate for the production coils is based largely on the experience learned from the prototype coil program. The first production coil will be delivered to PPPL for testing by January 2020.