Source: SciTechDaily.com | ITER | June 15, 2021
Major milestone in US contribution to ITER.
After a decade of design and fabrication, General Atomics is ready to ship the first module of the Central Solenoid, the world’s most powerful magnet. It will become a central component of ITER, a machine that replicates the fusion power of the Sun. ITER is being built in southern France by 35 partner countries.
ITER’s mission is to prove energy from hydrogen fusion can be created and controlled on earth. Fusion energy is carbon-free, safe, and economic. The materials to power society with hydrogen fusion for millions of years are readily abundant.
Despite the challenges of Covid-19, ITER is almost 75 percent built. For the past 15 months, massive first-of-a-kind components have begun to arrive in France from three continents. When assembled together, they will make up the ITER Tokamak, a “sun on earth” to demonstrate fusion at industrial scale.
ITER is a collaboration of 35 partner countries: the European Union (plus the United Kingdom and Switzerland), China, India, Japan, Korea, Russia and the United States. Most of ITER’s funding is in the form of contributed components. This arrangement drives companies like General Atomics to expand their expertise in the futuristic technologies needed for fusion.
The Central Solenoid, the largest of ITER’s magnets, will be made up of six modules. It is one of the largest of the U.S. contributions to ITER.
Fully assembled, it will be 18 meters (59 feet) tall and 4.25 meters (14 feet) wide, and will weigh a thousand tons. It will induce a powerful current in the ITER plasma, helping to shape and control the fusion reaction during long pulses. It is sometimes called the “beating heart” of the ITER machine.
How powerful is the Central Solenoid? Its magnetic force is strong enough to lift an aircraft carrier 2 meters (6 feet) into the air. At its core, it will reach a magnetic field strength of 13 Tesla, about 280,000 times stronger than the earth’s magnetic field. The support structures for the Central Solenoid will have to withstand forces equal to twice the thrust of a space shuttle lift-off.
Earlier this year, General Atomics (GA) completed final testing of the first Central Solenoid module. This week it will be loaded onto a special heavy transport truck for shipment to Houston, where it will be placed on an ocean-going vessel for shipment to southern France.