Europe has successfully delivered its final tank as part of its contribution to ITER’s Cryoplant, a research facility that was set up to demonstrate that a fusion reactor can produce ten times more energy than it consumes.
The successful delivery of the equipment on-site is considered an important milestone for F4E’s team of experts working in the fields of cryogenics and transport logistics. It has taken almost a year for all 11 tanks, from 5 countries, to reach the facility.
The ITER organisation is building an experimental reactor which is exploring the parameters of fusion. To obtain the very powerful electromagnetic fields required to confine and stabilise the fusion, it is necessary to use superconducting magnets that only function at extremely low temperatures.
The biggest fusion device will require a massive “refrigerator” to perform several tasks: firstly, it will have to cool down its magnets to -179 ° C so that they become superconductive, secondly, it will help the cryopumps to minimise any thermal losses in the cryostat, and thirdly, it is going to improve the thermal insulation of ITER’s massive vessel in order to create a vacuum.
ITER’s Helium (He) plant is estimated to handle approximately 24 T of He, which corresponds to the gas needed to fill up 14 million He balloons. The plant will consist of seven warm Gaseous Helium (GHe) tanks (7 x 360 m3); one Liquid Helium (LHe) storage tank with a capacity of 175 m3 at 4.5K (-268.5 °C), able to store up to 85% of the liquid gas the that plant will need, and two quench tanks.
The Cryoplant facility is now shaping up. It boasts a brand-new façade and the last layer of cladding is almost completed. The building is getting ready to house the equipment that has been delivered.