Air Liquide will be playing a key role in an international project known as ITER which is aiming to develop an experimental fusion reactor as a new source of energy.
Fusion for Energy (F4E), the organsation that manages Europe’s contribution to ITER, has signed a contract with Air Liquide for the supply of cryogenic equipment that will complete the largest centralised refrigeration system ever built.
To obtain the very powerful electromagnetic fields required to confine and stabilise nuclear fusion, it is necessary to use superconducting magnets that only work at extremely low temperatures. This temperature requirement is met through the cryogenic equipment supplied by Air Liquide, which is based on the properties of liquefied helium. Its temperature is just 4.5°C above the lowest possible temperature -273.15°C, better known as “absolute zero”.
In 2012, Air Liquide signed a contract with the ITER Organisation for the supply of three helium refrigerators with record combined cooling capacity. F4E is now entrusting Air Liquide with the responsibility of supplying a second set of additional cryogenic equipment, for a total amount of around 65 million euros. This equipment, which is key to the cryogenic installation of the ITER project, includes notably two refrigerators that will provide cooling power needed to run the helium refrigerators, facilitating the optimisation of the recovery of helium in the various functional modes of the Tokamak.
This state-of-the-art equipment will be jointly developed by the Air Liquide Engineering & Construction teams and Air Liquide advanced Business & Technologies. It will be installed and commissioned on the ITER site at Cadarache, in Saint-Paul-lez-Durance, near Marseille, in early 2016.