After driving through the night the commissioned extra-large truck pulls up in the early May dawn at the ASG facilities in La Spezia, Italy. The special delivery, a wooden square box with 5 metre dimensions, contains a large spool around which the eagerly anticipated dummy of a 760 metre long copper conductor is wound.
The dummy is a mock-up of the ITER conductors. These conductors will each be used in the magnets of the Toroidal Field (TF) coils to carry the electrical current of 68000 amps in order to produce the magnetic field which confines and holds the plasma in place in the ITER tokamak. In total, 19 superconducting conductor lengths, each measuring 760 metres long, and 8 conductors, each measuring 415 metres long, will eventually be produced. Although the final components will consist of superconducting materials, for now the dummy is made only of copper strands which have been plaited together (cabled) and inserted into a jacket in order to form a round conductor which has a diameter of 44 mm. Nonetheless, the dummy package weighs an impressive 13 tonnes and it is because of its large dimensions that it is only allowed to be transported during certain hours of the night after other traffic has been cleared.
The dummy has been manufactured for F4E by ICAS, an Italian consortium consisting of the Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (ENEA), CRIOTEC Impianti S.r.l. and TRATOS Cavi S.p.A. The next steps of the process will be undertaken by ASG, part of the Iberdrola consortium (which also includes Iberdrola and Elytt), F4E’s TF coil supplier and the company to which the dummy was delivered. The copper dummy length will be used for the commissioning of the TF coil winding line.
In recent months, two additional TF lengths made from superconducting strand have been manufactured, thus completing the Qualification phase (the testing phase which checks both tooling and procedures in manufacturing). These conductor lengths are expected to be shipped to La Spezia by the end of the summer.
On May 15, the fabrication of the first production TF conductor length was completed at CRIOTEC (see attached picture). This length is the first conductor which will be inserted into the ITER machine. In the coming two years, 26 additional TF lengths will be fabricated and supplied by ICAS.