Two of the biggest tanks that will form part of ITER’s cryoplant have been manufactured. The massive pieces of equipment, produced by Air Liquide and their subcontractor Chart Ferox, measure 35 m x 4.5 m each and will require an exceptional convoy to be transported from the port of Marseille, Fos-sur-Mer, to the ITER construction site, Cadarache. The different pieces of the biggest cryoplant in the world are coming together at galloping pace.
F4E and ITER International Organization (IO) have been closely supervising the manufacturing process of the two tanks, which started in August last year and has been finalised this spring. The ITER machine will use powerful superconducting magnets to entrap the hot plasma which is expected to reach 150 million ˚C. For this to happen cold helium will have to circulate inside the magnets to bring their temperature down to -269 ˚C. However, from time to time the magnets might experience a so-called quench. Basically, they will stop being superconducting, start becoming resistant and their temperature will momentarily rise by 50 ˚C. Consequently, it will no longer be possible to confine the plasma. As the temperature rises, the helium circulating through the cryogenic system will start to expand and will need to be extracted from the machine. This is where the two massive tanks, known as quench tanks, come to play. When this phenomenon occurs the gas will be directed to these tanks, where it will be captured and be stored at -196 ˚C.
The two pieces of equipment are key to the operation of the cryogenic system of the biggest fusion device and this achievement results from the smooth collaboration between F4E, its suppliers and ITER IO. To read more about the contract signed between F4E and Air Liquide click here.