We traveled to the ASG facilites in La Spezia, Italy, to follow the progress of the TF coils and speak to the key technical people involved in the supervision of this complex component.
Alessandro Bonito-Oliva, F4E’s Project Manager for Magnets, explained the purpose TF coils serve in the machine. The temperature of ITER’s superhot plasma is expected to reach 150 million degrees Celsius. The challenge is to keep the plasma burning without touching the walls of the reactor’s vessel. The TF coils are “D” shaped gigantic superconducting magnets whose main task will be to create a magnetic cage where plasma will be confined. Europe is responsible for the manufacturing of 10 out of the 18 TF coils of the machine. The different steps involved in the production process were highlighted like the winding and bending tooling. The degree of precision underpinning these operations was particularly emphasized.
Jordi Cornella, TF Coils Technical Officer, guided us through the four different insulation layers of the conductor and offered us the possibility to capture an entire sequence of insulation as the trolleys worked in full speed. At the time, more than 450 metres of conductor had been wrapped for the Double Pancake prototype.
Marc Cornelis, TF Coils Technical Officer, invited us to take a peek inside the laser welding station, where three laser robots operated simultaneously on the cover plate of the first ever Double Pancake prototype. Laser welding has been chosen because of its low process input causing minimal deformation on the surface of the component. The synchronised manner the three robots operate offer some great viewing.