Europe delivers to ITER Neutral Beam Test Facility the most powerful beam source to date

Representatives of F4E, Thales and RFX posing in front of the SPIDER beam source (©Thales_All rights reserved)

Representatives of F4E, Thales and RFX posing in front of the SPIDER beam source

The recent delivery of Europe’s beam source to the SPIDER experiment (Source for Production of Ion of Deuterium Extracted from Radio Frequency plasma), one of the test beds of ITER’s heating systems, has been an important achievement for F4E, the ITER Organization, Consorzio RFX and the companies involved. During the first half of 2018 the temperatures in the vast hall where the equipment is being installed will rise because operations will kick-off and a new chapter for the NBTF (Neutral Beam Test Facility) will open.

SPIDER will help engineers to finalise the development of the ion sources required for the ITER Neutral Beam Injectors (NBI), and to test the essential aspects of the diagnostic neutral beam accelerator. This is the first full-scale ITER ion source, capable of running pulses of up to 3 600 seconds at maximum power with hydrogen or deuterium. The 6 MW generated by this beam source in one hour are equivalent to the energy required by roughly 1 000 medium apartments in one day. As a matter of comparison, it is twice as big as the largest existing beam source, ELISE, operating at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics, Garching.

A European consortium consisting of Thales, CECOM Srl, Galvano-T GmbH, and E.Zanon SpA has been responsible for the manufacturing of the equipment, which started almost four and a half years ago, for value of 10 million EUR approximately, which also includes the costs for the fabrication of the vacuum vessel and handling tool. The SPIDER beam source, weighing about 5 tonnes and measuring 3 x 3 x 2 m, will be installed inside its vacuum vessel with the help of a sophisticated handling tool. Both have already been delivered and were part of the same contract.

A section of the SPIDER beam source vacuum vessel arriving at the ITER Neutral Beam Test Facility, Consorzio RFX, Padua, Italy

Antonio Masiello, F4E’s Technical Officer for this contract, explains that “the fact that such a beam source is a first-of-a-kind and that many of the sub-assemblies had never been manufactured before, represent a challenge in itself. It’s an R&D equipment requiring an exceptional effort in terms of project management to deal with the large number of parts counting 2 000 in total, and in particular to guarantee that they will all fit together during the final assembly. During the various phases of the project, a lot of planning was required involving more than 30 companies from all over Europe counting on the contribution of at least 50 professionals”

Charles-Antoine Goffin – DefSI and Transformation Director of Thales, confirms that “Thales is very proud to have delivered the SPIDER beam source to F4E. We are proud to be part of this first step towards the development of ITER’s heating systems. The finalisation of SPIDER has only been possible thanks to the very high competency and motivation of the teams, because in such “state of the art” project, one never knows what difficulties may emerge. Thales is very thankful to its partners Galvano-T, Cecom and Zanon and to F4E, RFX and ITER Organization for the great collaborative spirit making SPIDER a success”

Tullio Bonicelli, Head of F4E’s Neutral Beam, Electron Cyclotron and Power Supplies Systems, is looking forward to the year ahead because SPIDER will start performing its first tests. “We have come a long way” he explains. “For all of us involved in the NBTF facility from the start, witnessing its progress by seeing companies collaborating, designing, manufacturing and eventually installing the equipment, has been the most gratifying part of this R&D journey. It has been a collective achievement for all the parties that worked hard to get here. Thanks to this infrastructure we will be able to take our next step in developing ITER’s powerful heating systems” he said.

The SPIDER beam source delivered to the ITER Neutral Beam Test Facility, RFX Consorzio, Padua, Italy ( copyright Thales_all rights reserved)