ITER’s sixth Poloidal Field coil inserted in the Tokamak pit.

ITER’s sixth Poloidal Field coil, produced by Europe and China, inserted in the Tokamak pit, Cadarache, France, April 2021. ©ITER Organization

The first of the six ITER Poloidal Field (PF) coils has been lifted in order to be inserted in the Tokamak pit, the heart of ITER experiment. Transported by a crane that can safely carry a load of 750 tonnes, the 10 m magnet in diameter, weighing 350 tonnes, slowing crossed the vast Assembly Hall to be lowered into the pit. Eventually, once all the Toroidal Field (TF) coils are inserted, this PF coil will take its final position.

Under the supervision of ITER Organization (IO), which has the responsibility to assemble the biggest fusion device, a team of 50 people carefully executed this task. Operators, workers, health and safety officers, metrology specialists, site supervisors and engineers from the CNPE consortium (CNPE, CNI23, SWIP, ASIPP, Framatome) were involved in this important achievement. After having rehearsed every move, the operation was successfully rolled out on Wednesday 21 April.

Lift-off of the sixth ITER PF coil
Operation lift-off of the sixth ITER Poloidal Field coil, produced by Europe and China, moving from the Assembly Hall to the Tokamak pit, Cadarache, France, April 2021. ©ITER Organization

It took roughly 30 minutes to lift the component to 25 m and approximately 8 hours to conclude the entire operation with insertion. When the coil made it from the Assembly Hall into the pit, with fine and precise balancing, it landed safely on its temporary support structures.

The magnet, for which more than 130 people have been involved during the last eight years, results from the collaboration between Europe and China. The two parties worked side-by-side to manufacture this first-of-a-kind superconductive magnet, which will control the shape and stability of the ITER plasma. Its production took place in ASIPP (Institute of Plasma Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences), while the cold tests and final checks were performed by F4E, and its contractors, on-site at the Poloidal Fields coil factory built and run by Europe.

For Alessandro Bonito-Oliva, F4E Magnets Programme Manager, this was the first of Europe’s contribution in this domain to make it all the way. “It’s a milestone of symbolic importance for the parties involved in this magnet because it paves the way for the assembly and insertion of the rest of the ITER coils. In this particular case, the sixth Poloidal Field coil (PF6), is very special because it is the outcome of an international collaboration between Europe and China based on trust, mutual learning and underpinned by team spirit. While the coil was manufactured in China, under F4E’s supervision, the cold tests, and final checks of the magnet were carried out by F4E, with the support of European contractors in F4E’s PF coils factory. With regards to operation insertion, ITER Organization supervised the entire process, counting on the support of the CNPE consortium, to which China is a member. In a way, Europe delivered this coil and China helped to insert it. One can suggest that during the lifecycle of this component, the responsibilities of the two parties have always been linked.”