MITICA Cryopump almost completed

Operators placing a pumping section in the MITICA Cryopump, France, October 2022. © SDMS

The neutral beam, one of ITER’s heating systems, will launch extremely energetic particles into the plasma so that it can reach 150 million °C. MITICA, a facility hosted by Consorzio RFX in Padua (Italy), is the neutral beam prototype that will allow experts to become more familiar with this kind of technology.

The cryopump is one of the MITICA main components which will provide the vacuum conditions needed for the experiment. After designing, prototyping and several qualification tasks, engineers are concluding its manufacturing.

The cryopump is composed of two pumping assemblies, each of them consisting of a frame with 32 pumping sections. Temperature sensors and other accessories are also included in the design. All these components have already been manufactured. Only the aluminium covers that are placed over the pumping sections, and electrical wirings that need to be welded to the sensors, are missing to complete the whole cryopump.

Amanda Rome, SDMS Project Manager, explained the background. “We have completed 16 months since the qualification of the first pumping section. The sustained rhythm of the SDMS teams and the good collaboration with F4E, RFX and ITER Organization, have allowed us to finish the manufacturing and testing of the 68 pumping sections in October. Beyond this important milestone, the left pumping assembly will soon be in factory acceptance tests and 30 out of 32 pumping sections are already installed on the right one.”

Operators welding the pumping sections
Operators welding the pumping sections to the connection manifolds, France, October 2022. © SDMS

Complying with the strict specifications has been one of the major challenges. The cryopump has components that will be at 4 K, while others will remain at 80 K. Avoiding any contact between them is crucial for the proper functioning of the device. The team is performing a demanding work on dimensional controls, paying attention to the tolerances of each component to ensure that they are evenly spaced apart.

“Thanks to the work performed by the original and current team of the project, we are close to the end of manufacturing and to the beginning of the Factory and Site Acceptance Tests,” explained Daniel Dupuy, following this contract on behalf of F4E. After the cryopump factory acceptance tests are completed, the equipment will be delivered to Consorzio RFX. Site acceptance tests are expected to start during the first quarter of 2023.