Poloidal Field coils team wins 2022 first-of-a-kind component award

(L-R) Yuri Ilin, ITER Organization, Tatiana Bomfim, ATG; Fabrice Simon, ITER Organization, Monica Martinez, F4E, Pierre Gavouyere-Lasserre, F4E, Guillaume Aubry, ATG, at the ITER Organization End-of-Year event, receiving the 2022 first-of-a-kind component award. Cadarache, France, November 2022.

Those who have visited the PF coils factory on-site are left impressed with its size. It is comparable to three football pitches: approximately 300 m long, 45 m wide and 17 m high. And yet, due to the multiple manufacturing activities performed, it always looked full and cluttered with equipment. This is where some of massive ITER superconducting magnets are produced to ensure the shape and stability of the plasma, embracing the device from top to bottom. Given their size, ranging from 17 – 24 m in diameter, Europe decided to produce four of its five coils (PF2,3,4,5) on-site, while the smaller one, PF6, was produced in China with the involvement of European experts. Russia, is also involved in the fabrication of these magnets, having recently completed PF1 which is on its way to France.

What is striking in Europe’s case, beyond the size of these huge magnets, is the fact that this factory was set up from scratch and run by our F4E colleagues. They found themselves not only procuring these components, but on top on that, they had to drive forward their production. A team was transferred to Cadarache to set the wheels in motion, and eventually they increased in numbers and expertise to manage the fabrication of these one-of-a-kind components. Therefore, it should not as a surprise, although it did, that they were handed the ITER Organization 2022 First-of-a-kind component award for their work. The exceptional challenges they faced, and their achievements, received praise during the ceremony. Pierre Gavouyere-Lasserre, F4E PF coils Deputy-Project Manager, unaware of the surprise that was expecting them, went on stage to receive the award on behalf of all. “I may be alone on stage, but I represent all colleagues from F4E, ITER Organization, and external contractors who have been part of this extraordinary project. We are currently working on PF3, PF4 which will be the world’s largest superconducting magnets. Thank you all! You should all be proud of what we have achieved,” he said.

End winding for Europe's PF Coils
End of all winding activities for Europe’s Poloidal Field coils. Members of staff from F4E, ITER Organization, ASG Superconductors, CNIM, DALKIA, Apave celebrating the technical achievement, Poloidal Field coils factory, Cadarache, France, June 2022.

Alessandro Bonito-Oliva, F4E Magnets Programme Manager, took this opportunity to congratulate the team that has been the driving force behind this project. “At the start of the project we had to face several challenges and we were under a lot of pressure. To run a project with so many suppliers working simultaneously in the same workshop is not a trivial matter. We managed to turn this situation around by changing the way we were working. We moved towards an active project management style, creating a single team with our suppliers. We coordinated better amongst us and helped our suppliers to anticipate technical issues. By instilling reciprocal trust, we collaborated better together, and resolved any difficult situations. I’m proud of our collective achievement and its recognition because it should inspire, and encourage, other teams in F4E and ITER Organization. With the right approach and competences there is no limitation to what we can achieve.”

To learn more about the story behind the scenes and the role of our F4E colleagues involved in the PF coil magnets click here.

Cover Special Edition
The cover of our special edition reporting on the core team of the F4E colleagues delivering Europe’s Poloidal Field coils.

Any part of the ITER Tokamak and support systems can qualify for this award, and it can apply to any phase (design, manufacturing, installation). Its focus is on 2022 achievements, even if the work leading to this accomplishment may have taken many years. The PF coils were crowned winners due to a series of major 2022 achievements: the successful completion of a multi-year effort to fabricate all the Double Pancake (DP) windings for PF2, 3, 4, and 5, all of which are now completed.

Stacking of the final Double Pancake
Stacking of the final Double Pancake of ITER Poloidal Field coil 3, performed in Europe’s PF coils factory, Cadarache, France, December 2022.

As work is progressing, the stations where winding, joints and terminations were prepared have been completely dismantled. The final DP of Europe’s last coil, PF3, has been completed. And early next year, the impregnation stations of the DPs will also be dismantled.  Meanwhile, the final assembly of PF4, prior to cryogenic tests, is ongoing. Stay tuned for further developments from the PF coils factory. In the meantime, take a moment to celebrate this F4E achievement.