Authorisation to proceed with manufacturing of the world’s largest pulsed electromagnet is expected in May 2014 following development of “a firm basis” for the design, the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (Iter) organisation has said.
The solenoid-type electromagnet will be used to initiate and maintain the plasma current within the Iter, which is under construction in France, and will be located at the centre of the so-called ‘tokamak’, or magnetic confinement in which plasma is contained in a doughnut-shaped vacuum vessel.
Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the US is leading the development of the central solenoid, and a private company, San Diego-based General Atomics is building it and is involved in the design process.
The solenoid will weigh 1,000 metric tonnes and be about 18 metres tall. It will store about 5.5 gigajoules of energy. It will be composed of six stacked modules, each made of a superconducting wires wound into pancake-like layers.
An individual module weighs more than 110 metric tonnes and manufacturing will take 16 to 24 months per module.