General Atomics Fabricates the World’s Largest Superconducting Electromagnet
Operations underway for a new global clean-energy program
San Diego – April 10, 2015 – General Atomics (GA) has launched operations to fabricate the ITER Central Solenoid, a 1,000-ton superconducting electromagnet designed to initiate and drive a hot plasma for fusion energy. The Central Solenoid will be among the most powerful magnets ever built with each of the six modules containing the equivalent energy of 1,000 cars racing 100 MPH.
ITER is an international nuclear fusion research megaproject to design and build the world’s largest experimental tokamak fusion reactor. The project involves 35 nations in collaboraton to demonstrate the viability of fusion energy. With construction underway in France, fusion energy is closer than ever to reality.
GA, a California-based technology innovation firm, has been a world leader in fusion research for more than half a century and opened its doors today to spotlight progress in fabrication of the ITER Central Solenoid.
Fabrication will require unprecedented engineering and scientific advancements to assemble the technology into a new clean energy source. A fusion reactor will harness the power of the Sun on Earth, offering virtually unlimited carbon-free power.
U.S. participation in the international ITER project is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science, Fusion Energy Sciences.
“The central solenoid represents the heartbeat of ITER, because it pulses the magnets that drive
electric current through the Tokamak plasma. General Atomics’ contributions are critical for the
success of the project,” said Ned Sauthoff, U.S. ITER Project Director.
At today’s event at GA’s Magnet Technologies Center in Poway, Calif., the audience witnessed
the massive precision machinery in full operation, winding 4 miles of metal conductor into
coiled layers for 250,000 pound magnet modules. GA will fabricate 7 modules, with 6
composing the central solenoid and one in reserve as a spare. Fabrication consists of 10 custom
manufacturing stations for the superconducting magnet that include a 200-ton capacity air-driven transport cart, a 1200°F two-story convection oven, and a two-story insulating machine to apply 125 miles of fiberglass tape.
Fusion energy is being pursued on a global scale because of its potential to provide a safe,
carbon-free energy source for centuries without long-term waste. A fusion power plant could use only 5 kilograms of hydrogen to generate the energy equivalent of 18,750 tons of coal, 56,000 barrels of oil or 755 acres of solar panels.
Central Solenoid technical information:
Height: 18 meters | 59 feet
Diameter: 4.13 meters | 13.5 feet
Total weight: 1,000 tons (6 operating modules and support structure)
Peak field strength: 13.1 Tesla
Stored energy capacity: 5.5 gigajoules (powerful enough to lift the carrier USS Gerald Ford)
Operating voltage: 14 kilovolts
Operating current: 45 kA
Superconducting cable jacket material: stainless steel and Niobium-tin (Nb3Sn)
Length of superconductor: 7 x 6000 meters = 42 km | 25 miles
About General Atomics
General Atomics and its affiliated companies constitute one of the world’s leading resources for
high-technology systems ranging from the nuclear fuel cycle to electromagnetic systems,
remotely operated surveillance aircraft, airborne sensors, and advanced electronic, wireless and
laser technologies. For more information, please visit www.ga.com.
About U.S. ITER
U.S. participation in ITER is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science
(Fusion Energy Sciences) and managed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, with
contributions by partner labs Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory and Savannah River
National Laboratory. For more information, see usiter.org. ORNL is supported by the DOE
Office of Science. The Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the
physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing
challenges of our time. For more information, see science.energy.gov.
For more information contact:
General Atomics | Energy and Advanced Concepts Group