The objective of the international project known as ITER is to develop an experimental reactor that will demonstrate the scientific and technical feasibility of fusion as a new source of energy. Fusion for Energy (F4E), the organization that manages Europe’s contribution to ITER, has signed a contract with Air Liquide for the supply of cryogenic equipment that will complete the largest centralized refrigeration system ever built.
To obtain the very powerful electromagnetic fields required to confine and stabilize nuclear fusion, it is necessary to use superconducting magnets that only work at extremely low temperatures. This temperature requirement is met through the cryogenic equipment supplied by Air Liquide, which is based on the properties of liquefied helium. Its temperature is just 4.5°C above the lowest possible temperature -273.15°C, better known as "absolute zero".
In 2012, Air Liquide signed a contract with the ITER Organization for the supply of three helium refrigerators with record combined cooling capacity. F4E is now entrusting Air Liquide with the responsibility of supplying a second set of additional cryogenic equipment, for a total amount of around 65 million euros. This equipment, which is key to the cryogenic installation of the ITER project, includes notably two refrigerators that will provide cooling power needed to run the helium refrigerators, facilitating the optimization of the recovery of helium in the various functional modes of the Tokamak*.
This state-of-the-art equipment will be jointly developed by the Air Liquide Engineering & Construction teams and Air Liquide advanced Business & Technologies. It will be installed and commissioned on the ITER site at Cadarache, in Saint-Paul-lez-Durance, near Marseille, in early 2016.
A 1:50-scale model of the ITER Tokamak, complete with lights indicating the major sub-systems, takes its place outside of the Council Chamber in January 2013, instantly becoming a point of interest for all visitors to ITER Headquarters.
Credit: © ITER Organization, www.iter.org/
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The Engineering and Construction activity (Global E&C Solutions) builds the Group’s production units – mainly air separation units (ASUs) and hydrogen production units – and provides plants for third-party clients.
Based at Cadarache (Saint-Paul-lez-Durance), in the South of France, this project centers around the Tokamak (toroidal magnetic confinement chamber). Using electromagnetic fields, this sophisticated scientific instrument will make it possible to generate plasma to create the conditions necessary for the controlled fusion of atoms. This fusion process generates little waste and eliminates the risk of a nuclear meltdown or “runaway” reaction. The process generates the same type of energy as the sun, which eventually will be recovered in the form of electrical energy. ITER will test the fundamental technologies to initiate the next stage, called "DEMO": a demonstration fusion reactor capable of producing energy for commercial purposes. The ITER Project brings together contributions from Europe, the United States, Russia, Japan, China, South Korea, and India.
Fusion for Energy (F4E) is the European Union’s organisation for Europe’s contribution to ITER. One of the main tasks of F4E is to work together with European industry, SMEs and research organisations to develop and provide a wide range of high technology components together with engineering, maintenance and support services for the ITER project. F4E supports fusion R&D initiatives through the Broader Approach Agreement signed with Japan and prepares for the construction of demonstration fusion reactors (DEMO). F4E was created by a decision of the Council of the European Union as an independent legal entity and was established in April 2007 for a period of 35 years. Its offices are in Barcelona, Spain.