Wired for fusion

Global metals giant Luvata has been awarded a contract to supply chromium-plated copper strand for the ITER experimental fusion reactor.

The contract was awarded by Fusion for Energy (F4E), the European Union organisation which is coordinating Europe’s contribution to the ITER project.

The chromium-plated copper strand will be used to build ITER’s toroidal field coils.

Due to the specific application, oxygen-free copper with a high residual resistivity ratio is required.

The contract with Fusion for Energy will see Luvata providing 13,000km of the copper strand required for the superconducting cables.

The powerful superconducting coils that will be built using the cables will drive a plasma of ions and electrons around the reactor core, enabling them to fuse together and, in the process, release vast amounts of energy and heat that can be used to generate carbon-free electricity.

Luvata’s superconductor strands were used at the heart of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, in Switzerland, the world’s largest highest-energy particle accelerator where scientists are trying to recreate the conditions that occurred immediately after the Big Bang.

Luvata also produces superconductor wire for more than a third of the world’s MRI scanners.

ITER, the world’s largest scientific partnership, aims to demonstrate the potential of fusion as an energy source, bringing together seven partners – the EU, Russia, Japan, China, India, South Korea and the US.

Most of the components that make up ITER will be contributed by the ITER partners in kind, by providing the components themselves, rather than contributing money.

The EU, as host partner for ITER, will contribute up to 50 per cent of the construction costs, and the other partners will each contribute up to 10 per cent.