CHENNAI: India’s contribution to the $25 billion International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) will be unveiled to the world on Tuesday, when the India-built cryostat base – one of the largest stainless steel vacuum chambers ever built – and lower cylinder is fabricated in southern France, according to an ITER spokesperson.
With this fabrication, the project, proving that nuclear fusion can produce power sustainably on commercial scale, will be 65 per cent complete. Sun’s energy, which comes to earth in the form of light and heat, is produced by fusion. This project is aimed at using the same technique to produce safe, abundant and environmentally responsible energy, unlike energy generated through nuclear fission.
The event, held at Saint-Paul-les-Durance, will be attended by Anil Kakodkar, former Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission of India. Former ‘Bhavini’ director Perumal Chellapandi, an active collaborator with CEA, France on ITER, says the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research in Chennai played a key role in material development and engineering design review of the project.
Manufactured by India, the ITER cryostat is 16,000 cubic meters. The cryostat is almost 30 meters in both diameter and height and weighs 3,850 tons. “The fabrication of this component has been an unprecedented engineering challenge and achievement in terms of both its massive size and its intricate specifications,” says Dr Bernard Bigot, Director-General of ITER, in a statement.
ITER will use hydrogen fusion, controlled by superconducting magnets, to produce massive heat energy without emitting CO2. The magnets, the largest in the world, control and shape the hydrogen plasma—where the hydrogen nuclei are heated and fused at 150 million degrees. The cryostat chamber houses the vacuum vessel and magnets in an ultra-cool, vacuum environment. Cryostat allows passive removal of decay heat of vacuum vessel and in-vessel components by gas conduction and convection.
Considered to be one of the most important and critical systems in the ITER project, Cryostat envelops the entire basic systems of the reactor, in which the plasma is contained in a doughnut-shaped vacuum vessel.
The fuel—a mixture of Deuterium and Tritium, two isotopes of Hydrogen—is heated to temperatures in excess of 150 million Celsius.
The object of ITER is to produce a sustained fusion reaction, one that generates 500 MW for up to 1000 seconds. In comparison, the last major international fusion project, the Joint European Torus, produced about 16 MW for less than a second