CHENNAI: The COVID-19 pandemic has failed to dampen the enthusiasm of Indian scientists and engineers who completed the top lid of the India-built cryostat for the $25 billion International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) in Cadarache in southern France.
India, which is among the seven elite countries funding the ITER, is manufacturing the cryostat with the help of Larsen and Toubro and this will be the largest stainless-steel, high-vacuum pressure chamber in the world.
The 650 metric tonnes top lid sector, which was flagged off on Tuesday from Hazira, Surat (Gujarat) will be delivered to the ITER site in southern France. The flag-off ceremony took place in the virtual presence of Dr Bernard Bigot, Director-General, ITER Global, K N Vyas, Chairman Atomic Energy Commission, UK Baruah, Project Director, ITER‐India, VK Saraswat, member, NITI Aayog, AM Naik, group Chairman, SN Subrahmanyan, CEO & MD, L&T, among others.
ITER is one of the most ambitious energy projects in the world, with 35 nations collaborating to build the world's largest tokamak, a magnetic fusion device that has been designed to prove the feasibility of fusion as a large-scale and carbon-free source of energy based on the same principle that powers the sun and stars.
Anil Parab, executive vice-president and head of heavy engineering, Larsen and Toubro, told The New Indian Express that initially work was stopped during the first lockdown till April 16 and special permission was sought to complete the work. "We also faced shortages due to the logistics and availability of equipment due to customs clearance. The prices of equipment had also gone up," he said.
L&T has already delivered the base section and lower cylinder in July 2019 and upper cylinder in March 2020 and the top lid sector will be shipped in nine parts and then be assembled in the workshop in France, said Parab.
Sating that the project cost Rs 1350 crore, Parab said the cryostat is like a giant refrigrator and will provide cooling to the reactor and keep temperatures under control.
The project scope is divided in three parts viz. manufacturing and shipping of all subassembly sectors from L&T Hazira, Gujarat, constructing of a temporary workshop at project site for assembling the cryostat to be supplied in sections and integrating the cryostat with the Tokamak Reactor building.
The first of the large structural support elements — the 1,250 ton cryostat base — has been positioned in place and ITER’s massive first-of-a-kind magnets and other components are in the final stages and already being shipped to France from China, Korea, Japan, Italy, India, Russia and the US.
The first 440-ton sector of the vacuum vessel, which will contain the fusion plasma at 150 million degrees Celsius (ten times hotter than the centre of the sun), was completed in Korea on April 20 and will arrive at ITER in July.
Factories around the world are finalizing the fabrication of many more components of unprecedented size and precision. In total, the ITER machine will be made up of more than one million components.
Energy from hydrogen fusion will be a monumental shift in the world’s economy and the planet’s environment as it changes to carbon-free fusion energy for baseload power.
1. ITER will use hydrogen fusion, controlled by superconducting magnets, to produce massive heat energy without emitting CO2.
2. 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.
3. The cryostat chamber houses the vacuum vessel and magnets in an ultra-cool, vacuum environment.
4. The cryostat allows passive removal of decay heat of vacuum vessel and in-vessel components by gas conduction and convection.
5. India has contributed $25 million hi-tech equipment for ITER, including thousand superconducting sextuple magnets.
6. More than 50 pieces are being manufactured by Larsen & Toubro at their industrial facilities in Hazira, India.