CHENNAI: Amid the industrial sector facing a slump over the Covid crisis, Indian engineers and scientists have crossed a major milestone by completing the construction of an important component of the $25-billion International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) being built in Cadarache, southern France.
The component, weighing a whopping 650 tonne, will form the top lid of a cryostat equipment that will act as a giant cooler for the reactor. The flagging off ceremony of the component was held at Hazira port in Gujarat and was live streamed in social media.
India, which is among the seven countries funding the ITER programme, is manufacturing the cryostat with the help of L&T. Once completed, this will be the largest stainless-steel, high-vacuum pressure chamber in the world.
ITER is one of the most ambitious energy projects where in 35 nations are collaborating to build the world’s largest tokamak, a magnetic fusion device designed to prove the feasibility of nuclear fusion as a large-scale and carbon-free source of energy.
Anil Parab, executive vice-president and head of heavy engineering, L&T, told Express that initially the work had been stopped during the first lockdown and special permission was sought to complete the work. “We also faced shortages due to the logistics and availability of equipment,” he said. L&T has already delivered the base section and lower cylinder of the cryosat in July 2019 and upper cylinder in March 2020.
Now, the top lid sector is being shipped in nine parts and it will then be assembled in the workshop in France, said Parab. Stating that the project cost was Rs 1,350 crore, Parab said cryostat is like a giant refrigerator to provide cooling to the reactor and will keep temperatures under control. The first of the large structural-support elements — the 1,250-tonne cryostat base — has been positioned in place and the ITER’s massive first-of-a-kind magnets and other components are in final stages and already being shipped to France from other partner countries.
Fusion reaction, also known as thermo-nuclear reaction, involves fusing of lighter atoms to form a heavier atom. The reaction releases massive amount of energy. Fusion of hydrogen atoms powers the sun and