General Atomics to build superconducting magnets

General Atomics (GA) has been awarded a subcontract to produce seven superconducting magnets, six of them to be configured as the central solenoid for the ITER, an experimental facility that aims to demonstrate the feasibility of fusion energy for the commercial power grid.

The goal is to produce fusion power that is at least ten times greater than the external power delivered to heat the plasma.

The contract was awarded by UT-Battelle, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, home to the US ITER Project Office, and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science. ITER is now under construction in southern France as a joint project of the European Union, India, Japan, People's Republic of China, Russia, Republic of South Korea and the United States.

The central solenoid is a key system for ITER; it drives 15 million amperes of electrical current in the fusion plasma to help confine it. Each of the seven Central Solenoid modules GA is to fabricate will contain 6.5 kilometers of superconducting cable, will be four meters in diameter and two meters tall, and weigh 110 tons. The superconducting cable will be provided by Japan. The ITER Central Solenoid will be the world’s largest pulsed superconducting magnet.

For this project, GA will employ about 80 engineers and technicians in the San Diego area. Additionally, numerous subcontractors in the United States and Europe will participate.

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