ITER is the world’s largest fusion experiment with 35 nations collaborating to build and operate a potential source of safe, non-carbon emitting and virtually limitless energy based on fusion reactions as they happen in the center of our sun. ITER is currently under construction in southern France.
Responsible for providing Europe’s contribution to ITER, Fusion for Energy (F4E) now contracted RI with the design and production of the cryogenic distribution system for the ITER torus, and the cryostat cryogenic pumps. The vacuum system for ITER contains several large cryogenic pumps which need to be supplied with liquid helium via cryogenic valve boxes. The cryogenic pumps have a diameter of 1.5 m and a length of 3 m. Already the production of a prototype cryogenic pump was performed by RI in a consortium with Alsyom within an earlier contract received from F4E between 2012 and 2017. The valve boxes now contracted have a diameter of about 2 m and contain around 15 cryogenic valves each.
The valve boxes are positioned in a hard neutron flux environment and are rated as safety important components. This requires high quality standards in welding and special material choice during production. RI has won the design of those valve boxes starting from a principal design done by ITER. The detailed mechanical and functional design of those valve boxes will be done within the first 18 months of the project in close collaboration with F4E/ITER. After approval of the design, the manufacturing of 8 valve boxes is foreseen within a 2 years period. In addition to this, the contract also contains the design and production of a so-called warm regeneration box needed to warm up the cryogenic pumps for regeneration with warm helium gas through the valve boxes. This needed periodic warm up leads to a complicated design of the valve boxes and explains the large number of necessary cryogenic valves.