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Prestigious superconductor award for ITER's Arnaud Devred

-Sabina Griffith

Arnaud Devred, winner of the 2014 IEEE Award for Significant and Sustained Contributions in the field of Applied Superconductivity, has been head of the Superconductor Systems & Auxiliaries Section at ITER since 2007. (Click to view larger version...)
Arnaud Devred, winner of the 2014 IEEE Award for Significant and Sustained Contributions in the field of Applied Superconductivity, has been head of the Superconductor Systems & Auxiliaries Section at ITER since 2007.
Arnaud Devred, head of the ITER Superconductor Systems & Auxiliaries Section, has been selected to receive this year's Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers IEEE Award for Significant and Sustained Contributions in the field of Applied Superconductivity for his "many and significant contributions to the field of large scale applications."

The award recognizes researchers and technologists who have made "contributions in the field of applied superconductivity over a period of time of more than twenty years based on novel and innovative concepts proposed by the individual, the authorship or co-authorship of a number of publications of significance in the field of applied superconductivity and the presentation of a number of plenary and invited talks at major national and international conferences and meetings in applied superconductivity, including the Applied Superconductivity Conference," it says in the recipient's letter signed by Martin Nisenoff, chair of the Awards Committee.

Previous recipients in the field of large-scale applications of superconductivity include: Henri Desportes, the late Hironi Hirabayashi, Yukikazu Iwasa, Peter Komarek, Daniel Leroy, Alfred D. McInturff, Joseph V. Minervini, D. Bruce Montgomery, Romeo Perin, the late John Purcell, Lucio Rossi, William B. Sampson, the late John Stekly, Herman H. J. ten Kate, Alvin Tollestrup, Bernard Turck, Martin N. Wilson and Akira Yamamoto.

Throughout his carrier, Arnaud worked for large international projects—some successful, like the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, some less successful, like the Superconducting Super Collider (SSC) where he started his career in the project's Central Design Group based in Berkeley, California, US. Despite its cancellation, the SSC experience permitted him to meet Maury Tigner and John Peoples, "two remarkable physicists who became my mentors and inspiration," Arnaud recalls.

On 1 August 2007 Arnaud joined the ITER Organization, taking over a job which has been "the most challenging in his life." Looking back over the past seven years he recalls many crises, but "most of them were eventually resolved at the technical level, through sometimes long and protracted negotiations with the Domestic Agencies and/or with the help of external experts."

A particularly difficult problem arose when the team observed electromagnetic and thermal cycling degradation on early conductor samples for the central solenoid, which led to a crash program supported by extensive analyses and frontier imaging techniques. "The program was successful and a straightforward industrialization solution was found and implemented that will ensure stable performance of the central solenoid coil with a suitable operating margin."

Another challenge for Arnaud and his team was the fact that in the pre-ITER world, the production of superconducting niobium-tin (Nb3Sn) strands was only 15 tons/year approximately, while ITER's magnets would require ~650 tons. The ITER Organization oversaw a ramp-up of world production to 100 tons/year over the last four years and the successful entry into the market of three new suppliers in China, Korea and Russia. Conductor production is now well underway: Nb3Sn strand production for the toroidal field coils (~500 tons) is nearly finished, toroidal field conductor production is two-thirds complete and all other production is in the series phase. In total, more than 100 conductor unit lengths have been completed, well ahead of coil winding, thereby requiring the setup of dedicated storage facilities.

"I would like to share this prize with my colleagues here at the ITER Organization and in the Domestic Agencies, as I believe it is our collaborative work that is rewarded with this prize. In my understanding, it is a recognition that—in spite of all the ITER constraints and difficulties—there is always a way to move forward and succeed."

The prestigious award—a medallion made of niobium—will be presented to Arnaud in a special ceremony on 10 August during the Applied Superconductivity Conference held in Charlotte, North Carolina, US.  



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