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  • Fuelling fusion | The magic cocktail of deuterium and tritium

    Nuclear fusion in stars is easy: it just happens, because the immense gravity of a star easily overcomes the resistance of nuclei to come together and fuse. [...]

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  • 360° image of the week | The cryoplant

    Cryogenics play a central role in the ITER Tokamak: the machine's superconducting magnets (10,000 tonnes in total), the vacuum pumps, thermal shields and so [...]

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  • Central solenoid assembly | First sequences underway

    What does it take to assemble the magnet at the heart of ITER? Heavy lifting, unerring accuracy, and a human touch. The central solenoid will be assembled from [...]

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  • Assembly | The eyes of ITER

    Supervisors ensure compliance and completion as machine and plant assembly forges ahead. In Greek mythology, Argus was considered an ideal guardian because his [...]

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  • Component repairs | Removing, displacing and disassembling

    A good repair job starts with a cleared workbench, the right tools on hand and a strong vise. This axiom, true for odd jobs in a home workshop, is also true for [...]

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Of Interest

See archived entries

How to store the fusion fuel

 (Click to view larger version...)
A two-day bilateral meeting between representatives of ITER's Fuel Cycle Division and ITER Korea was held in Daejeon, Korea this week to review the requirements to design the storage and delivery system within the Tritium Plant and fuel cycle. The main purpose of this meeting was to compare the merits and demerits of zirconium cobalt (ZrCo) as the hydride material to those of depleted uranium.

Hydrides are materials—metals in this case—that have the capability of chemically absorbing hydrogen (and its isotopes deuterium and tritium) into their metal lattice structure, thereby acting as a very effective pump at room temperature. Metal hydrides typically store hydrogen at densities higher than in liquid hydrogen. In order to recover the hydrogen (or the deuterium tritium fuel) these metal hydrides must be heated, making them a very safe way to store and deliver tritium and therefore will be used for storage instead of tanks which store hydrogen as a gas.

Since the beginning of the engineering activities for ITER in the 1990s the question of the most suitable metal hydride material is controversially discussed among the experts. During the bilateral meeting, the Korean and ITER teams discussed the pro's and con's for the two candidate materials, weighting criteria such as complexity of the components and system design, schedule, costs and additional need for R&D, giving highest priority to safety aspects.

The meeting concluded with a unanimous preference for depleted uranium. Now it is time to come to a decision about the material that should be used as hydride in ITER.


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