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  • Cross-sector advocacy | The fusion knights

    Developing fusion as a usable energy source requires an all-hands-on-deck approach. At last week's ITER workshop, fusion advocacy organizations showed the role [...]

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  • Knowledge dissemination | ITER enters a shared-information era

    Workshop lays groundwork to provide vast amounts of ITER research and expertise to fusion companies. As ITER embarks on an ambitious initiative to accelerate th [...]

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  • Private Sector Workshop | "How can ITER help?"

    There are many ways to approach the harnessing of fusion energy: one is to optimize or simplify existing concepts; another is to exhume long-abandoned solut [...]

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  • Fusion codes and standards | "Consistency will accelerate global innovation"

    The development of commonly agreed codes and standards for fusion goes right to the heart of ITER's vision of collaboration, recognizing the exceptional dynamis [...]

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  • Industrial ecosystem | Suppliers see growing opportunities

    A diverse group of suppliers described their roles in a growing ecosystem around nuclear fusion and shared their vision of the future. The quest for fusion brin [...]

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Of Interest

See archived entries

Cryodistribution

Cold boxes 20 years in the making

Twenty years—that is how long it took to design, manufacture and deliver the cold valve boxes that regulate the flow of cryogens to the tokamak's vacuum system. Last week, as the first of the eight first-of-a-kind components was undergoing site acceptance testing, the ITER vacuum team organized a "pat on the back" moment to celebrate the completion of this unique conceptual and industrial adventure.

Robert Pearce (centre), Vacuum System Project Leader, gathers past and present actors of the 20-year cold valve box adventure for a ''pat in the back'' moment in the vacuum lab. (Click to view larger version...)
Robert Pearce (centre), Vacuum System Project Leader, gathers past and present actors of the 20-year cold valve box adventure for a ''pat in the back'' moment in the vacuum lab.
Procured by Europe, manufactured by Research Instruments (Germany) and its subcontractor Cryoworld (Netherlands), the eight cold valve boxes are 4-tonne components measuring more than 3 metres in height and approximately 2 metres in diameter. Each one is equipped with 25 cryogenic valves, relief systems, and pressure and temperature sensors that are specifically designed to operate under the harsh ITER environment. Located in the lower port cells, six boxes are destined for the torus cryopumps and two for the cryostat.

Cold valve boxes are massive components designed to operate within an exceptionally large temperature range under the harsh magnetic and neutronic environment of the ITER Tokamak. (Click to view larger version...)
Cold valve boxes are massive components designed to operate within an exceptionally large temperature range under the harsh magnetic and neutronic environment of the ITER Tokamak.
Preliminary design activities began in 2004 at the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), the procurement agreement was signed in 2017 with the European Domestic Agency Fusion for Energy, and a final design was achieved in 2020. Designing and manufacturing the complex components was particularly challenging, as they will be exposed to the intense magnetic field inside the machine and the high neutron flux from the fusion reaction. The cold valve boxes will operate within an exceptionally large temperature range: from 4K (minus 269 °C) when distributing supercritical helium to the cryopumps, to 200 °C when hot gas is blown into the boxes during the regeneration process.

The functional tests presently performed in the ITER vacuum lab will be followed by cold tests at liquid nitrogen temperature (80K, minus 196 °C). An installation is being prepared in the cryoplant to test at 4K.



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