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Far out east

-Sabina Griffith

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On 24-25 June, representatives of the ITER Organization visited the Chepetsky Mechanical Plant (CMP), in Glazov, Siberia, which belongs to the TVEL Corporation, and got acquainted with all the preparatory work to set up a production facility for mass production of superconductors for ITER. The IO delegates greatly appreciated all the work carried out at the Glazov's plant to transfer know-how from experimental level to commercialization and mass production. The plant is unique since it includes all manufacturing steps for the fabrication of the superconducting strands (both Nb3Sn and NbTi) from melting and casting of the alloys to the transformation of composite billets and the drawing down of fine-filament wires, as well as the related Quality Assurance and Quality Control procedures. During the visit, the ITER delegation verified that the CMP is getting ready to tackle the challenging requirements for the development of the strands. Mass production will start upon successful completion of the pre-qualification phase and process qualification. The SULTAN tests for the RF Conductor Performance Qualification Sample are currently foreseen to take place this autumn at CRPP in Switzerland.

According to the leader of the ITER delegation, Arnaud Devred, the CMP was the twelfth and last potential superconductors' supplier to be visited by the IO. "We were amazed with what we saw." Mr. Devred stressed in particular the professionalism of the staffing in place, the tight quality control procedures, the modern equipment and the extreme cleanliness of the production facilities, a striking example of relying on the available experience in the nuclear fission area of the plant to provide an excellent synergy for the production of superconducting wires. "It's a key element for the manufacture of superconductors and ensuring the quality of the strands."

Arnaud Devred singled out the crucial advantage of the close ties that the CMP has with developers of the superconductor's technology VNIINM (Bochvar Institute for Organic Materials, Moscow) "We were also very impressed by the fact that the CMP purchased a lot of new equipment customized for fabricating the ITER strands and that would be adequate for commercial application. In principle this will allow an advantage in terms of schedule due to the supply chain optimization," said Mr. Devred.

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