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Completion of Superconducting Strand Manufacturing for ITER

On March 13th, 2017, the Chinese Domestic Agency (CN-DA) of ITER held a ceremony to mark the ending of the superconducting strand manufacturing in Western Superconducting Technologies Co., Ltd. in Xi‘an. Luo Delong, Deputy Director-General of CN-DA, Su Junliang, Deputy Head of Xi’an Economic and Technological Development Zone, Arnaud Devred, Head of the Superconductor Systems and Auxiliaries Section of the ITER Organization and representatives of relevant domestic organizations attended the ceremony.

The international thermonuclear fusion experimental reactor (ITER) project is one of the largest international cooperation projects in the world. It is the first time for China to participate in an international program as an equal and full member. Participation in the ITER project reflects China‘s commitment to addressing energy issues in the future. Participation in the construction and operation of ITER devices could enable China to have access to research outcomes of magnetic confinement fusion, and promote the technological development of related fields in China.

Superconducting strands are divided into Nb3Sn strand and NbTi strand. Nb3Sn strand is adopted for ITER toroidal field conductor and central solenoid conductor, and NbTi strand is used for poloidal field conductor. Nb3Sn and NbTi are basic materials that enter the superconducting state at the liquid helium temperature of (about 4.2K). The ITER device form very strong magnetic cage, confining high-temperature plasma.

China’s conductor procurement package requires a total of 174 tons of NbTi strands and 35 tons of Nb3Sn strands, all manufactured by Western Superconducting Technologies Co., Ltd. After years of effort, the superconducting strand manufacturing technology passed the certification of the ITER Organization in 2010. Through participation in the ITER project, the Western Superconducting Technologies Co., Ltd. has established a complete state-of-the-art quality management and control system, finished research and development of mass production technology, equipment development, testing and quality assessment of multiple tasks. With high performance and stability, the superconducting strands are highly recognized by the ITER Organization. The ITER project has led to technological advances in relevant industries of superconducting materials, providing a foundation for the establishment of China‘s nuclear fusion reactor, and playing a positive role in China’s overall level of science and technology, and comprehensive national strength. In addition, by participating in the ITER project, China‘s low-temperature superconducting strands have achieved 100% localization, and China’s R&D capability and industrial production capacity of superconducting strands have reached the world class.

The completion of the Chinese strands marked nearly 1/5 the ITER project has been basically completed. It is another step forward for China’s tasks and the overall ITER project.