The power supply for the ITER nuclear fusion reactor’s electron cyclotron heating system will be designed by a Swiss company.
Fusion for Energy (F4E), the organisation managing Europe’s contribution to ITER, has signed a contract with Ampegon to design, manufacture, install and commission the power supplies for the systems that will help heat the reactor’s plasma to 150 million degrees Celsius, nearly ten times the temperature at the core of the Sun.
During the next six years, Ampegon will work to deliver eight out of ITER’s 12 main high-voltage power supplies that will operate at 55kV/100A and 16 body power supplies that will operate at 35kV/100mA.
Josef Troxler, Ampegon CEO, said: “The power supplies are a critical element of the machine. We are proud to offer our expertise and be among the companies that will build the world’s largest fusion project.”
The electron cyclotron will operate like a powerful microwave oven: a high-intensity beam of electromagnetic radiation at a frequency of 170GHz, the resonant frequency of electrons, will transfer energy to the plasma, raise its temperature and drive additional current to sustain longer discharges.
The precision of the electron cyclotron will help scientists to target specific plasma areas that require an extra blast of heat to minimise the build-up of certain instabilities that lead to cooling of the plasma and maintain plasma confinement and stability.
The power supply's main role will be to transform the electricity from the grid to regulated direct current and voltage, which ITER will need to generate electromagnetic waves. The system will also have to be designed to shut down in less than 10 micro-seconds as a safety precaution.
Professor Henrik Bindslev, F4E Director, said: “ITER offers a vast range of business opportunities to small, medium and larger companies. Today’s signature proves yet again that SMEs have a role to play to the most ambitious international collaboration in the field of energy.”