The most powerful magnet in the world is already on its way to ITER after 10 years

Sun win something is not small feat and the human being, in his infima nature, it has been proposed to stabilize a plasma hotter than the sun. For this, the ITER ( International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor ) will be used, a huge experimental thermonuclear reactor that will now finally receive what is considered the most powerful magnet in the world.

This magnet has a name: the Central Solenoid. A piece as key as it is huge that is already closer to being completed in the reactor under construction in Marseille.

18 meters and 1,000 tons of “magnetic heart”

The size and weight of the pieces that make up the ITER is not something accidental, far from it. Speaking in detail about the parts that make up ITER, we have already seen everything necessary to try to emulate the process by which stars obtain energy (that is, the nuclear fusion that takes place in their nucleus), requires, so to speak, think big.

To put on the hat of “being a star” we had to think of something alternative to gravitational confinement, an effect due to the enormous mass of stars by which gravity manages to compress the gases of the nucleus and thus produce the fusion of the stars. hydrogen nuclei (and thus energy). It is about heating the fuel in the reactors until it reaches between 150 and 300 million degrees Celsius, which is a temperature up to ten times higher than that of the Sun’s core. Why? So that the hydrogen nuclei (specifically the deuterium and tritium isotopes) fuse.

As we do not have gravitational confinement, what we want to do is create a magnetic confinement based on the creation of magnetic fields. That is, the magnetic fields confine and guide the plasma gas inside the reactor.

And that’s where magnets come in. When talking about the structure of ITER, we also comment that there are a series of semiconductor magnets on the outside of the vacuum chamber (the structure in the cover photo), responsible for generating that necessary magnetic field. And, unlike the magnets on our fridge door, they weigh 10,000 tons.

In addition, there is the Central Solenoid, so called in relation to the fact that a solenoid is, by definition, any device capable of generating an enormously intense and uniform magnetic field inside and weak outside. It is the heart of ITER’s complex magnetic motor, which is cylindrical in shape and will be located inside the central hole of the vacuum chamber.

The Central Solenoid will have a height of 18 meters, a diameter of 4 meters and will weigh 1,000 tons, and it is precisely what is finally going to begin to be composed. The North American company General Atomics has completed its construction after a decade of design and manufacture and the piece is now heading to France.

In fact, the manufacture of each 4.25 meter diameter 110 ton module requires more than two years of manufacture. More than 5 kilometers of superconducting steel-clad niobium-tin cable is required, which is precisely wound and the loops must be spliced ​​with scrupulous care.

For its transport a special heavy transport truck is required. After that, it will be loaded onto an ocean vessel that will take it from Houston to France.

Most powerful magnet in the world
Most powerful magnet

The Central Solenoid aspires to be the most powerful magnet in the world and, as we have said, it is the heart of the reactor. After completing the construction of this first part, ITER will take an important step forward, whose most recent planning estimates that the First Plasma will be reached in 2025 and the first operations with deuterium and tritium in 2035.

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