The third and largest consignment of Russian equipment for the international thermonuclear experimental reactor (Iter) was deliovered to the seaport of St Petersburg on 7 September for further transportation to the site of the reactor in Cadarache (France) via Hamburg, Germany. The equipment, weighing 85 tonnes, includes: aluminium water-cooled direct-current buses for the poloidal field, the central solenoid and correcting winding power systems; thermal expansion joints and other parts of the DC bus systems that connect the superconducting windings of the tokamak electromagnetic system with their power supply sources; as well as sections of operational resistors for plasma discharge initiation systems.
The first two batches of Russian equipment were sent to Iter in 2015-2016. Switchgear equipment, busbars and power-absorbing resistors for power supply and protection of Iter's superconducting magnet system are manufactured by the D V Efremov Scientific Research Institute of Electrophysical Apparatus in St Petersburg. Manufacture and supply of this equipment is the most expensive and one of the most complex of the 25 systems that fall within Russia's sphere of responsibility.
Russia's participation in Iter will enable it to form a scientific and production base for its own future projects in the field of thermonuclear fusion, according to a 12 September statement from state nuclear corporation Rosatom. "The development and production of equipment for Iter solves two important tasks: firstly, it is an additional load of the capacities of Rosatom's enterprises, the creation of new products and the development of unique competencies; secondly, the results obtained in the course of research increase the potential of domestic nuclear science."
During a working visit to the site in Cadarache on 11 September, Rosatom Director General Alexei Likhachev said: "Iter is important for us as a testing ground for practical tasks related to the energy of tomorrow and the day after tomorrow, with the increasing role of Russia in the global technology market." Russia supplies key components for the Iter complex and other high-tech equipment including superconductors, gyrotrons, protection and diagnostics elements. "At the same time, Rosatom not only shares unique technologies, but also gets access to the best developments of foreign partners," the state corporation said.
Likhachov said: "The exploration of thermonuclear fusion energy will open up vast scientific and technological prospects for mankind. That is why Russia, which has unique experience in nuclear and thermonuclear research, is now at the forefront of the Iter project and is making a fundamental contribution to its implementation. It is also important to note that the very concept of this international project, namely tokamak, was developed in our country."
In 1950, Russian academicians Andrei Sakharov and Igor Tamm suggested using magnetic field for plasma confinement. Later, Russian scientists under the direction of academician Lev Artsymovich developed and used the concept of thermonuclear facility - Tokamak (Toroidal Chamber Magnetic Coil), which later became the world leader in the controlled thermonuclear fusion research.