TVEL supplies superconductors to CERN

17 June 2021

The European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Switzerland has completed acceptance testing of Russian-made niobium-tin superconductors manufactured under the framework of the Future Circular Collider (FCC) CERN Conductor Development Programme, Rosatom’s Fuel Company TVEL said on 16 June. The design of the superconducting strands and the technology for their manufacture were developed at the AA Bochvar Institute of Inorganic Materials (VNIINM) in Moscow, while the 50km long qualification batch of strands was manufactured at the Chepetsky Mechanical Plant (CMP) in Glazov, Udmurt Republic (both part of TVEL). The work was completed as part of the agreement between TVEL and CERN, and was based on successful test results.

The high performance of the wire fully complies with the CERN specification. CERN has also produced Rutherford cables with the delivered wires. The tests achieved the record-breaking results for the superconductivity technologies, including the critical current density in electromagnetic field, residual resistivity ratio, and the effective diameter of the strand.

The magnet system is one of the key elements of the FCC. With a circumference of about 100km, it will require a significant supply of superconducting strands, which can only be provided through the joint efforts of the countries possessing such technology. According to current assessments, FCC's needs for superconductors will greatly exceed existing global capacities for the niobium-tin strand production. The FCC is a key international project for the global scientific community. Its implementation will enable scientists to bring fundamental research in elementary particle physics to a new level. In particular, it will help to understand the nature of dark matter, the antimatter-matter asymmetry in the observable Universe, and other issues that are pushing the boundaries of modern physics.

The superconducting strands manufactured for the FCC differ from those Rosatom produced for the international thermonuclear experimental reactor (ITER) project. Were developed based on the internal tin source method, which makes possible strands with the significantly higher critical current density needed for modern magnetic systems for accelerators and high-energy physics systems.

TVEL President Natalya Nikipelova said: “We are proud that our superconductors will make possible the implementation of major Russian and international mega-science projects, such as FCC, ITER, NICA [Nuclotron-based Ion Collider Fa?ility in Dubna, Russia] and FAIR [Facility for Antiproton and Ion Research in Darmstadt, Germany]. In addition to niobium-tin strands, we are also developing niobium-titanium strands for the Future Collider, as well as ultrapure resonator niobium, which will be required to manufacture the collider accelerating systems.”

The development of the CERN-compliant strands for the FCC project is also underway in the USA, Europe, South Korea, Japan and China. TVEL is the only developer and manufacturer of low-temperature technical superconductors in Russia. VNIINM is developing designs and manufacturing technologies for superconducting strands based on ultrapure niobium and its alloys. Industrial production is underway at CMP which is manufacturing low-temperature superconducting materials for Russia's participation in ITER. Between 2009 and 2014, CMP produced more than 200 tons or 61,000km of low-temperature superconductors for ITER. At the end of 2020, niobium-titanium superconductors developed and manufactured by TVEL made it possible to achieve the design values of the magnetic field at the heavy ion booster which is a part of the first stage of the NICA project.

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