How is Air Liquide involved in the ITER* project?
The objective of this international project is to demonstrate the scientific and technical feasibility of nuclear fusion as a new source of energy. To obtain the very powerful electromagnetic fields required to confine and stabilize nuclear fusion, it is necessary to use superconducting magnets that work at extremely low temperatures. In 2012, Air Liquide signed a contract with the ITER Organization to supply what will become the largest combined centralized cooling system in the world. It will be comprised of three helium refrigerators with combined cooling capacity operating just above absolute zero, or -273.15 °C. Earlier this year, Fusion for Energy (F4E), the organization that manages Europe’s contribution to ITER, entrusted Air Liquide with the responsibility of supplying a second set of cryogenic equipment. Thus, beginning in 2016, the Group will deliver significant parts of the cooling system for the Tokamak superconducting magnets**.
*ITER stands for International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor.
**A vacuum chamber intended to confine plasma magnetically during fusion, which is the cornerstone of the ITER project.