ITER experiment to demonstrate the feasibility of fusion energy capable of providing zero carbon energy for the next millennia; event highlighted widespread collaboration and support in the San Diego region and across the globe, and included special guests and remarks from representatives of ITER, US ITER, the United States Congress, and the Department of Energy
General Atomics (GA) today (August 10) marked the successful completion and shipment of the first module of the ITER Central Solenoid, the world's most powerful pulsed superconducting magnet, with a celebration at the firm's Magnet Technologies Center (MTC) in Poway, California.
The event included the participation of Representatives Ken Calvert (R-CA-42), Darrell Issa (R-CA-50), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX-30), Frank Lucas (R-OK-03), and Scott Peters (D-CA-52), as well as Mayor Todd Gloria (City of San Diego) and senior representatives of the U.S. Department of Energy, Japan's Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, ITER, U.S. ITER, and representatives from the organizations and subcontractors who have supported this historic project.
The Central Solenoid is a critical component of the ITER experiment, an international collaboration of 35 nations that will demonstrate the feasibility of fusion energy. Fully assembled, this massive magnet will be 59 feet tall and 14 feet in diameter, and will weigh a thousand tons. Often referred to as the "heart of the ITER facility," it will drive 15 million amperes of electrical current that will be used to shape and control the fusion reaction.
A media library containing videos and photos of the event as well as background material on ITER, the Central Solenoid, and General Atomics, is available at https://www.ga.com/magnetic-fusion/iter-solenoid-celebration.
"I am immensely proud of our team for reaching this important milestone," said Neal Blue, CEO and Chairman of General Atomics. "The Central Solenoid is a critical component for ITER and the most significant in-kind contribution the United States is making to this international collaboration. It is fitting to celebrate the completion of the first module, and the opportunity for the San Diego region to leave its mark on this ambitious project."
"The Central Solenoid is one of the most complex and demanding pulsed magnet programs ever undertaken," said John Smith, GA's Director of Engineering and Projects and Project Manager for Central Solenoid Module Fabrication. "Pulsed superconducting magnets of this power and scale have never been made before. Successfully designing, fabricating, testing, and shipping the first module, with six more in various stages of production, is truly a testament to the skill and dedication of the team here at General Atomics."
The Central Solenoid modules are being manufactured under the direction of the US ITER project, managed by the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Under the ITER agreement, all members share equally in the technology developed while funding only a portion of the total cost. The United States is contributing approximately nine percent of ITER's total construction costs.
The Central Solenoid is one of 12 hardware systems that US ITER, funded by the DOE's Office of Fusion Energy Sciences, is providing to the project. More than 80 percent of the funds appropriated by Congress for ITER are used domestically to support high-tech jobs and manufacturing in the United States by funding in-kind contributions like the Central Solenoid.
General Atomics partnered with dozens of independent vendors and contractors in the San Diego metropolitan region and throughout the United States to support the fabrication of the Central Solenoid modules.
"The ITER program demonstrates the value of public investment in research and development and the importance of global collaboration. I have no doubt that fusion energy will play a significant role in battling the effects of climate change, building a more resilient grid, and developing the future of our innovation sectors," said Congressman Scott Peters (D-CA-52), who represents the City of Poway and most of northern San Diego, including the Magnet Technologies Center. "Congratulations to all who were involved, and we look forward to seeing all that is accomplished because of your work, as well as the Central Solenoid's first operations in 2025."
"We are here to mark the delivery of the first Central Solenoid module to the ITER international fusion project. The Central Solenoid truly represents the heart of this groundbreaking experimental facility, and the team at General Atomics should be very proud of this accomplishment. Their historic achievement represents a major step towards ITER's completion and the ultimate realization of the promise of fusion energy," said Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX-30), Chairwoman of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.
"I'd like to congratulate everyone who's worked so hard to complete the Central Solenoid module for the ITER reactor. This is a major milestone on the path to fusion energy. Fusion is the next great scientific frontier, with the potential to produce nearly limitless zero-emission power for centuries," said Congressman Frank Lucas (R-OK-03), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.
"In a relentless search for clean energy, General Atomics' accomplishment represents a major milestone. No company has done more than General Atomics to move us towards clean and sustainable nuclear energy," said Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA-50), who represents central and northeastern San Diego County.
The first Central Solenoid module recently arrived in France after being shipped from the MTC in late June. It is scheduled to reach the ITER site in the coming weeks. Five additional modules, plus one spare, are at various stages of fabrication, with the second module expected to ship this month. The Central Solenoid will be assembled as the modules arrive on site and is scheduled to be fully installed in the 2023-24 timeframe. ITER is scheduled to begin its first plasma operations in 2025.
About General Atomics: Since the dawn of the atomic age, General Atomics innovations have advanced the state of the art across the full spectrum of science and technology — from nuclear energy and defense to medicine and high-performance computing. Behind a talented global team of scientists, engineers, and professionals, GA's unique experience and capabilities continue to deliver safe, sustainable, economical, and innovative solutions to meet growing global demands.
For more information contact: Zabrina Johal, Senior Director of Strategic Development — 858-455-4004 — Zabrina.Johal@ga.com