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Air Liquide to design cryogenic system for experimental fusion-reactor project

By Mary Page Bailey |

Air Liquide’s (Paris, France; www.airliquide.com) has signed a new contract with ITER-India for the design and manufacturing of 19 cryogenic lines for the ITER project. This latest contract comes after two earlier ones, signed in 2012 and in 2013, bringing the total amount signed by Air Liquide for the ITER project to around €250 million. This latest announcement illustrates Air Liquide’s leadership in extreme cryogenics for major scientific projects.

The objective of the international ITER project is to develop an experimental reactor in order to demonstrate the scientific and technological feasibility of fusion as a new source of energy. To obtain the very powerful electromagnetic fields required to confine and stabilize the fusion, it is necessary to use superconducting magnets that only function at extremely low temperatures.

The new cryogenic lines will transport helium at extremely low temperatures close to absolute zero in some cases (–269°C). Their fabrication requires the use of high-tech processes and sophisticated design.

After having already completed the large scale cryogenic installations for the CERN1, Air Liquide, an expert in cryogenics, is a major industrial partner of the ITER project. It notably supplies the helium and nitrogen refrigerators used in ITER’s cryogenic plant, which is said to be be the largest centralized refrigeration system ever built, as well as the 19 cryogenic lines.

François Darchis, member of the Air Liquide Executive Committee supervising Innovation, commented: “We would like to thank ITER-India for its confidence. This success demonstrates once again the unique expertise of Air Liquide in the field of very low temperatures and its capacity to provide very high tech systems to address ambitious scientific challenges. Air Liquide is thus contributing to the major global scientific projects and to the development of the energy solutions of the future.”

Prof. D. Bora, Director, Institute for Plasma Research, India, commented: “ITER’s cryogenic system is one of the most complex systems known today after the CERN, and we are happy that Air Liquide is associated with us in this drive for fusion.”

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