Institute for Superconducting & Electronic Materials (ISEM)

World's largest energy initiative comes to wollongong

World's largest energy initiative web

One of the people responsible for the manufacture of the magnet system at the heart of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), a collaboration of thirty five nations intended to prove the viability of fusion power, presented a special guest seminar to staff and students at the Australian Institute for Innovative Materials.

Dr Arnaud Devred, Superconductor Systems and Auxiliaries Section Leader, ITER-International Organization, is responsible for the in-kind procurement of the superconducting Cable-In-Conduit Conductors which are expected to cost around $US1 billion, about half of the ITER magnet system cost.

The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) is one of the most complex and costly scientific and engineering projects on the planet. A collaboration between China, the European Union, India, Japan, Korea, Russia and the United States, and hosted in France, ITER aims to resolve critical scientific and technical issues associated with fusion power by building the biggest fusion reactor in history. This will allow fusion power plants to be designed for industrial applications.

Fusion is the process at the core of the sun that produces light and heat. Fusion energy provides a promising alternative to the technology used in fission reactors as it relies on essentially limitless fuels, is intrinsically safe and does not produce radioactive wastes with long lives. 

The ITER began construction in 2010 and by the time the project is complete it will contain 80,000 kilometres of niobium-tin superconducting strands; weigh approximately 23,000 tons; involve up to 5,000 people; cost approximately $13 billion Euro; and is designed to produce 500MW of power output for 50MW of input power – a tenfold gain.

Dr Devred provided an overview of the world’s current energy situation, noting that 25 per cent of the population has yet to gain access to electricity and this growing energy demand requires a clean and sustainable solution.

Director of the Institute for Superconducting and Electronic Materials, Professor Shi Xue Dou who hosted the visit said that the development of new sources of energy was an important area of research for the group.

“Renewable energy is an essential part of our energy future and it is important that we fully explore all of our options to provide safe, reliable and sustainable sources of energy.

“The ITER project is unprecedented in its size, scale and potential impact on all of our futures”, he said.

“For two decades the Institute for Superconducting and Electronic Materials has been working on the development of superconducting materials and their application. Superconductors offer great potential for development of the next generation of materials for power generation and transmission and I hope that we can work with Dr Devred and his team in the future on the ITER project”, Professor Dou said.

The team at ISEM will continue to work with ANSTO, ANU and the Australian ITER Forum to advance Australia’s contribution to this massive global research undertaking.

Last reviewed: 5 March, 2014