Seminaria Instytutowe

Thermal-hydraulic problems in superconducting cables for fusion technology

by Monika Lewandowska (IFJ PAN / ZUT)


Production of electricity from nuclear fusion is still a promising vision. Various fusion devices are already exploited or being built, but all of them are experimental reactors (i.e. thermal energy released from fusion reaction is not converted into electricity), designed to reach specific scientific and/or technological objectives. ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) is the world’s largest experimental tokamak which is currently under construction in Cadarche (France). In parallel, design activities the EUROfusion Consortium have been initiated, focused on developing the European (EU) DEMO - a demonstration fusion power plant, based on the tokamak concept. EU-DEMO will be an intermediate step between ITER and a commercial fusion power plant, planned to produce grid electricity at the level of a few hundred MW. 

In a fusion reactor, hot plasma is confined by strong magnetic field generated by system of electromagnets, to allow the plasma to achieve the conditions necessary for initiation of the fusion reaction. The magnet systems of ITER and DEMO are fully superconducting. Due to extremely high requirements for operation and reliability of advanced superconducting magnets, permanent efforts of international teams in collaboration with industry are undertaken aimed at improvement of this technology. Problems related to application of superconductors in magnetic fusion technology are inherently multidisciplinary and multi-physical, involving coupled electro-magnetic, mechanical and thermal-hydraulic aspects. Since 2007 I have been working on thermal-hydraulic aspects in the scope of the EURATOM program. I will present some typical problems related to cooling and stability of superconducting cables for fusion technology.