France to acquire the world’s most powerful magnet capable of lifting an aircraft carrier six feet into the air – –

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France to acquire the world’s most powerful magnet capable of lifting an aircraft carrier six feet into the air – –


Amid a growing push to produce clean energy to replace fossil fuels and other non-renewable energy sources, France is set to get the world’s most powerful magnet for a reactor fusion that aims to reproduce the process that powers the Sun.
Dubbed the center solenoid, the powerful magnet is strong enough to lift an aircraft carrier 6 feet into the air. It will be a central element of France’s energy project.

Also called the “beating heart of the machine”, the magnet was conceptualized, designed and manufactured by General Atomics, which will now ship it to the ITER facility in the south of France. Several components have already arrived in France even during the Covid-19 pandemic and the arrival of the Solenoid will constitute the Tokamak ITER, a “Sun on Earth” to demonstrate fusion on an industrial scale.

“The center solenoid, the largest of ITER’s magnets, will consist of six modules,” General Atomics said in a statement.

Each module requires more than two years of precision manufacturing. (Photo: General Atomic)

The biggest magnet in the world

The central solenoid will play a critical role in ITER’s mission to establish fusion energy as it induces a powerful current in the ITER plasma, helping to shape and control the fusion reaction. When assembled, the magnet will be 59 feet high and 14 feet wide, weighing a thousand tons.

The massive magnetic force generated by the magnet is able to lift an aircraft carrier 6 feet into the air to achieve a magnetic field with a force of 13 Tesla. To put this force in perspective, it is about 280,000 times stronger than the Earth’s magnetic field. The massive field generated will require the support structure to withstand forces equal to twice the thrust of a space shuttle takeoff, General Atomics said in a statement.

The arrival of the Solenoid will constitute the Tokamak ITER. (Photo: General Atomic)

Each module requires more than two years of precision fabrication from more than 5 kilometers of steel-sheathed niobium-tin superconducting cable. While the company will ship the magnet to France, five additional center solenoid modules and a spare are in various stages of manufacture.

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What is ITER?

One of the most ambitious energy projects in the world, ITER will be the first device to sustain fusion for long periods of time and test the integrated technologies, materials and physics necessary for the commercial production of fusion-based electricity.

A view of the ITER energy project in France. (Photo: ITER)

A global assembly, the project engaged China, the European Union, India, Japan, Korea, Russia and the United States in a 35-year collaboration to build and operate the ITER experimental device. The team of more than a thousand engineers and scientists aims to demonstrate that a fusion reactor can be designed.

“The ITER project is the most complex scientific collaboration in history,” said Dr Bernard Bigot, Director General of the ITER organization.

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