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3, JUNE 2013


Assurance of Sound Manufacturing Technology for the ITER Current Leads

Pierre Bauer, Kaizong Ding, Chen-yu Gung, Tadashi Ichihara, Erwu Niu, Guang Shen, Thomas Taylor, Patrick Vertongen, and Tingzhi Zhou

AbstractThe ITER current leads will transfer large currents of up to 68 kA into the superconducting magnets of the tokamak. Following the development of the designs of the three types of current leads required for ITER, targeted trials of specic features are on the way to prepare fabrication and testing of prototype units in ASIPP (Hefei/China). Five different types of mock-ups are being made to develop the most critical technologies in preparation of the series manufacturing. These include the insulation, the electron-beam welding, the heat exchanger manufacturing, the low temperature superconductor end assembly, and the instrumentation. In this paper the designs and manufacturing procedures of the technology trials will be discussed, together with plans for the mock-up testing in ASIPP. Index TermsBi-2223, fusion tokamak, HTS current leads, superconducting magnets.

I. I NTRODUCTION HE ITER device, currently in the early construction phase in Cadarache in the South of France, will use the largest superconducting magnet system ever built to conne and heat an inductive plasma in a large volume to demonstrate the feasibility of fusion for power generation. The current leads are required to feed the toroidal eld (TF) coils (18 units rated at 68 kA), the central solenoid (CS) and poloidal eld (PF) coils (24 units rated at 55 kA) and the correction coils (CC) (18 units rated at 10 kA). With a total of 60 large leads providing a current capacity of up to 2.7 MA, ITER is yet another major application for HTS current leads after the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). In Jan. 2011, the ITER Organization (IO) and the Chinese Domestic Agency (CNDA) signed a Procurement Arrangement (PA), covering the in-kind supply of the magnet feeders includ-

Manuscript received October 8, 2012; accepted November 30, 2012. Date of publication February 1, 2013; date of current version February 13, 2013. This work was supported by the Chinese Domestic Agency for the ITER project and the ITER Organization. The views and opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reect those of the ITER Organization. P. Bauer, C. Gung, and P. Vertongen are with the ITER Organization, Route de Vinon sur Verdon, 13115 Saint Paul Lez Durance, France (e-mail:;; K. Ding, G. Shen, and T. Zhou are with the Institute of Plasma Physics ASIPP, Hefei, Anhui Province, 230031 China (e-mail:;; T. Ichihara is with Fusac Technologies Company, Ltd., Japan (e-mail: E. Niu is with the Chinese ITER Domestic Agency, 100086 Beijing, China (e-mail: T. Taylor is with AT Scientic LLC, 1233 Bernex, Switzerland (e-mail: Color versions of one or more of the gures in this paper are available online at Digital Object Identier 10.1109/TASC.2012.2231895

ing the HTS current leads by China. This contractual document lays out a 4-phase plan for the procurement of this component, of which phase I is for dening the procurement strategy and preparation of the most important contracts. Phase II is dedicated to the qualication of the manufacturing procedure, including the mock-ups (with the vendors selected during phase I). Phase III is dedicated to the series production. The CNDA placed a contract for the supply of the leads with the Institute for Plasma Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (ASIPP) in Hefei/China in October 2011. Apart from dening the scope of the in-kind supply and giving a (rough) logistical framework for its implementation, the PA also aims to ensure that the ITER quality requirements are oated down to the domestic agency and its suppliers. The reason for this is that tokamak components supplied by the different domestic agencies conform to the same standards and to the requirements of the local authorities. In particular this implies that all critical processes and shop-oor procedures be submitted to and approved by CNDA and IO prior to the start of manufacturing. The suppliers must also submit for approval Manufacturing and Inspection Plans (MIP) to seamlessly cover the manufacture (including the mock-ups), which allows to manage the production ow step-by-stepimportant for schedule issues. The IOsupplied Magnet Manufacturing Database (MMD) is structured around the MIP. In MMD each production step is processed (mostly by the DA) upon clearance of the QC record for the specic step. The MIP also allows the DA and IO to dene which operation requires witnessing or advance notication. For the ITER current leads, phase II covers two stages, stage 1, the mock-ups and stage 2, the prototypes. Five mock-ups are required, -a- the insulation and ange mock-up, -b- the Electron-Beam Welding (EBW) mock-up, -c- the Heat Exchanger (HX) mock-up, -d- the Low Temperature Superconductor (LTS) linker mock-up and nally, -e- the instrumentation mock-up. The fabrication and test of the mock-ups is the nal stage of qualifying the design and procedures, before fabrication of the leads proper can commence. Many of the procedures require extensive testing on sub-features of the mock-ups before embarking on the construction of the mock-ups for the ofcial tests. Normally the mock-ups should not fail the tests: if they fail, the procedures may have to be revised, possibly even the vendors re-selected, and time will be lost. It is thus in the interest of all concerned to ensure success through meticulous preparation. The main contractor, ASIPP, has chosen two local subsuppliers in the Hefei areaJuneng and Keyeto supply the large leads (TF and PF/CS) and the CC-type leads respectively. To qualify both companies the number of mock-ups was extended to nine, 4 of the TF type (all excl. the instrumentation

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Fig. 2.

Insulation mock-up for the TF-type current lead (early trial).

Fig. 1.

CAD view of the 68 kA lead for the TF coils. The total length is 3.2 m.

mock-up) to be supplied by Juneng and 5 of the CC-type to be supplied by Keye. In addition to managing its suppliers, ASIPP procures some material and components for issue to the sub-contractors and is responsible for nal testing of the completed mock-ups. Certain manufacturing procedures have been developed rstly by ASIPP and then transferred to the sub-suppliers. For some specic products and processes (HTS material, electron-beam welding, etc.) specialized companies have been selected. II. D ESIGN OF THE ITER C URRENT L EADS Following the manufacturing and testing of a demonstrator lead at KIT [1] and several pre-prototypes at ASIPP [2][4], some of the most critical design issues were addressed using technology developed for the CERN-LHC leads [5], [6], allowing IO to provide a nal design [7]. A complete 68 kA lead is shown in Fig. 1; the design concept for the 55 kA and 10 kA leads is similar. The current ows from the copper terminal through a nned copper rod [the heat exchanger (HX)] that is cooled by a counter-ow of helium gas entering at its lower extremity at 50 K, where it is connected to a copper block (the transition section) and the HTS section. The HTS section consists of a number of stacks of Bi-2223 tape soldered to a stainless steel cylinder that provides mechanical support for the tape stacks and an electrical shunt. The cold end of the HTS section is connected to Nb-Ti and copper wires, the same in dimension and number as in the corresponding Low Temperature Superconductor (LTS) busbar in the feeder, via a supercritical helium cooled copper cap. The LTS conductors are grouped into a terminal (half-joint) that allows connection to the feeder busbar via a standard ITER twin-box joint. The HTS section is shrouded by a local evacuated cylinder onto which a hermetic, Paschen-tight, multi-layer insulating sheath, the external surface of which is covered with a ground plane of conductive paint, is wrapped. The electrical insulation obviously also extends over the HX cover and the LTS section. High voltage insulating breaks are provided to isolate the lead from the pipework supplying the incoming 50 K and exiting 5 K helium gas as well as for the warm gas exiting the lead. Temperature sensors are installed at the warm end of the HTS section: these serve to control the 50 K He ow in order to maintain the temperature of 65 K. Voltage taps provide signals for protection. The lead potential can reach up to 11 kV (27 kV in fault condition) for the TF, CS and PF circuits, and up to 3 kV (6 kV in fault condition) for the CC circuits. The insulation is designed for 30 kV and 10 kV to ground respectively.

Fig. 3. Left: EBW mock-up. Right: simulation of the EBW process for a TF-type lead. The vacuum chamber had to be extended for this purpose.

III. D ESIGN OF THE C URRENT L EAD M OCK U PS A. Insulation Mock-up The insulation is critical in the ITER HTS current leads. The manufacturer proposes a wet-winding process with sub-sequent vacuum bagging for impregnation and room temperature curing as the preferred approach, with special adaptations for different sections of the current lead. The insulation make-up suggested by IO consists of several layers of half-overlapped, industriallycombined glass-ber and polyimide tape (GP or GPG) with half-overlapped glass-ber under- and over-layers, to provide a thickness of about 6 mm (4 mm thickness in the CC-type current lead). The 6 mm thick insulation should withstand 60 kV. The TF-type (CC-type) insulation mock-up will be tested at up to 30 kV in vacuum before and after thermal cycling and pulling to simulate the operating conditions. The HV tests will also be performed in Paschen conditions with warm helium gas in the range from 0.1 Pa1 kPa. An example of a pre-mockup trial is shown in Fig. 2. B. Electron-Beam-Welding Mock-up During lead series fabrication the brazed and soldered shunt and LTS section (incl. the soldered HTS tapes and the joint box), HX (core) and RT terminal (including brazed components) are to be welded together as a major, close-to-nal manufacturing step, with minimum thermal impact on the different components. Following the positive experience at CERN with the manufacture of the LHC leads, Electron Bream Welding (EBW) was chosen for this step, as it limits the size of the heat affected zone and is performed in vacuum. Since the lead will reach its fully developed length of 3.2 m in this process, the vacuum chamber of the EB-welder had to be extended (see Fig. 3). The quality of the EB-welds will be checked by leak testing with gaseous helium at 0.6 MPa (the test pressure for the current lead HX), followed by destructive examination. C. Heat Exchanger Mock-up The sleeve enclosing the HX is honed to achieve the tight tolerances on the diameter, shape and surface nish. Tooling



Fig. 4. CNC machining of a TF-type HX core with diameter 188 mm (left) and 1 m long honed tube (right).

Fig. 6. Drawing of the instrumentation mock-up for the CC-type current lead. Insert shows details of mounting of temperature sensors and voltage taps.

Fig. 5. LTS linker mock-up (above). Below: technology trials for the preparation of the LTS linker.

is being prepared (Fig. 4) to facilitate the checking of these tolerances. The diameter of the sleeve is required to be less than 70 m greater than that of the 188 mm diameter HX ns to ensure correct operation. Special tooling is also being prepared for sliding the sleeve over the HX. The adequacy of this tooling will be demonstrated on the mock-up, which will also serve as a model to conrm the pressure drop across the heat exchanger in the HX mock-up with RT nitrogen gas and compare with predictions obtained with calculations [8]. D. LTS Linker Mock-up The current lead sub-components requiring the most complex assembly is the low temperature end of the lead, which includes the joint box and the LTS section of the lead. The so-called LTS linker is made from a 1 m long piece of ITER magnet feeder busbar (main bus in the case of TF, PF and CS leads and the corrector bus for the CC lead). The busbars are stripped of their jacket at both ends and prepared for pre-tinning. This requires rst the removal of the micron-thin Ni coating on the LTS strands. At the shunt end, the cable is dis-assembled to form 30 (12 in the CC lead) sub-cables. The Ni is removed chemically using OY54. At the other end the one which goes inside the joint box, the Ni on the outer surface of the cable is removed mechanically with a fast rotating Nylon brush. Following chemical cleaning, passivation and thorough rinsing, both ends are pre-tinned. First, on the shunt side end, the subcables are coated with Sn-3.8Ag-0.7Cu (melting point 217 C) solder by painting with non-corrosive ux and dipping in a bath. In the case of the CC leads, the 12 sub-cables are disassembled and each strand is tinned separately, followed by rebuilding of the sub-cables. This is followed by a multi-step molding process, in which the pre-tinned sub-cable is pressed (using heated tooling) into the desired shape to t closely into the holes machined into the Cu-cone (see Fig. 5). The most critical step is the soldering process between these sub-cables and the

Cu-cone. A specication for the electrical resistance must be met, requiring 100% wetting by solder of the bare strands, a tight t between sub-cable and hole and complete lling of voids with solder. The calibrated holes in the copper terminal are also pre-tinned with Sn-Ag solder to facilitate the reow soldering that is done in vacuum at 240 C for 10 min. This method has been tested and found to produce joints with a resistance of a few n per sub-cable, thus satisfying the requirement of less than 1 n for the entire joint. The other (joint box) end, where the Ni is only removed from the surface of the cable (that remains assembled), is tinned by dipping into a bath of Sn63Pb37 (melting point 183 C) after pigging with non-corrosive ux. It is then assembled into the joint-box together with a Sn63Pb37 solder foil separating it from the box Cu-sole, the cover is welded on under the press, and in a nal step the joint box is heated to 213 C under Ar ow for 10 min to melt and diffuse the solder inside. Finally, the stainless steel components covering the section between joint box and lead terminal are welded in place to complete the mock-up. In order to avoid degrading the superconducting properties of the Nb-Ti, its maximum temperature in any of the multiple heating steps must remain below 250 C and the time spent at greater than 200 C measured and recorded (total should be less than 1 hour). The LTS linker mock-up will be pressurized to 3 MPa (the test pressure for the supercritical He circuits in the ITER feeders) with GHe and leak checked to the level of 109 Pa m3 s1 .

E. Instrumentation Mock-up The purpose of the instrumentation mock-up (see Fig. 6) is to demonstrate that the temperature sensors and V-taps can be attached to the lead assembly and remain there during operation. The Pt-100 temperature sensors (diameter 1.6 mm, length 8 mm) will be inserted into a small Cu-can with ApiezonN conductive grease, and screwed into the Cu-section of the shunt. A small G10 clamp is then afxed on the outside to hold the sensor inside the can and provide mechanical support and thermal anchoring for the transition from the ne sensor wires to the stiffer wires running inside the leads to the connector at the terminal. These wires will be pre-twisted before soldering the pins at the Fischer connector, so that during insertion of the leak tight connector, the wires un-twist and strain is minimized. In this process the pulling of the wires through the central channel in the HX will also be demonstrated. The V-tap wires are soldered to small Cu pins tapped into holes in the shunt. The instrumentation mock-up will be thermally cycled multiple times to LN2 temperatures, while checking the proper functioning of the sensors.



IV. F URTHER Q UALIFICATION ACTIVITIES In addition to the described mock-up program the following qualication activities are currently underway in ASIPP and related suppliers: -a- welding, -b- brazing and soldering, -c- insulation, -d- HTS tapes and stacks and -e-twin-box joints. The qualications typically unfold from a pre-approved plan and involve representative trials. Sometimes similar operations can be covered by a one qualication, especially for welds. Many of these operations cannot be non-destructively checked during the series manufacturing, so strict following of the qualied procedures will be essential. The qualication activities will also have to be certied by third-party inspectors. A. Welding Qualication The HTS current leads are complex structures, requiring many welds. Although care was taken to use mostly full penetration welds, it is clear that full volumetric NDE (Non Destructive Examination) will not be applicable to most welds. The suppliers have decided that most of the welds will be done manually (except for the EBW). Based on the results of destructive testing of models, procedures are being established that yield satisfactory welds. Uniform quality will be assured by conforming strictly to these procedures and ensuring that only qualied welders can be perform them. This is supplemented by periodic destructive testing of sample welds which will be witnessed by CNDA/IO and/or selected third-party inspectors. The weld samples are investigated thoroughly for deviations from established welding standards. During mock-up manufacturing production-proof sampling will be used with nal destructive examination. In the series production every weld will be leak checked to a stringent 10 9 Pa-m3 /s leak rate criterion before and after thermal cycling to liquid nitrogen temperature, followed by dye penetrant testing. B. Brazing and Soldering Qualication The manufacturing of a ITER HTS current leads requires several leak-tight copper-to-stainless and copper-to-copper brazings. It also includes several soldered joints for transfer of large currents. The more critical brazings conveniently use cylindrical brazing interfaces, which are easier to fabricate with the required precision and to pre-inspect. The cleanliness of the parts and the environment and a thoroughly developed procedure are the key ingredients for success of these operations. Once the process is qualied, any change of the brazing equipment or procedure will require re-qualication. The qualied setup must include means to record the temperature proles during the process as measured by several sensors located on the parts. Qualication requires destructive examination of the samples, to demonstrate 100% wetting and bonding of the brazing/soldering material. The soldering is qualied if the obtained joint has a resistance below the specied limit. C. Insulation Qualication The ITER magnet feeder PA places stringent qualication requirements for the insulation material and process. The materials must meet minimum requirements on mechanical strength

and Boron content, and samples must be tested, both mechanically and electrically, before and after thermal cycling. ASIPP proposes a wet winding approach, implying emphasis on the control of the resin content and the homogeneity of the resulting composite. The cured insulation must be free of air inclusions and other forms of porosity. Qualication needs to be provided for each variant of the insulation design proposed, e.g., for TF-type and CC type. D. HTS Tapes and Stacks The production of the HTS tapes and soldering into stacks are key processes. The HTS material is being procured from two commercial vendors. CNDA relies on the companies for the QC of the tape material; the main related IO requirement is that the critical current of every 0.5 m length of tape to be used in the leads is measured. Tape is cut from the reels and placed in soldering molds with interleaved foils of Sn-3.8Ag-0.7Cu (melting point 217 C) solder and heated in vacuum (ux free) to produce stacks. The Ic of all stacks will be measured in LN2 . E. Twin-Box Joint Qualication The box-joints at the cold end of the leads use the same design as those of the entire ITER feeder system. The test of the current lead prototypes will provide the rst opportunity to test these joints under full current. V. S UMMARY In preparation for the series production of the HTS current leads for the ITER project, targeted trials of critical manufacturing steps are underway at selected Chinese suppliers. The purpose of these trials is to dene reliable processes to apply to the fabrication of the series of current leads. The written procedures based on the outcome of the trials dene in detail the technologies that will apply to the fabrication of the current leads. This documented method will be rst applied to the fabrication of the mock-ups, and the successful outcome of tests on the mock-ups will serve to validate it. Any subsequent change to the procedures will require approval by all parties concerned. R EFERENCES
[1] R. Heller et al., Experimental results of a 70 kA high temperature superconductor current lead demonstrator for the ITER magnet system, IEEE Trans. Appl. Supercond., vol. 15, p. 1496, 2005. [2] Y. Bi et al., R&D towards HTS current leads for ITER, IEEE Trans. Appl. Supercond., vol. 19, p. 1500, 2009. [3] Y. Bi et al., Test results of 52/68 kA trial HTS current leads for ITER, IEEE Trans. Appl. Supercond., vol. 20, p. 1718, 2010. [4] Y. Bi et al., Test of a 10 kA HTS current lead for ITER, IEEE Trans. Appl. Supercond., vol. 21, p. 1074, 2011. [5] A. Ballarino et al., Large scale assembly and chacterization of Bi-2223 conductors, IEEE Trans. Appl. Supercond., vol. 17, p. 3121, 2007. [6] A. Ballarino, Large capacity current leads, Phys. Scripta, vol. 468, pp. 21422148, 2008. [7] T. Taylor et al., Design of the HTS current leads for ITER, IEEE Trans. Appl. Supercond., vol. 22, pp. 48003044800304, 2012. [8] A. Ballarino et al., 3D numerical analysis of the 68 kA heat exchanger for ITER TF current leads, presented at the ASC Conf., 2012.