ITER, the world’s largest international scientific collaboration, is beginning assembly of the fusion reactor tokamak that will include 12 different essential hardware systems provided by US ITER, which is managed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
The systems include superconductors for the toroidal field magnet system and ORNL-developed pellet injection technology for plasma fueling and performance. These critical components will help ITER achieve its mission to demonstrate a self-heated, burning plasma and 500 megawatts of fusion power.
The 60-foot-tall (18-meter-tall) central solenoid magnet, also fabricated under ORNL management, is considered the “heart of ITER” because it will initiate and drive plasma current inside the tokamak.
“The start of ITER tokamak assembly is a momentous milestone for the project and makes the fusion community — at Oak Ridge and around the world — excited for the future,” Kathy McCarthy, US ITER project director, said.
The first shipment of central solenoid modules to ITER, located in southern France, will begin later this year.
Isotopes — Improved process for medicine
Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers have discovered a better way to separate actinium-227, a rare isotope essential for an FDA-approved cancer treatment.
To produce Ac-227, researchers recover radium-226 from obsolete medical devices and fabricate it into targets that are irradiated in the High Flux Isotope Reactor. Ac-227 is then separated from the targets and purified.
Initially, researchers used caustic solution to dissolve targets, but recently they developed an approach using an acidic solution.
“From that one simple step, we increased actinium yield, minimized waste production, optimized our processing timeframe, and made it easier to recycle radium,” said ORNL’s Roy Copping. “This is an important project for the lab, and it’s of enormous benefit to mankind.”