Simulation to Help Harness Nuclear Fusion

ITER will use Ansys technology to help develop the world's largest nuclear fusion power plant.

ITER will use Ansys technology to help develop the world's largest nuclear fusion power plant.

The central solenoid forms the spine of the ITER tokamak machine, which induces the plasma current and maintains it throughout the discharge. Ansys simulation tools will be used to develop key components of the fusion power plant. Image courtesy of ITER.

The ITER Organization is collaborating with Ansys to optimize electromagnetic (EM) structure design and performance for the ITER, the largest nuclear fusion plant created to deliver net energy and maintain fusion for long durations. Through a new multi-year agreement, Ansys will work with ITER engineers to improve project risk management, streamlining system development and meeting critical safety requirements, the company said in a press release.

Producing a self-sustaining fusion reaction requires an ionized plasma of hydrogen isotopes to be heated to approximately 150 million C°. To sustain this extreme temperature while containing the plasma, the ITER tokamak (a plasma confinement structure) uses an array of massive superconducting magnets, which creates an invisible magnetic cage inside the metal vacuum vessel of the tokamak. ITER engineers leverage Ansys simulation solutions to design the EM structures. 

The company uses Ansys Fluent to validate the extreme cooling system and build the documents that ITER engineers will use to ensure the system design is robust and complies with strict project and industry safety standards. Additionally, Ansys Mechanical is used by the engineers who build the structural supports that secure the ITER’s base.

“Ansys simulation solutions will continue to help our team to satisfy the required safety and accuracy levels for this first-of-a-kind initiative,” said Bernard Bigot, director-general of the ITER Organization. “For ITER to achieve hydrogen fusion at industrial scale requires unprecedented levels of engineering precision, so it is incredibly important that our simulation software is highly reliable and efficient. Ansys has consistently delivered that capability to us for many years, enabling our team to safely push boundaries, dream bigger and deliver Earth’s biggest fusion reactor.”

“To power the sun and the stars, light atoms fuse at very high pressures and temperatures. Replicating this process on Earth with ITER will help solve the world’s energy demands, however, engineers must overcome extremely difficult design challenges,” said Prith Banerjee, chief technology officer at Ansys. “Using Ansys simulations, ITER engineers are rapidly building a structurally sound fusion power reactor, drastically reducing the EM structures’ material content and substantially decreasing the plant’s development cost – driving the delivery of clean, sustainable energy for our planet.” 

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