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Media Corner
30 May 2017

Europe celebrates its leadership in magnets technology

Representatives of F4E and ITER Organization together with Europe’s industrial partners (ASG Superconductors, CNIM, Elytt, Iberdrola Ingenieria y Construcción, ICAS, SIMIC)

Europe’s first completed Toroidal Field coil winding pack, the core of the ITER magnets which will confine the super-hot ITER plasma , represents eight years of hard work performed by F4E in collaboration with 26 industrial partners and at least 600 people all over Europe. They have all been working side by side sharing their know-how, racing against time to meet the tight deadlines in order to deliver this one-of-a-kind component. Manufacturing the most high-tech magnet in history is an important achievement which calls for a celebration. Above all it is the moment of recognition of the solid work put by all parties.

For this reason, on the premises of ASG Superconductors, La Spezia, a small ceremony has been organised bringing together 80 representatives from the various European companies contributing to this achievement, together with various stakeholders and journalists. It has been an opportunity for Europe to showcase its leadership and to demonstrate its capacity to innovate. The facility, which used to be the site of a washing machines factory, has become a hub of expertise in the field of magnets by retraining its original workforce and installing state of the art tooling.

(L-R front row: Alessandro Bonito-Oliva (F4E), Johannes Schwemmer (F4E), Bernard Bigot (ITER Organization), Edoardo Rixi, regional councilor of Luguria for industry, and Massimo Federici, mayor of La Spezia)

Davide Malacalza, Managing Director of Hofima SpA and Chairman of ASG Superconductors, opened the event giving a warm welcome to all guests by offering an overview of the group’s activities. ASG counts a collaboration of more than 50 years with EU research centres. The company has become a pioneer in magnets technology and has managed to retrain its staff by being involved in scientific and medical projects. Massimo Federici, the mayor of La Spezia, congratulated the people involved in this milestone and stressed the economic effects stemming from the industrial facility for the city and the region. The transformation of this facility has also been addressed by Edoardo Rixi, regional councilor of Luguria for industry, who explained that equipping people with new skills helps us to unleash both their potential and that of the region.

Davide Malacalza, Managing Director of Hofima SpA and Chairman of ASG Superconductors presenting the work of ASG
Edoardo Rixi, Regional Councilor of Liguria for Industry

Bernard Bigot, Director General of ITER Organization, praised the collaboration of all companies and described ITER as a project full of opportunities for big and smaller economic operators. The need to generate a sustainable energy source and the challenges posed by climate change require a global alliance in line with what ITER proposes. Johannes Schwemmer, Director of F4E, presented the merits of fusion energy, elaborated on Europe’s contribution to ITER and focused on Italy’s record in the production of ITER components commenting on the strong involvement of its industry.

Bernard Bigot, ITER Director General, congratulating Europe for this achievement
Johannes Schwemmer, Director of Fusion for Energy, explaining Europe’s contribution to ITER

To understand the complexity of the impressive magnet, a technical briefing gathered representatives from F4E and the various consortia involved in the stages of manufacturing. Alessandro Bonito-Oliva, F4E’s Project Manager for Magnets, described Europe’s strategy for the procurement of magnets, its effect in spreading expertise and maintaining a healthy degree of competition between companies. Antonio della Corte, President of ICAS, Italy’s Consortium for Applied Superconductivity, described how ENEA in collaboration with Tratos and Criotec produced the part of the conductor which nestles in the magnet and how this partnership, between a laboratory and two companies, has proved beneficial. Philippe Lazare, CNIM’s CEO for Industrial Systems Division, summarised the work performed by his company and SIMIC vis `a vis the production of the 70 radial plates that protect in their grooves the conductor. The capacity to manufacture large components with extreme accuracy, the investment in infrastructure and new talent were amongst the points that he raised. Stefano Pittaluga, ASG’s Project Manager for ITER magnets, presented the work performed together with Iberdrola Ingenieria y Construcción and Elytt. The sophisticated engineering and tooling for the production of the magnets were presented in detail together with the upgrades that have been performed in the facility. Finally, Paolo Barbero, SIMIC Project Manager for the two contracts that the company has signed with F4E, described the work performed for the production of SIMIC’s share of the radial plates plus the cold tests of the TF coil magnets and their insertion in the cases. Through their narratives, the speakers helped the audience to comprehend how we have converted a conceptual design into a real component and the challenges we have faced along the way.

(L-R) Aris Apollonatos (F4E), Alessandro Bonito-Oliva (F4E), Antonio della Corte (ICAS), Philippe Lazare (CNIM), Stefano Pittaluga (ASG), Paolo Barbero (SIMIC)

The event concluded with a guided tour in ASG offering all guests the possibility to view the different tooling stations and magnets in progress. It is not usual practice for a facility to open its doors to so many people and present in detail the process of manufacturing. But then again, producing the most high-tech magnets in history is an exceptional achievement and one that begs for exceptional treatment. Europe, the largest contributor of all ITER parties, with the help of its industrial partners has exhibited that by working together we can deliver!

If you would like to take a virtual tour in the facility visit F4E's Facebook page or use the Roundme application.

(L-R) Stefano Pittaluga (ASG), Neil Mitchell (ITER Organization), Bernard Bigot (ITER Organization), Alessandro Bonito-Oliva (F4E), Johannes Schwemmer (F4E) during the guided tour in the facility commenting on the terminations of the winding pack.
Representatives of the F4E and ASG workforces at Europe’s ITER Toroidal Field coils facility