Poles in ITER project – one of the most expensive scientific investments in the world

Poles help harness Earth’s stellar energy. Scientists from the Technical University of Lodz are involved in the creation of the ITER tokamak – an experimental thermonuclear reactor that is being built in France. It is one of the most expensive scientific investments in the world – it has already consumed more than 18 billion euros.

The ITER reactor project underway in the south of France is to be the basis for future fusion power plants.

The ITER reactor has a tokamak design – a device thatore allows for a controlled thermonuclear reaction. Such reactions occur in nature – they are (along with gravitational energy) the mainoIn the south of France, the ITER project is to be the basis for future fusion power plantsoThe source of stellar energy. According to an expertoin reactor construction, in whichorym can carry out similar reactions, will help solve the problem of producing clean electricity. In practice, this means that in the future, with the help of a tokamakow will be able to generate electricity without burdening the environment.

ITER – the largest tokamak ever built – will allow positive energy balance for the first time in history. This means that it will produce more energy than will be supplied to it – mowi PAP dr. hab. Eng Dariusz Makowski of the Department of Microelectronics and Information Technology (KMiTI) at the University of Łódź.

– In the case of ITER, as a result of the delivery of 50 MW, it is planned to obtain approx. 500 MW of energy. However, in the future this efficiency will be able to be significantly increased. I think that thermonuclear fusion will make it possible to obtain as much – or more – energy than in current nuclear power plants, Dr. Makowski added, whichory coordinates the project on behalf of the PL.

ITER will not function as a power plant; it is a demonstration and typically scientific project. It is to be used to explore the possibilities associated with large-scale controlled fusion energy production.

– HeadoThe main principle of its operation is to map the process ofow, ktore occur on the Sun and produce energy in massive quantities. The input fuel for the ITER tokamak will be deuterium and tritium, with which theorych thermonuclear reaction will create heavier elements, i.e. helium – and the huge amounts of energy thatowhich will be able to be used to produce electricity. Ultimately, we aim to produce no wasteoin radioactive, as is the case with nuclear power plants,” says Dr. Makowski.

According to the head of KMiTI prof. According to Prof. Andrzej Napieralski, the use of such solutions resembles the situation in which theorej energy of the Sun would be transferred to Earth. – We are striving to ensure that no more sources ofocoal and oil bottoms, but to get the energy that is on the Sun also on Earth,” he added.

In order to obtain controlled nuclear fusion, a tokamak (a device with toroidal coils) is precisely necessary, in which theorym – thanks to a strong magnetic field – hot plasma ring is maintained. – Plasma at 200 million degrees Celsius circulates in a magnetic field, making thermonuclear fusion possible. Our role is to monitor this process so that the plasma does not touch the walls of the chamber – added Prof. Napieralski.

The scientists emphasize that the construction of ITER involves the EU, the United States, Japan, South Korea and the USA., China, Russia and India.

Researchers from the LoThe two companies have been participating in the project since 2010. They are developing IC (Instrumentation and Control) instrumentation and control subsystems to ensure stable control of the tokamak, guaranteeing safe operation, plasma diagnostics, and allowing physical testing of.

Among the more serious challenges, the researchers include the development of a design methodology for systemoThe researchers of the Ł University of Technology are working on the development of a new system, starting with a diagnostic system and providing a completeoin electronic and software.

– It is on our side to develop the requirements for these systemsoin diagnostics, preparation of design documentation, execution of the design, implementation, development of low- and high-level software, and ending with test cases, tests and operating instructions, ktoWe need to provide ITER with a complete system,” explained the coordinator of the project on behalf of the PLA.

The most important part of the instrumentation and control system is the data acquisition system, collecting signals from tens of thousands of sensorsow, digital and analog. ITER will measure approx. 100 thousand. analog values, such as temperature, flow velocity, or electron density of the plasma.

Building such roThe researchers at the Technical University of Loin measurement is a challenge and requires the use of the latest real-time data processing technologies, i.e. FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) chips, GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) and CPU (Central Processing Unit) processors, and a suitably flexible hardware platform to integrate the systemoin diagnostics and data processing.

– Our task is to develop a methodology for designing such systemsow, starting with the systemoin electronic, the projectoin the circuitoin the printed circuit, interfaceow, software systemoin an FPGA, whichore allow us to record images ofoin and signaloin analog, e.g. temperatures measured inside the tokamak – and, ultimately, to control the plasma itself and maintain it in stable conditions,” says the scientist.

Plasma diagnostics requires roalso use the systemoin vision, ktore use cameras and detectors operating over a wide range – from visible, infrared to gamma rays.

– Vision systems observe plasma with ultrafast cameras capable of performing up to 200,000. frames per second. Here, too, there are a number of challenges due to the huge amount of data to be delivered. From one such camera comes approx. 8 GB of data per second, and such cameras in the ITER project will be ok. 200, so there are massive amounts of data thatore needs to be processed in real time,” stressed Dr. Makowski.

The tokamak’s diagnostic systems will be provided by roThe different countries involved in the project. Therefore – according to scientistsow – to ensure their compatibility, it is important to use a unified methodology for building systemsoin control, data acquisition and processing.

According to the scientist, nuclear fusion is the energy future on Earth, whichora, however, will not soon be realized. For ITER, the first plasma ignition is scheduled for 2025., and only in 2035 should the tokamak be operating at target parameters.

– The first fusion power plants are planned for 2040-2050. It is hoped that it will then be possible to replace the now-deserted nuclear power plants with new ones based on thermonuclear fusion,” concluded Dr. Hab. Eng Dariusz Makowski of the PL.

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