High-current components for Hydrogen and Fusion

A sustainable economy of energy requires an efficient use of resources as well as suitable energy carriers and ways of transport. This is supported by our Research & Development in the research topic " High-current components for Hydrogen & Fusion".

Hydrogen - especially in as a cryogenic liquid LH2 - is an energy carrier with a energy density slightly higher than compressed natural gas without pushing climate change. The provided high-value cold shall be used for futher increasing energy efficiency. A combination with high-temperture superconductor (HTS) technology is beneficial. The required additional cooling effort is eleminated when HTS & LH2 technology are combined. This enables high-effiency applications in energy and power engineering in even smaller classes of power. In this topic, we focus (in collaboration with other research topics and institutes of KIT) on applications in e.g.

  • hybrid energy transport (chemical by LH2, electrical by high-current HTS)
  • liquefaction, storage and transport of LH2
  • passive components of power engineering
  • power trains based on LH2 and HTS (trucks, trains, ships, aircrafts)

 

In order to replicate the energy production in our sun in a harmless way on earth, a suitable diluted gas can be heated to temperatures of about one hundred million °C, so that nuclear fusion can occur. This gas must be enclosed and kept away from the wall of the vessel, otherwise it will cool down too quickly and heat the wall unnecessarily. For this confinement extremely strong magnetic fields are used, which can be generated energy-efficiently by means of superconducting magnetic coils. These superconductors have no resistance at very low temperatures (approx. -270°C) and thus cause almost no losses. The confinement principle with superconducting high-current magnet coils is demonstrated in Germany at W7-X  and will be demonstrated in the next few years at the JT-60SA  (Japan) and ITER (France) facilities, among others.

 

The ITEP has supported the development of this technology for years, e.g. for W7-X, JT-60SA and ITER - among other things by building and testing superconducting model coils for fusion and current leads. The expertise gained and the experimental facilities created in this process are now being used in many ways to

  • to produce high-current conductors such as the HTS cross conductor from the comparatively new high-temperature superconductors (HTS)
  • to investigate the applicability of this HTS CrossConductor (CroCo) for future fusion coils
  • to promote EU and global cooperation on the application of HTS materials in fusion (EuroFUSION and HTS4Fusion)
  • to investigate cryogenic functional and structural materials and components with regard to future fusion magnets
  • to carry out high-voltage investigations on components relevant to fusion

     

In addition to this directly fusion-related work, the focus is also on the transfer of existing know-how on issues and applications outside of fusion. Examples of this are