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Alstom and Oxford Instruments Team Up to Offer Niobium-Tin Superconducting Strand

Alstom Magnets and Superconductors of Belfort, France (a wholly owned subsidiary of Alstom) and Oxford Superconducting Technology of Carteret, NJ, USA (a wholly owned subsidiary of Oxford Instruments, plc) are pleased to announce the creation of an alliance focused on winning supply contracts in the European Union for niobium-tin superconducting strand for ITER, a joint international research and development project that aims to demonstrate the scientific and technical feasibility of fusion power.

ITER will be one of the largest scientific projects ever undertaken, second perhaps only to the International Space Station. The facility will be built in Cadarache, France, a research center for nuclear energy created in 1959 by the Commissariat à l'Énergie Atomique.

Nuclear fusion taps energy from reactions like those that heat the Sun, using fuel sources that are abundantly available, and accessible to all nations. Fusion is seen as a cleaner approach to power production than nuclear fission and fossil fuels.

The ITER device is based on the tokamak concept, and will make extensive use of Nb3Sn superconducting magnets to contain the fusion reaction. Nb3Sn is an intermetallic superconductor with a critical temperature of 18 K and a critical magnetic field greater than 25 Tesla. More than 500 tonnes of niobum-tin superconducting strand will be used in the construction of the ITER magnets, of which at least 90 tonnes are expected to be sourced in the EU. The Alstom - Oxford Instruments consortium expects to be one of four manufacturers of niobium-tin superconductors competing to supply EU ITER; (the 90 tonnes of niobium-tin have an expected market value of €47 million).

Commenting on the agreement, Steven Parker, President of Oxford Superconducting Technology, and the Commercial Director for Oxford Instruments said, “I’m delighted with the opportunity to collaborate on the supply of conductor to ITER. OST’s advanced niobium-tin strand design and manufacturing technology, coupled with the strong operational capabilities at Alstom should provide a very robust platform from which we can jointly supply the ITER project.”

Gerard Grunblatt, Managing Director of Alstom Magnets and Superconductors said, “We believe that the combination of Alstom’s industrial strength in superconductors and OST’s excellence in Nb3Sn technology will be an asset for the ITER project and for the partners. The success of Alstom in this field can be seen by our supply of Large Hadron Collider project of CERN, near Geneva. This project required the largest-ever quantities of superconductors and Alstom has provided 50 percent of the required amount, with the balance being supplied by five other factories worldwide

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