19 May 2017

Nuclear industry and Big Science

French technology at the heart of the most high-tech magnet in history!

The world’s most sophisticated magnet is ready! It will form part of the equipment to be installed in ITER, the world's largest experimental fusion reactor, which has been designed to demonstrate the scientific and technological feasibility of fusion energy. By contributing to this technological achievement, CNIM is enhancing the prestige of French industry and expanding the frontiers of scientific knowledge. 

Powerful superconducting magnets known as toroidal field (TF) coils will be manufactured to confine ITER’s super-hot plasma, which is expected to reach 150 million °C. Each of these coils will be 14 m high and 10 m wide, and will weigh approximately 300 tonnes – as much as a Boeing 747. Powered by a 68,000 amp current, ITER’s TF coils will generate a magnetic field of up to 11.8 tesla – a million times stronger than the magnetic field of the Earth! ITER will have a total of 18 TF coils, of which ten will be manufactured in Europe (nine plus one spare) and nine in Japan.

CNIM’s involvement in the ITER project stems from a contract signed with Fusion for Energy (F4E), the European Union organization that manages Europe’s contribution to ITER, under which CNIM was in charge of manufacturing 35 radial plates for the magnet. Each of these metal plates will contain a superconducting cable, housed in a groove with a laser-welded cover. The cables will be electrically isolated and fixed in the grooves with resin. In total, 70 radial plates were required for Europe’s TF coils, which were supplied jointly by CNIM and SIMIC under a €150 million contract.

Philippe Lazare, CEO of the CNIM Industrial Systems Division, says, “In order to manufacture our share of ITER components, we had to upgrade our industrial facilities, establish new working methods and train new talent. In return, we have become a French leader in the high-precision manufacturing of large components.”


  • To find out how CNIM produced the ITER radial plates, click here
  • To view images of the radial plates made by CNIM, click here
  • To read our story about radial plates project and key figures, click here

(c) Fusion For Energy