Critical Materials for High Field Fusion Needs and A Potential Alternative HTS

Y. Zhai
Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory,
United States

Keywords: High temperature superconducting magnets, critical materials, fusion energy systems


U.S. strategic reports emphasize fusion pilot plants to be constructed in 2030s and operated in 2030-2040s, with the goal to make 50-100 MW net electricity extended to long pulses to bring fusion to the U.S. grid. Additional generation resources of 30+ GW are needed annually from ‘40 to ‘50 based on reference case analysis. High temperature superconductor (HTS) is identified to be a potential “game changer” for commercialization of fusion by offering higher magnetic fields and winding pack current densities. Private fusion startup companies adopted the 2G ReBCO (rare-earth barium copper oxide) coated conductor for their reactor design; more than tens of thousands kilometer conductors are needed to meet the demand for fusion. PPPL is exploring many innovation opportunities, including HTS magnets of advanced plasma and coil winding configurations, advanced structural and radiation tolerant insulation materials, to enable a compact fusion pilot plant (FPP) to address integration risks. Ensuring HTS supply chains and production capabilities is critical to de-risk fusion power plants toward low carbon energy systems. Significant scale up of critical HTS materials production is needed. PPPL is working with US vendors on exploring multiple viable conductor and cable options with a focus on size and scalability to accelerate HTS for FPPs. In particular, BSCCO was proven to be a mature conductor technology of powder-in-tube (PIT) fabrication process (as in Nb3Sn LTS conductors) with a commercial record of ~100,000 km Bi-2223 production by Sumitomo and Bruker.