Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Mechanical Engineering

Major Professor

Madhu S. Madhukar

Committee Members

John D. Landes, J.A.M. Boulet


Fusion energy has been said to be the solution to all the world’s energy problems. The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) is the flagship project to demonstrate the feasibility of fusion energy. The Central Solenoid (CS), an important component of the reactor, is needed to induce plasma current, initiate, ramp-up, ramp-down, and sustain plasma in a very controlled manner. In order to achieve this, the CS coil packs must be manufactured under controlled conditions. The CS conductor is an advanced cable-in-conduit Nb3Sn superconductor. The CS cable will be made in long continuous sections but with thousands of meter of cable needed, splices will have to be made in the field during construction of the ITER reactor. With the ends of the CS cable being exposed to the environment for an unspecified amount of time, concern has been expressed about the effect of the cable exposure on the quality of the splice. As a result an experimental program was devised to replicate and expedite the environmental damage the cable may see while in the field.

The CS cable samples were exposed to 100% humidity at 60, 80, and 100oC for periods ranging from one week to four weeks. Once the samples were soaked for a period of time they were then sintered as would be done in the field. After sintering the mechanical tests were done to determine the load required to push the sintered strands out of the copper sleeve. Initial results obtained with samples having the sleeve thickness of 1.25mm (0.05in) were inconclusive due to the presence of a fold in the copper sleeve formed during the compaction of the sleeve around the cable. To prevent the fold formation, another set of samples were prepared with thicker copper sleeve of 5mm (0.20in).

Results from these samples yielded data that was more conclusive and showed a possible correlation between aging temperature and sintering strength. The experimental data suggests that the thin oxide layer formed during the elevated temperature soak at 100% humidity may even be beneficial to the sinter quality.

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