Design, construction and test of a prototype coil with demountable CuBe joints for pulsed table-top tokamaks




CuBe conical contacts, demountable coil, pulsed magnetic field, table-top tokamak


In a classic small tokamak, the magnetic confinement is achieved by toroidal coils that fit into a donut-shape mechanical structure. To facilitate their handling and maintenance as well as the access to various auxiliaries components, their design has evolved toward a modular configuration. For such demountable design, it is important to guarantee the electrical continuity of the winding of the coil across the modular parts through electrical contacts. The resulting joints rely on pressure and specific materials to transfer high current densities at a good mechanical stability and manageable losses. In the present work, a prototype of a circular demountable toroidal field coil (CDTFC) was designed and built to test some technical choices to be used in the final coils of a table-top tokamak referred to as TPM-1U. For this small tokamak, the magnet wires to wind the toroidal coils should be able to handle large pulsed currents in the tens of thousands of Amperes whereas the coil joints should handle a peak current density of at least 75 kA/cm2. The case study here is the TPM-U1 table-top tokamak. Its conceptual design is recalled and mechanical and magnetic details of the demountable coil prototype are provided. For the experimental test, the contacts were slightly pressed using a custom-made contact assembly and current pulses between 4 kA and 8 kA were fed
to the coil prototype. The degradation of the joint was visually estimated by assessing the amount of micro-melting, plastic deformation and oxidation appearing at the interface between the materials in contact. It is shown that the selected AWG-04 magnet wire is appropriate for carrying kiloAmpere range pulsed currents and that the CuBe contacts are able to withstand current densities larger than the specification, up to 263 kA/cm2, under low contact pressures of a few mega-Pascal simplifying their handling. Some technical choices have been probed on a prototype coil yielding a generic sequence of tasks to build and test mechanically and electromagnetically demountable coils and their joints.

Author Biographies

Miguel Lindero-Hern´andez, UNAM, Instituto de ingeniería

Eléctrica y computación


Frederic Trillaud, UNAM, Instituto de Ingeniería

Eléctrica y computación

Investigador Definitivo  Titular A,  SNI II

Martín Nieto, PennState, Ken and Mary Alice Lindquist Department of Nuclear Engineering

Nuclear Engineering

Associate Teaching Professor


Alvaro Montoya, Universidad Politécnica de Querétaro

Ingeniería mecánica

Profesor investigador SNI I

Daniel Hernández, Tecnológico Nacional de México


Profesor titular C


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How to Cite

M. Lindero-Hern´andez, F. Trillaud, M. Nieto, A. Montoya, and D. Hernández, “Design, construction and test of a prototype coil with demountable CuBe joints for pulsed table-top tokamaks”, Rev. Mex. Fís., vol. 70, no. 2 Mar-Apr, pp. 021501 1–, Mar. 2024.