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Of Interest

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Blanket first wall

Manufacturing kicks off in Europe

For one of the most demanding technological components of the ITER machine—the first wall of the blanket—the European Domestic Agency Fusion for Energy made the decision early on to involve different suppliers in a multiyear manufacturing qualification effort that concluded with the realization of full-scale prototypes. The effort has paid off, as two consortia have now been awarded production contracts.

A real-size prototype of the ITER blanket first wall panel produced by Atmostat-Alsyom for Fusion for Energy. Europe is responsible for 215 out of the 440 first wall panels required for the ITER device. (Click to view larger version...)
A real-size prototype of the ITER blanket first wall panel produced by Atmostat-Alsyom for Fusion for Energy. Europe is responsible for 215 out of the 440 first wall panels required for the ITER device.
Completely covering the interior surfaces of the ITER vacuum vessel is the "blanket"—a protective component designed to protect the rest of the reactor by absorbing most of the radiative and particle heat fluxes from the hot plasma, as well as by stopping or slowing down most of the neutrons that result from the fusion reactions.

The blanket is a modular component consisting of a shield block (for neutron shielding) and a plasma-facing, detachable first wall panel in the front that directly faces the plasma and removes the plasma heat load.

Each of first wall panels measures 1 x 1.5 metres (height x length), and is coated with a 6- to 10-millimetre layer of beryllium armour tiles bonded to a copper alloy heat sink mounted on a stainless steel structure. Of 440 panels required, approximately half are under the procurement responsibility of the European Domestic Agency, Fusion for Energy: 215 normal heat flux first wall panels designed for heat fluxes of up to 2 MW/m². (China and Russia are sharing the procurement of 225 enhanced heat flux panels designed for 4.7 MW/m².)

Fusion for Energy has signed contracts with two consortia—Atmostat-Alsyom, and Fusion Business Leadership (a legal entity made of the Spanish firms Leading and Empresarios Agrupados)—for the production of the first series of panels.  Each group will have to set up and qualify its production line, and produce 27 panels plus 3 as part of the pre-series. The production of the rest of the panels to be provided by Europe will materialize through additional contracts that will be awarded from 2024 onwards following a reopening of competition between both consortia.

Stefano Banetta, first wall project manager at Fusion for Energy, has been following the progress of first wall development for the last ten years. "The signature of [these contracts] marks the end of a long period of R&D, during which we collectively refined the manufacturing processes and developed the necessary skills. We are now ready, and very excited, to start manufacturing the real components that will be part of the ITER device."

Read the full report on the Fusion for Energy website.



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