China launches Iter tritium breeding project

17 March 2021

The first project of the Chinese Helium-Cooled Ceramic Breeder Test Blanket System (HCCB TBS) for the Iter fusion reactor project was launched on 15 March at China National Nuclear Corporation's (CNNC's) Southwestern Institute of Physics in Chengdu, Sichuan province. It marks the start of China's implementation phase of tritium breeding technology in Iter.

(Image: CNNC)

A tritium breeding blanket is a core component for future fusion reactors to realise tritium breeding self-sufficiency and electricity generation, CNNC said. The Iter Test Blanket Modules (TBMs) programme aims to carry out tritium breeding blanket technology verification in the real fusion reactor environment provided by ITER. The HCCB TBS system is a vital part of China's participation in the ITER programme.

The CNNC Southwestern Institute of Physics has led the completion of the preliminary pre-development and design of the system, and officially taken over the engineering design and system R&D and testing tasks assigned by China.

Organised by the China International Nuclear Fusion Energy Programme Execution Centre (ITER China Domestic Agency) with the support of the Ministry of Science and Technology of China, the CNNC Southwestern Institute of Physics, in collaboration with all other participants, has overcome various manufacturing difficulties throughout more than a decade's design and R&D process; verified through internationally advanced technology the feasibility of the Iter test blanket system proposed by China; and cultivated an innovative research team with international vision. Meanwhile, in order to ensure the smooth start and implementation of the project, the CNNC Southwestern Institute of Physics has established a nuclear safety and quality guarantee system that meets the requirements of Iter, and has formulated a detailed implementation plan.

CNNC said the signing of the contract and the successful delivery of the launch will further advance the design and development of the project's system integration and test blankets, laying a solid foundation for future manufacturing and delivery, as well as testing and operation in Iter.

Since it joined the Iter project in 2003, China has actively participated in the Iter test blanket programme. It proposed and developed the concept of HCCB TBS. In 2014, ITER China Domestic Agency signed a contract with the ITER Organisation for China to independently design and manufacture HCCB TBS and conduct experimental tests in Iter.

Iter is a major international project to build a 500 MWt tokamak fusion device (requiring an input of 50 MWe) designed to prove the feasibility of fusion as a large-scale and carbon-free source of energy. The European Union is contributing almost half of the cost of its construction, while the other six members (China, India, Japan, South Korea, Russia and the USA) are contributing equally to the rest. First plasma is planned for 2025, with deuterium-tritium fusion experiments commencing in 2035.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News