Mitsubishi Heavy Industries supplies ITER fusion blanket testing systems

06 July 2022

Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) has delivered equipment for confirming and demonstrating the safety of the 'blanket' of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER). The blanket is one of the components that comprises the inner wall of the fusion reactor.

The High Heat Flux Test Equipment (Image: MHI)

The testing equipment supplied by MHI comprises four systems: the High Heat Flux Test Equipment, the In Box Water Eruption Test Equipment, the Be-Water Reaction Test Equipment; and the Flow Assisted Corrosion Test Loop.

MHI delivered the equipment to the Rokkasho Fusion Institute in Aomori Prefecture, part of Japan's National Institutes for Quantum Science and Technology (QST). The blanket system being developed at this research centre will be used as Japan's Test Blanket Module (TBM) for the ITER-TBM project, the world's first test of blanket systems in an actual reactor environment, at ITER, in Cadarache, southern France.

These testing systems will be used for various experiments aimed at developing a blanket system for the ITER-TBM project, and to confirm its safety.

The blanket extracts the heat generated by the fusion reactor, as well as provides for breeding and self-sustainment of tritium, which is used as fuel. Neutron irradiation of a lithium compound in the blanket is used to produce and supplement the tritium that is consumed in the reaction process.

ITER-TBM is a project to conduct functional demonstration testing of different TBM systems, each developed independently by four of the seven participating parties (Japan, the EU, the USA, Russia, South Korea, China and India). Because the results from this project will influence the relative merits of blanket systems for commercial reactors in the future, each country is actively developing TBMs with demonstrated functionality and safety. In Japan, QST, as the domestic agency for the ITER Project, is leading the development of the country's blanket system.

"Following the delivery of testing equipment, MHI has strong intention to contribute to the development of a blanket system for the ITER-TBM project through providing other systems/components such as TBMs," the company said.

MHI was previously awarded contracts from QST for the manufacture of core components for ITER, including five (of a total of 19) toroidal field coils, four of which have been shipped, and six units of the divertor outer vertical targets, which are currently being manufactured.

ITER is a major international project to build a tokamak fusion device designed to prove the feasibility of fusion as a large-scale and carbon-free source of energy. The goal of ITER is to operate at 500 MW (for at least 400 seconds continuously) with 50 MW of plasma heating power input. It appears that an additional 300 MWe of electricity input may be required in operation. No electricity will be generated at ITER. First plasma is planned for 2025, with deuterium-tritium fusion experiments commencing in 2035.

The European Union is contributing almost half of the cost of its construction, while the other six members are contributing equally to the rest.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News