TWI has been awarded a major framework contract to support the fabrication of key components of the ITER nuclear fusion reactor, by Fusion for Energy (F4E), the organisation delivering the European contribution to the ground-breaking ITER International Fusion Energy project. ITER is a first-of-a-kind global collaboration. It will be the world's largest experimental fusion facility and is designed to demonstrate the scientific and technological feasibility of fusion power.
The four-year contract will see TWI (with subcontractors Ceram and The Test House) provide engineering support to F4E on the performance of materials, joining, structural integrity of joints and non-destructive testing activities in support of the manufacture of components such as the vacuum vessel, magnets system, remote handling equipment and in-vessel parts. The core of ITER is the ‘Tokamak’ based doughnut-shaped vacuum vessel in which plasma is heated and confined in magnetic fields, as no solid material could withstand the extremely high temperature of the plasma necessary for fusion to occur at around 150 million degrees Centigrade.
The construction of ITER, underway at Cadarache southern France, is the next exciting phase of an international fusion development programme to meet the world’s demand for clean and sustainable energy. It builds on the knowledge gathered from various global fusion energy projects including the Joint European Torus (JET) fusion reactor in Oxfordshire UK, where, almost thirty years ago, the first plasma was achieved by fusing light atoms.
Calling upon all of TWI’s technical specialisms and encompassing many metallic and composite materials, the support TWI will provide to F4E will include: engineering and materials studies; assessment and testing of joining technologies including destructive and non-destructive testing; specification of design and manufacturing procedures; failure analysis; technical audits; and ensuring appropriate certification, validation and qualification of all procedures and personnel involved in the build of components for the reactor.
TWI Chief Executive Christoph Wiesner commented, ‘TWI has supported fusion projects for over 30 years as the science has developed from concept into reality. The award of this contract by F4E recognises TWI’s unique expertise and independence in all aspects of materials joining technology, which are critical for the design and fabrication of the reactor components and ultimately to the success of the ITER project. TWI is very proud to play its part in this project which has a vital role in the world’s drive to secure sustainable, low carbon forms of power generation.’