F4E signs contracts for the Blanket First Wall full-scale prototype

The ITER First Wall will consist of 440 panels, each of which will be fixed on a shield block in order to form the Blanket modules. The Blanket will protect the vacuum vessel from neutrons and other energetic particles that are produced by the hot plasma.

With the semi-prototype of the Blanket First Wall completed earlier this year, F4E is moving full-speed ahead and has just completed the signing of the contracts related to the manufacturing of the first full-scale prototypes. As this is a technically-challenging project which requires hitherto unknown technology and in order to mitigate risks and maintain competition until the series production, F4E has signed contracts with three different entities, namely Atmostat (ALCEN group, France), AREVA (France) and a consortium which consists of AMEC (United Kingdom), Iberdrola (Spain) and MIB (Spain). Each of these companies is to manufacture a prototype of a Blanket First-Wall panel, as well as carry out specific industrialisation studies for the fabrication of the series of the 215 panels and present a cost and schedule assessment.

The First Wall consists of 6-10 mm thick beryllium tile panels of 1 m x 1.5 m which are fixed to a bi-metallic support structure made from a 15-25 mm thick Copper Chromium Zirconium (CuCrZr) alloy bonded using Hot Isostatic Pressing (HIP) to a 40-50 mm thick 316L (N) stainless steel backing plate – together these components form the Blanket modules. The Blanket is the part of the ITER machine that acts as a first barrier and protects the vacuum vessel, which is the heart of the ITER machine, from the neutrons and other energetic particles that are produced by the hot plasma. The First Wall consists of 440 panels, of which F4E will provide about half and depending on the location of the modules in the Blanket, different design parameters are necessary. During operation, the ITER First Wall panels will be cooled by pressurised water.

“We are happy work on the Blanket First Wall continues to move forward”, says Francesco Zacchia, Blanket First Wall coordinator in the F4E In-Vessel Project Team dealing with the management of the contracts. “We now look forward with anticipation to the delivery which is foreseen for early 2017 and will qualify the successful companies to participate in a future F4E Call for tender for the manufacturing of the actual ITER Blanket First Wall”.