ITER will host a plasma of 150 million ° C during the fusion reaction and not many materials are capable of withstanding this kind of temperatures. A special component – the blanket – has been designed to act as a protection against the high heat and the energetic particles that are produced by the hot plasma and which cause the inside of the machine to wear. This blanket consists of 448 modules, each one composed of a stainless steel shield block to which a first wall panel is bolted. Those first wall panels are made up of a stainless steel support structure and copper alloy plates to which tiles made of beryllium are joined.
F4E is responsible for the supply of 48% of the ITER first wall panels of the blanket, while Russia contributes 40% and China the remaining 12%. The shield blocks are shared in equal parts among the Chinese and Korean ITER Domestic Agencies. Representatives from all these agencies as well as the ITER IO Central Team make up the Blanket Integrated Product Team (BIPT). The group recently held a meeting at the F4E offices in Barcelona in order to exchange information on the design and procurement activities of the ITER Blanket project. “The purpose of this type of meeting is to share information, get industrial feedback experience from on-going manufacture of components and improve collaboration amongst all the relevant ITER Domestic Agencies by face-to-face interaction”, explains Stefano Banetta, F4E’s Technical Officer responsible for the procurement of F4E’s share of first wall panels. “One of our objectives in doing this, is to simplify the design, the fabrication route and the procurement of common parts, thus reducing the costs for the blanket components and optimising the schedule”, he concludes.