CER News:
ITER blanket integrated product team, led by René Raffray, passes final design review.

7 May 2013

More than 80 experts from the ITER Organization, Domestic Agencies and industry attended a 3-day Final Design Review of the ITER blanket system on April 10-12, 2013.

"The development and validation of the final design of the blanket system is a major achievement on our way to deuterium-tritium operation - the main goal of the ITER project," Blanket Integrated Product Team Leader (BIPT) and Section Leader Rene Raffray concluded at the end of the meeting. "We are looking at a first-of-a-kind fusion blanket which will operate in a first-of-a-kind fusion experimental reactor." The ITER blanket system provides the physical boundary for the plasma and contributes to the thermal and nuclear shielding of the vacuum vessel and the external machine components such as the superconducting magnets operating in the range of 4 Kelvin (-269°C). Directly facing the ultra-hot plasma and having to cope with large electromagnetic forces, while interacting with major systems and other components, the blanket is arguably the most critical and technically challenging component in ITER.

The blanket consists of 440 individual modules covering a surface of 600 m2, with more than 180 design variants depending on the segments' position inside the vacuum vessel and their functionality. Each module consists of a shield block and first wall, together measuring 1 x 1.5 metres and weighing up to 4.5 tons - dimensions that not only demand sophisticated remote handling in view of maintenance requirements during deuterium-tritium operation, but also an approach to attaching the modules which is far from trivial when considering the enormous electromagnetic forces.

The panel nevertheless pointed out some remaining issues, including a few challenging issues that need to be addressed at the project level. But thanks to the excellent quality of work performed by the BIPT, the ITER blanket design can today be called "approved." The BIPT can now turn its focus to addressing the feedback received at the Final Design Review, applying the final touches to the design, and preparing for the Procurement Arrangements, where fabrication is handed over to the Domestic Agencies, starting at the end of 2013.

Both Rene Raffray (leader of the ITER blanket BIPT) and Mark Tillack (member of the final design review committee) are members of the UCSD Center for Energy Research. More information can be found at the ITER Newsline and in the British Newspaper "The Independent".