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News Alert

ITER development progresses: Romanian scientists develop reinforced coat for fusion reactor

Brussels, 14 August 2009

Romanian scientists have developed a new technology for reinforcing the wall of a fusion reactor to resist hot plasma. This marks an important step forward for the success of ITER, the world's biggest experimental fusion reactor. The "Combined Magneton Sputtering and Ion Implantation" Technology (CMSII) - developed by the Romanian Fusion Association (Euratom/MEdC) - which is a member of the Euratom Fusion Research Programme - has been chosen as the best "coating technique " in terms of resistance to the high heat loads.

During plasma operation the vessel wall components of a fusion reactor are subject to intense thermal conditions due to the interaction between the hot plasma particles and the vessel wall. The plasma temperature in a fusion reactor is in the range 50 – 100 million °C. Under these conditions, the first wall of the tokamak (circular core) chamber is subjected to an intense thermal loading with some areas of the plasma-facing wall reaching 2000 °C or more. The new coating technique CMSII enables components to withstand these conditions. It also shows good signs of application in other industrial sectors, such as the cutting tools used in heavy industry for processing metals and other materials.

This technique will be used in the JET tokamak in England, the largest operating fusion reactor before ITER, to provide a thin coating of tungsten (10 µm) on around 1000 tiles for the new JET wall, simulating the ITER wall.  

Following laboratory development, a further challenge was to develop the technology to an industrial scale, required to coat the large quantity of tiles needed for JET. The involvement of industry, which was essential to reach this goal, presents at the same time an opportunity for the further exploitation of this technology in other industrial applications. Mechanical equipment was manufactured by SC Nuclear & Vacuum SA, a Romanian Company specialized in vacuum techniques with the electrical equipment designed and manufactured by the Plasma Surface Engineering Laboratory (PSEL) at MEdC .

The successful qualification of the new technology was carried out by the German Fusion Association in Garching, at the Max-Planck-Institut für Plasmaphysik IPP. They tested the material up to 2000 °C without any delamination of the tile coatings. The same coating technology is now also being used for around 300 in-vessel components for the IPP ASDEX upgrade tokamak.

Background

The European Commission contributes to fusion research within the Euratom Seventh Research Framework Programme lasting from 2007 to 2011 with in total €1.9 billion over this period. About €1 billion is dedicated to the ITER facility construction and €900 million to fusion research in general. The European fusion research programme is fully integrated at the European level, with a strong international dimension. The European Commission is in charge of managing the overall policy and budgets for fusion research using different instruments, among these there are 26 “Contracts of Association” between Euratom and EU member states plus Switzerland.

 

The Romanian Fusion Association:

The Romanian Fusion Association, established in December 1999, has an annual budget of about €500 000, with around 80 professional staff involved. The Association has wide experience in both the physics and technology relevant to the fusion programme. The Fusion Research Unit includes the Institute of Atomic Physics with six research groups in the National Institute for Physics and the Romanian Universities participating in the European Fusion Programme,  as follows: The National Institute for Laser, Plasma and Radiation Physics (NILPRP), Magurele-Bucharest, The "Horia Hulubei" National Institute of R&D for Physics and Nuclear Engineering (IFIN-HH), Magurele-Bucharest, The National Institute of R&D for Cryogenics and Isotope Technologies (ICIT), Ramnicu Valcea, The University of Craiova (UCv), Craiova, The Technical University of Cluj-Napoca (TUCN), Cluj-Napoca and The “Al. I. Cuza” University (UAIC), Iasi.

Contacts:
Steven Booth, steven.booth@ec.europa.eu Tel: +32 2 29 63548

Florian Frank, florian.frank@ec.europa.eu, Tel.: ++32 2 29 97934