UK Consortium Formed to Bid for ITER Fusion Reactor Vessel

UK companies have formed a consortium to bid for construction of the main reactor vacuum vessel of the €5 billion ITER (International Tokamak Experimental Reactor) nuclear fusion reactor, being built in Cadarache, France.

The consortium comprises engineering consultancy AMEC that will provide design engineering and programme management services, Davy Markham - a specialist in the fabrication and machining of large structures - and precision fabricator Metalcraft. The Welding Institute will also provide specialist support that will be needed during the construction of the vacuum vessel segments.

One of the world's largest international co-operative research and development projects, ITER will demonstrate the integrated physics and engineering needed for a fusion power station and is expected to produce 500MW of power.

It will be at least twice the linear dimensions and sixteen times the mass of the Joint European Torus (JET) reactor vessel in Oxfordshire, currently the world's largest fusion reactor.

Europe and Korea are building the ITER vacuum vessel; consisting of nine D-shaped, vacuum vessel sectors, each weighing about 450tonnes, its external diameter will measure 19.4 m, with an internal diameter of 6.5 m. Once assembled, the entire structure will be 11.3m high. When all the vacuum vessel's shielding and port structures are included, it will weigh in excess of 5000 tonnes.

Kevin Parkin, managing director of Sheffield-based Davy Markham said: "ITER represents an exciting business opportunity for ourselves and the rest of UK engineering. The vacuum vessel is a significant engineering challenge that no single company is capable of supplying."

J Cunningham

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