Towards the end of last year,
ITER's first Inner-Vertical (IVT) prototype, manufactured by
Ansaldo Nucleare, F4E's contractor, travelled from Italy to Russia's
Efremov Institute to undergo a series of high heat flux tests. It's the moment of truth for the brittle "plasma facing component" consisting of 1104 tungsten blocks weighing 0.5 t. The tests have been concluded and the component is carefully moved out of the test facility's vacuum vessel, which has been its "home" for nearly two months. The engineers confirm that it has shown the required resilience to the high thermal temperatures to which it has been exposed. The news is excellent and extremely encouraging for Europe.
The prototype's surface was "divided" into two areas which were tested successively. The curved parts received 5000 cycles at 5MWm2 and the two straight parts 5000 cycles at 10 MW/m2, followed by 300 cycles at 20 MW/m2 respectively. Having successfully completed this staged approach, the equipment has travelled back to Ansaldo Nucleare, where it will go through hydraulic, leak and dimensional tests.
"We are very pleased with the performance of the prototype. This stage is considered a turning point in the roadmap to delivering these components" explains Pierre Gavila, F4E's Technical Officer following this contract. "The tests play a fundamental role in validating the materials and the manufacturing method. We can now carry on with the remaining qualification tests which will generate additional valuable information for the fabrication of the real components." Bruno Riccardi, F4E's Divertor Co-ordinator, considers this is an important technical milestone demonstrating that the Divertor Inner-Vertical Target can be delivered in line with requirements set by ITER Organization. "Europe has the technology to allow the start of ITER operation with a full tungsten divertor."