Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd (MHI) has completed delivery of testing equipment to the Rokkasho Fusion Institute in Aomori Prefecture, part of Japan’s National Institutes for Quantum Science and Technology (QST), to confirm and demonstrate the safety of the “blanket,” a core component of a nuclear fusion reactor.

The blanket system being developed at the institute will be used as Japan’s Test Blanket Module (TBM) for the Iter-TBM project, the world’s first test of blanket systems in a real reactor environment, at the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (Iter) under construction in Saint-Paul-lès-Durance in southern France. Following the delivery of testing equipment, MHI said it has the “strong intention to contribute to the development of a blanket system for the Iter-TBM project through providing other systems/components such as TBMs”.

The testing equipment supplied by MHI comprises four systems, the High Heat Flux Test Equipment, In Box Water Eruption Test Equipment, Be-Water Reaction Test Equipment, and Flow Assisted Corrosion Test Loop. These systems will be used for various experiments aimed at developing a blanket system for the Iter-TBM project, and to confirm its safety. The blanket is one of the components that comprises the inner wall of the fusion reactor. It is a critical component that extracts the heat generated by the reactor, as well as provides for breeding and self-sustainment of tritium, which is used as fuel.

Iter-TBM is a project to conduct functional demonstration testing of different TBM systems, each developed independently by four of the seven participating parties (Japan, the EU, the USA, Russia, South Korea, China, and India). Because the results from this project will influence the relative merits of blanket systems for commercial reactors in the future, each country is developing TBMs with demonstrated functionality and safety. In Japan, QST, as the domestic agency for the ITER Project, is leading the development of the country's blanket system.

MHI was previously awarded contracts from QST for manufacture of core components for Iter, including five (of a total of 19) toroidal field (TF) coils, four of which have been shipped, and six units of the divertor outer vertical targets, which are currently being manufactured.

Image: The High Heat Flux Test Equipment (photo courtesy of MHI)