RACE has received the equipment that will be used as part of the IRTF IA5 project. Slightly delayed due to the Covid-19 restrictions, IA5 will demonstrate the feasibility of using remote handling to manoeuvre a mock-up of the ITER Test Blanket Module. In future fusion reactors, blanket modules will be used to produce or ‘breed’ tritium, a hydrogen isotope required for fusion that is also one of the rarest materials on earth.
The mock-up Dummy Test Blanket Module (Dummy TBM-MU) and the mock-up TBM Frame, delivered to RACE, are identical to the versions that will be in ITER, in terms of relevant geometry and mass. Made of carbon-steel plates and weighing 8 tonnes, the Dummy TBM-MU will need to be lifted from and lowered into the mock-up TBM Frame – a distance of 2.4m with only a 6mm clearance around the edges. Controlling the position of such a heavy object, in relation to the frame, with millimetric accuracy and demonstrating that the process can be repeated is a major challenge. To make the operation more complex the Dummy TBM-MU’s centre of gravity can be shifted.
Stewart Hockley, Lead Mechanical Engineer at RACE, said “When I joined RACE in 2017, one of my first projects was a proposal to ITER regarding IA5. To see the mock-ups finally arrive in the RACE workhall, especially after the Covid delays, was an exciting moment for everyone involved.”
The IA5 project is expected to be completed in the last quarter of 2020.