4 May 2006 – A $7m contract for the supply of beryllium metal has been awarded for the Joint European Torus (JET), the largest experimental nuclear fusion reactor in the world, which is to be recommissioned to carry out tests for the ITER project.
The JET reactor is a precursor for a planned larger, more sophisticated facility called ITER (International Thermonuclear Energy Reactor), which is being developed in France by a host of parties including China, Europe, India, Japan, Korea, Russia and the US.
The 4.4 tonnes of beryllium ordered from Brush Wellman will be delivered to the UK site by mid-2007. The European Fusion Development Agreement placed the order.
The beryllium will be used for inner wall plasma facing components that will line the inside of the reactor as part of a major recommissioning project to prepare JET for fusion reaction testing.
Michael Anderson, president of Brush Wellman’s Beryllium Products, said: “The beryllium specified for the JET application is our high purity S65 grade material.” He continued: “Its properties are particularly well suited for the intense conditions inside the reactor.”
JET produces a 1 million degree Celsius reaction by fusing deuterium and tritium in an intense magnetic field. The project is to be recommissioned in preparation for the ITER project, from which the first plasma is expected to be produced by 2016.
It is hoped that ITER will provide critical data to support the technological feasibility of a full-scale fusion power plant in 30 to 50 years.
Scientists see fusion as a practical source of future power needs due to its low production of nuclear waste and high amount of energy produced. Since no actual combustion occurs during the reaction, fusion will not produce air pollution.