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MHI Concludes Agreement on Manufacture of 2 Toroidal Field Coils For Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) Project

No.1723
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Tokyo, October 10, 2013 - Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) has received an order from the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) for the manufacture of two toroidal field (TF) coils, core components of the ITER*1, a thermonuclear experimental reactor currently under construction by the ITER International Fusion Energy Organization at the Cadarache facility in the city of Saint-Paul-lès-Durance in southeastern France. This is the third time MHI has received an order for TF coils for the ITER from JAEA, the designated domestic agency (DA) for Japan in the ITER project; last year the company received a similar order for one TF coil.

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The ITER is a thermonuclear experimental reactor for demonstrating the viability of fusion energy as an infinite, safe and environmentally compatible energy resource. Seven partners are participating in this large-scale international project: Japan, the EU, the U.S., Russia, Korea, China and India. The reactor's operational startup target date is 2020. The ITER International Fusion Energy Organization functions as the international organization driving the project forward. In Japan, JAEA serves as the DA coordinating project-related procurement.

A fusion reactor is an apparatus that takes the enormous volume of fusion energy generated when light atomic nuclei – e.g. deuterium and tritium – in the reactor's fuel fuse in a plasma environment to become heavier nuclei such as helium, and uses that energy to generate power. TF coils, the reactor's core parts, are superconductive coils that create a magnetic field to confine the plasma within the reactor. The ITER is to be configured from a total of 19 TF coils (including one in reserve), of which Japan has been consigned to provide nine.

MHI's role in the manufacture of Japan's TF coils is to provide the plates for inserting the superconductors and the containers to hold the actual coils. The company has already commenced production of the TF coil ordered last year. Mitsubishi Electric Corporation is in charge of producing the coil winding packs.

JAEA has been undertaking development of fusion reactors since the 1960s, and MHI has been participating in this effort from an early stage. To date the company has taken responsibility for developing and manufacturing many related devices, including the JT-60*2, a core apparatus within Japan's fusion research and development program.

Leveraging the advanced technologies it has cultivated through these development and manufacturing initiatives, going forward MHI will continue to devote its companywide efforts toward realizing the ITER project.

* Notes
1. "ITER" means "the way" in Latin.
2. Abbreviation for JAERI Tokamak 60. JAERI is the acronym of the now defunct Japan Atomic Energy Research Institute. Tokamak is a method for confining plasma magnetically; it is the method being adopted in the ITER. 60 refers to the volume of the JT-60's plasma component.