AMEC FOSTER WHEELER will lead a project to examine the best way to decommission the ITER nuclear fusion machine once it ceases operations in 2042.
The contractor will work with EAI Ingénierie and NUKEM Technologies Engineering Services to determine the duration, sequencing and cost for dismantling the world’s largest nuclear fusion project which is set to begin operations in France in 2025 demonstrating that it’s possible to harness the nuclear processes that drive the Sun. The concept-level study is expected to take around 12 months.
The ITER collaboration involves China, the EU, India, Japan, Korea, Russia and the US working together to bridge the gap between today’s smaller-scale experimental fusion devices and the demonstration plants of the future. ITER aims to be the first fusion device where the total energy created during a fusion plasma pulse surpasses the amount required to power the machine’s systems. The project is designed to produce 500 MW of fusion power from 50 MW of input power.
Efforts to decommission conventional nuclear plants have been marred by costly overruns due in part to the lack of planning from the original designers who rushed to build the facilities in the earliest stages of the industry. A spokesperson for Amec Foster Wheeler told The Chemical Engineer that with this in mind, regulators require developers to plan earlier on and the consortium will use its existing experience in decommissioning to design the ITER facility.
“Construction of some of the main ITER buildings is under way but there are many systems, such as the Hot Cell, that are still at concept design stage. The study we are doing is one of many processes that will feed into the design of those systems and how they interface with other parts of the ITER machine,” the spokesperson said.
Amec Foster Wheeler’s decommissioning contract is one of five awarded to the contractor. The others include two standalone contracts to prepare a design work plan and data for a programme of contamination control and decontamination; and a second to carry out conceptual design and engineering for a specialised, remotely-operated cutting and packaging system to reduce the volume of waste.
Under an existing contract, the company has also won work to design a remotely-operated rail and trolley system for maintenance and inspection of the cryostat, a part of the ITER machine that will contain key components including the vacuum vessel and tokamak.
In addition, Amec Foster Wheeler has been appointed by Fusion For Energy, which manages Europe's contribution to the project, to provide technical specifications, contract follow-up and acceptance work on nuclear safety electronic controls and instrumentation systems.
Commenting on the new contracts, Greg Willetts, Amec Foster Wheeler’s vice president for consultancy, said: “They take us further towards our aspiration to play a major role in developing future nuclear technologies while continuing to support the existing nuclear fission power industry.”
Earlier this year, a separate consortium including Amec Foster Wheeler was awarded a ten-year €174m (US$184m) contract to manage and coordinate the assembly and installation of more than one million components for the ITER reactor.
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