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3 October 2007
Hot nuclear deal for Meggitt's carbon
 
Coventry-based Dunlop Aerospace has secured a development deal that will enable it to work towards becoming an approved supplier of a vital carbon-based component for a new reactor being built to research the feasibility of fusion energy as a future power source.

Under the development deal, which strengthens the Meggitt group company's global leadership in the design and manufacture of high quality carbon, Dunlop Aerospace will become a front runner to supply insulating tiles that will be used to control the heat from intensely hot plasma.

The reactor, being built in Cadarache, France, is due to start operations in June 2017. It will enable the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) to research the possibility of using hydrogen fusion power to meet growing global energy demand and to replace fossil fuels, which are finite and have a detrimental impact on the environment.

The ITER device is part of an international project and is based upon the previous tokamak concept. This involves a hot gas reaction while confined in a torus-shaped vessel via a magnetic field. The gas is heated to over 100 million degrees centigrade where it will produce 500 MW of fusion power.

While the plasma is produced at intense temperatures, at the bottom of the vessel, helium is extracted as a waste product using a u-shaped channel known as the divertor. This is one of the most critical parts of the reactor and is the only part in which plasma comes into contact with the vessel.

Dunlop Aerospace is initially providing 150kg of a special type of carbon that will form part of the divertor in order to take the helium out of the plasma. Following initial tests, the company will then be required to bid for the supply of several tonnes of carbon-carbon composite for the full-scale ITER device. Construction will commence in 2009.

"We are naturally delighted that the EFDA (European Fusion Development Agreement) has chosen to bring in our expertise as part of this important scientific project," said Dunlop Aerospace's general manager Chris Allen.

"The company has invested considerably in developing world-class carbon materials for the civil and military aerospace sectors, and brakes made from our technologies are used on airliners, fighter aircraft, business jets and helicopters around the world.

"To be a front runner to provide carbon-carbon for this critical component of the fusion energy reactor underlines the fact that we are a world leader in the design and manufacture of these materials."

Dunlop Aerospace has been a recognised supplier of carbon-carbon material to the Joint European Taurus (JET) in Culham for over 15 years. JET is one of the largest and most successful Tokamaks in existence and is lined with plasma facing tiles made from Dunlop carbon-carbon composites.

Dunlop Aerospace is currently being merged with Aircraft Braking Systems Corporation (ABSC) to create Meggitt Aircraft Braking Systems

 
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