Multi-kilowatt plate and pipe cutting conditions have been developed that result in full through-thickness cutting of 5mm thickness pipes in under 40 seconds. The cut kerf produced, although unsuitable for re-use without further processing, could then allow an affected component to be removed from the reactor assembly and replaced.
With a change in head design and processing parameters, multi-kilowatt laser butt welding of 3mm thickness ferritic-martensitic or stainless steels is also possible. This, again, then provides a possible means of meeting future fabrication in-situ needs.
Going forwards from this work, optimisation of the designs of these miniaturised heads, and the associated parameters for the in-bore cutting and welding that they can carry out, will lead to credible maintenance solutions for the fusion reactors of the future, in the wake of these promising initial results.
Images in this article have been reproduced courtesy of UKAEA.
This work has been carried out within the framework of the EUROfusion Consortium and has received funding from the Euratom research and training programme 2014-2018 under grant agreement No. 633053.
The views and opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of the European Commission.
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