27 December 2021
Unveiling Ceremony of A.L.M.T. Corp.’s New Mass Production Line for Tungsten Monoblocks for ITER
On December 3, I attended the unveiling ceremony of A.L.M.T. Corp.’s new mass production line for tungsten monoblocks for ITER held at the company’s Sakata Works in Yamagata Prefecture. A.L.M.T. Corp., one of our wholly owned subsidiaries in the industrial materials segment, manufactures and sells tungsten powder, tungsten and molybdenum products, heatspreaders for semiconductors, and diamond machining tools.
The company has received a large order from the National Institutes for Quantum and Radiological Science and Technology (QST) for tungsten monoblocks, an important component of ITER. In response to this order, a new mass production line has been built in Plant 4 at the Sakata Works. By adopting the latest automation, IoT technology and so on, the company has increased its production capacity of the product by more than eight times.
ITER is a device for demonstrating that power generation using hydrogen fusion (nuclear fusion) energy, which has been called the “sun on the ground,” is technically and scientifically viable. This demonstration project is being promoted with international cooperation among six countries and one region, including Japan.
Japan and the EU are in charge of the procurement of divertors, which are important devices to discharge impurities in plasma generated by hydrogen fusion (nuclear fusion). The tungsten monoblock, a component of divertors, is required to have extremely high thermal shock resistance because its surface temperature reaches 2,300°C, while the inside is cooled by circulating cooling water at high speed. A.L.M.T. Corp. is one of only two companies in the world that have been recognized by the ITER Organization as a manufacturer of tungsten monoblocks that meet its requirements. The product developed by A.L.M.T. Corp. has been evaluated as having the highest quality in the world and adopted by the ITER Organization. “Unbreakable Tungsten,” which can withstand thermal shock even under conditions far severer than the requirements, has been developed by taking advantage of the company’s strength in handling total processes, from the development and manufacture of tungsten powder, the raw material, to the processing of the final product. The cemented carbide tools used to machine this product are manufactured by Sumitomo Electric Hardmetal, and tungsten from A.L.M.T. Corp. is used also for their raw material. The diamond grindstone for polishing the product is also made by A.L.M.T. Corp. Indeed, the product is manufactured by making use of our Group’s comprehensive technologies.
The ceremony was attended by representatives of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, the QST, and the Sakata City Government as guests, and a representative of the ITER Organization attended online from France and also sent us a video letter. Hydrogen fusion (nuclear fusion) is expected to be the key to the realization of a decarbonized society and the solution of energy problems as it is expected to generate enormous amounts of energy, is safe and does not emit CO2, and uses ocean water as its fuel source, which eliminates concerns about possible depletion. We received congratulatory speeches from the guests, and their very enthusiastic words made me realize their high expectations for A.L.M.T. Corp. and the Sumitomo Electric Group. In my greeting speech as the organizer, I expressed my determination to meet their expectations by making full use of A.L.M.T. Corp.’s manufacturing technology.
In the ITER project, tenders for the inner part of the divertor, which has been the EU’s assignment, are scheduled to be called soon. In the future, it is expected that each country will build its own experimental reactors and prototype reactors for further progress. A.L.M.T. Corp. will endeavor to receive orders so that it can contribute to the practical application of fusion reactors by providing the world’s highest quality tungsten monoblocks.