First Iter plasma chamber tool ready for shipment

WNN 16 May 2017

The first vacuum vessel sector sub-assembly tool for the Iter fusion reactor has passed factory acceptance tests in South Korea. The tool is by far the largest custom-designed tool for the reactor, currently under construction at Cadarache in southern France.

A ceremony marked the completion of factory acceptance tests (Image: Iter)

As part of its procurement contributions to the international Iter project, the Korean Domestic Agency is responsible for the design and fabrication of the sector sub-assembly tools as well as 128 other purpose-built assembly tools. For the sector sub-assembly tools, its main contractor – SFA Engineering Corp – has contracted with Taekyung Heavy Industries (THI) for the fabrication of all structures, sub-assembly and testing, and on-site installation.

A ceremony was held on 11 May at THI’s manufacturing facility in Changwon, South Korea, to mark the end of the factory acceptance test phase of the first of nine sector sub-assembly twin tools. The tests were conducted in the presence of observers from the Iter Organisation and the Korean Domestic Agency.

Iter’s plasma chamber, or vacuum vessel, will be formed from nine wedge-shaped steel sectors that measure over 14 meters in height and weigh 440 tonnes. The sector sub-assembly tools – each about 22 meters in height and weighing around 860 tonnes – are designed to support the weight of one vacuum vessel sector, two toroidal field coils and thermal shielding, which together weigh some 1200 tonnes.

Iter said, “Lessons learned on the realisation of the first tool will serve in the fabrication of the second, which has started now in Korea.”

Workers have begun dismantling the tool for shipment to Iter. The structural steel work and auxiliary components will be packed into 90 shipping crates and transported to the Iter construction site in five shipments between June and August. Installation of the first tool will begin in the Assembly Building in September, with the installation of the base rails. The complete tool is expected to be in place by the end of the year. The installation work will mainly be carried out by THI’s local contractor CNIM (France).

Kijung Jung, head of the Korean Domestic Agency, said: “This is a step forward for the procurement efforts for Iter in Korea and for the project as a whole. Like all Iter members, Korea’s participation in Iter contributes to our industrial and scientific capabilities and positions our nation to be a future player of consequence in the promising domain of fusion.”

Iter, which stands for International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, is a major international project to build a 500MW tokamak fusion device (requiring an input of 50MW) designed to prove the feasibility of fusion as a large-scale and carbon-free source of energy.

The European Union is contributing almost half of the cost of its construction, while the other six members (China, India, Japan, South Korea, Russia and the USA) are contributing equally to the rest. Under a revised schedule established by the Iter organisation last year, first plasma is planned for 2025, with deuterium-tritium fusion experiments commencing in 2035. Construction costs are expected to be around €20 billion ($22 billion), with components contributed by the Iter members on an ‘in-kind’ basis.