The smooth operation of the ITER machine will rely very much on the reliability of remote handling techniques. Here, at the Technical Research Centre of Finland, VTT, the remote handling manipulation of ITER divertor cassettes is tested.
Remote handling will have an important role to play in the ITER Tokamak. When operation begins, it will be impossible to make changes, conduct inspections, or repair any of the tokamak components in the activated areas other than by remote handling. Very reliable and robust remote handling techniques will be necessary to manipulate and exchange components weighing up to 50 tonnes. The reliability of these techniques will also impact the length of the machine's shut-down phases.
Operators in charge of remote handling operations will work from two dedicated areas on the ITER site: the remote handling control room for remote operations in and around the machine and the Hot Cell operations control room for remote handling within the ITER Hot Cell Facility.
All remote handling techniques developed for ITER operate on the same principle. A remote manipulator is used to detach the component; the component is removed through a port and placed into the docked transport cask; a temporary door is placed over the vacuum vessel access port; and the cask is closed to prevent contamination.
The cask is then removed on air bearings to the Hot Cell Facility, where the component is removed to be repaired or replaced. The process is then reversed to bring that component back to the vacuum vessel.