Designing modular tools for in-vessel assembly
In order to carry out the installation of the ITER in-vessel components—such as the diagnostic looms, in-vessel coils, blanket shield blocks and first-wall panels—the ITER Organization will require a set of specifically engineered tools.
These tools will have to operate in limited space, respect challenging cleanliness specifications that restrict the type of lubricant or paint that can be used, and be capable of holding and positioning loads of around 5 tons with high accuracy. They will also have to be conceived in a modular fashion, to be assembled or dis-assembled as needed in the staging area.
CNIM will design and manufacture a Trial, Test and Training Facility that demonstrates that the tooling can achieve the required in-vessel assembly tasks. Although not built from the same materials as ITER, it will perfectly reproduce the ''space envelope'' within which the in-vessel assembly tools will have to operate.
In December 2015, the ITER Organization signed a contract with CNIM Industrial Systems (Toulon, France) for the engineering design, manufacture and testing of the mechanical handling equipment as well as the platform-type staging required for access within the vessel. Contract scope also includes a trial and test facility that will serve to qualify the tools and to train future operators.
On the basis of the ITER conceptual design and technical specifications, CNIM will propose solutions and develop the detailed design of all tools.
See the gallery below for a description for some of the principal in-vessel assembly tools.
Trial, Test and Training Facility (1/3)
The test facility will reproduce one full-scale sector of the vacuum vessel (complete with access platforms and stairs) and an equatorial port and port cell. The test facility is the first deliverable of the supply contract.
Trial, Test and Training Facility (2/3)
As part of the implementation of the test facility, CNIM will manufacture mockup components to demonstrate equipment functionality. The mockups will be similar in shape, mass and centre of gravity to the real components (in purple: ELM coils; in red and blue: blanket manifold pipe bundles.
Trial, Test and Training Facility (3/3)
Illustration of equipment tests (the port cell ceiling and walls are hidden for clarity). Following tooling trials on the contractor's premises, the Trial, Test and Training Facility will be moved to ITER for operator training purposes.
In-vessel tower crane (1/2)
This mobile crane will be used inside of the vacuum vessel to transport and precisely position in-vessel components at their final installation locations. More than one crane can be in operation at the same time. In addition to lifting and transporting components to their final assembly position, the crane provides a stable mobile platform for manual work including in-vessel surveys, welding and inspection activities.
In-vessel tower crane (2/2)
The crane will carry loads of up to 5 metric tons, moving along rails installed near the bottom of the vacuum vessel. This tool will install the ELM coils, blanket manifolds, blanket shield blocks and first-wall panels, and also be used for general purpose lifting activities in the vessel. The design of the crane is particularly challenging as it will need to position a 4-ton shield block to within 5 mm of its required position at a reach of several metres.
Through-port transfer system (1/2)
The through-port transfer system will transport components and tools into (and in some cases out of) the vacuum vessel through the equatorial port. It has been designed to transfer in-vessel coils, blanket manifolds, diagnostic looms, blanket shield blocks, blanket first-wall panels, and the in-vessel tower crane(s).
Through-port transfer system (2/2)
In this example, an outboard blanket manifold (a grouping of pipes that will feed cooling water to the blanket system) is carried along the rails, through the space restrictions of the port cell and port plug, and into the vacuum vessel.
Staging for personnel access
Five levels of staging will be required to inside of the vacuum vessel to give technicians safe, fast and easy access to all areas of the vacuum vessel interior to perform the installation tasks. The system must be sturdy, yet flexible enough to allow assembly and dis-assembly according to the movement of the in-vessel cranes and other handling tools. The staging will also incorporate a lighting system. The modular design allows the staging to be re-configured into any combinations of levels in different parts of the vacuum vessel and will allow many different types of work to proceed in parallel. The staging will be used at the very beginning of the assembly process to install some components in the vacuum vessel sectors when they are at sub-assembly stage even before they are lifted to the pit.
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