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  • Thermal shield | Practising the embrace

    In the ITER Assembly Hall, fitting tests are underway on two outboard thermal shield panels. Once paired, the 11-metre-tall, silver-plated components will [...]

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  • Image of the week | This circle is for the ring

    Another concentric circle has been drawn at the bottom of the machine assembly pit, formed by the temporary supports recently installed for poloidal field coil [...]

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  • Feeders | Multi-lane thruways into the machine

    The ITER superconducting coils thrive on a simple diet of electrical power and cooling fluids. The industrial installation on site is scaled to provide both, bu [...]

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  • Cryostat Workshop | Top lid enters the stage

    In this vast workshop over the past five years, the different sections of the ITER cryostat have been assembled and welded under India's responsibility. The bas [...]

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  • Blanket first wall | Manufacturing kicks off in Europe

    For one of the most demanding technological components of the ITER machine—the first wall of the blanket—the European Domestic Agency Fusion for Energy made the [...]

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Of Interest

See archived entries

Vacuum vessel in Europe

Assembling the puzzle

Five thousand tonnes of steel, dozens of "port" openings at three levels, interfaces with nearly every major system ... ITER's steel vacuum vessel is one of the largest-scale and most complex of the ITER "objects" to manufacture.

Assembly work is underway on one of the sub-segments of vacuum vessel sector #5. Vacuum vessel manufacturing is time-consuming and labour intensive due to the sheer volume of sub-elements, their unconventional shapes, and their size. (Click to view larger version...)
Assembly work is underway on one of the sub-segments of vacuum vessel sector #5. Vacuum vessel manufacturing is time-consuming and labour intensive due to the sheer volume of sub-elements, their unconventional shapes, and their size.
In Europe, which is producing five of the nine vacuum vessel sectors, a consortium of industrial firms has divided out the tasks of manufacturing the many sub-elements of each sector, step-by-step assembly activities, and demanding welding and non-destructive examination stages.

With contractors and subcontractors located across Europe, the European vacuum vessel fabrication consortium (see more here) has sought to increase its manufacturing capacity. In a recent article on vacuum vessel manufacturing progress, the European Domestic Agency reports that all five sectors are now in some stage of fabrication, with sector #5—the first due on site according to the ITER machine assembly schedule—leading the pack.

European companies CNIM (France), ENSA (Spain), MAN (Germany), ProBeam (Germany), Belleli (Italy), Mangiarotti (Italy), Walter Tosto (Italy), and Ansaldo Nucleare (Italy) are all involved.

Vacuum vessel manufacturing is time-consuming and labour intensive due to the sheer volume of sub-elements, their unconventional shapes, and their size. At the end of the process, each sector will measure 6.5 metres high, 3 x 6 metres in width and depth, and weigh between 400 and 500 tonnes. Fabrication is a multiyear process that has involved multiple qualification phases before passing on to manufacturing design, material procurement, precise machining, and finally welding. Because the vacuum vessel and ports are classified as nuclear pressure equipment under French ESPN regulations, the welding and non-destructive examination activities are submitted to particularly stringent specifications.

For the European industries involved participation in such a high-profile and demanding manufacturing project has contributed to increasing their expertise and skill base, and improving their competitiveness on world markets. (See related article in this issue.)

Read the full article on the European Domestic Agency website here.


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