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  • Fuelling fusion | The magic cocktail of deuterium and tritium

    Nuclear fusion in stars is easy: it just happens, because the immense gravity of a star easily overcomes the resistance of nuclei to come together and fuse. [...]

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  • 360° image of the week | The cryoplant

    Cryogenics play a central role in the ITER Tokamak: the machine's superconducting magnets (10,000 tonnes in total), the vacuum pumps, thermal shields and so [...]

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  • Central solenoid assembly | First sequences underway

    What does it take to assemble the magnet at the heart of ITER? Heavy lifting, unerring accuracy, and a human touch. The central solenoid will be assembled from [...]

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  • Assembly | The eyes of ITER

    Supervisors ensure compliance and completion as machine and plant assembly forges ahead. In Greek mythology, Argus was considered an ideal guardian because his [...]

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  • Component repairs | Removing, displacing and disassembling

    A good repair job starts with a cleared workbench, the right tools on hand and a strong vise. This axiom, true for odd jobs in a home workshop, is also true for [...]

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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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