Two and a half years into its machine assembly phase, ITER is facing challenges common to every industrial venture involving first-of-a-kind components. "There is no scandal here," says ITER Director-General Pietro Barabaschi. "Such things happen. I've seen many issues of the kind, and much worse..."
The cooling pipes that snake along the surface of the vacuum vessel thermal shield will be removed and replaced. Here, on a right-hand outboard panel, workers determine the impact of pipe removal on the surface of the component. Following months of discussion, tests and analysis, a clear picture of the repairs to be executed is now emerging.
Who will execute the repairs and where are still open questions. "We hope to launch the tender in the first week of February and have a contractor by the end of March, which is very fast by our standards," says Macklin. Discussions with the selected industrial partner will determine whether the components are repaired on site or in an outside facility.
Installed in one of the twin sector sub-assembly tools (SSAT-1), vacuum vessel module #1(7) is being disassembled in order to prepare for repairs on both the thermal shield segments and vacuum vessel field joints. The toroidal field coils have been rotated out of the preassembly and, by April, all thermal shield segments will have been removed to allow repairs to be executed. In the second sector sub-assembly tool (SSAT-2, near the Tokamak pit wall), vacuum vessel sector #8 will be extracted from the vertical tooling and moved to another building to be repaired in a horizontal position. Finally, vacuum vessel module #6 will be lifted out of the Tokamak pit in late May/early June and installed in the vacated SSAT-2.