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Of Interest

See archived entries

Cryostat top lid

Big muscle for a huge load

It takes a lot of muscle to move a 900-tonne load. On Thursday 6 April, no less than six self-propelled modular transport platforms, each equipped with a 500 HP power pack, worked in unison to move the cryostat top lid and its massive support frame from the workshop where it was assembled and welded to an exterior storage area a few dozen metres away.

Looking a lot like a flying saucer, the 665-tonne cryostat top lid has been removed from the Cryostat Workshop (left) and placed in a long-term storage area on the platform. (Click to view larger version...)
Looking a lot like a flying saucer, the 665-tonne cryostat top lid has been removed from the Cryostat Workshop (left) and placed in a long-term storage area on the platform.
At 665 tonnes, the cryostat top lid is the second-heaviest¹ component of the ITER machine. Its main elements, manufactured by ITER India contractor Larsen & Toubro Ltd, were delivered to ITER in the fall of 2020. The onsite assembly and welding of this fourth and last section of the 16,000-cubic-metre cryostat took a little more than one year. By February 2023, the top lid had been sealed away in tight wrapping and was ready to be placed in outdoor storage.

The perception of size depends on the environment. Sitting at the far end of the Cryostat Workshop, the top lid certainly felt like a large component. But as it slowly came out of the building, amidst the roar of the power packs, it seemed to have dramatically grown in size. The 30-metre-in-diameter, 10-metre-tall load dwarfed everything around it.

It will be some years before the top lid "closes" the giant vacuum chamber that surrounds the ITER Tokamak at the end of core machine assembly. In the meantime, the flying-saucer-shaped component will sit securely on a bespoke heavy-duty slab protected from dust and moisture by leak-tight wrapping, its surface monitored by strategically positioned cameras.

¹ At 1,250 tonnes, the cryostat base, which was installed in the Tokamak assembly pit in May 2020, is the heaviest single machine component.

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