Written by Tim Lash, Focus Fusion Society Contributor.
At times FocusFusion.org levels a critical eye toward ITER. The massive international fusion project has an out-sized impact on fusion research funding while pursuing well traveled ground. We advocate for aneutronic approaches like those of LPPFusion and others. However, a pair of videos highlights the awesome scale of ITER. The videos amply show ITER to be unarguably an impressive engineering and management project.
While the videos are a few years old, they nonetheless remain pertinent. ITER construction currently approaches the timeline covered in the first video. The video, mostly well done animation, shows the assembly of the major reaction chamber components in the tokamak building. In actuality, the tokamak building construction should reach a point where access for first assembly activities can be granted later this year. The video covers reactor and cryostat pre-assembly activities in an adjacent building. In addition to building the worlds largest tokamak, ITER teams also must build the tools that will allow them to construct ITER. As a unique instrument, everything about ITER must be designed and created from scratch.
The second video covers construction of in-vessel components. In-vessel component construction will take place utilizing both remotely operated robots and human workers. A planned ballet of robotic assisted construction introduces each large component into the reaction chamber. Custom built handling frames carry each component. Entry into the reaction chamber for each component occurs via a specific access port. Workers then install each component to ensure exacting tolerances are met. Construction will be carried out over two shifts, with testing done during a third shift. Hence, construction will be a 24 hour operation.
Regardless of the scientific merits of the project, ITER is an impressive technical and logistics undertaking. Its massive scale and tiny tolerances give some idea for the long timeline. The videos give great insight into some specific construction steps. Each video lasts seven or eight minutes.