HomeIndustry SectorsFuture EnergySuccessful assembly rehearsal of a nuclear fusion energy R&D plant

Successful assembly rehearsal of a nuclear fusion energy R&D plant

Dynamic SNC, a consortium that includes construction engineering company Ansaldo Nuclear, has taken a decisive step in the delivery of the ITER development contract by completing a successful ‘dry run’ of the project’s impressive upending tool.

The tool is capable of upending and transporting loads as heavy as four fully-loaded Boeing 747s.

ITER is building the world’s largest nuclear fusion energy R&D plant in France and awarded the Tokamak Assembly (TAC2) contract to DYNAMIC last year. The tokamak is one of several types of magnetic confinement devices being developed to produce controlled thermonuclear fusion power.

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The extensive developments taking place at ITER in Cadarache present a number of unprecedented challenges to the thousands of engineers currently working on its construction, including how to lift, position, join, inspect and assemble the vast number of complex components needed to complete the main assembly phase by 2025.

In June 2019, DYNAMIC SNC, made up of Ansaldo Nucleare, Ansaldo Energia, Endel Engie, Orys Group ORTEC, SIMIC and Leading Metal Mechanic Solutions SL, began work on the Tokamak Assembly Contract 2 (TAC2) which involves the assembly of the main vessel and ports, plus sector sub-assembly with toroidal field coils and vacuum vessel thermal shielding and welding.

The aptly-named upending tool is a key piece of equipment for the sub-assembly activities of the main Tokamak machine components.

It has been designed to transition complex components from their horizontal delivery positions to a vertical position and is capable of upending and transporting loads as heavy as four fully-loaded Boeing 747s, as well as travelling the entire length of the assembly space (170m).

With it playing such a key role in the assembly work for the ITER Tokamak machine, it was critical to commission the empty upending tool using two test loads, allowing the team to test and monitor a number of the kinematic processes which will have to be considered during ITER’s upcoming assembly phase, using equipment provided by Ansaldo Nuclear.

World’s largest tokamak

Andrea Barbensi, Head of Mechanical Component Design Unit at Ansaldo Nuclear and Technical Team Leader at DYNAMIC, has been involved with the Tender phases for the TAC-2 since early 2018.

He commented on the recent dry run: “Assembly rehearsals on this scale will become a common occurrence at ITER, as all the main equipment we will be using for sub-assembly and assembly will be commissioned at the site. In this specific case, the Upending Tool will be used nine times for the Vacuum Vessel Sectors (450 tonnes each) and 18 times for the Toroidal Field Coils (320 tonnes each).

“The assembly rehearsal of the empty Upending Tool has already delivered a wealth of data. The team now knows where improvements need to be made, and photogrammetry has provided a baseline for deformation reference.”

In order to create the world’s largest tokamak, the ITER organisation has prepared and delegated over 1,200 engineering work packages for the mechanical installation of components of the ITER machine.

The unique nature of DYNAMIC allows these construction work packages to be subdivided even further, streamlining work activities and increasing efficiency.

Project manager at Ansaldo Nuclear, Alessio Bono, reflected on this when discussing the recent assembly rehearsal: “When facing unprecedented challenges, having the right team in place with the necessary skills to persevere is vital. Our joint capability and experience will be key in ensuring that this first-of-a-kind challenge is a technical success, with the highest standards of quality and safety maintained throughout.

“These very large, very heavy and very sensitive high-value components have to be handled, installed and aligned to within an accuracy of mere millimetres. By monitoring the progress of these rehearsals, we are ensuring that we are in the best possible position to succeed when the assembly phase begins.”

Source: This story was also published on Power Engineering International

Babalwa Bungane
Babalwa Bungane is the content producer for ESI Africa - Clarion Events Africa. Babalwa has been writing for the publication for over five years. She also contributes to sister publications; Smart Energy International and Power Engineering International. Babalwa is a social media enthusiast.