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21 December 2016

Civil engineering works reach a crescendo on ITER construction site

Aerial view of the ITER construction site, October 2016, ITER IO ©

The year on the ITER platform has closed with an impressive list of achievements which pave the way for the arrival of more equipment on-site and the handover of facilities to assembly teams. Under the supervision of F4E, in collaboration with ITER International Organization (IO), and their contractors, more than 1500 people have been working round the clock to meet the tight deadlines. The field hosting the biggest energy experiment to date has witnessed the construction of new buildings and the progress of some extremely sophisticated civil engineering works.

The Tokamak complex, where the heart of the ITER machine will beat one day, has already captured under a thick mesh of rebars and concrete the water detritiation tanks- Europe’s first equipment delivered to ITER. In order to speed up construction, different floors are being built in parallel.  The slab and walls of the first floor have been completed. But perhaps the best way to grasp the evolution of the works is through the bioshield. The cylindrical concrete structure which will crosscut the entire Tokamak building from top to bottom, in order to host the ITER cryostat, has risen with civil engineering works unfolding on the second and third floors. Nearly half of the bioshield has been completed and the entry point for the Neutral Beam Injectors has become visible on the walls of the second floor of the building.

The entry points of the ITER Neutral Beam Injectors at the second floor of the Bioshield, Tokamak Complex, December 2016, Engage ©

The civil engineering works at the Assembly Hall have been successfully completed. The massive 60 m tall building overlooking the platform has attracted the attention of all visitors on-site. Its impressive size and the spectacular lifting operation of its huge girders, able to lift up to 1 500 tonnes, have marked this year’s narrative. Two additional auxiliary cranes, able to lift 50 tonnes each, have been placed in the Hall and earthing plus lightning have been completed. More progress will be made early next year with the installation of electrical cabling, together with the fitting of the Heating Ventilation and Air Condition (HVAC) infrastructure, in order to have ready the building in spring 2017 for the first equipment to be assembled. 

The two auxiliary 50 T cranes at the Assembly Hall, November 2016, Engage ©

Due to the delivery of the ITER Cryoplant compressors and the 35 m long quench tanks, there has been a growing momentum for the cryogenic system of the biggest fusion device. Civil engineering works for the first columns kicked off in November, and at galloping pace 46 out of 50 have already been erected. The workforces have started installing the steel structure and by August 2017 this facility is expected to be ready for assembly operations.

Construction works in progress at the ITER Cryoplant, November 2016, ITER IO ©

In the Site Services facility, where the chiller and deminelarised water plants will be hosted together with the air compressors, maintenance and instrumentation workshops, more than half of the internal doors has been fitted and the external doors are being manufactured. Lightening and the HVAC installation have also started in the 60 m long facility.

Aerial view of the Site Services building, Septemberber 2016, LNM ©

The civil engineering works, where the ITER transformers are located, have almost finished. This is the area where the ITER substation will be connected to France’s grid to receive 400 kV. And there has been more progress vis `a vis the installation of the oil and drainage pipes. The teams are working at the speed of light to meet their target early in January 2017, when the ITER site will be connected to the grid.

Technical teams checking the cabling where the ITER substation will be connected to France’s grid to receive 400 kV, November 2016, LNM ©

The basin and the cooling water stations have also closed the year with works on track. Almost 70% of the slab is ready, 12% of the columns have been installed and the first walls have started to be erected. The basin has the capacity to store approximately 20 000 m3 of water.

Civil engineering works progressing at the water basin and cooling water stations of the ITER device, November 2016, ITER IO ©

Without a doubt this year has been a turning point for the construction site. The civil engineering works have unfolded in complex buildings, underpinned by strict safety requirements, and more conventional facilities ready to host tooling and people. The arrival of the first components on-site, the connection to the grid and the handover of the Assembly Hall suggest that next year will be even more promising!

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