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Media Corner
02 December 2016

Remote Handling community gathers at ITER to present latest breakthroughs

Remote Handling experts from companies, laboratories and ITER Domestic Agencies gathering at the headquarters of ITER IO, November 2016

Remote handling is one of the ITER technologies that has gained momentum with time. It allows us to perform tasks without being physically present where they are being carried out. Think for example of space exploration missions or underwater repairs. In the case of ITER, challenging maintenance works will also have to be carried out remotely with extreme dexterity and milimetric precision.

More companies and laboratories have started becoming increasingly involved in this field in view of its technological potential and the prospect of direct commercial benefits. In the maze of ITER’s massive components, the sleek and sophisticated robotics have always been discreet and remote just like their name suggests. The time, however, for this community of experts to step into the limelight has come.

On 22-24 November, ITER International Organization (IO) in collaboration with F4E, and Japan’s ITER Domestic Agency, hosted in Cadarache the second Remote Handling workshop gathering more than 90 representatives from companies and laboratories, mainly from Europe. Amongst the list of objectives set for this meeting, the main focus was on the progress of the procurement packages, with attention to design, interfaces, cross cutting technologies and, where applicable, regulatory issues. Furthermore, the standardisation and the promotion of a common industrial culture, underpinning all suppliers, was another theme widely discussed during the three day event.

The presentations of the first day addressed the ITER Remote Handling (RH) systems and their progress. Europe and its suppliers reported on their contribution to the RH systems developed for the ITER Divertor, Cask and Plug, Neutral Beam and In-Vessel Viewing system. Japan’s ITER Domestic Agency offered an update on the ITER Blanket RH and ITER IO on the Hot Cell and Supervisory Control systems. The second and third days were dedicated to technological developments such as cameras and electronics resistant to a radioactive environment, pipe tooling and water hydraulic technologies with direct application to ITER’s robotics. The links between ITER and the Demonstration fusion reactor (DEMO), and its maintenance systems, were stressed in order to capitalise on any transfer of knowledge.

For Carlo Damiani, F4E’s Remote Handling Manager, this is an event that builds on last year’s workshop hosted by the European Domestic Agency for ITER, and from the positive feedback received, it paves the way for more interactions of such kind. “For those of us who have been working for years in this area it is a remarkable achievement to see how this community has boomed over the last decade. There is enthusiasm and a real appetite to learn from one another. Such events help experts to develop a sense of belonging and see how their specific contribution fits into the broad picture” he explains. The fact that most of the participants came from Europe is attributed to the volume of F4E’s procurement activity, which has offered them a concrete incentive to pursue this field further, and their determination to become more competitive by investing in tomorrow’s technologies.