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Media Corner
29 January 2018

Glide over the ITER site

Aerial view of the ITER Tokamak Complex, December 2017 © SNC ENGAGE

They say that taking distance helps us see the big picture. And this is exactly our impression every time we fly above the ITER site. The size of the impressive platform is comparable to that a high-tech village. On the 42 hectares, where more than 2000 people are working during different shifts, the scenery is rapidly changing. New buildings are being erected, more facilities are being completed and additional pieces of equipment are being assembled. Let’s land on the ground to find out why. Romaric Darbour, F4E's Deputy Project Manager for Buildings Infrastructure and Power Supplies, supervising the construction explains that “the number of buildings entering into their final stage is increasing; highly-technical work, like the one performed at Tokamak complex, is accelerating. The new year is considered to be a turning point for the civil engineering works for some of the main facilities and infrastructure of the project.”

The Tokamak building can be described as the cornerstone of the ITER facility because it is there that the biggest fusion machine will be located. A cylinder made of concrete that will act as a safety barrier between the machine and the edifice is known as the bioshield. It is already reaching its final level (L3-the fourth floor of the building) and is expected to be completed later this year. Inside its structure, a 30 m diameter lid has been firmly fixed and beneath it the teams of people working for Nuvia are installing reinforcement and will soon start pouring concrete to build the so-called “crown”. 18 massive blocks of steel will be embedded in heavily reinforced concrete and to form a crown that will support the ITER machine weighing 23 000 T. The volume of the concrete required is about 400m3 and each of the 18 supporting steel blocks is weighing more than 3 T. “A specific formula has been developed to produce this concrete in order to withstand a compression three times higher than that of a normal housing building” highlights R. Darbour.

Inside the ITER Bioshield. Construction works in progress of the ITER Crown, January 2018, ©Jean-Marie
Top-down view of the ITER Bioshield, December 2017 © Engage
In the pit of the ITER Bioshield, January 2018 © ITER Organization

Meanwhile, the consortium of Vinci Ferrovial and Razel (VFR) has been making progress with the works on the rest of the Tokamak building. The second floor has been completed and works on the third floor to be completed by March 2018. The first plots of concrete are being poured on the fourth floor. At the Diagnostics building the fourth floor is being erected and by 2019 it is expected to be completed. Meanwhile, at the Tritium building, the slab of its third floor is advancing and it is expected to be finished by mid-2018.

ITER Tokamak Complex, December 2017 © ITER Organization/EJF Riche

The civil engineering works of the ITER Assembly Hall have been completed. Inside the massive workshop, where some of the most high-tech equipment in history will be put together, the two 750 T cranes are being tested, undergoing qualification by simulating the weight of the heavy components they would have to lift. The Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) installation is nearly finished. And as workforces are putting their finishing touches, new tooling is making its way on the premises of the building from across the world in order to be assembled. At the recently-finished Assembly Area, where fresh deliveries are dropped, one can sense the buzz. The construction works of the Cleaning Facility and the Site Services building are also completed paving the way for the installation of HVAC and cable trays.

The facility of the ITER Cryoplant is nearly completed and the installation of the massive cryogenic tanks is imminent. The structural works and cladding, the installation of the doors, and painting have been completed. The workforces are currently carrying out the final wave of works. In parallel, the HVAC works and the installation of the cable trays are coming to an end in order to hand over the building to the engineers who will supervise the fitting of the cryogenic components. Next to it, the Magnet Power Conversion buildings are now reaching the stage to be weathertight and nearly 60% of the slabs where the transformers will be located are finished.

(L-R) Aerial view of the two ITER Magnet Power Conversion Buildings and the ITER Cryoplant, December 2017 9 © SNC Engage
Installing more infrastructure of the ITER Cryoplant, December 2017 © SNC Engage
Final works at the ITER Cryoplant before the first tanks get installed, December 2017 © Engage
Works advancing at the ITER Magnet Power Conversion Building, December 2017 © Engage

There has also been rapid progress at the Cooling Towers facility where teams of engineers are starting to plan their installation. The lower slab and the walls are completed together with the top slab which is nearly finished. The steel structure of the Heat Exchangers building has started and cladding is progressing. Similarly, at the edifice of the Cooling Water Pump Station, expected to be completed in April, the foundation slab and steel structure are halfway there. On the other end of the ITER site, close to the power grid and the transformers, the structural works of the Electrical Distribution building, which is responsible for the power supply on-site, are completed. The HVAC works and electrical distribution works are advancing as planned.

Starting to plan the installation of equipment at the ITER Cold Basin and Cooling Towers facility, December © SNC Engage

We conclude our visit on-site by going deep underground. Nearly 30% of the construction of the concrete galleries and the associated infrastructure works, have been completed. Trenches as big as tunnels, filled with tubes the size of humans, give visitors the impression that there is an entire city below the ground. It is advancing at galloping pace and it is as fascinating as the one we see from high above.

Five kilometres of piping will be installed in the underground galleries of the cooling tower area. © Les Nouveaux Médias/SNC ENGAGE
ITER Tokamak Complex aerial view, December 2017 ©ITER Organization/EJF Riche