How has the ITER construction site evolved?
ITER construction highlights 2015 (Clockwise from top left: ITER Assembly Hall building; installation of ITER transformers; ITER bioshield; works in the galleries of the Cryoplant building).
Construction activities on the vast 42-hectare ITER platform are counting already five years and workforces have been growing rapidly with time reaching approximately a total number of 1000 people contributing to works on site. Day by day this terrain is changing, buildings are being erected and more civil engineering works are giving shape to this small high-tech village that will support the operation of the biggest fusion device.
To help you grasp the progress on site we look back at the most exciting achievements of last year.
The roof lifting of the Assembly Hall represents the most symbolic milestone. This impressive heavy lifting exercise that gave rise to a Gulliver made of steel has definitely changed the landscape for good. One computer and 22 hydraulic jacks lifted in perfect coordination a roof weighing 750 tonnes. The cladding of this huge facility is on-going, and preparations are underway for the installation of its crane rails.
The first four Hyundai Heavy Industries transformers were delivered by the US. These powerful converters were installed on their pits and were filled with oil. Each of them will connect the ITER site's 400kV substation, from the French operator RTE, to the ITER distribution system. Three more transformers will be installed in the years to come.
The first pouring of the bioshield also took place. ITER will be protected by a 3.5 metre thick wall, which will ultimately act as a safety layer between the machine and the building hosting it. It will be more than 30 meters high to protect the ITER cryostat, responsible for generating the freezing temperatures surrounding the machine. The works for the 3.5 meters thick wall have started and 620 m3 of concrete were poured for the first half of wall in basement 2 with a high density of reinforcement.
The last important milestone has been the start of the basement 1 works. To begin with, the formworks of the Diagnostics building started to take shape. Then, the reinforcement works and the positioning of embedded plates followed, and finally the pouring of the slab in three parts. This year the construction of basement 1 will reach the Tokamak and Tritium buildings.
For several other infrastructures such as the cleaning facility, the cryoplant and the radio frequency buildings, 2015 has been a game changer making their presence more noticeable on the site. Last but not least, the construction design of the four first levels of the Tokamak complex was approved, giving us a flavour of the type of progress that we should expect on the site next year.