German-French crane manufacturer NKMNOELL-REEL will deliver two powerful cranes for the assembly of ITER’s Tokamak.
The two 750-tonne cranes, operating synchronously like a giant pair of arms, will be able to lift up to 1,500 tonnes of material – equivalent to 187 London double-decker buses.
The €31m (£26.7) contract for the delivery of the two major cranes plus additional two auxiliary cranes with the capacity of 50 tonnes each, has recently been signed between Fusion for Energy and the consortium formed by Germany’s NKMNoell Special Cranes GmbH and French REEL S.A.S.
The consortium has committed to design, certify, manufacture, test and install the cranes within a five year timeframe.
The remotely operated overhead cranes will manoeuvre between the Tokamak building and the Assembly Hall building, transporting heavy components between the two areas and precisely positioning them during assembly.
After the Tokamak is assembled, the cranes will be assigned additional tasks within ITER. The 750-tonne cranes will most probably stay parked and electrically isolated while the smaller two will keep serving inside the Assembly hall.
The principal purpose of the Tokamak crane system is to lift and receive heavy components, support the assembly operations, move the cryostat components and transport the assembled vacuum vessel sectors and other major components. The 3,800-tonne stainless steel cryostat structure will most probably be the greatest challenge.
Additionally, the contract includes manufacturing of a cargo lift for the Tokamak building. The lift will be moving component containers around structure. Each of these 3.7m high, 2.7m wide and 8.5m long containers weighs about 60 tonnes when empty. Similarly to the cranes, the lift will be remotely operated, transferring and returning the casks between various levels of the Tokamak building and the neighbouring Hot Cell building.
The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor currently being built in Cadarache, south France, is expected to commence its operation at the end of this decade. Once operational, ITER will be the world's largest experimental tokamak nuclear fusion reactor. The scientific community believes it will facilitate the transition from experimental studies of plasma to its actual utilisation as a fully-fledged power source with potential applications in next-generation power plants.