Dynamic SNC, a consortium that includes construction engineering company Ansaldo Nuclear, has completed a successful dry run of using upending tool necessary to build the world largest tokamak nuclear fusion reactor for the ITER project.

The upending tool is a key piece of equipment used for building the main tokamak machine, designed to transition components vertically from their horizontal delivery position. It can upend and transport loads as heavy as four loaded Boeing 747 aircraft.

Ansaldo Nuclear said that commissioning two upending test loads for the upending tool was critical, as the machinery has a key role in the assembly of the tokamak.

Dynamic SNC technical team leader Andrea Barbensi said: “Assembly rehearsals of this scale will become a common occurrence at ITER, as all the main equipment we will be using for sub-assembly and assembly will be commissioned at the site. In this specific case, the upending tool will be used nine times for the Vacuum Vessel Sectors (450 tonnes each) and 18 times for the Toroidal Field Coils (320 tonnes each).

“The assembly rehearsal of the empty upending tool has already delivered a wealth of data. The team now knows where improvements need to be made, and photogrammetry has provided a baseline for deformation reference.”

Dynamic SNC began working on the Tokamak Assembly Contract 2 (TAC2), after being awarded the contract in July 2019 by ITER’s director-general Bernard Bigot. The contract involves assembling the main vessels and ports and sub-assembling with toroidal field coils and vacuum vessel thermal shielding and welding.

Ansaldo Nuclear project manager Alessio Bono said: “Our joint capability and experience will be key in ensuring that this first-of-a-kind challenge is a technical success, with the highest standards of quality and safety maintained throughout.

“These very large, very heavy and very sensitive high-value components have to be handled, installed and aligned to within an accuracy of mere millimetres. By monitoring the progress of these rehearsals, we are ensuring that we are in the best possible position to succeed when the assembly phase begins.”

The ITER project is one of the world’s biggest energy projects with 35 countries – including China, the EU and the US – collaborating to build the world’s largest tokamak nuclear fusion reactor.

Situated in France’s southern town of Saint Paul-lez-Durance, the ITER tokamak’s main assembly phase will be completed by 2025. ITER has delegated 1,200 engineering work activities to streamline construction.