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Media Corner
16 May 2017

ITER Wonderland

ITER construction site, April 2017, © ITER IO

​It has been seven years since F4E signed its first major contract in the field of construction with the Engage consortium for the works to be carried out by the Architect Engineer. The teams of Atkins, Assystem, Egis and Empresarios Agrupados have been entrusted with the development of the designs of the ITER buildings and infrastructure. Together with F4E and ITER Organization they have undertaken the responsibility to support the engineers to design and build the 39 facilities. In addition, they have co-ordinated the works that will unfold in parallel. It was hard to imagine the volume of the works without any infrastructure on the 42 hectares of the ITER platform. Today, however, there are 1700 people working on the ground and the ITER site has changed. It resembles to a new land which is getting ready to host one of the biggest experiments of our times. Those visiting the site acknowledge that the progress has been noticeable in most areas. F4E has signed 70% of the contracts for buildings and around 40% of the works have been completed.

The Bioshield of the Tokamak complex, April 2017, ©ITER IO
The ITER Bioshield reaching a new level, April 2017 © Engage

The civil engineering works of the bioshield, a cylinder made of concrete which will be 30 m high, have progressed rapidly. Up to 90 people have been working on two shifts to meet the tight deadlines. Its fourth floor (level 3) is under construction and its third floor (level 2) is 60% completed. Towards the end of July a temporary lid will be placed on its top level and works will continue to be performed inside with the help of mobile cranes. The Vinci Ferrovial Razel (VFR) consortium is advancing with the construction of the slab of the second floor (level 1) of the Tokamak and Tritium buildings as well as their walls. The progress of the works on the slabs and walls of the Diagnostics building has already reached the the third floor (level 2) giving an impression of how big the central facility of the ITER machine will be.

The progress of the slab and walls of the ITER Tritium building, April 2017 ©LNM
The progress of the ITER Diagnostics building, April 2017 © Engage

The mesh of rebars, concrete and reinforced steel which lie beneath this massive facility will also integrate 115 000 embedded plates, thick steel plates which will be anchored deep into the concrete and positioned with accuracy to match the location of the ITER equipment that will be finally installed. Today, according to our measurements more than 40 000 of them have been installed with an accuracy of 98%! The level of precision is remarkable.

The embedded plates can be viewed on the level above © ITER IO

Painting and cleaning activities are in progress in the Cleaning Facility and will soon start in the Assembly Hall which is getting ready to welcome the first piece of equipment coming from Korea's ITER Domestic Agency in June. Cabling and the installation of HVAC (Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning) are also advancing. After summer, this facility will be handed over to ITER Organization so that tooling for the assembly of the first sector of the ITER Vacuum Vessel is stored.  The leaves of the big sliding doors, from where the components will be delivered, are being installed and the cranes are being tested and commissioned. A few metres next to where the heavy ITER components will be assembled is the Site Services building. The 80 metre-long edifice will provide other facilities with chilled water, and amongst other utilities, it will host a demineralised water plant and air compressors. The civil works are almost completed and HVAC and cabling are ongoing. The first equipment is expected to arrive soon and its chiller room is ready to be connected to the piping system.

The impressive ITER Assembly Hall (dark metallic structure) and Site Services buildings (adjacent to the right), April 2017 © Engage

The civil works of the Cryoplant, the sophisticated "refrigerator" of the ITER device, have been completed. Currently, the teams are performing works on the roof of the building and the cladding is well under way. The Coldboxes, will be the first pieces of equipment to be installed on-site in June.

Cladding operations starting at the ITER Cryoplant building, April 2017 ©LNM

At the Radio Frequency building works are progressing as planned. The prefabricated beams have been installed, the cladding, roofing and internal works are on-going so that the facility is ready by the end of July. Towards the end of the year, the teams will start installing the first pieces of equipment.  Meanwhile, as far as the electricity infrastructure is concerned, which has been entrusted to Ferrovial, the structure of the electrical power distribution building is on-going and is expected to be completed by the end of July in order to host the first equipment in September.

The excavation of the galleries that will connect the various facilities underground is also advancing. The consortium of Spie batignolles, Valerian, Atelier De Fos, in charge of the work, has started digging around the platform. During the next months, the works linked to these deep trenches will accelerate in order to construct a labyrinth of galleries. The works to follow will consist of piping, backfilling and surface works.

Without a doubt, the activity on the ITER site has increased and it is visible in many areas. The workforces have multiplied, more buildings are being constructed and the installation of more equipment will soon open a new chapter. When visitors from different parts of the world receive a guided tour on the ITER platform they are genuinely impressed not only by its size but mostly by its potential to deliver the energy of the future.