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Billion Pixel 3D Map To Monitor ITER Device

ITER is the world’s largest scientific partnership that aims to demonstrate fusion as a viable and sustainable source of energy. In southern France, 35 nations are collaborating to build the world’s largest tokamak, a magnetic fusion device that has been designed to prove the feasibility of fusion as a large-scale and carbon-free source of energy based on the same principle that powers our Sun and stars.

Power plants today rely either on fossil fuels, nuclear fission, or renewable sources like wind or water. Whatever the energy source, the plants generate electricity by converting mechanical power, such as the rotation of a turbine, into electrical power. In a coal-fired steam station, the combustion of coal turns water into steam and the steam in turn drives turbine generators to produce electricity.

Visualization courtesy of Jamison Daniel, Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility

The tokamak is an experimental machine designed to harness the energy of fusion. Inside a tokamak, the energy produced through the fusion of atoms is absorbed as heat in the walls of the vessel. Just like a conventional power plant, a fusion power plant will use this heat to produce steam and then electricity by way of turbines and generators. The heart of a tokamak is its doughnut-shaped vacuum chamber. Inside, under the influence of extreme heat and pressure, gaseous hydrogen fuel becomes a plasma—the very environment in which hydrogen atoms can be brought to fuse and yield energy. The charged particles of the plasma can be shaped and controlled by the massive magnetic coils placed around the vessel; physicists use this important property to confine the hot plasma away from the vessel walls. The term “tokamak” comes to us from a Russian acronym that stands for “toroidal chamber with magnetic coils.

ITER will require a sophisticated and agile inspection system to perform a series of checks inside the machine. Cutting-edge technologies bringing together metrology instruments, high-tech vision and robotics will be deployed to create a one billion pixel 3D map of the plasma-facing surfaces inside the ITER device. The In-Vessel Viewing System (IVVS) will help scientists inspect changes, such as erosion, on In-Vessel components. With the help of six probes, located in different ports inside the machine, the IVVS will measure nearly 100% of the surface of In-Vessel components with at least one measurement per square mm offering an excellent image.

Europe is responsible for delivering the IVVS. Recently, members of F4E, ITER Organization, independent experts and company representatives concluded successfully the Preliminary Design Review (PDR) of the system. More than 35 participants took part to the two meetings to assess whether the proposed design fully meets the requirements, and whether the design process is adequate for the complexity, quality, and safety of the system. Representatives from big and small-medium sized companies contributed to the design review such as Veolia Nuclear Solutions (UK), ASE Optics Europe (Spain), Optima Systems Consultancy (UK), 3D Scanners UK (UK), Cedrat Technologies (France), IDOM (Spain), Micronor (Switzerland), Bridger Photonics Inc. (US).

“The IVVS Preliminary Design Review was carried out taking into account the lessons learned from previous exercises conducted in the past, such as the Divertor Remote Handling PDR”, says Carlo Damiani, F4E Remote Handling Programme Manager. “The completion of the Preliminary Design Review is an important step towards the fabrication of the ITER In-Vessel Viewing System. What was until recently considered a conceptual design is gradually starting to resemble to a proper system,” explains Gregory Dubus, F4E Project Manager for the IVVS.

“The exchange we had during the two PDR sessions proved to be extremely helpful and we will be taking the time to reflect on how to incorporate them into the next design phase. The Final Design Review of the IVVS is scheduled for November 2021,” adds Philip Bates, F4E Technical Officer following IVVS activities.

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