A significant step was taken last week in the construction the ITER thermonuclear reaction reactor. The first of nine sections of the vacuum chamber was lowered into the reactor shaft – the reactor core, in which plasma heated to 150 million ° C will be kept. The shaft must be carefully reached so that all sections can be lowered and welded together.
The unique crane was designed to lift the sections onto the reactor shaft. This crane was created by engineers from South Korea who also built four of the nine sections for the vacuum chamber. The five remaining sections are made in Europe. Each section measures 14m high and weighs 440 tons. A special equipment, which weighs 860 tonnes and measures 22m in height, was designed to maintain the section in the correct place and prevent damage.
The first section, which is the sixth in a row of the reactor scheme, hangs at half a meter above a support in reactor shaft. Engineers are making final checks before moving it to its permanent location.
The ITER reactor vacuum chamber has an internal volume 1400m3In which the plasma will occupy 840 m3. This is tenfold more than any other Earth-made tokamak. The vacuum chamber’s weight without pipe will be 5200 tonnes. With the pipe, which is part of Russia’s, it will weigh 8500 tons.
ITER will not be part of the energy system as the goal is to show that a thermonuclear nuclear reactor can produce 10x more energy than it will use for heating plasma. Ideally, the reactor would produce 500 MW at 50 MW plasma heating cost. An additional 300 MW could be required to operate associated reactor systems. The 2025 launch is expected to be the first, with experiments on the fusion deuterium/tritium beginning in 2035.