ITER: Making the impossible possible

11 Jun 2020

Despite previous analysis showing minimal chance of success, a team including Tractebel made the impossible possible by reaching in record time a critical milestone in the ITER mega nuclear project, preparing the way for the world’s biggest tokamak fusion reactor.

Tractebel, in consortium with Socotec, has been involved for over six years in an engineering support contract to accompany the ITER construction teams in all stages of this mega nuclear project under development in southern France.

The challenge for Tractebel teams led by Ronan Moullec, Nuclear Project Manager at Tractebel in France, has been to bring the company’s nuclear expertise in the fields of civil engineering, handling equipment, ventilation systems and associated electrical and control systems. The teams check the design documents, conformity of constructions, tests, and participate in the acceptance of installations.

Recently, a new and critical milestone was reached in the building that will host the world’s largest tokamak, a device that has been designed to prove the feasibility of fusion as a large-scale and carbon-free source of energy and whose first plasma is expected to be launched by the end of 2025.

Load tests on the two overhead cranes, which will enable the tokamak’s components to be transported for assembly, were validated in record time by our teams. These are two colossal handling machines, each with a capacity of 750 T, among the largest in the world. However, a year ago, an analysis of the schedule indicated less than 1% chance of success in reaching this milestone.

This could be achieved due to the exceptional commitment, motivation and solidarity of the ITER building teams, including our staff.

Congratulation to everyone involved for taking up this challenge and making the impossible possible, despite the difficult context of the health crisis.

Today, the ITER adventure can continue, with new milestones to come this year:

July 2020
Supervising installation of ventilation networks, and of equipment and electrical networks in the Tokamak and Diagnostic buildings (Completion: December 2021) 

August 2020
Delivering descriptive notes on the buildings and systems concerning the whole project for the future update of the Preliminary Safety Report (26 documents) 

December 2020
Completing design reviews of the Control building 71N, the neutron beam power supply buildings 34/37, the fast discharge & resistor building 75 , and the start of supervising their construction



"Over all these years, the ITER Organization has found in Tractebel a committed and competent partner. I have the pleasure of working with great colleagues on a variety of contracts: project management assistance, multi-trade project management, and collaborative engineering assignments. Many thanks to all those who have, and continue to, contribute to these successes. Tractebel still has some fine contracts to complete to make nuclear fusion an industrial reality for all, conclude" Ronan Moullec.


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