Nuclear engineering experts working for Assystem are designing the robotic equipment that will be responsible for maintenance of the human made ‘sun’ created by the world’s largest fusion device.
The ITER, located in southern France, aims to replicate the processes that power the real Sun.
It is estimated that the plasma, the hot gas resulting from the fusion reaction, will reach 150,000,000°C – or 10 times the temperature in the Sun’s core.
Maintenance components will be exposed to temperatures in the range of 250°C, so the tooling produced for remote handling will be key to the project’s success.
Assystem senior mechanical engineer Fanny Fouin, said: “Our focus is on creating robotic equipment that can operate in such harsh environment e.g. high temperatures and very high level of radiation in the world’s largest fusion experiment.
“ITER will be the world’s biggest experiment on the path to fusion energy and it will help us to develop fusion reactors putting an end to our excessive reliance on fossil fuels.”
The firm is the third largest nuclear engineering company in the world, with its Sunderland office being one of five in the UK.
Some 35 countries are involved in the design and build of the experiment. The major ITER tests will not take place until 2025. Experts predict that that it will take 30-40 years to scale up fusion for commercial use.