Research & Development

Iter / South Korea Completes First Section Of Vacuum Vessel

By David Dalton
29 April 2020

South Korea Completes First Section Of Vacuum Vessel
The vacuum vessel section was manufactured by Hyundai Heavy Industries. Photo courtesy Iter.
The first of seven sections of the vacuum vessel for the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (Iter) under construction in southern France has been produced in South Korea and is being prepared for shipping.

The vacuum vessel is a 5,000-tonne steel chamber designed to house the world's first reactor-scale fusion plasma at Iter.

Iter said that according to its machine assembly plan, section number six of the vacuum vessel, manufactured by Hyundai Heavy Industries, will be shipped to Iter’s Cadarache site followed by section number seven, which is also being manufactured by Hyundai Heavy Industries and is more than 90% complete.

Europe is providing the other five vacuum vessel sections. Europe is contributing almost half of the €20bn cost of Iter’s construction. The other six members of the venture – China, India, Japan, South Korea, Russia and the US – are contributing equally to the rest.

As the first confinement barrier for plasma inside the Iter nuclear fusion reactor, the vacuum vessel is subject to very specific codes and regulations covering material procurement, design and analysis, fabrication, welding, and examination.

Seven permanent inspectors – five from the Iter Organisation project team and two representing French nuclear regulator ASN – oversaw 45,000 inspection points and 500 manufacturing documents. In December 2019, French nuclear experts travelled to South Korea to perform a final inspection on the near-completed sector.

Iter will be the world’s largest fusion experiment. Fusion is the fundamental energy of the universe, perpetually powering the sun and stars.

Iter project head Bernard Bigot told NucNet last year that Iter was more than 65% complete and entering a critical phase as it aims to meet a first plasma deadline of 2025.

First plasma means that the reactor is able to successfully generate a molten mass, 840 m3 to be exact, of electrically-charged gas, or plasma, inside its core.

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