QMT Features: August 2014
Testing world’s biggest fusion reactor
ThyssenKrupp Schulte have developed a test rig for use on the world’s biggest experimental nuclear fusion reactor ITER


ThyssenKrupp Schulte is helping drive forward the construction of the world’s biggest experimental nuclear fusion reactor ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor). It has developed a test rig to help gather information on the load capacity and mechanical stability of the moving supports for the ITER vacuum vessel. 

“The vacuum vessel, which weighs around 10,000 tons, is one of the most important components of the nuclear fusion reactor,” says Munich branch manager Andreas Kellermann.
To enable the vessel to expand during the fusion process and absorb the magnetic forces generated, it rests on nine moving steel supports which have to withstand a weight comparable with that of the Eiffel Tower.
Due to the highly complex nature of the test rig each part had to be individually constructed and exhibit high tensile strength and toughness. ThyssenKrupp Schulte advised its customer on the feasibility of each process step, in particular with regard to manufacturing tolerances. In addition, the materials experts made corrections to the engineering drawings based on their own measurements, and in cross-border collaboration with ThyssenKrupp Materials Austria were able to support all process steps.
More than nine tons of heat-treated steel was eventually used. The rig, measuring 2,265mm by 2,125mm by 1,400mm, resembles a gigantic vice. The support mock-up developed by customer KRP-Mechatec Engineering was clamped in the structure and tested for stability using hydraulic equipment. Finally, the stability of the support was tested in the finished test rig at Munich University of Technology. Strain gauges were used to monitor the rig during three days of load testing and to test the mobility of the cylinder bearings. The support passed the test. The findings will feed into the construction of the nuclear fusion reactor.www.thyssenkrupp.com
  
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