A team of engineers at Oxford Technologies is tackling one of the many engineering challenges involved in transforming the science of fusion energy into engineering reality at ITER: in this case developing a compliant wrench that can be remotely operated to tighten and loosen the bolts which hold the blanket modules which shield the walls of the tokamak.
The 440 blanket modules cover an area of 800m2 and are a critical part of the design as they cover the inner walls of the vessel, protecting the structure from the heat flux generated by the plasma.
Each of the modules, which are typically over a metre square and weigh several tonnes, consists of a detachable first wall panel, facing the hot plasma, and a shield block which forms the structure of the module as well as housing the cooling water channels.
Furthermore, due to the complexity of the geometry, the alignments of the holding bolts will vary on each panel and the wrench must therefore be able to cope with misalignment in vertical and lateral planes as well as angular misalignment.
As Stephen Sanders, Access Global Marketing & Business Development Director, explains; “One of the greatest advantages that OTL offers is our ability to pull together multi-disciplinary teams to enable the development of creative, new solutions to completely new problems.”