First ‘exceptional load’ delivered to Iter

The first of some 250 “exceptional loads” has been delivered to the construction site of the Iter fusion reactor project at Cadarache in southern France. The high-voltage transformer was manufactured in South Korea.

The transformer begins its voyage by barge from Fos-sur-Mer across the Gulf of Fos, through the Canal de Caronte, and finally across the inland sea of Etang de Berre (Image: ITER)

Although a number of smaller components for the project’s electrical network have been delivered to the construction site since last September, the delivery of the 87-tonne transformer marks the first to be classified as a “highly exceptional load”. Such loads require travel by night on the specially adapted route – the so-called Iter Itinerary – between the Mediterranean Sea and the Iter site.

The transformer was procured by the US Domestic Agency for Iter and manufactured in Korea by Hyundai Heavy Industry. It is part of the USA’s 75% contribution to the project’s steady state electrical network. Three other identical transformers will be delivered to Iter over the coming months.

The component left Hyundai Heavy Industry’s plant in Ulsan, Korea on 16 November 2014 and, following a month-long sea voyage, reached Marseille’s industrial harbour, Fos-sur-Mer. After being placed in temporary storage, the transformer was loaded on to a trailer on 12 January and transported by barge across the inland sea Etang de Berre. It was then transported along the 104 km (65 mile) road route to Cadarache, reaching the Iter site on 14 January.

ITER transformer arrival

The component arrives at the Iter site by road (Image: ITER)

Speaking at a ceremony to mark the arrival of the first exceptional load, ITER Organization director general Osamu Motojima said, “Today’s operation will need to be replicated some 250 times before we can complete the assembly of the Iter Tokamak. And some of the components will be much larger, heavier and more difficult to handle than the one that was delivered today.”

The transformer – which will be connected to the 400 kV switchyard and reduce the voltage to 22 kV to power the Iter project’s plant systems – has been moved to a storage area prior to installation.

The heaviest convoy that will travel along the Iter Itinerary will weigh 800 tonnes (including the transport vehicle), and loads can be up to be 10.4 metres high, the longest 33 metres, and the widest 9 metres.

The Iter project aims to take nuclear fusion research to a new level with the largest ever Tokamak unit, which should be capable of sustaining plasmas that produce 500 MWt for as long as seven minutes. The EU is funding half of the cost while the remainder comes in equal parts from six other partners: China, Japan, India, Russia, South Korea and the USA. The facility is expected to reach full operation in 2027.