Tree C Technology assists ITER Japan (QST) in Remote Handling challenges.

Tree C Technology assists ITER Japan (QST) in Remote Handling challenges.

QST, The National Institutes for Quantum and Radiological Science and Technology of Japan, together with Advanced Technology Corporation (A-Tech), has granted Tree C Technology B.V. a contract to develop a structural simulator for the Blanket Remote Handling System (BRHS) designed for the ITER fusion research project. The contract also includes training sessions in Japan in the use of VR4Robots®, Tree C’s proprietary virtual reality based remote handling application.

ITER is an international research project on nuclear fusion, the ultimate future source of energy. The ITER-plant is currently being built in the south of France. It is the successor of the Joint European Torus (JET) in Culham, UK, an installation where Tree C has been long involved with VR4Robots in the remotely handled maintenance shut-downs. VR4Robots® is used to develop and to validate Operations Sequence Descriptions (OSD’s) by using virtual reality techniques and by providing a visible working environment for the operator parallel to and during the actual execution.

The fusion process at ITER requires tritium, a radioactive form of hydrogen with a half-life of 12.3 years. Although the amount of tritium used during plasma pulses is very small—only a few grams at any one time—the confinement of this radioelement within the fuel cycle is one of the most important safety objectives at ITER. As a consequence the ITER plant is a no-go area for humans, and all interventions such as replacement of the blanket tiles need to be executed by robots and through remote handling.

ITER Japan (QST) is responsible for the development of the Blanket Remote Handling equipment. The vehicle-type manipulators, traveling over a retractable rail system, will be required to manoeuvre 4-ton blanket modules with a high degree of positioning accuracy in the vacuum vessel of the ITER installation. The blankets (total number of 400 modules and forming the inner wall of the donut shaped vacuum chamber) must be installed with a positioning accuracy of ±0,25 mm. As one of the tasks, the VR4Robots-based structural simulator will have to prove that this specification can be met. It will also be a safe test bed for the software which controls the robots. Last but not least, the simulator will also be used for the standard RH-functions as described above.

Tree C is excited to extend its contribution to the fusion research program through this valued assignment from QST and A-Tech, fusion being the potential and clean solution satisfying the ever growing energy demand in future.