The Finnish technology research facing the most challenging fusion energy project
Remote maintenance systems for ITER to be developed in Finland
Fusion is a promising option for a large scale energy production for the second half of this century and beyond. Fusion has practically unlimited fuel resources, and it is safe and environmentally sound. The global ITER-test power plant project can be seen as one of the most challenging energy projects of mankind and Europe has a significant role in it. VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and Tampere University of Technology (TUT) are responsible for developing the maintenance of the critical parts of the fusion plant that is been built in Europe (France). A full-scale research platform to develop and test the maintenance robot and remote handling operations for ITER will be taken into use on January 29 in Finland.
ITER-test power plant project is a significant step toward the development of fusion energy. The development project stretching over decades aims to prove the scientific and technological feasibility of fusion. If successful, the project proves fusion to be a true alternative energy source of the future. In addition to EU and Switzerland, India, Japan, China, South-Korea, Russia, and United States are also ITER Parties. Each Party has its own significant fusion programme but the international ITER is the most important and first priority project and proves that global collaboration can be done. European contributions to ITER are managed and contracted by the new Joint Undertaking “Fusion for Energy” established in Barcelona.
The EU owned and VTT hosted ITER remote handling system’s research and development environment, is an important milestone and appreciation for Finnish expertise. The development of the he remote handling system is one of the most significant development projects within the Tekes funded fusion areas, where virtual simulation and modelling know-how are forwarded for the utilization of the industry. As a result of hard international competition the DTP2 research environment was chosen to be part of VTT and Tampere University of Technology international Remote Operation and Virtual Reality Centre ROViR. The DTP2 facility and projects related are funded mainly by Fusion for Energy and Tekes.
Remote operation and virtual reality have a core role in the maintenance of ITER reactor as they have numerous application possibilities that they can also offer to the industry. ITER enables among others the possibility to build the machine, planning of the conventional power plants as well as development of maintenance. The goal is to implement top research results of the energy project through ROViR for the use of companies to enhance competitiveness and productivity.
”The development of fusion reactor creates new expertise in Finland that accelerates the productivity and competitiveness of Finnish industries. This is also one way of ensuring that top research and R&D that benefits the industry will stay in Finland in future as well,’’ says VTT President and CEO Erkki KM Leppävuori.
Fusion for Energy (F4E) is the European Union’s organisation responsible for providing Europe’s contribution to ITER. F4E also supports fusion R&D initiatives through the Broader Approach Agreement, a pact on fusion energy partnership which lasts for 10 years and represents about €340m of European investment signed with Japan. Ultimately F4E will contribute towards the construction of demonstration fusion reactors. F4E was created on 27 March 2007 for a period of 35 years and will manage a budget of around 4 billion Euros for the first ten years. Its seat is in Barcelona.
Didier Gambier, Director of Fusion for Energy, says that the DTP2 is a concrete example of successful cooperation between Fusion for Energy, European laboratories and industrial partners. “This facility is ideal for training and knowledge transmission because it brings together a combination of technologies relevant to the ITER experiment. The know how we have acquired will stimulate spin offs in different innovation areas“.
The building expenses of the Global ITER fusion reactor project have been estimated to be higher than as € 5 billion over the next ten years. Europe has a significant role in the ITER project and EU will cover 45% of the building costs of the test plant. The construction work of the 500 MW test plant is already under progress in Cadarches South of France.