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Civil engineering work completed on building to house World's largest Tokamak Fusion Reactor



Civil engineering work on the structure that will eventually house the world’s largest Tokamak reactor has been completed, with engineers from Vinci pouring the final concrete on 7th November marking a major step forward for one of the world’s most ambitious energy projects.
An aerial view of the ITER construction site in France.
(An aerial view of the ITER construction site in France. Image via Vinci).

ITER, a collaborative effort between 35 nations to develop the world’s first fusion device to produce net energy, was first conceived in 1985, and from 2010 construction has been underway at a 42-hectare site in the south of France. 

Construction of the building to house the Tokamak reactor required complex project management capabilities and cutting-edge expertise. To achieve this the teams working within the Vinci-led consortium set up an efficient and agile project organisation enabling them to integrate all design changes requested by the ITER scientific teams as construction progressed.

Given its job of containing a reactor that mimics the super-hot, high-speed reactions found in the Sun, the 73-metre high, 120-metre wide Tokamak Building contains a range of features to protect workers and the surrounding area from radiation. The construction team experimented with 10 different formulations of concretes, as well as steel reinforcement density rarely used on projects of this scale (up to 10 times the density of an apartment building wall). The doors within the building are also of an impressive specification, with over 46 custom heavy nuclear doors manufactured in Germany. Each door, which weigh 70-tonnes, are also filled with concrete to provide additional shielding protection.
A Vinci-led consortium has been responsible for the construction of the Tokamak reactor building
(Image via Vinci).

Commenting on the completion of the reactor building, ITER’s Director-General Bernard Bigot, said:

“In deciding to take part in the leading construction of the particularly complex ITER buildings, Vinci undertook to help write a new chapter in one of the most ambitious and promising research programmes ever undertaken – a programme designed to reproduce on Earth the reactions that have been taking place in the heart of the Sun and stars for billions of years. Its goal is to harness hydrogen fusion and thereby pave the way for a new era for all humanity by making available a massive source of energy that can be varied at will, is intrinsically safe and has no impact on the climate and the environment. This was a huge challenge to which the mean and women at Vinci have been tenaciously and resourcefully rising for nearly a decade. We want to warmly thank Vinci for having been a highly capable, reliable partner sharing our objectives, our standards and our determination. The success of ITER will be theirs.”
An interior view of the building that will eventually house the world's largest Tokamak reactor.
(An interior view of the building that will eventually house the world’s largest Tokamak reactor. Image via Vinci).

With the main structure of the reactor building now completed, work will soon begin on installing the metal frame of the roof with the assembly of the ITER Tokamak to begin thereafter. With this project milestone successfully reached the ITER team remain confident that ‘First Plasma’ can be achieved in 2025.

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Civil engineering work completed on building to house World's largest Tokamak Fusion Reactor - Time to read 3 min
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