Posted on: 7th December 2015

#7 Remote handling

Remote handling is a technique that enables an operator to do manual handling work at a particular work site without being physically present at that work site. Unlike conventional robotics, remote handling always involves a human being within the process. Remote handling is crucial for fusion experiments because when a fusion device is in operation it is impossible to make changes, conduct inspections, or repair components in the activated areas other than by remote handling.

The remote handling system used for maintenance at the JET nuclear fusion experiment includes robotic devices, advanced computers, virtual reality, television and a wide range of specialist tools. The technological expertise required of the personnel to design and operate these types of systems covers mechanical, electrical and electronic engineering, software, real time control, ergonomics, pneumatics, hydraulics, welding and cutting.

The applications of remote handling, however, go much further than fusion. The techniques that were developed specifically for EUROfusion’s JET tokamak have been successfully applied to the domains of high-energy physics, space research, nuclear decommissioning and medical & surgical techniques.

remote handling at JET

Image source: EUROfusion

The complexity and the multidisciplinary nature of fusion research produced number of spin-offs that have found applications in industry, other scientific disciplines, and technological advances. The areas that have benefited from fusion research span a variety of fields ranging from medicine and material science to computing and astrophysics.

EUROfusion has identified some of these spin-offs, looked at fusion research aspects that have the potential for short-term benefits, and prepared a non-exhaustive list of fusion spin-offs which demonstrate the short-term benefits of fusion research on the way to fusion electricity.