The ITER Itinerary test convoy, featuring an 800-metric-ton trailer replicating the weight and dimensions of ITER’s most exceptional loads, successfully completed its journey on 20 September.

It is one of the specialities of the ITER project: Ninety percent of the seven Members’ contributions will be delivered “in-kind”, meaning that the Members fabricate components for ITER at home and deliver them to the ITER Organization. That implies the transport of exceptionally large and heavy goods – the nine segments of the 19 metre wide and 11 metre high vacuum vessel are just one example – from Marseille harbour to the ITER site.

The convoys will have to cross more than 30 bridges, bypass 16 villages and negotiate 16 roundabouts. France as the host state has widened roads, reinforced bridges and modified intersections to accommodate the transport. Between September 16 and 20, this Itinerary underwent a reality check: Pulling people out of their beds to watch, a 46 metres long and 10 metres high trailer travelled for four consecutive nights the 104 kilometre long Itinerary from the village of Berre near Marseille harbour to the ITER site. Bridges along the way were equipped with sensors and further measurements were taken at roundabouts and in villages to monitor the behaviour of the roads under these exceptional loads.

ITER Transport Picture: ITER Organization

With the successful completion of the test transport, ITER is now ready for the giants to arrive: The first large components, among them large drain tanks and transformers, will be delivered in 2014. Between 2015 and 2017, the largest components will be shipped: the sectors of the vacuum vessel and the toroidal field coils.

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The beauty of tungsten


This blue sphere measures about a twentieth of a millimetre and consists of pure tungsten. It was produced at Forschungszentrum Jülich in the electron beam test facility JUDITH, where Jülich researchers expose materials to high thermal loads. Inside JUDITH, even tungsten – the metal with the highest melting point of all the elements – can melt and then solidify again within a fraction of a millisecond, forming bizarre shapes. What appear to be ‘continents’ under a scanning electron microscope clearly show that the crystal lattice created in this process is not uniform. Tungsten is currently the material of choice for the inner wall of fusion reactors.

Forschungszentrum Jülich