EMBARGO: Tuesday July 28, 11h:30 GMT / 13h:30 CET
French President Emmanuel Macron
will host ITER’s "Virtual Start of Assembly," streamed via YouTube Live here:

Begins Tuesday July 28
10h:00 CET (Paris time)

See below for full event schedule
Advance interviews with Dr. Bernard Bigot, Director-General of ITER, are available.
Videos, high res images :

Click image, right, for an 8-minute video animating the complex assembly of 1 million+ components from partner nations to create ITER's massive fusion energy system https://bit.ly/32ZAmUr

U.S. : Marshall Hoffman, H&H, +1 703 533-3535, [email protected]
France: Sabina Griffith, ITER, +33 6 27 96 14 82, [email protected]
U.K. : Juliet Heller, H&H, +44 (0) 1621 868083, +44 (0) 7946 616150(m), [email protected]
Canada : Terry Collins, H&H, +1-416-878-8712, [email protected]
Latin America: Liliana Hisas, H&H, + 703 412 -578, [email protected]
Start of ITER Assembly
Paves Way for Fusion Energy Era

Fusion is the future source of carbon-free,
abundant, safe and economic energy

Leaders of EU, France, China, India, Japan,
Korea, Russia & U.S. make announcement together
French President Emmanuel Macron and leaders from the European Union, China, India, Japan, Korea, Russia, and the United States declare the start of a new energy era today with the official start of the assembly of the world’s largest fusion device at ITER in Southern France.

The ITER machine, the world’s largest science project, is being assembled to replicate the fusion power of the Sun that provides light and warmth and enables life on Earth.

The launch of ITER assembly phase is made possible by the arrival of components from all over the world (click for video) in recent months. It demonstrates the willingness of the 35 partner countries of the ITER international research project to join together in an enduring way in their common fight against climate change.

“I heartily congratulate the ITER Project,” says Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan. “I believe disruptive innovation will play a key role in addressing global issues including climate change and realizing a sustainable carbon-free society.”

Fusion provides clean, reliable energy without carbon emissions. Fusion is safe, with minute amounts of fuel and no physical possibility of a run-away accident with meltdown.

The fuel for fusion is found in seawater and lithium. It is abundant enough to supply humanity for millions of years. A pineapple-sized amount of this fuel is the equivalent of 10,000 tons of coal.

The cost of building and operating a fusion plant is expected to be similar to the cost of a nuclear fission plant, but without the large costs and long-term legacy of waste disposal.

When ITER is finished, it is expected that it will demonstrate that fusion power can be generated sustainably on a commercial scale.

The Promise

It is because of the remarkable promise of fusion that the ITER project was born: The 35 partner countries are the EU (plus the United Kingdom and Switzerland), China, India, Japan, Korea, Russia and the United States.

These nations, representing more than 50 percent of the world population and more than 80 percent of the global gross domestic product, have pooled their vast expertise and resources to build the first industrial-scale research fusion device.

France is the host country. The European Union with the United Kingdom and Switzerland is the host member, funding 45 percent of the cost of ITER. Each of the other members, U.S. China, Japan, Russia, India and Korea funds 9 percent.

About 90 percent of ITER Member contributions are made in-kind, adding international complexity to an already multifaceted machine, called a Tokamak (click for video) for “magnetic Torus.” When finished, the Tokamak will be made up of more than 1 million components.

Since the 1950s, when the concept of a Tokamak—magnetic confinement fusion—was first developed in the Soviet Union, fusion energy research has been an area of broad international collaboration.

In recent months, in preparation for the machine assembly, gigantic first-of-a-kind components have begun to arrive in France —in many cases weighing several hundred tons each and more than 15 meters long. The parts are the culmination of more than 5 years of fabrication in factories, universities and national laboratories all over the world.

The Tokamak components must meet very strict specifications. They must arrive in France on time, according to an intricate schedule.

“Constructing the machine piece by piece will be like assembling a 3-dimensional puzzle on an intricate timeline,” says Dr. Bigot.

“Every aspect of project management, systems engineering, risk management, and logistics of the machine assembly must perform together with the precision of a Swiss watch,” says Dr. Bigot. “We have a complicated script to follow over the next few years.”
At end of this period, in December 2025, ITER scientists and engineers will launch “First Plasma,” the initial event demonstrating machine functionality.

The Start of Assembly
Manufactured by India, the Cryostat is the “thermos” that surrounds the Tokamak Vacuum Vessel and superconducting magnets which confine the super hot plasma. 

It is 30 meters (98.5’) high and 30 meters (98.5’) in diameter. It is the largest stainless steel vacuum chamber ever built. 

It has four main pieces: the base, lower cylinder, upper cylinder, and top lid. 

The lower cylinder is roughly the same dimensions as Stonehenge.

The Cryosat base section (click for video) weighs 1,250 tons. It is the heaviest ITER component. It was the first major piece to be inserted into the Tokamak Pit, in May. It was settled into position with an accuracy of under 3 millimeters. 
ITER’s magnets
ITER uses three closely integrated types of magnets to contain, control, shape, and pulse the 150 million degrees Celsius plasma. 

In order to be superconducting, the magnets are cooled internally with -269 degrees Celsius liquid helium, the temperature of interstellar space. 
Toroidal Field (TF) Coils
Manufactured by Japan and Europe with components coming from China, Korea and Russia, more than 40 companies are involved in the manufacture of the 18 Toroidal Field (TF) Coils (click for video).

The function of the TF coils is to confine the ionized plasma particles. Each magnet is the height of a four-story building and weighs 360 tons. 

The first two TF coils arrived at the ITER site in April from Japan and Italy.
Poloidal Field (PF) coils
Manufactured by China, Europe and Russia, these magnets are ring-shaped and will be situated outside the TF coil system. The PF coils shape the plasma and hold it away from the walls. 

There are six PF coils, ranging in diameter from 10 to 24 meters (33’ to 79’) and weighing up to 400 tons. 

The first PF coil arrived at ITER in May from China. The second, made by Europe, was manufactured onsite.
Central Solenoid (CS)
Manufactured by the United States, this is the most powerful of ITER’s magnets. It is sometimes called the “beating heart” of ITER because it will initiate a powerful current in the plasma in long pulses.

The Central Solenoid (click for video) is being fabricated in six modules. When combined, it will be 13 meters (43‘) tall or 18 meters (59’) with the support structure and will weigh one thousand tons. 

It will have the magnetic power to lift an aircraft carrier.

The independently operating CS coil packs will create massive electromagnetic forces that pull in different directions. The support structures will have to withstand forces equal to twice the thrust of a Space Shuttle lift-off.

The first CS module will arrive at ITER in Fall 2020.
Vacuum Vessel
Manufactured by Korea (four sectors) and Europe (five) sectors, with the protruding port stubs supplied by Russia, the Vacuum Vessel (click for video) is a hermetically sealed, donut-shaped stainless steel chamber. Inside, the plasma particles spiral around continuously without touching the walls.
Forty-four openings or ports in the vacuum vessel provide access for remote handling operations, diagnostics, heating, and vacuum systems. 

The blanket modules lining the inner surfaces of the vessel will provide shielding from the high-energy neutrons produced by the fusion reactions. 

The volume of the plasma contained in the center of the ITER vacuum vessel (840 m³) is ten times larger than any previous tokamak.

The first vacuum vessel sector arrived in France on July 21, enabling the start of machine assembly.
Buildings and civil works across the ITER worksite, constructed by Europe, are about 75 percent complete. Here are three examples.

The Tokamak Building and Assembly Hall have been completed, joined by a 170-meter overhead crane rail supporting two 750-ton cranes that will transport and position components.

The cryogenics facility, the largest centralized cryoplant in the world, is 60 percent completed. It provides the liquid helium for the extremely low temperatures for the superconducting magnets to work. The equipment comes from China, India, Sweden, Czech Republic, Finland, Italy, Japan, and France. The cryolines are primarily from India.

The magnet conversion buildings supplying power at precisely the right voltage and amperage to ITER’s magnets, are using specially designed equipment from China, India, Korea and Russia.

Assembling ITER, integrating the components delivered from around the world, is the responsibility of the central ITER Organization. This includes the assembly of the Tokamak itself as well as parallel installation of support systems such as radio frequency heating, fuel cycle, cryogenics, cooling water, vacuum, control, and high voltage electrical systems.

Principal assembly activities will take place in the Tokamak Building, where the ITER device will be installed in a partially embedded concrete bioshield. For the assembly phase, this building will operate as a clean area, and be maintained at a constant temperature to avoid the slightest distortion in the largest components.
More than 150 specialized tools, some weighing up to 800 tons, will be used to assemble, support, and position the Tokamak components.

The circular Tokamak will be pre-assembled in nine sub-assemblies in the adjacent Assembly Hall. Each 40-degree section will integrate a vacuum vessel sector, a protective silver-coated thermal shield and two toroidal field coils.

The size and weight of major Tokamak components, the tiny tolerances, the diversity of manufacturers and the tight schedule combine to make ITER an enormous engineering and logistics challenge.

Assembling the ITER machine will take 4.5 years.
Program – Start of Assembly Phase Celebration
Tuesday, 28 July 2020
(All in Paris Time)
ITER's Tokamak thermal shield, completed in South Korea, now at ITER in France.
"We have done mission impossible." High-res photo: https://bit.ly/2WPHezF
All photos, videos: www.iter.org/start-of-assembly