JET: The Joint European TorusDeveloping, maintaining and operating the unique remote handling system at JET, the record-breaking fusion facility.
The Joint European Torus (JET) is the world’s largest and most powerful operational fusion research device.
Fusion is the process that takes place in the heart of stars. It is the power that drives the universe and has great potential to deliver safe, sustainable, low-carbon energy for generations to come.
JET has made world-leading advances in the science and engineering of fusion since it began operating in 1983. The knowledge gained from remotely maintaining JET led to the formation of RACE in 2014. Our mechanical, electrical and controls engineers are instrumental in the safe operation of JET and the remote equipment used to maintain it.
JET has a bespoke system for remote maintenance, with two 12-metre-long snake-like booms that reach into the vacuum vessel.
One boom is used to carry tools and components into the work area. The other boom carries MASCOT, a manipulator with haptic feedback that allows the operator to feel every action, from carrying a heavy object to tightening a bolt. Our remote handling operators are highly skilled at planning and executing even the most dextrous tasks.
The remote handling system is used to maintain the contents of the JET vacuum vessel, and respond to unplanned events. In one major refurbishment project, the equipment was used for 18 months, two shifts a day, to replace the entire plasma-facing first wall of the vacuum vessel. This involved developing more than 350 new tools to remove and replace over 4,000 components. All of the work was done remotely using cameras and virtual reality.
RACE is now upgrading the MASCOT manipulators and booms to ensure that we can continue to maintain and decommission JET. RACE is developing digital tools that help teams to plan, visualise and track operations. We are pushing the boundaries of fusion technology, bringing commercial fusion energy closer to reality.