Rolls-Royce expertise in nuclear engineering is particularly well displayed in the shape of a remote access vehicle designed to gain access to core elements of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, which aims to form the next generation of nuclear fusion experimental reactor.
One of the enormous technical challenges this project poses is to gain access to the diverter plates in the torus, the core of the reactor, to remove and replace them from time to time during the reactor’s life. These plates are irregular in shape and weigh several tonnes. The only way to achieve this is to design a workable manipulator/heavy-lift vehicle.
The Rolls-Royce solution to this problem is a remote access vehicle that lays down sections of track on which it rides as its transport platform. The vehicle navigates through a service duct by cutting out and removing access doors that weigh eight tonnes. In the torus the vehicle accesses and removes or relocates the diverter plates and then reverses its entry procedure, removing track sections and repositioning and re-welding the access doors.
During this work the Rolls-Royce vehicle interfaces with and serves as an operating platform for a variety of tool-heads, manipulators and other devices.
Rolls-Royce has designed and manufactured a full-scale prototype vehicle for use in a mock-up of the reactor torus to gain proof of principle of the diverter plates’ manipulations requirements.