08 Feb, 2021

Augmented reality at ITER to assess the future work environment

08 Feb, 2021

What is augmented reality:

Augmented reality superimposes a CG image (computer-generated image) on a user’s view of the real world. Unlike virtual reality, where everything a user sees is generated by a computer, augmented reality keeps the real-world focus, but just adds elements that aren’t really there to enhance the user’s experience.

This technology has been used everywhere from the healthcare tech industry to retail and even manufacturing. Currently, ITER and CEA [1] are developing a novel approach based on augmented reality to explore, analyze and assess the work environment in the port cells dedicated to the future operations on the experimental test blanket modules.

Test blanket modules at ITER:

ITER will use two different types of “fuels” to release nuclear energy: deuterium and tritium (two hydrogen isotopes). In addition, helium and neutrons will result from the reaction. While deuterium is abundant in seawater, tritium is much scarcer. Breeding blankets will play an important role in the future to generate the supply of tritium in fusion reactors.

The component contains lithium that will interact with the neutrons produced in the reaction, to breed tritium. Moreover, the breeding blanket primary cooling system will also extract the fusion thermal power in order to convert this heat to rotate a turbine and then generate electricity.

At Level 1 of the Tokamak, two ports are dedicated to the handling of test blanket systems and will be used as entry and exit passages for the 45-tonne components. Today they are empty, but when the machine is operational, they will be crowded with a forest of pipes, ducts, rails, and systems of all kinds. The test blanket systems are presently in the preliminary design phase and experiment a novel approach developed by CEA experts “augmented reality”.

Augmented reality at ITER [2]:

From 3D databases, it is possible to create an “in-context” immersion, blending and superimposing virtual and “real” elements such as doors, walls, and galleries. Using HoloLens, it is possible to participate in the same simulation, exploring the physical configuration of the projected port cell environment and sharing a common understanding of the working configuration and conditions.
Indeed, through the hologram that is projected onto the eye’s retinae, the operators can walk through the densely packed environment of that port cell as it is planned and experiencing the challenges that they will encounter.

Up today, augmented reality has been implemented for the test blanket module system, however, the idea will be to propagate its use to the entire project to optimize interventions.

In the following video, M. Jean-Pierre Martins is presenting this technology and explaining how it can be used to simulate future maintenance activities in the Tokamak

 

References

[1] Assessing the future work environment, https://www.iter.org/newsline/-/3509

[2] Perfecting tritium breeding for DEMO and beyond, https://www.iter.org/newsline/-/3447

Credits

Photo: Chiara Di Paolo (Mechanical engineer – DAES) using augmented reality at ITER in collaboration with the CEA

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