Press release

UKAEA supports deal worth nearly 100 million Euros

UKAEA's RACE centre supports industry in securing ITER Cask & Plug contract

Cut-away image of the ITER machine
Cut-away image of the ITER machine showing the casks at the three levels of the tokamak building (credit: ITER Organization)

The UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) is delighted to be part of the Airbus Safran Launchers /Nuvia Limited/Cegelec led partnership now tasked with the development of the ITER international fusion energy project’s Cask and Plug Remote Handling System.

Worth nearly 100 million Euros, the deal awarded by Fusion for Energy will see state-of-the-art remote handling equipment designed and supplied to ITER, the world’s largest experimental fusion facility.

The role of the system is to provide primary containment during the transportation of irradiated components from the ITER fusion reactor to the maintenance cell. The complex nature and layout of the reactor and maintenance building, which are connected with a service lift, requires the Cask and Plug Remote Handling System to be self-powered, remotely controlled and self-recoverable in the event of a failure. Physically a cask is slightly larger than a standard shipping container and when fully loaded can weigh as much as 100 tonnes and requires positional accuracy of millimetres.

UKAEA’s RACE (Remote Applications in Challenging Environments) centre is actively supporting a number of industry-led partnerships developing remote maintenance systems for ITER, including the Divertor and Neutral Beam systems. Having this common link via RACE provides the opportunity for sharing best practice, creating common standards, sharing development effort and development of generic test facilities.

A key role for RACE is the development of generic robotic solutions for deployment in challenging environments. For example there is a growing need for multiple remote controlled devices, operating at the same time and together, from the same user interface. RACE has launched new control software, called ‘CorteX™’, that allows operators to control an unlimited number of remotely operated devices; this may have future value to the Cask and Plug development programme. This software has been written to control bespoke and commercial off the shelf equipment from multiple vendors. Its design anticipates planned and unplanned additions which will be inevitable through ITER’s multi-decade life. CorteX™ has applications far beyond fusion.

UKAEA Head of Business Development, Martin Townsend, explained:

Supporting industry to win business from ITER and then partnering to deliver is a key goal for UKAEA. Our successful engagement with industry is due to the know-how that exists in RACE, developed over decades of efficient, reliable remote operations on the JET European fusion experiment at Culham.


For more information please contact Nick Holloway, UKAEA Media Manager, at or on 01235 466232.

Notes to Editors

ITER Cask & Plug Remote Handling System contract

Fusion for Energy has signed a contract with Airbus Safran Launchers, Nuvia Limited and Cegelec CEM for the production of the ITER Cask and Plug Remote Handling System. UKAEA (UK), Instituto Superior Tecnico (Portugal), AVT Europe NV (Belgium) and Millennium SAS (France) will also be part of this deal which will deliver remotely operated systems for the transportation and confinement of components located in the ITER vacuum vessel.

RACE (Remote Applications in Challenging Environments)

Part of the UK Atomic Energy Authority, RACE is conducting R&D and commercial activities in the field of Robotics and Autonomous Systems (RAS). Based at Culham Science Centre near Oxford, RACE offers access to test facilities, robotic equipment and expertise for SMEs, multinationals, research laboratories and academia from sectors with ‘challenging environments’ such as nuclear fission and fusion, petrochemical, space exploration, construction and mining.

Further information:

UK Atomic Energy Authority

The UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) carries out fusion energy research on behalf of the Government at Culham Science Centre near Oxford. It is also developing Culham as a location of hi-tech research and business, with around 40 tenant companies now on site and UKAEA’s new RACE robotics centre and Materials Research Facility, which both opened in 2016.

UKAEA’s fusion lab Culham Centre for Fusion Energy oversees Britain’s fusion programme, headed by the MAST Upgrade (Mega Amp Spherical Tokamak) experiment. It also hosts the world’s largest fusion research facility, JET (Joint European Torus), which is operated for European scientists under a contract with the European Commission.

Further information:


ITER (“The Way” in Latin) is one of the most ambitious energy projects in the world today.

In southern France, 35 nations are collaborating to build the world’s largest tokamak, a magnetic fusion device that has been designed to prove the feasibility of fusion as a large-scale and carbon-free source of energy based on the same principle that powers our Sun and stars.

The work that will be carried out at ITER is crucial to advancing fusion science and preparing the way for the fusion power plants of tomorrow.

ITER will be the first fusion device to produce net energy. ITER will be the first fusion device to maintain fusion for long periods of time. And ITER will be the first fusion device to test the integrated technologies, materials, and physics regimes necessary for the commercial production of fusion-based electricity.

Further information:

Fusion for Energy

Fusion for Energy (F4E) is the European Union’s organisation for Europe’s contribution to ITER.

One of the main tasks of F4E is to work together with European industry, SMEs and research organisations to develop and provide a wide range of high technology components together with engineering, maintenance and support services for the ITER project.

F4E supports fusion R&D initiatives through the Broader Approach Agreement signed with Japan and prepares for the construction of demonstration fusion reactors (DEMO).

F4E was created by a decision of the Council of the European Union as an independent legal entity and was established in April 2007 for a period of 35 years. Its offices are in Barcelona, Spain.

Further information:

Published 27 October 2016