A NUCLEAR engineering giant based in Blackburn has inked a deal which will see specialists work on the world’s largest fusion energy device.

Work on the final designs and prototype testing for the Divertor Remote Handling System, planned for a site in the South of France, will be handled by Evolution Park-based Assystem.

Part of the international ITER project, the East Lancs company will be focusing on safety, rescue and recovery and reliability, including radiation hardening, for their contribution.

Stephen McTeer, technical leader, said: “The Divertor Remote Handling System (DRHS) is an essential tool for maintaining ITER. This will be the largest fusion device ever developed.

“It is a harsh irradiated environment, requiring regular maintenance and once it begins deuterium-tritium operations in 2035, the only safe way of entering the reactor will be with remotely operated machines and tools.”

The thinking behind ITER is to develop a successful source of electricity through fusion.

Engineers are on course to mimic the reaction which powers the sun by 2025, and the DRHS is considered to be a vital component.

Mr McTeer added: “The technical complexity of the DRHS project is simultaneously challenging and rewarding. It’s the kind of opportunity that only presents itself once-in-a-lifetime and therefore is hugely significant in terms of developing the next generation of fusion engineers.”

Work on preliminary designs was completed by Assystem last year.