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I think I am not exaggerating if I say that in the history of the ITER project, 2007 has been an exceptional year in every sense: not only have we celebrated the entry into force of the ITER Agreement and with it the birth of this new International Organization, we have also concluded the Design Review, a truly global effort leading to what will from now on be the baseline design for ITER.
Then we saw the first successful Meeting of the ITER Council which is the highest governing board of the project, we signed the Headquarters Agreement with the French Government and finally we celebrated the signature of the first procurement arrangement symbolizing the transition from designing to manufacturing the ITER machine. The ground levelling work on site starting early next year will be another visible sign of the beginning of this new era.
All these events mark important milestones along our way. But I don't want to leave unmentioned the many daily tasks we all carry out in order to make ITER a success. Therefore I would like to use this Director's Corner as a forum to thank you all, here in Cadarache and out there in North and South, in East and West for your support and also for your patience. Building up a new organization that spans the world and that joins together people from 38 nations is not an easy task. We are starting from scratch and before us lies a long road before we reach our final destination and achieve our goal of having built the biggest science experiment in the world.
I do not want to give the impression that everything is roses. There are many challenges to be faced. We will continue recruiting more staff next year which won't help to solve our office space problem. At least we will experience some relief when the new temporary offices become available in February 2008. There are also some major items of concern for our families that everyone is aware of. One of these is the International School in Manosque that opened last September. All I can say is that I am personally taking this issue very seriously indeed. The upbringing of our children is perhaps the most important ingredient in our lives and we must do everything we can to make sure our children receive the best possible education. So, thanks to you all for the massive contribution you are making to the eventual success of the ITER project. I wish you a merry Christmas and a joyful and peaceful New Year.
On Wednesday, 24 October 2007, the ITER Organization formally entered into force. In order to celebrate this milestone in the history of the project, the ITER staff in Cadarache, France, raised their glasses together with their colleagues from the seven Member Parties who participated in the event via a live video-link.
"There have been few occasions when a relatively small group of people can work together to have such an essential impact on the future well-being of our planet", ITER Director General Kaname Ikeda said on the occasion. "The nations of the world have understood the need for new sources of energy and the nations of world have reacted with responsibility and vision. By creating ITER our Member Parties have established a completely new model for international collaboration and it is our challenge to show that outstanding talent coming from many different nationalities can also fuse to create a dynamic workforce."
Together with the ITER Principal Deputy Director Norbert Holtkamp, Ikeda then unveiled the new sign of the newborn International Organization. "This is the starting point of a unique science adventure", he added. "I would like to thank you all for the tremendous efforts you have made to bring us this far. Together we have an outstanding future."
Osamu Uno, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, Japan: "It gives me great pleasure to express my congratulations on the occasion of the formal establishment of the ITER International Fusion Energy Organization on 24 October 2007. Japan believes that the ITER project will play a very important role for the realization of nuclear fusion energy, which could be less harmful to the environment and one of the permanent resources for mankind, so intends to contribute actively to the project including technical area and human resources."
Jinpei Cheng, Vice-Minister of Science and Technology: "On behalf of the Ministry of Science and Technology of China, I would like to express my sincere congratulations to you and the ITER Organization at this important milestone moment, and give my thanks to you again for your understanding and support during the process of approval of the ITER Agreement in China. I am sure that the ITER Project will enter a new and successful stage under your leadership, with the assistance of PDDG, DDGs and the ITER staff."
Didier Gambier on behalf of the European Domestic Agency: "As this is an important day on which we are embarking on a long and exploratory journey, I would like to underline the human dimension of this endeavour. In each and every case when we will have to find an adequate solution, it will be us assembled in an entity made of the IO and the DAs, that will have to invent the solutions to these complicated equations. This will require strength, determination and as well dedication to the project. However, on my part I am sure that we have the qualities to make this journey not only an effort and sometimes a suffering, but also moments of joy and rewards, like this one or when we will deliver components or celebrate the erection of buildings."
The Headquarters Agreement establishing the legal status of the ITER Organization in France was signed on 7 November 2007 by Valérie Pécresse, Minister for Higher Education and Research on behalf of the French government, and Kaname Ikeda, Director General Nominee of the ITER Organization.
This Agreement sets out the terms of cooperation between the new International Organization and the French authorities, in particular compliance with French regulations related to public safety and security, environmental protection, nuclear safety and radiological protection.
Kaname Ikeda, welcoming the Minister to the ITER construction site prior to the official signing ceremony, spoke of his appreciation of the commitment of the host country, France, to the project: "So many people throughout the world are represented here today, all with just one goal: to build ITER. This important milestone in the construction of ITER would not have been possible without the commitment and vigilant support from the French Government and the local authorities. "
The Minister, who was accompanied by Bernard Bigot, the French High Commissioner for Atomic Energy and national coordinator for the ITER project, responded that her presence at the ITER site in Cadarache had a very special meaning. The reason for standing together that morning was "much more than a simple Headquarters Agreement", Valérie Pécresse said. "This is indeed a promise of open arms. This is a declaration of welcome that we are signing this morning, expressing the true joy and immense pride France is feeling at the idea of welcoming on its territory what is without a doubt, one of the most ambitious projects that mankind has ever conceived, if not the most ambitious of all. With ITER we are providing the world with an example, that of people leaving behind their eternal rivalries and old quarrels which have so affected us, so as to build our future together in agreement and cooperation."
All seven Domestic Agencies are now in place and their heads appointed:
China has established the ITER China Office affiliated with the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST). The Office will soon be transformed into the Chinese ITER Domestic Agency, which will have legal responsibility for the implementation of Chinese ITER fusion activities.
The European Domestic Agency "Fusion for Energy" situated in Barcelona, Spain, was formally established in March 2007. In July, Dr. Didier Gambier was appointed as Director. See Fusion for Energy.
The Indian ITER Office has been established at the Institute for Plasma Research in Bhat, Gandhinagar with Predhiman Kaw as Director. See ITER India.
On 24 October 2007 the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) was designated by the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology as the Japanese Domestic Agency. Toshihide Tsunematsu was appointed as Head of the ITER Domestic Agency. See JAEA.
ITER Korea was established on 31 August 2007 within the National Fusion Research Institute (NFRI). Dr. Guyung-Su Lee was appointed Director-General on 27 September 2007. See ITER Korea.
The US ITER office was the first one to be established in July 2004 at the Oak Ridge National Laboratories with Ned Sauthoff as Director. See US ITER.
In Russia, a special department was established on 31 August 2007 within the Kurchatov Institute. Anatoly Krasilnikov was appointed as Head of the Russian DA. See ITER RF.
On 27 November 2007, the ITER Council convened for the first time in the history of the new International Organization. Opening the meeting, Dr Werner Burkart, Deputy Director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said: "Let me congratulate all who have contributed to the achievements of the ITER initiative to date. I wish you the very best for continued good progress so that fusion technologies can come of age in a world in desperate need of clean, abundant, and carbon dioxide-free energy."
Setting a new paradigm in international scientific collaboration, the two-day meeting in Cadarache France brought together top scientific statesmen and stateswomen from China, the European Union, India, Japan, Korea, Russia and the United States. This first Council meeting, convened by the IAEA, came about a month after the entry into force of the ITER Agreement on 24 October 2007.
The ITER Council is the supervisory body of the ITER Organization, responsible for the overall direction of its activities. Council delegates elected Sir Chris Llewellyn Smith, Chairman of the Consultative Committee for Euratom on Fusion, as its Chairman.Â He thanked the Council stating: "This meeting is a truly important day for fusion and for mankind, as it marks a major step towards the availability of fusion as an environmentally responsible source of essentially limitless energy." Academician Evgeny Velikhov, President of the Russian Kurchatov Research Institute and one of the originators of the ITER project, was appointed as Vice-Chairman.
The ITER Council formally appointed Kaname Ikeda as Director-General of the ITER Organization. He thanked the Council for the great honour of being named as first Director General of ITER and asked: "...the members of Council and the representatives of the Domestic Agencies for statesmanship and vision in the years to come, as ITER, being a unique venture, cannot be a success without being able to come to creative and visionary solutions for challenges that we have never faced together before." Norbert Holtkamp was named as Principal Deputy Director-General along with six Deputy Director-Generals.
The Director-General then reported on the progress of the project since the July 2007 meeting of the Interim ITER Council. He focused on the site preparation, the build-up of the project team, finance and accounting, and the development and deployment of project management tools. He also presented cooperation agreements with IAEA and the European Centre for Nuclear Research (CERN), and the Principality of Monaco. The Council also approved the Draft Budget of the ITER Organization for 2008.
Much attention was paid to the results of the ITER Design Review and engineering activities. The Council acknowledged the successful completion of the year-long review, led by the team that will build ITER, aimed at updating the 2001 Baseline Design. The Council commended the efforts of the ITER Organization and all those who took part in the review from the ITER Members. Chairman Sir Chris Llewellyn Smith said that the first meeting of the ITER Council was "a turning point" for the project: "The design review showed that the ITER design is fundamentally sound, although the implications of some design choices and changes need to be studied further in the coming months. The stage is now set for major procurement activity in ITER members as well as the beginning of construction on the ITER site."
Following a formal letter from 15 May 2007 notifying Kazakhstan's intention to join the ITER project, members of the ITER Organization including Director General Kaname Ikeda undertook an "exploratory mission" in October to assess the country's technical and scientific competence. Kazakhstan has a rich history in nuclear research and engineering that is tightly connected to the former USSR and subsequent close cooperation with the Russian Federation. Kazakhstan possesses large mining resources in beryllium, tantalum, niobium and uranium. Therefore Kazakhstan's researchers are particularly interested in the beryllium First Wall for ITER and the study of hydrogen interaction with other materials. The IO members reported their "positive findings" to the ITER Council that will prepare a "proposal for accession" by the next Council meeting in summer 2008.
At the close of his two-day visit to France on 9 October 2007 which also led him to the Airbus Facility in Toulouse, the Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek stopped over in Cadarache where he was introduced to the ITER project. Topolanek wants to increase the Czech Republic's share in both projects, government spokeswoman Jana Bartosava said. Two days before, Toshio Okazaki, President of the Japan Domestic Energy Agency, visited the ITER site in Cadarache. "Nuclear Fusion is one of the main research and development issues in JAEA and ITER is regarded as the core research facility within the Japanese fusion research", Okazaki said. M. Shingu Mimura, Governor of the Aomori Prefecture in Japan, visited the ITER site. As they are also constructing a large project, representatives of the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (ALMA) and the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) came to discuss both the technical and managerial challenges of the projects with the ITER management.
As the ITER projects develops, so does the interest of the media. Journalists from all over the world fly in to see how the biggest scientific project around is progressing.
COMPASS, one of the key fusion experiments at UKAEA's Culham Science Centre in the 1990s, started an epic journey on Monday 17th September as it was lifted from one of the main experimental halls with a massive 500-tonne crane. It will soon be reinstalled at the Institute of Plasma Physics in Prague, the centrepiece of the expanding Czech fusion research programme.
COMPASS was an integral part of fusion research at Culham in Oxfordshire and performed many important experiments in support of the design of the international ITER experiment now being built in France. As part of a strongly co-ordinated European research programme, scientists at Culham are delighted to see new life breathed into COMPASS in the Czech Republic.
UKAEA project manager Andy Cullen said: "At Culham, we are working with partners from around the world to bring fusion energy to fruition. This project is a good example of such partnerships. COMPASS will offer a valuable training tool for young Czech scientists and engineers as they look to build up their contribution to international fusion research."
The technique of "tree-buddying" gives the creatures living in a felled tree the chance to migrate to a new habitat.
It is done! The Design Review is concluded. Starting in November 2006, more than 150 leading experts from the international fusion community, divided into eight working groups, have contributed to the Design Review Process. The review was necessary because the only officially recognized documentation and technical specifications dated from 2001, while the design of the machine had developed further and outstanding issues had to be addressed. In total about 430 so called "issue cards" were reviewed, of which 186 were issues that had to be treated by more than one working group. The issues were prioritized to allow initial procurement to start.
As a result of this extraordinary effort 14 major design changes to the ITER machine have been defined, such as the insertion of ELM control coils and additional coils to improve control of the vertical stability of the plasma. No major changes were requested regarding the other magnets. Concerning safety issues it was decided that no carbon will be used in the Tritium Phase. The divertor will thus be an "all tungsten" one during this later phase of the project. The Hot Cell remains a challenge and a re-optimization of its layout is needed. In addition, the building itself will have to be redesigned in such a way that it will not perturb the performance of the magnetic fields. For the heating and current drive systems the Real Time Modulation of the Neutral Beam for advanced control scenarios will be developed as soon as possible and the RF-Heating installation will be decoupled from the assembly hall. The Tritium plant is to be completely redesigned using a new layout, with no major cost increase being incurred. Several adaptations and changes have been identified for the In Vessel components. The First Wall will be subject to some tiling adjustment in order to deal with misalignments and high heat loads.
In formulating the updates, the working groups and the Design Review Chairman Günther Janeschitz had to implement the changes without exceeding the framework of cost, scope and schedule given in the ITER Agreement and which was requested by the Interim ITER Council. Another boundary condition was to only introduce design changes where they were absolutely necessary and to adhere to the 2001 design where possible. The successful conclusion of the Design Review still leaves much detailed work to be done. However, both the ITER Organization and the Domestic Agencies are now ready to embark together on the construction of ITER.
The ITER Organization is moving on from design to procurement. On Wednesday, 28th November, the Director General of the ITER Organization, Kaname Ikeda, and the Director for International Affairs Department of the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA), Toshi Nagaoka, signed the first Procurement Arrangement between the ITER Organization and the Japanese Domestic Agency at the Chateau de Cadarache.
On Tuesday, 18 December, the second Procurement Arrangement was signed by the ITER Principal Deputy Director General Norbert Holtkamp and Didier Gambier, Director of the European Domestic Agency "Fusion for Energy" in Barcelona. Both Procurement Arrangements are part of the TF conductor package for the 18 Toroidal Field (TF) Coils.
"These two first Procurement Arrangements clearly signal that ITER procurements have begun and on a big scale", Kaname Ikeda, ITER Director General, commented. With approximately 400 tons of niobium3-tin (Nb3Sn) superconducting strands, these are two of the largest superconductor procurements in history. "The amount of material that is going to be manufactured is certainly unprecedented in its scale and it signals the first step in the construction of the ITER magnets", Neil Mitchell, responsible officer for the ITER Magnet System said.
The ITER TF coils are designed to have a total magnetic energy of 41 gigajoule and a maximum magnetic field of 11.8 tesla. The Coils will have a total length of 82.2 kilometers and a total weight of 6540 tons. The manufacture of the strands with their 10000 micron-scale filaments is extremely complex and uses cutting-edge technology. They have been developed through a series of tests on different designs. To assist the ITER Organization in developing the specification for this procurement package, an advisory committee was formed to review the technical part of the procurement and to make sure it was correct, complete, and adequately specified the critical items such as the conductor quality control and testing.
About 90% of the ITER components and structures are provided "in kind" by the Members, through the Domestic Agencies. The Japanese contribution to the construction of the ITER superconducting TF magnet system is to supply 25% of the TF Conductors, 9 TF coil winding packs, and almost all of the TF coil structures. Europe will manufacture 20 % of the TF Conductors, 10 % of the TF Magnet Structure and 10 of the TF Coil Winding packs.
Prior to the First ITER Council Meeting, the Science and Technology Advisory Committee (STAC) and the Management Advisory Committee (MAC) to the Council met in Cadarache to review the latest activities by the ITER Organization.
The MAC recognized the substantial progress that was made since the last meeting: "The ITER Organization has begun to put in place the elements of project management necessary to carry out its tasks, including a well-defined hierarchy of technical and governance documents, the appropriate configuration management, and tools necessary to accurately measure progress in terms of earned value systems. Although this work is not complete, MAC is encouraged by the vision and the progress made by the ITER Organization."
"The overall ITER design is sound," was the outcome of the STAC. In their final report, the STAC members - fusion experts from around the world - concluded that the ITER Design Review had been "extremely useful," and that it had given "excellent results in solving an important number of issues on which there is now a general consensus." Thus the STAC supported most of the Design Change Requests (DCRs) that have resulted from the recent Design Review although it was emphasized that the 2007 Baseline Design was not yet complete, as there are many DCRs still in formulation or under study.
Within the past year the number of ITER staff has risen from about 30 to 204 (158 professionals, 46 support staff on 18 December 2007) coming from 38 nations, plus support and temporary staff, subcontractors, consultants and visiting researchers. By spring 2008, this number will have increased to more than 300.
As the recruitment continues, many offices are becoming rather crowded so the question of when the new office buildings are going to be built is a hot issue. Currently, three new temporary buildings are being constructed on CEA ground next to the construction site, providing additional space for 146 personnel. The next step is to build more temporary office space on the ITER construction site by mid 2008 with a capacity for 300 people, with the option of a second building in 2009 hosting another 300 people. The permanent office buildings on site are expected to be completed in 2010.
Meanwhile the architectural competition for the future ITER building complex has been decided: The competition was won by the French architects Ricciotti-Bonhomme partners of the Engineering offices Trouvin-CAP Engelec (Link: Press Release). The funding of the complex is shared by France and the European Commission. The building complex will cover 22,340m2 including offices, an amphitheatre for 500 people, a visitors' centre, a medical centre, a staff restaurant, a reception building and a car park for 1000 vehicles. Construction is due to start on the ITER site at the beginning of 2008.
Also in spring 2008 the platform levelling works for the nuclear buildings will commence. The area covers 35 hectares. Two million cubic metres of soil will have to be moved, but great care will be taken to make efficient reuse of the material to limit transport on the public roads. The work will last ten months.
ITER exists and that was widely visible: at the first ITER Business Forum (IBF) that took place in Nice, France, from 10 to 12 December, the ITER Organization made its first official public appearance. Taking advantage of the 13th International Conference on Fusion Reactor Materials, the IBF was to enhance the exchange between science and industry. To do so, a dozen ITER staff members participated in the two-day program presenting the project's specifications and its status, and gaving information on the procurement process. An opportunity that was taken by more than 1400 industry representatives from all over Europe and beyond.
German industry has set up a platform called "Deutsches ITER Industrie Forum" to meet the needs of ITER. See www.diff.de.
The Belgium Fusion Association proudly presents a new website: www.iterbelgium.be.
An extensive list of current and historic tokamaks from around the world can be found at the website: All the World's Tokamaks
On September 14, the Korea Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research (KSTAR) was unveiled at the Daedok Science Town in Daejeon, about 150 kilometres south of Seoul. President Roh Moo-Hyun and Deputy Prime-Minister and Science and Technology Minister Kim Woo-Shik of Korea took part in the ceremony together with about 400 invited guests from ITER Members, among them ITER Director General Kaname Ikeda.
In his opening speech President Shik said that "developed over 12 years at a cost of 309 billion won (US$332 million), KSTAR will make South Korea a world leader in the field of nuclear fusion. By completing KSTAR with our own technology, we have laid the stepping stone to becoming a nuclear fusion powerhouse."
DG Ikeda in his congratulatory remarks said, "KSTAR will play a crucial role in the development of fusion power. It will be a steady-state-capable fusion device with a fully superconducting magnet system. ...KSTAR will serve as an ITER pilot plant.... KSTAR will serve to educate students and young scientists in fusion device technology by analyzing the tokamak's performance and related facilities."
In his congratulatory speech President Roh said that South Korea will grow into one of the world's top five countries in nuclear fusion energy technology by 2021, and will start commercial generation of electricity through nuclear fusion by 2040. "We have to bet heavily on the development of clean, safe and limitless energy sources, such as nuclear fusion. Our experience and technology acquired from the KSTAR will be greatly helpful to the implementation of ITER. The participation of Korea in the ITER Project gives Korea a solid position in the area of fusion research in the world."
The ITER Summer Party that took place on 15 September 2007 at the Chateau de Cadarache was a much welcomed occasion for the ITER staff and their families to get together and to raise their glasses to the future of ITER.
That same afternoon everyone had had the chance to jump on a bus and have a look around the ITER site before the ground works begin next year.
"I admit there is not much to see yet", Director General Kaname Ikeda said. "But very soon construction work will commence and when we all get together here the next time, I am sure the scenery will have changed impressively."