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ITER NEWSLINE 167
This week marked the signing of the 49th, 50th and 51st Procurement Arrangements for the ITER Organization.
On Wednesday, at the Kurchatov Institute in Moscow, ITER Director-General Osamu Motojima and the head of the Russian Domestic Agency, Anatoly Krasilnikov, signed the Procurement Arrangement for poloidal field coil #1.
ITER's poloidal field system consists of six horizontal coils. Coils #2-6 will be procured by Europe in a dedicated 250 metre-long coil winding facility on the ITER site. Coil #1— the smallest of the poloidal field coils (although it weighs a full 139 tonnes)—will be manufactured in Russia under the leadership of the Efremov Institute in St. Petersburg and delivered to Cadarache by boat.
The second Procurement Arrangement signed in Moscow with the Russian Domestic Agency this week, number 50, was for the fast discharge units, switching networks, and the high-current, water-cooled busbars. The fast discharge units are used to protect ITER's superconducting coils in case of a quench. To allay the consequences of such an event, large resistor banks are inserted in the circuits to dissipate the energy stored in the coils that can reach values up to 50 GJ.
The switching networks are used at every pulse for plasma initiation in each of the central solenoid coil packs, and in the circuits of the poloidal field coils #1 and #6. The high-current, water-cooled busbars connect the AC/DC power converters to the switching networks, the fast discharge units and finally to the superconducting coils. The total length of the busbars on ITER will be 10 km for the 21 power supply circuits.
Back from Moscow, Director-General Motojima signed Procurement Arrangement number 51 on Thursday for 8 of the 18 high voltage power supplies for ITER's powerful radio frequency heating system procured by India. In ITER, several heating methods will work concurrently to bring the plasma in the core of the machine to 150 million °C. One of these heating methods is the ion cyclotron heating and current drive system that will inject a total of 20 MW of radio-frequency power to the ITER plasma. The power is generated by nine radio frequency sources similar to standard radio frequency transmitters with 2.5 to 3 MW output power at a frequency ranging from 35 MHz to 65 MHz. The DC electrical power for the 9 radio frequency sources will be provided by 18 high voltage power supply units (AC/DC converters), each delivering 190A, 27kV and 3MW.
Following the signature of these three Procurement Arrangements, the ITER Project's cumulative commitment for in-kind contributions has now reached 64 percent.
Richard Hawryluk has been appointed to the position of Deputy Director-General and Director of the ITER Administration Department. Contract formalities were concluded today, Friday 11 March, by ITER Director-General Osamu Motojima; Hawryluk will assume his new post early April.
From 1997 to 2008, Rich Hawryluk was the Deputy-Director of the US Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL). "Rich's appointment to this key position will be seen worldwide as a major boost to the ITER Project," said PPPL Director Stewart Prager. "The upper management of ITER is now entirely filled with 'the best in the world.' While we will greatly miss his irreplaceable leadership within PPPL, Rich's new activity is very much a net plus for all of us in fusion, given the central role of ITER to the world fusion program."
A physicist by training, Hawryluk joined PPPL's research staff in 1974 and was the head of the Tokamak Fusion Test Reactor (TFTR) project when it produced record-breaking results in the early 1990s."I was very fortunate to participate in the TFTR deuterium-tritium experiments, which provided the first indications of the physics associated with a burning plasma," Hawryluk said. "I look forward to working with the ITER team in constructing a facility such that future scientists and engineers will be able to fully assess the physics of a burning plasma, which is critical for the development of fusion energy."
Although moving from New Jersey to southern France will certainly represent a "new chapter" in Rich Hawryluk's life, working at ITER will not. As part of the US delegation to the Management Advisory Committee (MAC), he was closely involved in the project's development from the very beginning. When a comprehensive review of the ITER design was launched in 2007, he—together with David Campbell from the ITER Directorate for Plasma Operation and Paul Thomas from the Heating Systems Division—participated in the physics review. In 2009, he also chaired the design review of the ITER vacuum vessel.
As former head of the TFTR project at PPPL, he acquired experience managing a big science project. "With an annual budget of USD 80 million, the project was of course smaller than ITER, but still large from a national perspective," he explains. As Head of the ITER Administration Department, he sees the biggest challenge ahead as the sheer size and the international nature of the project.
His personal goal, he stresses, will be "to provide an efficient and effective administration for this project in order to enable us to successfully build the machine. Whether it is project management, finance and budgets, procurement, or human resources, we always have to keep the end product in mind, which is construction of the ITER machine. ITER will answer the question 'Is fusion energy a viable option?'"
Click to read the ITER Press Release on the new ITER Management Structure in English and in French.
Click to read the PPPL Press Release.
The most powerful heating system to be installed in ITER will be the neutral beam injection system which is designed to inject 33 MW of high energy (1 MeV) deuterium atoms into the ITER plasma from two "heating neutral beams."
The beams are made by neutralizing 1 MeV beams of D-, the negative ion of deuterium, which are created by extracting D- from an ion source and accelerating the ions electrostatically through apertures in grids held at successively higher negative potentials. Thus the ion source is at the origin of the neutral beam and a key component of the injector.
For the heating neutral beams, ITER has chosen to further develop the radio frequency- (RF-) driven negative ion source developed at the Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP) at Garching, near Munich in Germany. The ITER ion source will be about eight times larger than the RF-driven sources developed at IPP. The next step in the development of the ion source is to build a source half the size of that of ITER, and to test its performance on the "Extraction from a Large Ion Size Experiment" (ELISE) test bed that is now under construction at IPP.
ELISE aims to extract and accelerate to 60 keV 20 A of D- for 3,600 s—half the current, but the full pulse length that will be required from the ITER source. The status in the construction and design of ELISE was the topic of the progress meeting held on 3-4 March at IPP with the participation of staff from ITER, IPP, the European Domestic Agency F4E and the RFX Consortium from Padua, Italy.
The large vacuum tank, gate valve and the main insulator of the accelerator have been delivered to IPP and are installed inside the specially constructed biological shield that is needed around the test bed to protect the scientists and engineers from radiation generated by the beams. The main parts of the ion source and the grids of the accelerator have also been delivered to IPP, but they still need to have the molybdenum coating applied to the surfaces that will be "seen" by the plasma inside the ion source.
Some technical difficulties have led to a delay of about four months in the procurement program, and it is now expected that the installation will be completed, and commissioning will start, in January 2012. The success of ELISE will greatly reduce the risk associated with the final development of the full-size ITER ion source at the SPIDER test facility at RFX, Padua.
In what promises to be an informative and provocative event, analyst/author Andy Lees will be speaking at the ITER Organization on 22 March, as an invited lecturer for the Inside ITER seminar series.
Andy Lees is known to the ITER community as one of the contributors to The Gathering Storm, a collaborative editorial effort from top players in the financial industry worldwide who have a lot to say about the global "crunch" of the last years...and even more to say about avoiding the next one. Andy chose the ITER Organization as the recipient of his portion of royalties from the book's sale.
In his chapter entitled "In Search of Energy", Andy analyzes the importance of fossil fuels to the world economy, and predicts the economic and political consequences as these fuels become less efficient—and more costly—to produce. "Energy is becoming less efficient to extract and turn into useful work, which can only be offset with greater technology, greater capital and more resources. The cost of energy will rise relative to its value," he writes.
The efficiency of available resource extraction, according to Andy, is falling at such a rate that technology is failing to keep up. He estimates that energy return on invested energy (EROIE) has dropped from 40 to 20 in the last two decades, and will drop further to 5 in the next ten years. "This is a move of unimaginable consequences, completing changing the shape of the global economy," says Andy. "Unfortunately, without a new source of cheap, high density energy, we are in a serious mess."
Andy supports fusion as the solution. "Fusion is the obvious solution to the problem, and whilst it has been a long gestation period to get to where we are, it is the only option on the table. We should not be concerned about the cost of achieving fusion, but rather the cost of not achieving it."
The next Inside ITER seminar, "Global Exhaustion" by Andy Lees, is March 22, 14h00-15h00, Salle René Gravier.
Deuterium was born in the first minutes that followed the Big Bang, when protons and neutrons frantically paired in the one-billion-degree primordial soup that was to become the Universe.
As the soup cooled slightly, deuterium nuclei then paired to become helium (two protons, two neutrons), while single protons lived on as isolated hydrogen nuclei. Primordial matter was thus separated into two unequal parts: one quarter helium; three-quarters hydrogen.
The process, however, was not completely thorough; a small percentage of deuterium nuclei, also called deuterons, remained as they were—unpaired and lonely—and were later burned in stars along with hydrogen.
The deuterons that survived the stellar furnaces eventually combined two-to-one to oxygen atoms and are now found in seawater in the concentration of 33 milligrams per litre.
Extracting this deuterium from seawater is a simple and well proven industrial process. "Heavy water", or D2O (water in which deuterium substitutes for hydrogen), is first separated from regular water by chemical exchange processes, and is then submitted to electrolysis in order to obtain deuterium gas.
The market for deuterium is small: it is used in electronics as a replacement for hydrogen in certain industrial processes; in biochemistry as a non-radioactive tracer; in "deuterium arc lamps" for spectroscopy; and, of course, in fusion research.
Of all possible fusion reactions, the one that involves deuterium (D) and the other heavy isotope of hydrogen tritium (T) is the "easiest" to achieve in the present state of technology. Despite some downsides—such as the production of highly energetic neutrons, and the fact that tritium is a slightly radioactive element—the DT reaction will probably remain for a long time to come the only way to produce viable fusion energy.
To date, only JET and the American tokamak TFTR have burned the "actual fusion fuels" (deuterium and tritium) and produced significant levels of fusion energy. Present tokamaks or stellarators all conduct their experiments with "deuterium-only" plasmas, whose behaviour in terms of confinement, heating, and general "plasma engineering" is very close to that of a DT plasma.
At , on the other side of the CEA fence, experiments with deuterium plasmas have been ongoing for the past twenty-two years. The installation consumes an average of 3 kilos of deuterium per year, delivered to Cadarache in the form of 50 litre tanks at a pressure of 200 bars (~ 10 cubic metres at ambient pressure). Deuterium is bought from a commercial company and costs around EUR 4,000 per kilo.
"Contrary to many countries, and contrary also to the IAEA, France considers deuterium as a nuclear material," explains François Saint-Laurent, a fusion physicist at CEA's Research Institute on Magnetic Fusion (IRFM) and one of the five Tore Supra pilots. "This implies a very strict follow-up of the quantities of deuterium that we store and use in the machine."
The rate of fusion reactions in a deuterium-only plasma is so low it is almost insignificant: at a given temperature, it is 1,000 to 10,000 times lower than that of a DT plasma.
"Still, some infinitesimal quantities of neutrons, tritium and helium-3 are produced in installations like Tore Supra. (DD reactions present a 50/50 probability of generating either one proton and one tritium nucleus, or one neutron and one helium-3 nucleus).
Consequently, François Saint-Laurent keeps a meticulous count of every neutron and tritium nucleus produced. "The activation that ensues is very low, so low in fact that we can enter the vacuum vessel a day or so after we complete a campaign."
Deuterium has made fusion research possible. Combined with tritium, this primordial one-proton/one-neutron element will soon open the way to fusion energy production.
Deuterium is indeed one of the Big Bang's most precious gifts.
The Frontiers of Science Conference was held in Kolkata on 2-3 March 2011 at the iconic Taj Bengal hotel. The aim of the conference was to discuss India's engagement in cutting-edge science and technology R&D initiatives on the national as well as international level, their impact on the society, as well as industry participation.
The meeting was very well attended by leaders and representatives from R&D projects around the world such as CERN, FAIR, and TRIUMF, leading industries in India that are partners in several of these projects, as well as many scientists and engineers.
ITER-India was invited to present a talk on "Fusion Energy: ITER and India at the Frontier" which was widely appreciated. ITER-India also manned a stand for poster presentations on ITER and ITER-India activities. The talk and also the posters evoked a lot of queries and excitement from the participants.
We learned today of the dramatic earthquake that took place off the eastern coast of Japan from the Aomori and Miyagi Prefectures to the Ibaraki Prefecture. While it has been confirmed that no ITER staff are on mission in Japan at this time, our thoughts go to the families of our Japanese colleagues, and to all those in Japan who are associated with the ITER Project — the Japanese Domestic Agency for ITER, our Broader Approach colleagues in Rokkasho-Mura, Oaraï, and Naka, our colleagues at NIFS, and the wider fusion family.