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At ASIPP, the Director-General was given an update on the recent research progress made at EAST and on ITER activities at ASIPP.
I would like to take this opportunity to report on the latest project developments. Directly after the last meeting of the ITER Council in November during which the delegates confirmed the choices made in policy and strategy to advance the design and construction of ITER, I set off on a mission to Japan and China.

On 24 November I was asked to give a testimony on the status of the ITER project to the Special Committee on Science, Technology and Innovation of the Japanese House of Representatives, chaired by Mr. Isao Matsumiya. The meeting lasted for almost three hours and the Representatives, of course, had many questions. They wanted to know how "solid" the ITER Project was, what is its present status, how safe the machine will be, etc. All in all, it was a very encouraging meeting. It will help the Japanese Representatives to understand and to further endorse the importance of fusion and to explain this necessity to their constituents.

I had another very constructive meeting the next day—this time with the Parliamentary Association and its President Yorihisa Matsuno and Secretary General Hirofumi Ryu. This Association was only established recently to support ITER. The idea to establish such a group was floated during lunch at the Château de Cadarache when a delegation of Japanese Members of Parliament visited ITER on 11 October this year. They said they would hold their first meeting during my next visit to Japan, and they did. The Association, which will act as a "bridge between the Japanese government and the ITER Project," is growing fast. More than 100 Parliament Representatives got together to celebrate the inauguration, among them the former ministers of MEXT, Mr. Takeo Kawamura and Mr. Kenji Kosaka, who are extremely supportive of our project.

From Tokyo, my wife and I flew to Beijing to the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), where I met Vice-Minister Cao Jianlin to discuss the ITER Project schedule, its cost, and human resource issues in depth. I expressed my sincere appreciation for China's continuous support to ITER and for their understanding of the series of reforms we have undertaken to ensure successful project implementation during the construction phase. Mr. Cao replied by reassuring me that China would keep to its commitments and complete its fabrication tasks on time. Besides in-cash and in-kind contribution, China is planning to strengthen its human resource support to the ITER Organization in the coming few years, including sending more visiting researchers and providing more expertise.

The next stop before I moved on to Hefei was the Chinese Domestic Agency where I gave a comprehensive presentation on the project's status, the impact of the Fukushima earthquake and tsunami on the overall project schedule, and the strategic management plan of ITER. I was happy to get this opportunity to exchange views with the staff and experts at the Chinese Domestic Agency.

Hefei is the hometown of the Institute of Plasma Physics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (ASIPP) and the home of the EAST Tokamak. This was my first trip to ASIPP since attending the second EAST International Advisory Committee meeting in October 2006 and I must say that it was with both great pleasure and great excitement that I returned.

I was cordially received by ASIPP Director Li Jiangang together with Academician Wan Yuanxi, the former chairman of the ITER Science and Technology Advisory Committee (STAC), Deputy-Directors Wan Baonian, Fu Peng and Wu Xinchao, and representatives from the ITER Domestic Agency (ITER China) and ASIPP ITER office officials. Professor Li presented an overview of recent research progress at EAST and ITER activities at ASIPP. In his talk, he emphasized that the development of 40 diagnostic tools, the achievement of long-pulse H-mode, and other research performed on EAST will provide "a wealth of experience" for ITER. "We want ITER to succeed, as we are all in the same boat," Jiangang Li said, as he assured me of ASIPP's strong commitment to ITER.

The following day I attended a very moving ceremony hosted by ASIPP that celebrated the delivery of the first 780-metre copper dummy conductor for ITER's toroidal field coils. This is the first ITER component "made in China." Of this, 640 metres will be shipped to Japan and the other 140 metres to Europe for testing.

Needless to say, the ceremony in China celebrated a major milestone toward the success of the ITER Project. In front of some fifty participants, I was invited—together with Vice Minister Cao Jianlin of MOST—to ignite an electric-optic ball (see picture) to symbolize the transport of the first component and the "ignition of the shared dream of fusion energy."

Together with Minister Cao I also attended the ITER Training Forum hosted by the University of Science & Technology of China (USTC). Vice Minister Cao gave a speech on the "Fusion Energy Development strategy in China and ITER," which left no doubt about the country's intention to take fusion energy to the power grids. I, in return, gave a keynote speech on the progress of the ITER Project and the improvements made.

In order to promote academic and scientific cooperation between the ITER Organization and the USTC, President Hou Jianguo and I signed a Memorandum of Understanding. The key to our cooperation will be the training of young fusion scientists—a worthy pursuit which I also emphasized in the speech I gave on the occasion of receiving a USTC Honorary Professorship. I feel very honored receiving this commendation and I wish to thank President Hou and all the USTC staff once more for the nice arrangement and their hospitality.

It is my goal to open the door of ITER to young people who will in fact have the responsibility in the future to carry fusion research forward and to develop the ITER Organization to become a true Center of Excellence.

With these words I would like to close my column and take the opportunity to thank all of you for the excellent work accomplished this year. And what a year it was: The tragedy that happened in Fukushima and consequences on the project's manufacturing schedule as well as the tight budget together with the worries about the European funding have exposed our nerves to a rather unique stress test. Nevertheless, we have managed to overcome the challenges—and more.

ITER is coming out of the ground and, having witnessed what is happening in industry, I can say we are definitely moving from design to real components. But our job is not done yet. Building ITER is a long-distance run and so I hope you will enjoy the Christmas break with friends and family to relax and recharge your batteries and to get ready for the excitement to come!

Thank you and see you in the New Year.

Hans Decamps from the Heating and Current Drive Division, the neutral beam team and Director-General Motojima during the last briefing prior to signature.
During the month of December, six Procurement Arrangements (PAs) were signed, bringing the total for calendar year 2011 to 19. Since 2007, the ITER Organization has signed 66 Procurement Arrangements, representing more than 75 percent of the project's in-kind value. Another sixty are in the pipeline: the total number of Procurement Arrangements for the ITER Project is currently forecast to be 126.

On 12 December the Procurement Arrangement for the Port Plug Test Facility was signed with the Russian Domestic Agency. This facility will enable the testing of the upper and equatorial port plugs before their installation in the machine. The following day, the European Domestic Agency countersigned the contract for the R&D and preparatory design of the magnetic electronics and software needed for ITER's diagnostic systems.

On 21 December, Russia signed a second Procurement Arrangement, this time for the high field side reflectometer, part of the diagnostic system. Also on 21 December, the Procurement Arrangement for the blanket remote handling system—necessary for the remote replacement of blanket modules inside of the ITER vacuum vessel during machine maintenance operations—was signed with the Japanese Domestic Agency.

A further two Procurement Arrangements were signed by the ITER Organization this month: power supply for the heating neutral beam and the high voltage bushing for MITICA, which is part of the Neutral Beam Test Facility. These two Procurement Arrangements, signed by ITER Director-General Osamu Motojima, are currently with the Japanese Domestic Agency which has committed to sign them before the end of the year.

"Preparing Procurement Arrangements in 2011 involved all the Domestic Agencies and all the technical departments within the Organization," says In-Kind Management Section Leader Mark Robinson. "The Procurement Arrangements span the whole range of design types from functional specifications to build-to-print. On behalf of the in-kind team I would like to take the opportunity to thank all the supporting staff in the ITER Organization and the Domestic Agencies for their contribution and expertise provided throughout another busy year."

Celebrating the milestone: More than 50,000 cables serving the Tokamak Complex have been identified and uploaded into the cable database.
If the tokamak is the heart of ITER then the cables are the central nervous system that connects the body of the machine to its brain. To date, 50,373 cables have been identified and registered in the ITER cable database and the number is increasing daily as the anatomy of ITER develops.

There was consternation during the 2007 ITER Design Review—which scrutinized the ITER design down to the last bolt—when it was realized that cable engineering tasks to build up a centralized cable and routing database had not been incorporated.

This task was subsequently assigned to the Electrical Engineering Division and a working group was established to consider the various requirements for high and low voltage power cables and the more sensitive Instrumentation & Control (I&C) cables used for diagnostics.

"When we first started this exercise, we were overwhelmed by the numerous requirements from the users," remembers Jashwant Sonara, electrical engineer, who was sent to the project from the Indian Domestic Agency in spring 2010. One-and-a-half years later, Jashwant, David Beltran and Joel Hourtoule have their heads above the water line and are now managing (Jashwant perfers the word "integrating") the labyrinth of cables that will serve the Tokamak Complex via trays, racks and towers.

The working group has been greatly supported over the past 18 months by the CAD designers who have uploaded an incredible amount of data into the centralized Cable Database.

Thanks to Jashwant Sonara for his contribution to this article.

In 2011, the Joint Visit Team welcomed 12,768 people to the ITER construction site.
The figures are in: 12,768 visitors were welcomed on the ITER construction worksite in 2011, representing a 11.6 percent increase over 2010.
 
A special effort was expended during the year to welcome school groups from within a 50-kilometre radius of ITER. One hundred and forty-one different groups visited from grade-school through university: 4,036 young people in all. These groups were treated to a special visit program: in addition to a site tour, they participated in hands-on workshops and heard presentations tailored to their specific age group.
 
The breakdown of 2011 visitors continues as follows: 4,028 professionals; 3,872 members of the general public; 632 mayors and institutional representatives; 169 international visitors and 31 journalists.
 
The Joint Visit Team has had a busy year!

Sharing a joyful moment: Rem Haange (left) with Roberta and Pier Luigi Mondino.
Pier Luigi Mondino, friend and colleague to many within the international fusion community, passed away after a long illness. Pier Luigi started his scientific career as a lecturer at the University of Padua (Italy) and became full professor in 1981. Electrical machinery was his first field of research followed by plasma physics. In Padua he collaborated on the design and construction of a theta pinch and a reversed-field pinch experiment (ETA-BETA). He joined the JET Design Team in Culham (UK) in 1976 to design the neutral beam injector power supplies and in 1978 to design the ohmic heating circuit.

"When he joined JET in 1976, Pier Luigi became a member of my Power Supply Group during the design phase," senior fusion scientist Enzo Bertolini recalls. "Pier Luigi has been, since the beginning, one of my closest collaborators and I have very much appreciated and enjoyed his high technical skills and his dedication to our work. But Pier Luigi was more than that for me. Working very closely together we became dear friends, and this friendship extended to our wives and families. In 1993 he left JET to become a division head at ITER, then engaged with the machine's conceptual design. But our collaboration did not come to an end as—with the staff of my division at JET—we had many opportunities to collaborate with Pier Luigi's area of expertise."

In 1993, Pier Luigi joined the ITER team in Naka (Japan) to lead the Plasma and Field Control Division during the conceptual design phase. Back to Europe in 2002, Pier Luigi joined the EFDA Team in Garching (Germany) where he continued to work as project leader for the ITER power supplies and additional heating systems until his retirement in 2006. During his time with the EFDA team, Pier Luigi was the driving force behind the start of the activities for the establishment of the ITER Neutral Beam Test Facility (NBTF).

"The NBTF international agreements were signed in Cadarache on 12 December this year and it is very sad that Pier Luigi will not be with us at the laying of the NBTF cornerstone," says Tullio Bonicelli, a long-time companion now with the European Domestic Agency for ITER Fusion for Energy. "Pier Luigi was an outstanding engineer, who combined wide technical knowledge with excellent managerial skills. Those of us who had the opportunity to work with him will always remember the richness of discussions with him, his politeness and patience, and his continuous will to move things forward. He will be missed sorely."

Rem Haange, ITER Deputy Director-General, was a colleague of Pier Luigi at JET and in Naka. "At JET I did not have much contact with him as he was a group leader in the Power Supplies Division and I was mainly responsible for mechanical systems. However, at Naka, where we were a much smaller community, I got to know and like Pier Luigi very much. He was in charge of the Power Supplies Division. His division established and documented the initial design of the steady state as well as the pulsating power supplies and the plasma control systems for ITER. Many of the engineers from his Naka division work now in the ITER Organization, F4E or other Domestic Agencies.

On a personal basis, Pier Luigi was always very polite and helpful. Pier Luigi and his wife Roberta were very much liked in our small Naka community. After returning to Europe to work for EFDA on neutral beam systems for ITER he retired to Padua. Unfortunately his retirement was marred by his continual battle against cancer."


The three projects that transformed the ITER platform in 2011: the Poloidal Field Coils Winding Facility (foreground) which will be "signed and delivered" during the first weeks of January; the excavation of the Tokamak Pit and ongoing foundation works; and—in the distance—the ITER Headquarters.
We can all look back on 2011 with a great deal of satisfaction. After a long period of anticipation and the beginning of construction in 2010, the pace of works accelerated during the last twelve months and the ITER landscape has now been completely transfigured.

The civil works, exterior cladding, interior fittings and road works for the Poloidal Field Coils Winding Facility were all completed during the year on time and on budget. This is a positive, encouraging signal to my European Domestic Agency (F4E) colleagues in Barcelona and for the project as a whole. Throughout the 18-month project we enjoyed excellent relations with our contractors, the French consortium Spie Batignolles/Omega Concept/Setec, and works were carried out in good spirit. During the first weeks of January, this facility will be handed over to F4E by the contractors.

Spectacular progress was also made in the Tokamak Pit. It's only the beginning, of course, but the large-scale excavation and foundation works that have occupied hundreds of workers signify the real start of ITER. Works have progressed on schedule, despite some very rainy periods, and I'm very thankful to be able to report that we have had no major incident or accident—quite a good record for such a large and complex construction area.

Safety remains a priority for the entire F4E team. We have taken the time to provide clear guidelines on safety and to make sure that these guidelines were well understood through training. As a nuclear facility, the works in the Tokamak Pit also undergo regular inspection. Both internal audits and those conducted by the French nuclear safety regulators (ASN) have confirmed the good quality of the works.

ITER construction may be the most visible sign of progress in 2011, however I can tell you that work accomplished behind the scenes is no less impressive and large-scale. In the B23 office building where F4E and F4E contractors are housed on the ITER site, 150 designers and engineers are close to finishing the final tender designs for all buildings. We have completed the tender designs for civil works and are now progressing rapidly on services. These designs, once reviewed by F4E and by the ITER Organization, allow us to prepare to launch the next stage: major contract signatures.

What can we expect to see in 2012? F4E will sign the following major contracts for the Tokamak Complex: civil works; services; and the main crane. We will complete the seismic isolation system (plinths and bearings) in the Tokamak Pit and begin to pour concrete for the Tokamak Complex basemat (the "upper" basemat). We will start work on the deep galleries around the Tokamak Pit for major networks. And we will begin the slab work for the Assembly Hall—a building that will be located adjacent to the Tokamak Complex. To prepare for the thousands of workers who will be required on site from 2014 forward, we will realize a contractors area to the west of the platform with offices, locker facilities, canteen, and water and power connections.

As a last word, I'd like to say that I sincerely appreciate the working conditions that F4E enjoys here at ITER. F4E has a relationship of trust with its host, the ITER Organization. Even if at times we may not always share the same point of view, we have the same long-term goal in mind and that is to find the best solution for the ITER Project.

Joint Venture: More than 70 people were engaged in the recent Blanket Design Review held in Cadarache.
In fusion lingo, a blanket certainly has very little to do with that soft cover we use to keep away the winter chill. On the contrary, in a fusion power reactor it is a "thick, massive, complex structure that serves three major purposes," as physicist Francis F. Chen describes in his book An Indispensable Truth. First, it captures the neutrons generated by fusion and converts their energy into heat. Second, it produces tritium to fuel the deuterium-tritium reaction. And third, it shields the superconducting magnets and vacuum vessel from the neutrons.

In short, the blanket is the "power horse" of a fusion reactor. As ITER is an experimental reactor, the blanket will not need to breed tritium but its design is still of utmost importance for the success of ITER. The blanket is the component that shields the vacuum vessel and coils while accommodating high heat fluxes from the plasma as well as large electromagnetic loads during off-normal events; as such, it attracts a lot of attention from scientists and engineers.

The list of attendees to the Preliminary Design Review for ITER's wall-mounted blanket modules held in Cadarache during the last week of November reached 70 people. The review panel was chaired by André Grosman, deputy head of department at the IRFM (Magnetic Fusion Research Institute) at CEA Cadarache.

René Raffray, ITER's Blanket Section leader with responsibility for the blanket design, commented: "The Preliminary Design Review was conducted to monitor the progress of the design, and assure that the requirements are properly defined and that a firm basis exists to proceed to the final design phase. Many components interfacing with the blanket, such as the vacuum vessel, are already in procurement; the design of the blanket is thus particularly challenging because requirements have to be met without affecting the interfaces."

The blanket design effort is coordinated through the Blanket Integrated Product Team (BIPT) established in 2009, which includes the participation of the ITER Organization as well as five Domestic Agencies. "Coordination is challenging because the design work is being done in many distant geographical locations," René, who also leads the BIPT, explains. "However, this should facilitate the procurement process in the end as the procuring Domestic Agencies will feel a sense of ownership of the design."

The panel provided a summary of its initial findings during a debriefing session at the end of the Preliminary Design Review, which was very encouraging. As stated by the panel chair: "The panel recognizes the impressive improvement made since the Conceptual Design Review and the extensive amount of work that has been performed. A strong basis exists to proceed to the final detailed design but a consolidation of the design is needed to address the remaining issues."

We've updated an important section of our website: the Organization pages that illustrate the structure of the ITER Organization and its myriad departments, directorates and divisions.

The new pages reflect organizational choices made by ITER Director-General Motojima following his appointment in July 2010 for "a simplified, task-oriented management structure to match the needs of a large-scale construction project." The position of Principal Deputy Director-General was eliminated and the number of departments downsized from nine to three (the Departments for Administration; ITER Project; and Safety, Quality & Security).
 
The revised ITER management structure is now complete. As you navigate around the pages you'll meet the groups, small and large, that make up the ITER Organization and see the people behind the project—from seven Members, representing 27 nationalities—who are working in Cadarache, France to build ITER.

The book donor Luo Delong (right) looking at the precious goods that have just arrived from China.
A book is a garden carried in your pocket, an old Chinese proverb says. If we take that literally, the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur International School in Manosque will soon be covered by lush vegetation. Several hundred Chinese children's books were recently been donated by the Chinese Domestic Agency and personally handed over to the school's headmaster Jean-Paul Clement.

The delegation that helped school staff unpack the many boxes filled with precious content was led by Luo Delong, Deputy Director-General of the Chinese Domestic Agency; Zhang Fenglan, deputy headmaster of the Beijing Middle School Nr.8; the responsible officer for internal cooperation within the CN-DA, He Kaihui; and Zhao Wen from the division for general affairs.