Seen from the outside, there is currently little activity on the ITER construction site. But be assured that things are about to change. Within the next three months, the scrapers and diggers will be back on the scene and construction activities will move into full gear. In six month's time, we may all have trouble remembering what a quiet platform was like!
In the Civil Construction and Site Support (CCS) Office, it is our job to ensure that the design of the installations is sound and complete before the works begin. Next week, we will kick off a whole series of meetings between the ITER Organization, the European Domestic Agency Fusion for Energy and their Architect Engineer, ENGAGE. Together, we will be going over the latest approved building requirements and preliminary designs to ensure that the ITER Organization requirements are clear to the Architect Engineering firm whose job it is to transform the requirements into full detailed designs suitable for construction. This exercise will involve all the ITER departments and divisions.
150 engineers will be involved in the process of completing drawings and documentation to prepare for the call to tender for the actual construction of the buildings. The Procurement Arrangement for building construction, scheduled to be signed at the Management Advisory Committee meeting mid-May, will be the fifth and final for the CCS Office, and the largest ever concluded by the ITER Organization.
The JWS III office building adjacent to Headquarters is nearly finished. The IT team will begin setting up the computer cables next week, in order to have all the infrastructure in place when the Architect Engineers move in at beginning of June. Upon completion of JWS III, the focus of activity for Agence ITER France will move to the construction of the permanent ITER Headquarters building. The main contract for this building is ready for placement, and construction is expected to commence within the next couple of months.
Last but not least, we are involved with preparing the transfer of the ITER site - currently still in the hands of the CEA - to the ITER Organization. A working group has been established with members of the ITER Organization, Agence ITER France and Fusion for Energy to prepare the necessary legal and technical documentation. It is hoped that this handover can occur before the ITER Council meeting in June.
In classe de Troisième, which French students attend when they are 15, one learns about atoms, nuclei and plasmas. Fusion and ITER, however, are not part of the curriculum. "We had heard that scientists from all over the world had gathered at Cadarache to find a new way of producing energy," says Roxane. "But we didn't know they already knew how to do it..."
Last Friday 30 April, Roxane was one of 188 students from collège Albert-Camus in La Tour d'Aigues, near Pertuis, who were given the opportunity to get a closer look at ITER.
Split into four groups, the students were welcomed at the Visitors Centre and given presentations on fusion, ITER and biodiversity by ITER scientists Hans Decamps, Philippe Chappuis and Joël Hourtoule.
The biodiversity theme came as a surprise for many of the students. "We knew that a large area of forest had been levelled and that many trees had been cut down to make room for ITER," said Megane and Manon. "So we didn't think biodiversity was a big preoccupation. Well... we were wrong, it definitely is!"
Most students were not aware that ITER was "a research program". Some, like Charlie, thought it was "nul" — a typical teenage expression meaning that no good could come out of it. Well, after a day spent at ITER, even Charlie acknowledged that he considered changing his mind.
An important ceremony was held last Tuesday, 27 March, at Rokkasho, Japan, as Japanese and European personalities celebrated the completion of the International Fusion Energy Research Centre (IFERC).
IFERC is part of the "Broader Approach", the agreement that was negotiated in 2005 between Europe and Japan to provide complementary development projects in support of ITER and the next-step device DEMO.
The event also highlighted the completion of the administration & research building, the IFMIF/EVEDA prototype accelerator building, the CSC/REC building, and the DEMO R&D building. The CSC/REC building will be used to install the supercomputer with all its peripherals and the equipment of the Remote Experimentation Centre, including a very large data storage facility.
The ceremony was attended by Toichi Sakata, Vice Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology; Shingo Mimura, Governor of Aomori prefecture; Kenji Furukawa, Mayor of Rokkasho; Toshio Okazaki, President of JAEA and several Japanese MPs. The European Commission was represented by Barbara Rhode and the French Ambassador to Japan by Pierre-Yves Cordier, the embassy's nuclear attaché.
A live video connection enabled ITER Director-General Kaname Ikeda from the ITER premises in Cadarache to address the audience assembled on the other side of the globe. Having expressed his satisfaction and "happiness", Ikeda drew a parallel between the "good support" that local and regional governments are providing to ITER here in Provence, and to IFERC in Aomori prefecture.
In Rokkasho, as reported by IFMIF-EVEDA Project Leader Pascal Garin, the celebration ended in traditional Japanese fashion with "the sake barrel ceremony, dances by children, and still more speeches..."
Once upon a time, a group of animals got together to compare, and brag, about how many offspring they had. "Two!" said the Black Bear. "Five!" said the Cheetah. "Six!" said the Wolf. "I have only one cub," said the Lion after they had all spoken, "but it's quality and not quantity that matters!"
For Anthoula Chatzivasileiou, Quality Assurance Civil Engineer at ITER, this story, heard from a Quality Assurance trainer in Greece, says it all. "After all of the bulldozers, the cement and the turmoil, what really counts at the end of a project is quality," she laughs.
Anthoula joined ITER three weeks ago. Her role will be to oversee the quality of the construction and buildings from a civil engineering point of view, verifying that they conform to specified ITER requirements. She'll be cooperating closely with the Civil Construction and Site Support (CCS) Office at ITER and the European Domestic Agency. Construction hasn't begun yet, but there's a lot to do in advance to make sure that all parties, from the on-site foreman to the chief engineer, know what their Quality Assurance roles and responsibilities are.
Trained as a civil engineer in Thessaloniki, the second-largest city in Greece, Anthoula spent 18 years as part of a construction company specialized in large, and frequently international, projects such as natural gas pipelines, bridges, and tunnels. At the creation of their Quality Assurance department back in 1996 she was invited to become involved ... and there she stayed.
"The motto of Quality Assurance is 'Do it right the first time' and that's what I like about this field," says Anthoula. "Ideally in a project, cost, quality and time all line up. Making mistakes means more time, and more money, and that's what we try to avoid."
Anthoula is settling into her new life in Provence, where she'll soon be joined by her 10 year old son. Her daughter hopes to study in France on the Erasmus European exchange program next year. "I already feel at home here," she says. "There aren't huge differences between the southern-French and Greek ways of life ... and let's not forget that Marseille was founded by the Greeks in 600 BC!" She's also enthusiastic about the ITER adventure. "The whole world is facing the energy challenge, and here at ITER we're trying to do something about it. When the project is over, I look forward to saying "I was also there!"
Every year, several hundred thousand tons of used tires are discarded. Most end up in landfills - only a fraction is granted a second life as re-treads, filler-material, "crumb rubber" for asphalt, fuel, artificial reefs or... flower pots.
Hilios, a small family business in Beaucaire, a village north of Arles, has devised and patented a process that transforms used tires into pellets. 10-25 millimetres thick and the size of a 2€ coin, the tire pellets are used as filler material for underground storm basins.
This brand new technique was recently adopted for the creation of two large storm basins at the International School in Manosque. "A volume filled with tire pellets," explains Dimitri Papacristou, the inventor of the process, "has a much higher retention capacity than one that is filled with stone pebbles, as storms basins habitually are."
The 550 cubic metres of tire pellets that went into the International School's storm basins will retain some 380 cubic metres of water — ...enough to safely weather the exceptional storm that happens theoretically once every one hundred years.
Tire pellets are also four times lighter than pebbles, thus requiring considerably fewer truck rotations to fill the basins. The advantages of the technique developed by Mr. Papacristou do not stop there. "Compared to pebbles," he explains, "tire pellets offer better resistance to rolling — you could build a highway above these storm basins!"
Fortunately, no highway will be built over the International School storm basins. The area over one will be developed as a sports field, and over the other as a "green area".
A few years before ITER is due to come into operation, the advanced superconducting "satellite" Tokamak JT-60SA, conducted under the Broader Approach Agreement between Japan and Europe, will start operation. With a low aspect ratio design focused on high shaping flexibility, JT-60SA will be able to explore advanced regimes in support of ITER and in preparation for DEMO. More than 40 MW of additional heating will be available with a plasma current up to 5.5 MA.
Using the building, power supply, and neutral beam infrastructure of JT-60U, a completely new load assembly is being fashioned by suppliers contracted to JAEA, to the Japanese National Program, and to voluntary contributing institutions inside Europe - CEA (Saclay, Grenoble and Cadarache), ENEA, CNR, CIEMAT, SCK, and KIT.
Already, under Japanese responsibility, the disassembly of the JT-60U machine is well underway, poloidal field conductor is being manufactured and coil winding has just started, and the first segment of the vacuum vessel is being fabricated. Europe is about to place the contract for the cryostat base, sign agreements for the production of the toroidal field coils and structure, and current leads, and begin manufacture of new magnet power supplies and quench protection systems.
The project functions through an Integrated Project Team, currently made up of a small project team dealing mainly with project management, plus Japanese and European home team personnel handling procurement and project integration.
You can see our progress at http://www.jt60sa.org.