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A moment of joy and relief: the Director-General of the ITER Organization, Osamu Motojima, and the Directors of all seven Domestic Agencies (US ITER not pictured) signing a Memorandum of Understanding for the use of a single Logistics Service Provider.
The Director-General of the ITER Organization Osamu Motojima, and the Directors of all seven Domestic Agencies this week signed a Memorandum of Understanding that provides for the use of one single "Logistics Service Provider" in order to assure the transport of all the ITER components from their manufacturing sites around the world to the ITER construction site—may this happen by road, water or air.

The signing of this Memorandum is the culmination of a joint effort that started years ago involving staff from the ITER Organization and the Domestic Agencies. "It was really impressive to see this international tender evolve," the Head of the ITER Procurement Division, Francoise Flament, said after the signature. "It was a bit like a big puzzle that, looking at all the pieces spread across the table, seemed impossible to complete in the beginning. But thanks to a great collaborative spirit, the legal framework covering every aspect of the transport of ITER components—including storage, insurance, handling, and customs management—will facilitate the complex logistics of the worldwide procurement of ITER components, and enable us to ensure their safe arrival on site."

In the meantime, the tender process for the Logistics Service Provider is ongoing. The offers are currently being evaluated by the ITER Organization and the Domestic Agencies in order to award the contract by May of this year.

ITER Director-General Osamu Motojima and the Head of the Chinese Domestic Agency, Luo Delong, after the signature. Participating in the ceremony were Chen-yu Gung, Neil Mitchell and Gary Johnson.
They are not the most "jazzy" components of the ITER Tokamak, but they are vital for its operation. The ITER feeders will be manufactured by Chinese enterprises under the supervision of the Chinese Domestic Agency and are scheduled to be delivered in several steps to the ITER site. The Procurement Arrangement that paves the way for the manufacturing of this system was signed this Wednesday 26 January by ITER Director-General Osamu Motojima and the head of the Chinese Domestic Agency, Luo Delong.

In total there will be 31 feeders relaying the electrical power and cryogens through the warm-cold barrier to the ITER magnets. Each feeder consists of three main units: the in-cryostat feeder, the cryostat feed-through and the coil terminal box which provides the housing for the connections of the magnets and 12 other interface systems.

The design operating current of the feeders is 68 kA. High temperature superconductor (HTS) current leads transmit the high-power currents from the room-temperature power supplies to the low-temperature superconducting coils 4 K (-269 °C) with minimum heat load. Superconducting busbars—made out of steel conduit containing niobium-titanium superconductor cable—are designed to absorb the large temperature variations during the cool-down of the machine. They also withstand the various Lorentz forces acting on the material connecting the current lead and the magnet. The most challenging issues remaining are the electrical and mechanical designs of the high-voltage insulation.

 "As a responsible partner of ITER, we are confident to carry out the task and deliver the feeders as well as other procurement packages allocated to China as requested under the strong leadership of the Minister of Science and Technology," said Luo Delong during the signature ceremony. Gary Johnson, Deputy Director-General and head of the ITER Tokamak Department, added: "The signing of this Procurement Arrangement was the result of an excellent collaborative effort involving many within the ITER Organization and the Chinese Domestic Agency. In particular, work on the models and drawings has been going on at ITER and in China for many months and is a model for design cooperation. This is a very critical Procurement Arrangement and an important accomplishment for the project. I offer my congratulations to the entire ITER Organization and Chinese Domestic Agency teams."

For Neil Mitchell, head of the ITER Magnet Division, the signature was a mix of relief ... and pride: "This signature brings the total number of magnet Procurement Arrangements to 20, with just one left to go. It was one of the more challenging, not because of especially advanced technology, but because of the complex interfaces with many of the main tokamak systems and components. It is a relief to get it to the stage where manufacturing development can get underway in China in parallel with some design refinements to reduce costs."

This week the ITER staff was asked to vote for a new Staff Committee. The Committee, which is elected every year with a one-year mandate, represents the professional interests of all ITER staff—including employment, working conditions, safety and general welfare—and facilitates communication between the Director-General and the staff on these matters.

The Committee consists of eight members and two alternates who meet with management on a regular basis. A number of sub-committees act as informal advisory boards on specific matters such as education, sport and cultural activities, and pensions and social insurance.

This year's staff participation in the elections—71 percent compared to 67 percent last year—clearly acknowledges the Staff Committee's role and accomplishments over the past years.

Flags of the world plus one. On the right, the flag of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur Region with the stripes of Provence, the dolphin of the Dauphiné province and the eagle of the County of Nice.
They all used different words but expressed the same feeling. Whether president of the region or head of the département, mayor or préfet, school principal or recteur, all insisted on how "happy" and how "proud" they were on this very special day.

The date was Monday, 24 January and the occasion was the inauguration of the International School in Manosque, now officially the "International School of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur."

For local politicians and representatives of the French administration, the cutting of the symbolic ribbon marked the accomplishment of a unique endeavour: the creation, within the rather rigid French public education system, of an international school capable of catering to students aged 3 to 18 and hailing from 27 nations, by providing them with classes in French as well as nine other languages."We went as far as the French Constitution would allow," said Recteur Jean-Paul de Gaudemar, the head of the public education service in the Aix-Marseille region. "We had to face tremendous challenges, both intellectually and technically. And I must say ITER was a demanding partner..."

President of the PACA Region, Michel Vauzelle summed up the general feeling when he said: "This is a moment of pure happiness. It is the reward for all our work as politicians and administrators. This place has no equivalent in the world and at the same time it is a school like any other... an integral part of the French educational system. It was designed for "ITER children" but it is, and will always be, open to all."

ITER Director-General Osamu Motojima described the event as "an important milestone in the history of ITER". He commended the school's educational team for providing the ITER children "with education and values that will enable them to embrace the endless human and professional opportunities of our multicultural world." The International School, he said, is "an example to be followed by all future international collaborations."

Before gathering for the speeches in the auditorium, the large crowd of officials, parents and teachers had taken an extensive tour of the premises. All were equally impressed by the daring concrete-and-wood architecture, the scope of activities offered to the students, their command of languages, and by what President Bianco of Alpes-de-Haute-Provence département called "... the beautiful and amazing gathering of students coming from nearly 30 nations."

Establishing an international school close to Cadarache was part of the French commitment to ITER as defined in the Site Support Annex of the ITER Agreement of 2006. Pending the construction of the facility that was inaugurated on Monday, the International School opened in September 2007, taking up temporary accommodations in a nearby lycée. 130 children and students, aged 3 to 18, were enrolled for the first school year. They are now 400, half of them "ITER children."

The International School is operated under the authority of the French Ministry of Education. Construction of the 26,000 m² building was financed by the PACA Region (EUR 55 million).

The International School of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur will cater to "ITER children"—generations of them—for the whole duration of the project. Once ITER has come to the end of its experimental program, the concrete-and-wood building that so perfectly blends into its surroundings will live on as one of the project's durable legacies.

Click here to see more pictures.

From left are PPPL scientists Weixing Wang, David Mikkelsen, Stephane Ethier, William Tang, and Greg Hammett with a plasma turbulence simulation in the background. Not pictured is WW Lee.
Scientists seeking to harness fusion energy—a clean, potentially-limitless energy source based on the same reaction that powers our Sun—need to better understand how hot gases called plasmas behave inside fusion reactors. Today's supercomputers may help bring scientists a step closer to that knowledge. To support this effort, the US Department of Energy is awarding 28 million processor hours on its advanced supercomputers to two projects headed by scientists at the DOE Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL).

The allocations are part of the largest-ever awards of the Department's supercomputing time, announced 30 November by Energy Secretary Steven Chu. "The Department of Energy's supercomputers provide an enormous competitive advantage for the United States," said Secretary Chu."This is a great example of how investments in innovation can help lead the way to new industries, new jobs, and new opportunities for America to succeed in the global marketplace."

Fifty-seven innovative research projects, chosen on a competitive basis, will use computer simulations to perform virtual experiments that in most cases would be impossible or impractical in the natural world at this time. Utilizing two world-leading supercomputers with a computational capacity roughly equal to 135,000 quad-core laptops, the research projects could, for example, help in understanding fusion plasma behaviour, speed the development of more efficient solar cells, improvements in biofuel production, or more effective medications to help slow the progression of Parkinson's disease.

PPPL's Weixing Wang has been awarded 20 million supercomputing hours on the Jaguar at the DOE Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee and PPPL's William Tang has been awarded 8 million supercomputing hours on the Intrepid at the DOE Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois. Four additional PPPL scientists—Stephane Ethier, Greg Hammett, Wei-Li Lee, and David Mikkelsen—are involved in PPPL and DOE Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory projects receiving awards. The researchers will be using the time for fusion energy-related research regarding simulations of plasma turbulence at small and large scales. Plasma is a hot gas of charged particles and the fuel for fusion energy production. It makes up most of the visible universe, comprising all the stars in the cosmos.

"The application of modern computation to the grand challenge of understanding turbulence in fusion plasmas offers potential for breakthroughs in our ability to control turbulence. These projects represent the leading edge of this fertile and crucial area," said PPPL Director Stewart Prager.

Wang's INCITE simulation studies at Oak Ridge will focus on acquiring improved understanding of how plasma flows are generated and to develop predictive capability for plasma rotation in ITER burning plasmas. ITER, currently under construction in the south of France, is a large international fusion experiment with the goal of producing a burning fusion plasma. The INCITE simulation studies led by Tang (with Ethier as co-principal investigator) at Argonne will focus on the key question of how turbulent transport properties change as we move from current-sized tokamaks to ITER. Applications codes, such as those used in this project, have demonstrated excellent scaling and are particularly relevant for "scientific discovery" in that the problem size (and associated physics complexity) can readily increase with the number of processors available on the most powerful modern supercomputers.

The Department is awarding time on two of the world's fastest and most powerful supercomputers—the Cray XT5 ("Jaguar") at Oak Ridge and the IBM Blue Gene/P ("Intrepid") at Argonne. Jaguar's computational capacity is roughly equivalent to 109,000 laptops all working together to solve the same problem. Intrepid is roughly equivalent to 26,000 laptops.

The INCITE awards include nearly 1.7 billion processor hours on the Department of Energy's advanced supercomputers—the largest total ever—reflecting both the growing sophistication of the field of computer modelling and simulation and the rapid expansion of supercomputing capabilities at DOE National Laboratories in recent years.

Awarded under the Department's Innovative and Novel Computational Impact on Theory and Experiment (INCITE) program, many of the new and continuing INCITE projects aim to further renewable energy solutions and understand of the environmental impacts of energy use. The program, open to all scientists, is supported by the Department's Office of Science and managed by the DOE Leadership Computing Facilities at the Department's Argonne and Oak Ridge National Laboratories, which host some of the world's fastest supercomputers.

To read more about the 2011 INCITE awards, go to: