It was the first time since the start of construction works that ITER opened its doors to the public but, considering the success of the operation, it will not be the last.
Last Saturday 15 October, between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., 25 buses transported close to 800 people onto the ITER platform to show them just how quickly ITER is becoming reality. Through advertisement on the French website for ITER and a poster campaign in nearby villages, local residents had been invited to register for a one-hour, free bus tour of the ITER site.
Tours were led by ITER Communication, Agence Iter France, ENGAGE representatives and ITER staff. Visitors had a close-up look at the near-finished Poloidal Field Coils Winding Facility, the "forest" of pylons in the switchyard that will receive power from the French grid, and the 17-metre deep Tokamak Pit which will house the future ITER fusion device and where foundation work is currently under way. After a stop at the Visitors Centre for a group picture, the bus continued to the five-storey ITER Headquarters building that, when finished next summer, will house 500 ITER employees.
"People from the local area want to know what we are doing here and why," says ITER Communication Head Michel Claessens, "and it is our job to be as welcoming and transparent as possible. It's important to open our doors to the public so that our neighbors can receive answers to their questions and form their own opinion about the ITER Project."
A big milestone was achieved on 2 October when the Institute of Plasma Physics at the Chinese Academy of Science (ASIPP) completed the assembly and testing of the first 760 metres of toroidal field dummy conductor.
This is a meaningful step for ITER China: now, according to the Procurement Arrangement, the conductor will be divided into two pieces. One hundred metres of the 760-metre-long conductor will be delivered to the European Domestic Agency and the remaining 660 metres will be delivered to the Japanese Domestic Agency where further testing will be performed for the coil manufacturing.
China will supply 7.51 percent of ITER's toroidal field conductors, whose procurement is shared by six Domestic Agencies. With the support of the Chinese Domestic Agency and the ITER Organization, ASIPP contracted with domestic enterprises and institutes to develop the related engineering work and technology. ASIPP established a quality management system; built three conductor assembly lines; and completed research, installation and commissioning of the manufacturing equipment. Three short samples (TFCN1, TFCN2, TFCN3) have all been tested in the Sultan test facility in Switzerland where they met ITER Organization requirements and passed the obligatory quality checks.
Conductor integrating began on 14 September with the section welding of the conduit, non-destructive examination, cable insertion, compaction, and spooling. At each stage—up to the final acceptance test—representatives from the Chinese Domestic Agency and the ITER Organization were present.
We would like to express our special thanks to colleagues at both of these institutions for all their support and the spirit of cooperation that they have demonstrated over these past five years. We hope to continue in that spirit.
The Japanese House of Representatives has recently decided to set up a commission to investigate the causes of the Fukushima nuclear plant accident.
In order to do so, a ten-member high-level delegation of House members, headed by Representative Yorihisa Matsuno, was sent around the world to meet experts in the field of nuclear energy and visit different sites and institutions.
ITER was an important stop in the Japanese Representatives' mission as they wished to assess the current status of fusion research and the perspectives that the ITER Project will open for the future of energy worldwide.
Early Tuesday, 11 October, the delegation arrived in Cadarache and spent the better part of the day discussing with ITER Organization Director-General Osamu Motojima and senior management, and also visiting the ITER site.
The Representatives, whose future decisions will contribute to the shaping of Japanese energy policy and to the continued investment in fusion, had many questions for the ITER management. "When would fusion energy be commercially available?" "What will be the cost of a post-ITER industrial demonstrator?"
These questions are difficult to answer because they depend for a large part on the political determination and commitment of the nations involved in present and future fusion projects. However, DG Motojima stated that 2040-2050 was a reasonable horizon for an operational pre-industrial reactor, and that the cost of such an installation would be about twice that of a conventional fission reactor.
As they toured the ITER work site, the Japanese Representatives took full measure of ITER's progress. Standing in the Tokamak Seismic Pit and watching the ongoing work is always a powerful experience ... and one that helps to understand the scope and stakes of the project.
That experience, combined with everything learned during the half-day visit, convinced the Japanese Representatives to form a special group within the House in order to support and promote ITER.
"Thank you very much for coming all the way to China"! With these words, Luo Delong, the head of the Chinese Domestic Agency, opened the meeting of the Conductor Working Group held in Xi'an on 10-12 October. For the first time, this semiannual meeting was organized outside Cadarache. Over 30 representatives and experts from the ITER Organization, the seven ITER Domestic Agencies, and industry came together in the cultural and commercial hub of ancient Chinese civilization, home to more than 3,100 years of history and once the eastern terminus of the fabled Silk Road.
"The conductors are a key component within the ITER Tokamak," Luo stressed in his opening speech. "Manufacturing these conductors with uniform quality is perhaps one of the biggest challenges of this project, as they will be produced in six out of the seven ITER Member states. But looking back, we have made substantial progress both in the manufacturing and the quality assurance of the conductors due to the joint efforts of all participants."
According to the agreement on ITER procurement sharing, China will produce 7.51 percent of the conductors for the toroidal field coils; approximately 65 percent of the poloidal field conductors; and all of the conductors for the correction coils and feeders. "When I first came here in 2003 to visit Western Superconductor Technology, the Chinese supplier of superconducting strands, all I saw were green fields," recalled Neil Mitchell, Head of ITER's Magnet Division. "Today, full-scale industrial production is on the roll for both niobium-tin (Nb3Sn) and niobium-titanium (NbTi) strands."
The meeting of the working group also served to benchmark the conductor manufacturing progress: As of today, nearly 250 tonnes of Nb3Sn strands for the toroidal field coils have been produced, representing more than half of what is needed for ITER; five out of six Domestic Agencies have completed cabling qualification; and three of them—Japan, Russia and China—are producing conductors. One of the topics discussed was thus the delivery and handover conditions of the conductors from the conductor-producing Domestic Agencies to the toroidal field coil-manufacturing Domestic Agencies, to pave the way for the first delivery of ITER components from one to the other.
"The meeting further enabled experience-sharing among the Domestic Agencies who openly discussed their problems ... it was a good example of the synergetic approach that is required to build ITER," says Arnaud Devred, leader of the Superconductor Systems & Auxiliaries Section. "It also demonstrated the strong commitment of the Chinese Domestic Agency to have a proactive role in ITER conductor production."
We thank Liu Sheng, Lili Liu, Neil Mitchell and Arnaud Devred for their contributions to this article.
In May, ITER Newsline reported about the creation of a Building Integration Task Force whose mission it was "to make sure that all the systems to be installed in the Tokamak Building, and in the adjacent Diagnostic and Tritium Buildings, are correctly defined in the overall master plan." Simply speaking, the Task Force has to make sure that all the walls, ceilings and penetrations are in the right position and that the proper provisions have been made for all cable trays, pipes, ducts, and embedded plates (necessary for the reinforcement of the concrete structure).
It was thus with great relief this week that the Building Integration Task Force handed over a new batch of documents to the European Domestic Agency (F4E) and the Architect-Engineer ENGAGE. The documents include all the data for level one (L1) and basement level one (B1) of the Tokamak Complex. The data for levels B2 and B2 M had been transferred in September.
"An intense and challenging period of several months is now behind us," commented Jean Jacques Cordier, leader of the Design Integration Section with responsibility for the delivery of the building configuration documents. "During this period we revised systems configuration, to take into account progress in the maturity in the layout of the systems, compliance with safety, project changes, and design refinements."
"This work was strongly supported by all engineering directorates," added Ingo Kuehn, responsible officer for Tokamak Complex building integration. "Configuration Management Models were developed by the ITER Design Office and the ENGAGE consortium relating to civil works and building systems services."
A Reaction Force Task Force established by F4E and ENGAGE will now verify all the forces and loads specified in the documents in preparation for the first concrete pouring for the lower floors in spring 2012.
Wanted: a position as design engineer in a large-scale, international project having the potential to mark history. Cultural and language differences no object. Offers for routine positions will not be considered.
This is the job announcement that Liliana Teodoros might have posted as she left Romania as a newly minted mechanical engineer in 2009, eager to put her knowledge to the test and gain experience. One year later, while working towards her PhD at the Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen in Denmark, she came across an ITER job offer.
"I wanted to work as part of a unique and important project where I would have the opportunity to add to my skills every day," says Liliana, who joined ITER in February of this year. "For an engineer, ITER is the 'pearl' of all challenges. The fact that people from all over the world have come here to work toward the same goal makes the experience all the more exhilarating."
Liliana works as a cooling water system engineer for ITER's cooling water system, which is responsible for dissipating the tremendous operational heat of the ITER Tokamak and auxiliary systems—radio frequency heating, magnet power supplies and cryogenics among them. The size and scale of the system make it unique: dozens of kilometres of piping, combined flow rates of up to 33 cubic metres per second, and interfaces with more than 25 plant systems.
"The chillers, the pumps, the flow control and regulation systems, the basins and the cooling towers will all be dimensioned at ITER for the large-scale cooling needs of the project," explains Liliana. "It's a challenging system in terms of scale. During the development phase of the system, members of our Section interfaced with nearly every other ITER department."
The manufacture of ITER's cooling water system will be shared between the Indian Domestic Agency (IN-DA), responsible for three large subsystems—the component cooling water system (CCWS), the chilled water system (CHWS) and the heat rejection system (HRS)—and the US Domestic Agency (US-DA), responsible for the Tokamak cooling water system (TCWS).
Currently, the Liliana and her colleagues are focusing on the final project change requests for the system and the verification of design documents against the latest input from India and the US before the start of Preliminary Design Review of the cooling water system planned in December for IN-DA scope and in March 2012 for US scope. The ITER cooling water system must be ready from the first commissioning phase ... in fact the first completed components to arrive on the ITER site in early 2014 will be the four large drain tanks of the Tokamak cooling water system.
"We're under tight time pressure and it's fortunate that our team of seven—representing five ITER Domestic Agencies—works so well together," says Liliana. "From the beginning, professional bonding has been stronger than any cultural differences ...."
To find out more about the cooling water system, click here.
Late September, the Chinese Domestic Agency hosted a week of meetings on the important topics of intellectual property management, and export control and non-proliferation. The acceleration of construction and manufacturing activities for ITER makes common policy on these particular issues important for the ITER Organization and the ITER Members.
The third meeting of the Intellectual Property Contact Persons (IPCP) was held 20-21 September in Shenzhen, China, to discuss the progress accomplished in improving the management of intellectual-property-related matters within the ITER Organization and at the Domestic Agencies over the past year. Chaired by Akko Maas, responsible for ITER Organization-Domestic Agency coordination, the meeting was the occasion to report on major milestones, such as the establishment of the Intellectual Property Management Board at ITER, the intellectual property database now in production, and recently established reporting tools and procedures at both the ITER Organization and the Domestic Agencies. Staff awareness training continues on intellectual property issues; by the end of the two-day meeting, there was common agreement that the handling of publications, copyright and the protection of patentable information might be improved through tighter collaboration.
The working group on Export Control, Peaceful Uses and Non-Proliferation (ECWG) met for the sixth time on 22-23 September, also in Shenzhen, under the chairmanship of Michael Roberts. Participants reviewed the lists of ITER components and equipment potentially subject to export control and the procedure to update these lists. Compliance programs as well as document and security handling procedures were discussed in great detail. The working group also collaborated with the Test Blanket Module Program Committee (TBM-PC) chair on export control considerations for the TBM program.
In the months to come, the ECWG will work toward to establish an understanding of the different security classification systems that are used by the ITER Organization and the Member countries.
Export control awareness training has now been dispensed to most staff at the ITER Organization, and training programs have been organized at some of the Domestic Agencies. In the days preceding the ECWG meeting, a two-day training program was held by the Chinese Domestic Agency (CN-DA). Akko Maas presented the overall management strategies on export control and non-proliferation issues for ITER and the ECWG contact person for China presented the domestic perspective on these issues. Obstacle-free import and export of ITER-related materials and components was the goal of the discussions that followed.
The company Maxi Pompage—with its large concrete pumps—is back on the ITER stage. At noon on Monday 17 October, the first concrete for the retaining walls of the Tokamak Complex was poured. The 15-metre-tall retaining walls will be thicker at the bottom (1.5 metres) than at the top (0.5 metres). Five hundred cubic metres will be poured in one afternoon; a total of 5,800 cubic metres will be needed to complete the retaining walls. The works should be finished by the end of February 2012.
A big "thank you" to all our colleagues for hosting a most delicious breakfast last Thursday, 13 October. As part of the Intercultural Breakfasts, the lobby of the Agence Iter France was filled once again with mouth-watering smells.
Thanks to British and Irish colleagues who had been working since dawn to prepare baked beans, toasts, bacon and scrambled eggs, muffins, crumpets, scones, English tea, porridge, and more, about 70 people were able to taste the traditional "non-continental" breakfast specialities. What a good way to start the day!
The next event will be the Thanksgiving Luncheon on Thursday, 17 November, from 12:00 to 13:00 in the lobby of Building 521. This is a call for contribution to all our American friends!