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The huge PF Coils workshop won't remain empty very long. As early as this summer, the installation will be fitted out with the necessary tools and equipment in order to begin the fabrication of ITER largest coils.
Dwarfed by the giant circular spreader beam suspended over their heads, they looked like passengers in a spaceport waiting to board a ship bound for some distant planet.

No journey to Mars or to the moons of Jupiter was planned for this day, however. Under the vast ceiling of the recently completed Poloidal Field Coils Winding Facility on Tuesday 14 February, the sense of imminent departure was rather for a small ceremony involving personnel from the French construction consortium Spie Batignolles, Omega Concept and Setec; the engineering company Energhia; the European Domestic Agency Fusion for Energy; and the ITER Organization.

The winding facility, where the largest ITER coils will be assembled beginning next year, was changing hands. Having completed the building within schedule and within budget, the construction consortium was handing it over to Fusion for Energy who will now contract with the coil manufacturer.

Director of Fusion for Energy Frank Briscoe had come especially from Barcelona for the ceremony. "This building," he said in his informal address, "is the first ITER building to be completed. And for us, it will always remain the first..."

For Osamu Motojima, Director-General of the ITER Organization, the bright yellow spreader beam, with its brackets radiating like golden rays, was a potent symbol of what ITER is about—harnessing the fusion fire that burns inside the Sun and stars.

Except for the small crowd, one table, a couple of posters, two bridge cranes and the 40-tonne spreader beam, the huge workshop was perfectly empty. One could imagine—a year or so from now—the bridge cranes slowly and silently moving along their rails to lift and manoeuvre charges of up to one hundred tons in a mechanical ballet combining exceptional size and extreme precision.

The curtain will be lifted in 2013 on this spectacular scene after the first conductor spools of niobium-titanium conductor—the raw material for the magnetic coils—are delivered to the ITER site. The delicate process of winding, impregnating with epoxy resin and assembling the giant magnetic rings of ITER should take about six years.

In the meantime, and as early as this summer, the installation will be fitted out with the necessary tools and equipment. The huge workshop won't remain empty very long ...

Remote-controlled vehicles like this one will transport ITER's "highly exceptional loads" along the ITER Itinerary. Photo: AIF
Engineering designs, prototypes, production lines ... if we could only see into the innumerable workshops and laboratories currently working toward the production of one—or more than one—part of the ITER machine it would be dizzying. In a short time, components for ITER will begin to arrive on site in a carefully planned order that is closely associated with building and assembly schedules.

An important contract was signed this month that establishes the conditions for the transport of ITER components from suppliers' factories to the ITER site. The Logistics Service Provider (LSP) Framework Contract—which provides for global transport, logistic and insurance services—was signed on 10 February with the European company DAHER by Director-General Osamu Motojima on behalf of the ITER Organization and the seven ITER Members.

For the ITER Organization this was a first-of-a-kind joint procurement, carried out in close collaboration with the ITER Members. Within the boundaries of the contract, each Domestic Agency will now contract directly with the LSP provider by means of a Task Order for all of its transport needs.

Following a planning phase, during which the Domestic Agencies will furnish detailed information on foreseeable requirements, shipments will begin in 2014. Every aspect related to the transport of ITER loads—including customs management at departure and arrival, logistics, insurance, intermediate storage before delivery, handling, and final unloading at the ITER site—will be handled under the LSP contract. DAHER will work through either a local partner or a local subsidiary in each ITER Member country.

The largest ITER loads will arrive by ship from China, Europe, India, Japan, Korea, Russia, and the United States and travel by night over the 104-kilometre ITER Itinerary. Agence Iter France (AIF) will act as the interface between the French authorities (préfecture, gendarmerie) and the Logistic Service Provider for all matters related to the use of ITER Itinerary.

"The transport of ITER components from so many different points on the globe and according to schedule is a logistics challenge of major proportions," stated ITER Director-General Motojima on the occasion of the contract signature. "An integrated Logistics Service Provider will be fully qualified to address these challenges and assure the ITER Organization and the Domestic Agencies of optimized coordination."

See the ITER Press Release in English and French.
See the DAHER Press Release in English and French here.

The burn chamber of the TEXTOR tokamak at Forschungszentrum Jülich, where each year in January Japanese and German fusion scientists have a "Japanese Week" of joint material experiments for fusion reactors. Copyright (2): FZJ
Material erosion under fusion-relevant conditions is of critical importance for all materials applied to ITER. A recent campaign at the German-based tokamak TEXTOR, jointly conducted by the Research Centre in Jülich and the Japanese University of Tohoku upon the initiative of the International Energy Agency (IEA), studied the erosion and melt behaviour of tungsten on a longer timescale.

Founded in response to the 1973/74 oil crisis the International Energy Agency (IEA), with its headquarters in Paris, is an autonomous organization which works to ensure reliable, affordable and clean energy for its 28 member countries and beyond. Today, one of the main focus areas is energy security, i.e., promoting diversity, efficiency and flexibility within all energy sectors and most of all ensuring the stable and economical supply of energy for the future.

One of IEA's Technology Initiatives—also known as Implementing Agreements—is the Program of Research and Development on Plasma-Wall Interaction in TEXTOR which has existed since 1978 with its member countries USA, Japan, Canada and the European Union. TEXTOR—a medium sized tokamak operated by Forschungszentrum Jülich (FZJ) in Germany—was constructed in 1982 to develop novel technologies for the extraction of energy from the burn chamber of nuclear fusion reactors. Due to its configuration TEXTOR is predestined to run so-called "high risk" experiments that could not be conducted easily in other fusion machines.

While in the past experiments at TEXTOR under the IEA Technology Initiative focused on thin-film coating technologies for large burn chambers (e.g., boronization and carbonization) as well as helium pumping and the optimization of graphite tiles, current test campaigns focus on the testing of tungsten structures in the boundary plasma of the TEXTOR machine.

As a best-choice material for the divertor, tungsten is of crucial importance for the success of ITER and that of later power plants (also see Newsline #206 and #207). To determine the material's limits or operational regime, fusion scientists from Japanese universities and research institutes met in Jülich from 23-28 January to perform joint experiments with their colleagues from Forschungszentrum Jülich, using TEXTOR as the test bed and the IEA Implementing Agreement as the organizational frame.

During this campaign highly refined tungsten samples were exposed to the hot TEXTOR plasma in order to study two crucial questions related to material lifetime and performance: material erosion under fusion-relevant conditions and crack resilience under intensive transient and steady state heat loads.

The University of Tohoku had developed toughened, fine-grained and recrystallized (TFGR) tungsten materials for the experimental campaign that contained trace amounts of the chemical compounds TiC (Titanium Carbide) and TaC (Tantalum Carbide) in the percent range. Having been exposed to Jülich's electron beam test facility JUDITH before performing the actual experiment inside the burn chamber of TEXTOR, the materials showed impressive performance to transient heat loads.

The tests—together with the initial surface analysis of the samples—revealed a release of the contained titanium at a temperature of 1500 °C. In addition, microstructural changes in the melted surfaces were observed which could degrade performance under ITER-like plasma loads to a major extent. Further analysis of the test samples will now be performed in Japan and also at Jülich with the aim to characterize the change of the material's microstructure and its chemical composition in more detail.

"The all-tungsten divertor in ITER will be facing several challenges with respect to material lifetime and durability due to erosion and potential melting," said Jan Willem Coenen, leading scientist at FZJ and EFDA Fellow, who coordinated the campaign together with his colleagues from Jülich. "Studying advanced materials as well as existing material choices allows for a broader understanding of the material properties required for ITER and beyond."

To enhance international collaboration even further and to address material problems in nuclear fusion research in a more pronounced way, the intention is to widen the scope of the present IEA Technology Initiative. TEXTOR will continue to serve as a reliable workhorse for some time, but more and more use will be made of especially dedicated material test facilities like the linear plasma experiment JULE_PSI which will become operational by 2015 at Jülich, MAGNUM-PSI operated by DIFFER in the Netherlands, PISCES run by UCLA at San Diego and NAGDIS at the University of Nagoya in Japan. The new collaboration will also be open to non-member countries of IEA like China.

Shishir Deshpande (centre left) handing over the signed document to Biswanath Sakar from the ITER India project team...
The ITER cryolines are a system of complex, multi-process, vacuum-insulated pipes ranging from 2 to 8 process pipes that connect cryogenic components in the Cryoplant and Tokamak buildings—some 3.5 kilometres in all. They form part of the ITER cryogenic system comprising the cryoplant, the cryodistribution system and a system of cryogenic lines and manifolds. The main function of this cryodistribution system is to provide helium at 4.5 K and 80 K to the machine's superconducting magnet system, the thermal shields and the cryo vacuum pumps.

On 30 January this year the Procurement Arrangement for the delivery of the cryolines system was signed by the Indian Domestic Agency with the ITER Organization. ITER India has complete responsibility for the procurement, installation and performance of cold acceptance tests for the ITER cryolines.

In order to validate the design and manufacturing of this complex system, a prototype test has been proposed by the Domestic Agency, which will be carried out on a short length 1:1 scale model. A dedicated laboratory for performing the tests is under construction at the Institute of Plasma Research (IPR) in Gandhinagar.

The two companies that have pre-qualified to participate in the tendering and manufacturing of the cryolines are M/s. Air Liquide Advanced Technologies from France and the consortium made up by M/s. INOX India Ltd., India and M/s. A S Scientifc Products, UK. The companies had already participated in the design of the prototype.

This article is largely based on inputs from Biswanath Sarkar, Project Manager for the cryolines and cryo-distribution systems, ITER-India.

From 8-13 October, the world fusion community will get together in San Diego, USA, for the 24th IAEA Fusion Energy Conference. The FEC 2012 aims to provide a forum for the discussion of key physics and technology issues as well as innovative concepts of direct relevance to fusion as a source of nuclear energy.

With a number of next-step fusion devices currently being implemented—such as the ITER and the National Ignition Facility (NIF) in Livermore, USA—and in view of the concomitant need to demonstrate the technological feasibility of fusion power plants as well as the economical viability of this method of energy production, the fusion community is now facing new challenges. The resolution of these challenges will dictate research orientations in the present and coming decades.

The scientific scope of FEC 2012 is, therefore, intended to reflect the priorities of this new era in fusion energy research. The conference aims to be a platform for sharing the results of research and development efforts in both national and international fusion experiments that have been shaped by these new priorities, and thereby help in pinpointing worldwide advances in fusion theory, experiments, technology, engineering, safety and socio-economics. Furthermore, the conference will also set these results against the backdrop of the requirements for a net energy producing fusion device and a fusion power plant in general, and will thus help in defining the way forward.

With the participation of international organizations such as the ITER International Organization and Euratom, as well as the collaboration of more than forty countries and several research institutes, including those working on smaller plasma devices, it is expected that this conference will, as in the past, serve to identify possibilities and means for a continuous effective international collaboration.

For details regarding participant registration, paper submission and forms for registration, please visit the IAEA Official Website.