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ITER NEWSLINE 215
"The method works ... nowhere else in the world." Metres of black velvet, clouds of dry ice and the melodramatic Bachianas brasileiras by Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos were part of the spectacular opening show for the Magnum-PSI facility at the Dutch Institute for Fundamental Energy Research (DIFFER) in Rijnhuisen on Thursday 22 March.
After having produced its first magnetized plasma beam on 4 October 2011, the Magnum-PSI facility is now ready to perform the experiments that will allow fusion researchers to investigate the complicated interactions between the plasma and the wall material in a reactor-relevant regime.
The chairman of the FOM funding agency for physics research in the Netherlands, Niek Lopes Cardozo, welcomed the invited guests and the many young scientists and students from DIFFER by stressing the importance of this new international experimental facility.
"The plasma-surface interaction in ITER is an exploration of the unknown, so we'd better have an experimental facility where we can really achieve the conditions of ITER," Lopez-Cardozo said. "Magnum-PSI is that facility. It is the only device in the world capable of working in this parameter campaign."
On behalf of the ITER Organization, Director-General Osamu Motojima congratulated the institute on its milestone. "The opening of Magnum-PSI is of great significance to the ITER project and to the whole fusion community. This installation will enable us to anticipate the way materials behave—and fatigue—when in prolonged contact with a fusion plasma. The work accomplished here will be of the utmost importance for ITER and for what lies beyond."
Richard Pitts, senior scientist for the Divertor & Plasma Wall Interactions Section at ITER, stressed the importance of the facility for materials research. "Materials—and I think we all agree here—are the biggest challenge for the development of fusion energy. With Magnum-PSI you now have an absolutely fabulous piece of equipment that is capable of exposing materials and material technologies to long-pulse plasmas at ITER divertor-relevant power and particle flux densities in a strong magnetic field. The value of Magnum-PSI is considerable."
In the afternoon the four group leaders of the Magnum-PSI project—Pedro Zeijlmans van Emmichoven, Gerard van Rooij, Greg de Temmerman and Wim Goedheer—presented the research program that will begin as soon as the smoke of the opening ceremony has faded away.
Click here to find out more about DIFFER and Magnum-PSI.
A little more than a month ago, after a long and complex international tendering process, the Logistics Service Provider Framework Contract for the transport of the ITER components was awarded to the DAHER Group, a worldwide integrated equipment and services supplier.
On Monday 19 March, a kick-off meeting brought together the ITER Organization and the DAHER Group top management; representatives of Agence Iter France; French security authorities (General Mondoulet, regional head of Gendarmerie attended the meeting); members of the local government of Bouches-du-Rhône; and, by way of video conference, two members of the European Domestic Agency Fusion for Energy.
The different functions and responsibilities of the participants were a clear indication of the complexity of the task ahead: transporting the ITER components from their production sites to Cadarache will involve many players in countries all over the world, and coordination between them will be paramount.
To DAHER CEO Patrick Daher, whose great-grandfather founded the company in 1863, ITER Director-General Osamu Motojima stressed "the strategic importance" of the company's mission and acknowledged "the logistics challenge of major proportions" that had to be faced.
The DAHER Group, whose 7,500 staff are now present in 14 countries, has accumulated a century and a half of experience in "transporting things," from industrial boilers to nuclear reactor and giant aircraft components.
As CEO Patrick Daher, Director-General Jean-Paul Laffite and their transport specialists explained to the ITER management, the Group has developed sophisticated tools and procedures to manage the logistics and administrative challenges of international transportation. Still, with "the Devil hiding in the details," they know that in the case of ITER components, "no transport will be easy."
The last leg of the components' long voyage will indeed be the most challenging, both technically and in terms of impact on the local residents.
Over a period of five years beginning in 2014, ITER convoys—some of them exceptionally large, or heavy, or wide—will travel the 104-kilometre ITER Itinerary, principally by night. Roads will have to be temporarily closed, local traffic will be disrupted, and security measures implemented ...
"As these convoys will be the first real contact of the local population with the ITER project, we have to make sure that this experience is a positive one," said DG Motojima, "one that will make them proud of being part of the ITER Project."
We are still two years from the first actual convoy, but for all those involved this lead-up period will be particularly busy. "Preparation is ninety percent of success," said Laurence Prudhomme, DAHER operations manager for the ITER contract.
From the CEO down to the transport specialists, the DAHER delegation stressed the "very strong commitment" they felt toward the ITER Project. "We do feel we are part of a historical project," said Patrick Daher in his opening statement. "We understand our responsibility and we are proud of the trust that the ITER Organization has placed in our company."
On Thursday 15 March, the ITER Korean community prepared an early-morning feast as part of the Agence Iter France's intercultural breakfasts. Traditional dishes accompanied by a description were set out for all present to share and enjoy. The organizer's art of welcome and the evident pleasure in sharing their culture was outstanding.
These intercultural breakfasts have existed for the last four years as part of the Intercultural & Language program and have demonstrated that food, as an essential part of culture, is a way to learn about a country. Beyond borders and languages, food is a universal means of communication.
감사합니다 (pronounced "kamsamnida") means "Thank you."
On 12 March, twenty American students from Bentley University (Boston) visited ITER.
Their visit was part of a nine-day tour in France within the context of Bachelor of Science studies and a course on energy economics. Before coming to ITER, they had visited French EDF electrical facilities.
The students' main interests concerned the economics of energy, but they also showed interest in the international nature of the ITER project. Philippe Chappuis from the Tokamak Directorate presented them with a wide overview of the technical challenges of the machine and the scientific collaboration.
One of the twenty-year-old students—Irene Pasquale, interested in working later on environmental matters—commented: "This giant project is awesome! It's really interesting to see the construction phase."
John Richard Tommasi, the professor accompanying the group, promised that his students would continue to follow ITER progress upon their return and that he would return with another group in the near future.
It's a tradition now. Twice a year, the ITER conductor family meets to review the status of strand production, cabling, and jacketing activities—all part of the global drive to produce state-of-the-art superconductors for ITER. Fifty participants convened in Cadarache on 21-23 March to compare progress notes and discuss technical issues during regular and breakout sessions.
"Production is rolling all over the world," began Arnaud Devred, leader of ITER's Superconductor Systems & Auxiliaries Section, in his presentation on the first day of the meeting. "We have produced nearly 300 tonnes of niobium-tin (Nb3Sn) superconducting strands, about two-thirds of the amount needed for ITER's toroidal field coils. I probably don't need to remind you that in the pre-ITER world, global production was 15 tonnes a year ..."
Getting to this point has not been easy. The ITER Organization has had to pioneer reporting, document handling and quality assurance procedures to ensure that strands produced by suppliers in China, Europe, Japan, Korea, Russia, and the US—the six ITER Members involved in conductor production—achieve the same required performances.
The semi-annual Conductor Meetings provides the opportunity for representatives of the ITER Organization, Domestic Agencies, specialized laboratories, and industry to compare notes in person.
The news on the production of toroidal field conductor is good: All Domestic Agencies are in full production, having qualified Nb3Sn strand suppliers through the successful testing of Conductor Performance Qualification Samples (CPQSs). The 100-tonne mark was passed in October 2010; this month, global production will pass 300 tonnes, or approximately 63,000 kilometres of total wire length.
Cabling activities for the toroidal field conductor are underway in five Domestic Agencies. "We have about six-months of lead time in strand production with regard to cabling, which is very good news indeed," explains Devred. Twenty-eight regular double pancakes and twelve side double pancakes have been cabled worldwide. Five Domestic Agencies have competed welding qualification/certification and jacketing line commissioning. Three jacket tube suppliers have been qualified and all Domestic Agencies have placed contracts.
"As we pass production milestones one after another, we are expecting a large number of conductor deliveries this year," says Devred.
The Chinese and Russian Domestic Agencies are also in production mode for the niobium-titanium (Nb-Ti) strands for ITER's poloidal field conductor. Russia has entered nearly 50 tonnes of strand production into the Conductor Database and has delivered all Phase II cable unit lengths to Criotec (Italy) for jacketing. China has completed poloidal field tube and welding qualification and has manufactured an 800-metre copper dummy for testing.
An update was also given on the central solenoid conductor. Qualification activities continue to validate design choices and potential suppliers.
The qualification tests are carried out on full-size conductor samples at the SULTAN test facility in Switzerland. To facilitate operation and ensure the suitable funding of SULTAN for ITER needs, the six conductor Domestic Agencies and the ITER Organization have agreed on a global SULTAN contract that will be handled by the ITER Organization. This first-of-a-kind contract may serve as a model on how the Domestic Agencies and the ITER Organization can join forces and create synergies for critical quality control steps.
"Conductor production is well underway in all Domestic Agencies and for all Procurement Arrangements," summed up Devred. "This year we are switching from the process qualification phase to real production. We need to maintain momentum to meet ambitious goals for delivery."
The European Domestic Agency has signed its first Framework Partnership Agreement (FPA) for the design of diagnostic components. Amounting to EUR 3.7 million, and covering a period of up to four years, the FPA has been awarded to a consortium consisting of three laboratories from the Hungarian fusion association: Wigner RCP (formerly KFKI RMKI); MTA EK (formerly KFKI AEKI); and the Budapest University of Technology and Economics.
The agreement concerns the infrastructure (cabling, conduits, feedthroughs, connectors) for the diagnostic systems and covers R&D, engineering, quality control and testing from functional specifications. This is an important step in the drive for First Plasma, as many of these components must be installed during the first stage of ITER assembly.
So what exactly is a Framework Partnership Agreement? It establishes a long-term collaboration (for up to four years) with a beneficiary or consortium. The Agreement defines a set of rules for the accomplishment of the work; with the work itself performed under separate, specific grant agreements.
The FPA is well-fitted to projects requiring mostly R&D and early design. It is ideal for diagnostics, where designs are usually 'first-of-a-kind' and require a large, specialized design base the continuity of the design team.
A further advantage of the FPA is that it enables the European Domestic Agency (F4E) to have a stronger project management role.
This first FPA will bring together the work of some 30 people per year. F4E is expecting to award FPAs for most of the major diagnostic systems under its responsibility during 2012.
Further information on F4E's first Framework Partnership Agreement can be found here.