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Following presentations in the ITER amphitheatre, the 53 mayors toured the ITER site to see the status of construction.
There are more municipalities in France than in all of Europe combined.

Every village, however sparsely populated, is a municipality in its own right and every municipality follows the same procedure to elect its municipal council every six years: at its first meeting, the new municipal council elects the mayor, or "First Magistrate."

Whatever the size of the constituency, madame or monsieur le maire is a major figure in the administrative organization of French society.

ITER was honoured, on Monday 11 March, to welcome no fewer than 53 mayors from neighbouring municipalities—from the smallest (Valavoire, pop. 32) to the largest (Sisteron, pop. 7,500).

Led by Daniel Spagnou, mayor of Sisteron and president of the Association of Mayors of the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence département, the 53 mayors were given a presentation on ITER by Director-General Osamu Motojima and a quick round-up by Agence Iter France director Jerôme Paméla.

"You are our partners in this scientific venture," DG Motojima told the mayors. "Once ITER has demonstrated the technical and scientific feasibility of fusion energy it will be your responsibility, as representatives of the people, to decide on the next steps that will be taken."

Monday 11 March was the second anniversary of the Great East Japan earthquake, tsunami, and resulting nuclear accident at Fukushima—Director-General Motojima insisted during his talk on the fundamental differences between fusion and fission in terms of safety. "A Fukushima-like accident cannot happen in a fusion installation," he stressed.

In 2003, the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence département (pop. 160,000) pledged EUR 10 million to the ITER project. It turned out to be a sound investment: to date, companies based in the département have benefitted from contracts amounting to EUR 29 million.

As IRFM's Roland Magne and Serge Poli were preparting the C2 antenna for its long voyage to China, ITER's Caiping Zhou, Xiaoyu Wang and Feng Liu, and CEA's Xiao Lan Zhou (all originally from SWIP) came to bid farewell.
Surprisingly, some twenty years of sporadic exposure to a temperature of 60 million degrees have left little trace on the C2 antenna's "mouth"—except for a bit of superficial melting here and some black deposits there, Tore Supra's lower hybrid antenna looks almost as new as the day it was installed.

One of the two original lower hybrid antennas of the CEA-Euratom tokamak, C2 greatly contributed to the progress of current drive analysis. It also played a key part in the success of the machine. "It is the hybrid system that allows for long pulses," explains Roland Magne, head of the Radio Frequency Heating and Current Drive group at CEA's Research Institute on Magnetic Fusion (IRFM).

Tore Supra entered operations in 1988 at CEA-Cadarache and still holds the world record of discharge duration with a six-and-a-half-minute pulse achieved in 2003.

As science and technology steadily progress, vital components in a research installation like Tore Supra must be replaced or upgraded; C2's twin C1 was replaced in the early 1990s and C2 was permanently removed from the installation in 2008 in order to make room for the Passive Active Multijunction (PAM) antenna which was installed two years later. (The PAM is equipped with an integrated cooling system that allows it to deliver more power density to the plasma over longer periods of time.)

"C2 is still in good condition and can be advantageously re-used for current drive experiments on another machine," adds Magne. Recycling has always been part of fusion history: last week, the C2 was being prepared for a long trip to China. The antenna will soon be fitted onto the Chinese tokamak HL-2M, currently under construction at the Center for Fusion Science of China's Southwestern Institute of Physics (SWIP) in Chengdu.

C2 will not travel alone. Tore Supra is also shipping the 8 3.7 GHz, 500 kW klystrons that used to feed the antenna. Although they also operated for more than 20 years, the C2 klystrons (electron tubes that generate and/or amplify the radio-frequency waves) are still in operating condition.

The antenna and the klystrons will set the stage for a collaborative physics experiment between IRFM and SWIP. As a first step, four of the klystrons will be coupled to an antenna that the Chinese are designing for the existing tokamak HL-2A for experiments due to begin in 2014. (HL-2A is the original ASDEX Tokamak that was transferred from IPP Garching to China in 1995, and entered operations at SWIP in 2002.) When HL-2M is operational in 2015, all eight klystrons will be connected to the C2 antenna.

"This collaboration will provide for some very important ITER-relevant physics program," adds Magne.

On Tuesday, as the C2 antenna was about to be packed in its wooden crate, Chinese staff from CEA and ITER, all originally from SWIP, came to bid farewell. By 2015, both the antenna and the klystrons will start a new life in a brand-new tokamak on the other side of the world.

The ITER thermal shield will be installed between the magnets and the vacuum vessel/cryostat in order to shield the magnets from radiation.
The Korean Domestic Agency signed a contract with SFA Engineering Corp. for ITER thermal shields on 28 February. The contract covers the detailed design of manifolds/instrumentation, the manufacturing design and the fabrication of the thermal shield system. "For us, this is a big step forward for the Korean contribution to ITER," said Myeun Kwon, president of the National Fusion Research Institute, after the signing.

SFA is a leading company in industrial automation with much experience in the procurement of advanced equipment related to fusion, accelerator, and space technology. SFA was deeply involved in the manufacturing and assembly of the Korean tokamak KSTAR.

The ITER thermal shield will be installed between the magnets and the vacuum vessel/cryostat in order to shield the magnets from radiation. The thermal shield consists of stainless steel panels with a low emissivity surface (<0.05) that are actively cooled by helium gas, which flows inside the cooling tube welded on the panel surface. The temperature of helium gas is between 80 K and 100 K during plasma operation. The total surface area of the thermal shield is approximately 4000 m² and its assembled body (25 m tall) weighs about 900 tonnes.

The key challenges for thermal shield manufacturing are tight tolerances, precision welding, and the silver coating of the large structure. The thermal shield also has many interfaces with other tokamak components. "The Korean Domestic Agency is satisfied with this contract because the thermal shield is one of the most critical procurement items in the ITER Project. We will do our best in collaboration with the ITER Organization to successfully procure the ITER thermal shield," said Hyeon Gon Lee, DDG of the Korean Domestic Agency, on the occasion of the contract signature.

Search for the Ultimate Energy Source: A History of the U.S. Fusion Energy Program, by Fusion Power Associates' president Stephen O. Dean, explains the fundamentals behind fusion power and traces the development of fusion by decade—covering its history as dictated by US government policies, its major successes, and its prognosis for the future.

The reader will gain an understanding of how the development of fusion has been shaped by changing government priorities as well as other hurdles currently facing the realization of fusion power. 

Read a review of the book on The Energy Collective website.