International Tokamak Physics Activity (ITPA)
The International Tokamak Physics Activity (ITPA) provides a framework for internationally coordinated fusion research activities. The ITPA continues the tokamak physics R&D activities that have been conducted on an international level for many years. This has resulted in the achievement of a broad physics basis essential for the ITER design and useful for all fusion programs and for progress toward fusion energy generally.
The ITPA operates under the auspices of ITER. The Participants in the ITPA are the Members of ITER. The organizational structure of the ITPA consists of a Coordinating Committee (CC) and several Topical Physics Groups.
See the ITPA Charter (link at left) for a more detailed description.
The role of the ITPA Coordinating Committee is to oversee the Topical Physics Groups in conducting their tasks and to interface the ITPA with the ITER Organization (IO). It is composed of three representatives from each Participant and the ITER Organization. One representative from each Participant is designated as the Contact Person from that Participant. The ITER-IO also designates one of its three representatives as a Contact Person.
Every three years, the Coordinating Committee selects the Chairs and Deputy Chairs of the Topical Groups from the Participants for three year terms.
In addition to the Chair and Deputy Chairs, each Topical Group has an ITER Deputy Chair appointed by the ITER Organization to facilitate a close working interface with the ITER Organization and to provide administrative support of the ITPA by the ITER Organization.
Each Topical Group consists of 2-7 scientists (Members) per Participant, named by each Participant. The Groups may invite the participation of additional scientists (Experts) from and nominated by the Participants.
The ITPA Coordinating Committee and the Topical Groups (with the approval of the ITPA Coordinating Committee) may form Working Groups that cross Topical Group boundaries to perform a specific task with a well defined timescale and deliverables.
The ITPA Coordinating Committee may also confer observer status on international fusion research communities that petition the ITPA Coordinating Committee for such status. The stellarator community currently has such status and is entitled to place one representative on each ITPA Topical Group.
IEA/ITPA Joint Experimental Planning
Beginning in 2002, representatives of the ITPA and the experimental fusion facilities have met annually with representatives of the International Energy Agency (IEA) to encourage collaborations that address outstanding physics issues. The IEA sponsors several Implementing Agreements that foster joint collaborations. The resulting process has grown to involve all the IEA implementing agreements and nearly all tokamaks.
In the fall of each year, the ITPA, through its Topical Groups, prepares a report on the previous year's joint experiments and a proposal for a set of joint experiments for the coming year. The ITPA CC chair, assisted by the TG chairs, presents this proposal to the world's tokamak program leaders in a meeting in the December time frame. At this meeting, the joint experiments are discussed, and commitments are sought from the various tokamak program leaders. An international participant team is identified and a spokesperson defined. The tokamak leaders seek to implement these joint experiments within their normal experimental planning processes.
Since 2008 (when the ITPA came under sponsorship of ITER), there has been an increased focus on addressing remaining uncertainties in the physics related to ITER design and operation. The ITER-ITPA-IEA partnership, already having proven extremely beneficial, is expected to have a major impact on refining the plan for ITER operations for many years — well beyond the ITER Construction Phase.