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Cross section of a bottom correction coil showing the cable, jacket, insulation and 20-millimetre-thick case.
Meetings last month in China have confirmed the progress being made toward qualifying the manufacturing processes for the ITER correction coils.

Because the large size and unusual shape of the 18 correction coils make manufacturing a challenge; the qualification stage of coil manufacturing processes is an important step to ensure the manufacturability of these coils within specified tolerances. 

"The main difficulty in the manufacture of the ITER correction coils lies in the very tight tolerances that much be achieved in their final envelope dimensions, due to the narrow space reserved for them between the toroidal field and the poloidal field coils," explains Technical Responsible Officer Arnaud Foussat. "A second challenge is the unusual shape of the coils—non-planar for side coils and planar (but banana-shaped) for the top and bottom coils."

In December 2010, the Chinese Domestic Agency awarded the contract for the manufacture of ITER correction coils to ASIPP (Hefei, China), that had been closely involved in the construction of the EAST Tokamak in China and in R&D activities for ITER magnets. ASIPP is now actively preparing the installation of the manufacturing line for these coils in a dedicated building in Hefei. The selection process of all sub-suppliers should be completed by the end of this year.

During meetings in June between the ITER Organization, the Chinese Domestic Agency, ASIPP and sub-suppliers—the first in a series to monitor the qualification milestones at sub-suppliers—some of the key manufacturing options that are under development for the 18 correction coils and coil structures were highlighted.

"It is essential that our colleagues at the ASIPP and the Chinese Domestic Agency select the best manufacturing solution from the point of view of technical requirements, risk management and cost before launching the series production," says Arnaud.

An important correction coil milestone to come is the selection and pre-qualification by ASIPP of the supplier for the 316L austenitic stainless steel required for the 20 millimetre-thick correction coil case. TISCO, a worldwide leader in stainless steel production and a potential supplier, will supply 316LN hot rolled base plates and extruded profiles in order to produce a short sample case model for the definition of final fabrication processes.

A welding process for correction coil case closure has also been selected; to qualify this option, a contract was placed with SIASUN (Shenyang) to supply fibre laser welding production equipment and to provide expertise to ASIPP welders. In a meeting to SIASUN premises, the proposal for an automated laser welding production line was discussed, as well the first test weld samples to be qualified at 4K cryogenic temperatures.

In parallel, ASIPP will collaborate with Institute of Physics and Chemistry (IPC) in Beijing to perform mechanical strength and fracture toughness at cryogenic temperature on welds and base material.

"Widespread progress has been made in critical technical areas of the correction coils, I am happy to report," stated Arnaud after the visits. "The fabrication process qualification phases ahead will require tight monitoring and the close interaction of all parties in order to keep momentum and progress."

A seasoned folk and blues guitar player, the CEA-Cadarache director has long played the semi-professionnal circuit.
In the weeks that followed Fukushima a few things changed at CEA-Cadarache. "We had to ask ourselves new questions," explains Director Maurice Mazière. "Nuclear safety has always been about thinking the unthinkable. Now, after Fukushima, the unthinkable must be redefined ..."

It had gone without saying, for instance, that in the case of a power failure in a nuclear installation, redundant diesel generators would automatically provide electricity wherever it was needed. This safeguard, however, did not work in Fukushima where the generators were drowned by 15-metre-high waves from a monster tsunami.

Tsunamis, of course, are unlikely to happen in Cadarache. "Still," confides Mazière, "what happened in Japan has led us to ask ourselves some hard questions." Some of these "hard questions" have led to swift action: on the Jules-Horowitz Reactor (RJH) work site, diesel generators were moved to higher grounds—some 15 metres above the original location.

Also, more-or-less-dormant research projects on severe accidents have been revived. For years CEA-Cadarache had been conducting studies and accumulating data on the behaviour of corium, the molten lava that results from core meltdown; this project, termed "Vulcano," is now receiving high priority.

Interest in "passive system" concepts, developed years ago by CEA's Reactor Studies Department, has also been renewed. "The ultimate safety challenge in a reactor," says Mazière, "is the evacuation of residual power when all cooling systems fail. Ideally, in a 'passive system,' heat evacuation occurs naturally. We are assigning new teams to pursue the development of such systems."

Thirty-six years after he first passed the gates of Cadarache as a young intern from École Centrale in Paris, Maurice Mazière has to steer CEA's largest nuclear research centre in the post-Fukushima world. "I see Fukushima as the starting point for a deep reflection process. We have to ask ourselves the right questions, dig into the tiniest details and devise rescue systems able to withstand 'unthinkable' events or situations. Whatever political decision might be taken in the future, we will continue, in the meantime, to stick to the course we've set."

Two professional cameras and six lenses—whenever his busy job allows it, Patrick travels the globe to capture exotic places, people and most of all whales.
According to Patrick Vertongen, a passionate whale watcher, "a touch of luck and a lot of patience" is the recipe for a perfect photo shot of a whale. It's also helpful to have a bit of a natural gift ... 

When he was only 12 years old, school tests in his native Belgium had already revealed his talent for photography. The advice his parents received for their son was to pursue photography and the arts. Perhaps Patrick would not be working for ITER today if his parents had followed this advice, but they ignored it and never told their son about it until he was 30 and a passionate amateur photographer but with a very different career path.

Patrick, who is quality assurance engineer for the vacuum vessel within the Safety Quality and Security Department, obtained his engineering degree at the Nautical College in Antwerp, Belgium and joined the Merchant Navy in 1978. 

After 10 years of sailing the seven seas, he joined AIB-Vincotte, an internationally recognized inspection body for product and materials analysis, as a nuclear inspector. Patrick mainly worked on the inspection and certification of nuclear installations and in the scope of these responsibilities even lived in Kobe, Japan for four years.

After spending 22 years with AIB-Vincotte, where he acquired broad experience in materials, techniques and manufacturing procedures, Patrick joined ITER in January 2010. 

As quality assurance engineer his job is to give quality assurance advice on procedures, design, materials, manufacturing, inspection, testing and documentation on all parts of the vacuum vessel. "My job is extremely diversified which makes it very interesting," says Patrick, "and I find the multicultural work environment at ITER particularly stimulating and inspiring."

But whenever his busy job allows it, Patrick travels the globe with his two cameras and six lenses to capture exotic places, people and most of all whales. He has travelled from the extreme north of Alaska to the extreme south of Patagonia and many places in between to admire the dance of these gigantic marine mammals and is getting ready for his next expedition to the peninsula of Kamchatka, situated all the way up the northeastern coast of Russia. 

Click here if you are interested in seeing some of Patrick's pictures.

Simulations track turbulence and transport of energetic helium particles in ITER. Image courtesy of Don Spong, ORNL.
Until ITER is built, science must rely on simulations to find the optimal conditions with which ITER could produce the most energy. A team around Zhihong Lin, physicist at the University of California—Irvine and principal investigator at the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility (OLCF), is busy feeding the mighty Jaguar Supercomputer to simulate all of the chaotic movements in a fusion plasma simultaneously.

The 35 million hours allotted to his team's project in 2011 will go toward not only simulations of ITER fusion plasmas, but also toward preparing codes for next-generation supercomputers.

Click here to find out more about the Jaguar Supercomputer.

Carlos Varandas, Chair of GB
During the European Domestic Agency's last Governing Board meeting, a time out was called from the pitch for three of its key players who have been instrumental in setting up the team, and who are now at the end of their four-year mandates: Carlos Varandas, chair of the Governing Board (GB); Karl Tichmann, chair of the Executive Committee (ExCo) and Quang Tran, chair of the Technical Advisory Panel (TAP).

Frank Briscoe thanked all chairs for carefully steering the European Domestic Agency (F4E) through a very challenging period during which a new ITER schedule was agreed upon, overall cost was re-estimated and management changes were made. Farewell messages for Carlos Varandas were received from Osama Motojima, ITER Director-General, who praised Carlos for his enthusiasm, knowledge and contribution to the ITER project.

Octavi Quintana-Trias, former director for fusion at the European Commission, summarized Carlos' style as "a combination of consensus and great respect for others." Didier Gambier, former F4E director, thanked him for his vision and command during the tough start-up phase of F4E and concluded by wishing him "bon vent."

Carlos Varandas replied by acknowledging that F4E had come a long way since the first meeting of the Governing Board, saying that he was proud "to see it grow to a full-fledged organization underpinned by hard work and commitment to deliver ITER." He then paid tribute to the work of Karl Tichmann for his crucial role in the approval of large contracts and grants to be placed by F4E. 

The important contributions of Quang Tran were also recognized by Carlos Varandas and Frank Briscoe, particularly the assessments conducted for the ITER-related technical decisions.

In recognition of their contribution to F4E as "the winning team at the European level," Frank Briscoe offered a toast and presented each of the three outgoing chairs with individualized Barça t-shirts in view of the football club's success at the European level. The three players have rightfully claimed their place at the F4E pantheon.