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ITER NEWSLINE 187
In order to confirm the current state of Japanese industry in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami that hit the island on 11 March, this month I led a delegation to Japan that included representatives from the ITER Organization and the Korean and American Domestic Agencies. We visited several industrial companies involved with the manufacturing of ITER's toroidal field magnets and superconducting strands for the central solenoid—components which are currently the most critical for adhering to ITER's construction schedule.
The companies visited reported that the impact of the earthquake on their production capacity was minimal: none had suffered major damage and the problems encountered had been fortunately very short lived. Although the supply of materials was briefly affected after the earthquake, the problem has now been mitigated and all factories are working normally. It is with great respect that we witnessed the strong will and motivation of Japanese industry to recover its manufacturing capabilities; this will certainly help the country to recover from the impact caused by the earthquake, tsunami and finally the nuclear accident.
Although on average the electricity supply is also running normally again, it was reported that there were government limitations on peak loads. Our industrial contacts explained that this problem has been effectively mitigated through the rescheduling of some heavy operations, for example over weekend hours.
The delegation was able to confirm that production of the JT60-SA vacuum vessel is progressing well and has not been affected by any material shortage or power limitations.
Japanese industry is currently providing massive engineering support to recover the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors. It was confirmed, however, that support in this area is not the same as that needed for fusion: therefore this will have no impact on ITER work. Japanese industry declared its strong commitment to supporting ITER and to doing everything possible to deliver on time as soon as the contracts were signed.
Based on what we saw and what was discussed with senior engineers and members of the companies' top-level management, we concluded that the efforts of industry to recover from the earthquake damage were successful—a fact that is highly commendable only four months after the earthquake. There is no evidence that we will have to face critical delays caused as a direct impact of the disaster.
However there are other issues which may affect the schedule—in particular the significant financial impact of the earthquake on the Japanese government. A huge amount of financial investment will be required to replace infrastructure in the damaged locations, and also to recover from, and compensate for, the nuclear incident. The Naka site also needs repairs. Efforts will be required by the other six ITER Members in order to reduce the financial burden on Japan for several years in order to support the creation of a realistic and acceptable project schedule.
The countermeasures to mitigate the impact on the ITER Project are currently under intense investigation by a Special Task Group that reports to the Management Advisory Committee and the High-Level ITER Organization-Domestic Agency Coordinating Meeting.
Four years ago, Pascal Garin—who had managed the European ITER Site Studies from 2001 to 2005 and was later appointed deputy director of Agence Iter France (2005—2006)—left Cadarache to take up his new position in Rokkasho, Japan. His task was to lead the Engineering Validation and Engineering Design Activities of the International Fusion Materials Irradiation Facility (IFMIF-EVEDA), part of the Broader Approach agreement between Japan and Europe.
"It was a very intense experience, both professionally and personally," says Pascal, whose term as IFMIF-EVEDA project leader has now come to an end. Starting "from scratch," the IFMIF team accomplished a lot in a short time: Procurement Arrangements were launched, buildings and prototypes were built or are presently under construction, experiments were initiated, and strong momentum was generated.
Of the four years spent in northern Japan, Pascal says they were "the best in his life." Leading a team in a Japanese context, he discovered, was a "completely different experience. I had to adapt to new cultural and managerial references; even body language was foreign and had to be deciphered... It was difficult and at the same time profoundly enriching."
Pascal says he came back "changed." What he calls "the fateful 11 March" was a turning point in his perception of the country and its people. "Nothing impressed me more than the strong and noble behaviour of the Japanese in these terrible circumstances."
A fusion veteran who began his career in the industry as a gyrotron developer and later joined the Tore Supra project in Cadarache, Pascal will continue to be part of the great adventure. "I am back at CEA; I will keep contributing to the fusion program here. ITER, of course, is a project I feel very close to."
Back in Rokkasho, a familiar figure to all ITER staffers is taking the helm for an interim period. Hiroshi Matsumoto, who headed the Office of the ITER Director-General (ODG) from 2007 to September 2010, sees his present mission as "reorganizing the IFMIF project team so that we can seamlessly work with home teams in Japan and Europe and truly form one integrated team—one big family."
An experimental plasma physicist during the first phase of his professional career, Hiroshi had to develop different skills when he joined the ITER Organization as Head of ODG. "At ITER," he recalls, "I used to see myself as a kind of "butler"—the person who solves the organizational problems that nobody really wants to take care of. In that context, I did learn a lot. So now, it is time for me to put into practice at IFMIF the lessons I learned when I was at ITER."
The youngest member of the ITER staff, Jean-Daniel Delaplagne, 25, just became the Organization's youngest engineer. "JD," as he is universally known, obtained his engineering degree on 9 July from the respected Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers (CNAM) in Aix-en-Provence, whose evening classes he had been attending for the past two years.
We now have an explanation for the dark circles under his eyes. They are not due to excessive nightlife, but rather to the long evenings he spent in the classroom. Three times a week, as most of his ITER colleagues headed home after a hard day's work, JD would go back to school.
"It's an old project of mine," he says. "After doing my BS in Canada and a Master's in Marseille that combined on-the-job training with academic learning, I knew that sooner or later I would aim for an engineering degree."
At ITER, which JD joined in the summer of 2008 first as an Osiatis employee, then, starting September 2010 as a full staff member, there was pride and rejoicing. Says Hans-Werner Bartels, ITER Section Leader for Project Information Systems and JD's boss: "JD is a very strong IT 'geek': he's a doer, he's effective. Now, he's proved his talent with an academic degree, which makes me extremely pleased and proud."
JD's hundred-page dissertation—in English, which the French authorities exceptionally agreed to—has direct applications for IT tools. "It is completely ITER-relevant," says Hans-Werner who acted as coach and mentor, and sat on JD's jury. "It will be of very practical use for the ITER Organization."
Entitled "Implementation of an Information Security Management System for the ITER Organization," the dissertation proposes a set of guidelines and procedures aimed at protecting the "assets" of the Organization. "The need for protection, confidentiality, integrity and availability of private or sensitive information is imperative," writes JD in the introduction to his dissertation, "[has become] one of the key challenges of this century for the IT industry."
We all know JD as the smiling kid who can solve almost any computer-related problem. But he's always been more than that and now it's official..."Of course we have to fix things," says Hans-Werner, "but it is important also to have a long-term vision. We need new developments for the future. I like excellence, I'm very positive about my staff. They should become the best experts in their field, and I hope JD has now set an example."
So JD—after you've had some rest and gotten rid of those dark circles under your eyes, you know what's expected of you: Aim for a doctorate!
As part of the ITER Agreement, the ITER Organization must undergo a Management Assessment at least every two years.
KR Sriram was appointed by the ITER Council as 2011 ITER Management Assessor to lead a team of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India.
The team of five persons led by Mr Sriram is currently carrying out a two-week visit to Cadarache, which will be followed by a visit to all seven ITER Domestic Agencies and a return visit to the ITER Organization for two weeks beginning 22 August.
The Management Assessors will report their findings and recommendations to the ninth ITER Council in November 2011.
Deputy Director-General Luo Delong gave a keynote speech that presented a comprehensive overview of the international and domestic situation of ITER. Luo stressed that the successful implementation of the ITER Project required joint effort from all participants, and he stated that the education and training of experts in magnetic confinement was one of the top priorities.
Academician Wan Yuanxi, the chief engineer of the EAST Tokamak, dean of the School of Nuclear Science and Technology at the University of Science and Technology of China and chair of the ITER Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee (STAC), then gave a presentation on the overall technical progress of the ITER project regarding schedule, budget and cost, project management and technical integration.
Wang Hang from ITER's Human Resources Division gave a detailed explanation of the recruitment procedures, and the salaries and benefits for directly-employed staff and other kinds of personnel. Wang further conducted a brief analysis on the current status of Chinese staffing at the ITER Organization and offered some suggestions on ITER China's future work.
Representatives from the Southwestern Institute of Physics (SWIP) and the Institute of Plasma Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (ASIPP) respectively introduced their major tasks during the ITER construction phase, key bottleneck issues and their intensions on staff appointments and talent cultivation. Both expressed that not only will they complete the domestic tasks, but that they are also willing to send more qualified staff to work at the ITER Organization.
Heated discussions centred on how to cultivate and nurture talent in fusion energy, and on recruiting staff to work for ITER. Consensus was reached on the importance of promoting the ITER project to wider audiences and on the necessity of providing more training about fusion device engineering, project management and the English language.
The main function of the ITER cryogenic system is to cool down and maintain the required cryogenic operating conditions of the ITER cold components such as the magnets, the cryopumps and the in-tokamak thermal shields. The cryoplant on the ITER platform will produce the required cooling power at the three required operating temperature levels, namely at 4 K, 50 K, and 80 K.
The distribution of cooling power will be accomplished through a set of cryodistribution cold boxes, which control the cooling power into the ITER cold components by forced flow.
A unique feature of ITER cryodistribution is the mass flow rate of the cold rotating machines: the machines will have a mass flow rate that ranges up to 3 kg/s whereas existing limits are around 1 kg/sec. Such high flow rates are necessary to satisfy the cooling requirements of the ITER superconducting magnet system ... another unique system in many ways.
With the successful conclusion of the cryodistribution CDR, the conceptual design of ITER's cryogenic system is now completed and the way paved for the construction of the world's second largest cryogenic facility (following CERN).
A year ago, when Newsline took a break for summer vacation, we reported on the lone power shovel that had just begun removing top soil from the Tokamak pit—the first of some 210,000 cubic metres that had to be extracted in order to make room for the installation.
Twelve months later, the Tokamak Complex Seismic Isolation Pit, 17 metres deep, is being readied for concrete pouring of the lower basemat; cladding and roofing operations are being completed on the Poloidal Field Coils Winding Facility and windows are being installed in the future ITER Headquarters.
As Newsline closes for its traditional summer recess, work on the ITER site will continue at a determined pace, providing us with plenty of stories to report. See you all on 2 September for our next issue!