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"The US is committed in the project," stated Steven Chu, United States Secretary of Energy (right) as the tenth ITER Council began on 20 June in Washington, D.C. Next to Chu: Council Chair Hideyuki Takatsu, speaking; ITER Director-General Osamu Motojima; and, right to left, deputies Rem Haange, Rich Hawryluk and Carlos Alejaldre.
During its tenth meeting held on 20-21 June in Washington D.C., the ITER Council acknowledged a number of positive advancements for the project, noting, in particular, the progress of ITER construction and licensing.
The Council stressed that respecting the project schedule within cost remains a critical issue and that reported slippages need rapid correction; it also noted that the ITER Organization and the seven Domestic Agencies are working together on these corrections. Relative to schedule issues, decisions were taken regarding the manufacturing of some major ITER Tokamak components.
This meeting took place in the Ronald Reagan building, which is fitting given the fact that ITER was born out of the shared vision of Secretary General Gorbachev and President Reagan at the Geneva Summit in 1985. This ITER Council was the first chaired by Hideyuki Takatsu of Japan, who began his term as ITER Council Chair on 1 January 2012.
The Director-General Osamu Motojima thanked all ITER Members for their proactive and forward looking contributions and their much appreciated encouragement. The ITER Organization will keep continuing to promote the ITER Project together with its seven Domestic Agencies," Motojima stressed.

Read the ITER Council Press Release in English and in French.

ITER Director-General Osamu Motojima shaking hands with Luo Delong, head of ITER China, after having signed the Procurement Arrangement for ITER's pulsed power electrical network, which will supply alternating current (AC) power to the machine's superconducting coils and its heating and current drives. This mighty power source will be procured by China.
During this week's meeting of the ITER Council in Washington, four Procurement Arrangements were signed between the ITER Organization and Domestic Agencies, taking the total in-kind procurement value of ITER construction to the 80 percent mark.

Number one was the Procurement Arrangement for ITER's Pulsed Power Electrical Network (PPEN), which will supply alternating current (AC) power to the machine's superconducting coils and its heating and current drives. This mighty power source will be procured by China. The PPEN will absorb 500 MW and 200 Mvar pulsed power for the pre-programed physics scenarios and plasma current, position and shape control. The power will be distributed from three main 66kV busbars and three main 22 kV busbars that will normally operate uncoupled from one another.
The loads connected to PPEN are mainly large thyristors based AC/DC converters rated typically in the range from 5 to 90 MVA.

Most of the large and dynamic loads are directly fed from the 66 kV busbars, that is to say the AC/DC converters feeding the superconducting magnet coils and the neutral beam system providing plasma current. The loads with relatively lower power (normally less than 20 MVA/unit) are fed from the 22 kV busbars.
The Procurement Arrangement signed with the Chinese Domestic Agency comprises the manufacture, inspection, testing, packaging, shipping and provision of on-site technical assistance during the onsite assembly, the subsequent acceptance tests and the commissioning and integration of the items; this applies to all the items, structures, materials and mechanical and electrical facilities for the new 400 kV substation and the transformers associated with the 400/66/22 kV supplies and the 66/22 kV items and cable.

The second Procurement Arrangement signed in Washington concerned the low field side reflectometer. This diagnostic system will monitor electron density and aid in the assessment of fusion performance. Understanding and monitoring electron density profile evolution and density fluctuations is essential for assessing the stability of fusion performance inside a tokamak.

Along with Victor Udintsev from the ITER Organization, Greg Hanson of Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Fusion Energy Division and Tony Peebles of the University of California at Los Angeles have been working on the conceptual design of the reflectometer with an international team that includes staff from ITER; the University of California, Los Angeles; Oak Ridge; and the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory.

ITER's complex diagnostics are configured at ports in the vacuum chamber around the plasma vessel, monitoring and providing data over time of the evolution of plasma properties such as electron density and temperature. Besides providing data on the electron density profile evolution, the new reflectometer will monitor small-scale density turbulence and larger-scale magneto hydrodynamic modes inside the plasma, such as fast-ion driven instabilities. Such instabilities can cause the plasma to lose heat, particles, and momentum. It is important for the safety of the ITER device to understand and monitor the amplitude and spatial distribution of these instabilities, so that researchers can project forward to the next-stage fusion reactor.

Wednesday, 20 June also witnessed the signature of the first of four Procurement Arrangements that are to be signed for the procurement of ITER's powerful 1MW microwave sources (gyrotrons). This week's Procurement Arrangement was signed with the Russian Domestic Agency, which will be providing 8 of the 26 gyrotrons installed on ITER. Each gyrotron generates roughly the equivalent of 1,000 microwave ovens in a relatively compact single tube roughly 2 m in height and ≤50 cm in width. The Russian scientific teams have extensive experience in developing gyrotrons of various powers and frequencies for research facilities around the world.

Part of ITER's electron cyclotron team had the chance last year to visit the Russian laboratories and witness the highly reliable operation of the gyrotron for near 1MW output power and pulse lengths of >600sec. The Russian teams in Nihzny and Moscow have produced several ITER-like prototype tubes that have demonstrated performance equivalent to ITER operation needed for the Q≥10 / 15MA scenario. The first gyrotron is planned to be delivered to the ITER site in France in early 2016 and will be used to generate the spark to start the very first plasma in ITER.

Last but not least, an amendment to the Procurement Arrangement on the vacuum ultra-violet (VUV) edge imaging spectrometer was signed. The primary role of the core survey VUV system is to monitor all impurities in the main plasma.
The primary role of the divertor VUV spectrometer is to monitor impurities in the divertor, especially tungsten lines around 25 nm. These Procurement Arrangement amendments complete the scope of the Korean Domestic Agency for VUV spectroscopy.
We would like to thank Lynne Degitz (US Domestic Agency), and the ITER responsible officers for these Procurement Arrangements Jose Gascon, Caroline Darbos, Mark Henderson and Robin Barnsley, for their contribution to this article. 

The contest was based on a simulation of a real-life situation:  the remote-handled removal of selected blanket modules from the inner wall of the vacuum vessel. Here, the team from Sainte-Tulle Junior High and their ITERminator
Ten or fifteen years from now, some of the students from the neighbouring schools may wish to work at ITER or in one of the many fusion labs around the world paving the way towards fusion energy. So why not get an early start and begin training for, let's say—remote handling?

Such was the idea behind the First Student Robot Contest (Premier concours scolaire de robotique) that Agence Iter France and the ITER Organization jointly organized this Tuesday, 19 June. The contest was based on a simulation of a real-life situation, one that will occur over the 20-year course of ITER operation: the remote-handled removal of selected blanket modules from the inner wall of the vacuum vessel, followed by transport of the modules to the nearby Hot Cell Facility.

Students from the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur International School in Manosque and from nearby Collège (junior high) Pierre-Gardot in Sainte-Tulle—all aged 13 or 14—had accepted to take on the challenge.

As both teams performed the last adjustments to their robot, ITER Assembly & Operations Division Head Ken Blackler addressed the contenders. "ITER will be the first fusion machine to produce a burning plasma. Because of the resulting radiation, it will be impossible for humans to enter the vacuum vessel. We will need many robots..."

Although simplified to the extreme, the remote handling operations were quite challenging for the small school-made robots. Both robots, ITERminator 5.1 from the Sainte-Tulle team and RTX Ariane 26 from the Manosque team had to follow a specific path, materialized by black lines on the floor. The path led to a mockup of the ITER Tokamak in the centre of the stage, where the robots needed to pick up a small plastic piece representing a four-ton blanket module, pivot, and head back to a black box representing the Hot Cell Facility to deposit the blanket module.

The robots had to perform the operation three times on three different modules. Instructions on the final module were given only at the last moment, requiring the teams to program their robot in the heat of the action.

As the robot from the International School began its journey toward the mockup, it became clear that something was wrong with its electronic brain. RTX Ariane 26 experienced serious difficulty in following the lines, seemingly preferring "freestyle" to compulsory figures. Despite a last-minute reboot, it never quite managed to fulfil its mission.

True to its name, ITERminator 5.1 proved invincible: its performance was nearly faultless and brought to the Sainte-Tulle Junior High a clear victory.

The competition was just a game and, as such, "the essential was not to have won but to have fought well ..."

There was a moral, however, to be drawn from the experience. "You can do something great on paper," Ken Blackler told the contenders, "but the real test is in the confrontation with reality. Things rarely work the first time."

In the young students' efforts, co-host Alain Becoulet, head of CEA's Institute for Magnetic Fusion Research, saw the reflection of "two of the greatest challenges in fusion research": the necessity of working together on one same object, and the necessity of being patient. "In fusion," he said, "the timescale is larger than an individual's lifespan..."

F4E's new Industry Portal has been developed to foster an interactive, dynamic relationship between European industry and F4E.
The European Domestic Agency's new industry portal is now available. This new portal, the entry point for companies and associations who want to answer the agency's calls for tender, has undergone a complete refurbishment so that users have a quicker and more efficient way of sharing their information. The portal also offers increased networking opportunities among industry and the opportunity to search and find relevant business partners or sub-contractors whilst enjoying improved security.

A one-stop shop where all European business calls for tender and announcements are published, the new industry portal has been especially developed to foster an interactive, dynamic relationship between European industry and the European agency for ITER. Users can create a profile and register their company using pre-existing online forms. This information is then checked as part of pre-qualification process in order to ensure that basic data needed to be identified by the agency or other industry as a potential partner are given. Pre-qualified suppliers can re-use the corporate information they have submitted, including financial data, when applying for future calls for tender.
In order to allow users to familiarize themselves with the new features of the industry portal as quickly as possible, five tutorials are available on the portal site. 
Access the new European industry portal by clicking here.

Licensing a nuclear installation requires the production of thousands of pages of technical documents, like the seven-volume, 5,243-page DAC files that provide an in-depth description of the ITER installation.
The official letter from the French Safety Authority (Agence de sûreté nucléaire - ASN) that the ITER Organization received on 20 June marks a major milestone in a lengthy, complex and demanding process that began a year and a half ago.

After months of in-depth technical examination, the ASN has judged that the ITER Organization's proposal on the operational conditions and design of the installation fulfils the expected safety requirements at this stage of the licensing process.

In simpler words, this is the long-expected green light meaning that the French government authorizes the construction of ITER. 

Licensing a nuclear installation takes considerable time, requires the production of thousands of pages of technical documents, and mobilizes scores of experts and institutions. ITER is the first fusion facility to undergo this licensing procedure in France.

As a consequence, at decisive stages in the procedure like the one announced this week, there is a feeling of deep satisfaction among all those who were involved in the process.

In practical terms, a peer committee of ASN and ITER Safety, Quality & Security experts will now work on drafting the decree that will be submitted to the French government's signature. This highly detailed document can be described as "the safety contract" that will bind the ITER Organization (as nuclear operator) and the French State for the whole duration of the installation's lifetime.

The final decree that should be signed by the French President or his Prime Minister is expected to be issued in the last months of 2012.

Standing in front of a neutronics model of ITER: (left to right) Ed Marriott, Tim Bohm, Paul Wilson, Mohamed Sawan and Ahmad Ibrahim, US ITER researchers at the University of Wisconsin.
US ITER researchers at the University of Wisconsin and Oak Ridge National Laboratory are developing advanced processes to assess ITER's unique tokamak components and materials in the presence of the tremendous amount of neutron flux and energy released by fusion reactions. The process, called neutronics analysis, involves a palette of complex computational codes and libraries for predicting neutron impacts.

Click here to read more.