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ITER NEWSLINE 276
It was foreseen by the authors of the ITER Agreement, which signed in 2006 by the seven ITER Members.
As a research organization, the ITER Organization may conclude scientific collaboration agreements with other international organizations and institutions in the interest of promoting cooperation on fusion as an energy source.
For ITER, collaboration agreements keep ITER scientists and engineers in close touch with work going on in precise domains relating to fusion science and technology; for the laboratories and institutes, they are an opportunity to collaborate with the fusion community's most advanced experiment.
Since January 2008, the ITER Organization has signed 34 scientific collaboration agreements and another four are currently in the preparatory stages. A common thread amongst these agreements is the training of young researchers.
"In the coming years, I envision more and more of this type of scientific exchange for the ITER Organization," says the Director-General of the ITER Organization, Osamu Motojima. "I would like to open ITER's door to younger people who will in fact take on a lot of the responsibility for fusion in the future. ITER will be the foremost research laboratory for magnetic fusion. Scientific collaboration agreements enrich the experience of our scientists, and provide training for the next generation of fusion scientists. The ITER Organization is a centre of excellence in this area."
Under these scientific collaboration agreements, the ITER Organization and research institutes can cooperate in academic and scientific fields of mutual interest. "Some of the ideas for collaboration come from our scientists. We have compiled a database of agreements signed by the ITER Organization so that when we're approached, we can inform them whether we already have an agreement with the institute in question," says Anna Tyler of Legal Affairs.
Typically, the agreements cover the following type of collaboration: joint supervision of students working on Masters or PhD theses; joint training and exchange of young scientists, engineers, interns and experts; joint research projects (particularly in plasma physics); and joint seminars.
Collaboration agreements have been signed with laboratories and institutes in Austria, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Korea, Monaco, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, Japan, and the UK—the most recent to date was signed just last month with the Department of Civil and Industrial Engineering at the University of Pisa (Italy).
David Campbell, head of ITER Plasma Operation Directorate, has been able to see the practical benefits of such exchanges. "Because we are aiming to develop ITER as centre of excellence in fusion research, such agreements allow us to develop scientific and technology exchanges with leading fusion research institutions around the world, building a network of fusion research activities which not only supports the preparations for ITER operation, but also contributes to the longer-term realization of the potential of fusion energy.
One of the more exciting aspects of the collboration agreements relates to the training activities and the opportunities they provide for younger researchers to participate in the ITER Project, according to Campbell. "The transfer of knowledge between generations is a key element of the scientific enterprise and an integral component of the development of ITER as an international centre of fusion research."
An associated laboratory in fusion was established earlier this month between the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and the French Commission of Atomic Energy (CEA) to develop cooperation on two long-pulse tokamaks, EAST and Tore Supra, soon to be equipped with an ITER-like tungsten divertor in a project called WEST.
The creation agreement was signed on 3 July by Prof Li, director of the Institute of Plasma Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences (ASIPP), and Gabriele Fioni, director of CEA's Physics Science Division, at the French Embassy in Beijing. French nuclear counselor Pierre-Yves Cordier hosted the signing ceremony, with André Grosman, deputy director of the Institute of Magnetic Confinement Fusion Research (IRFM/CEA) and consular assistant Shunming Ding.
The associated laboratory has been created to develop cooperation on CEA's long-pulse tokamak WEST* and ASIPP's EAST, particularly in the following fields: actively cooled, metallic plasma-facing components; long-duration plasma operation in an actively cooled, metallic environment; long-pulse heating and current drive; ITER technology support; and the preparation of "Generation ITER" (see this issue's Of Interest entry) in all of the above-mentioned areas.
Xavier Litaudon and Yuntao Song are appointed as the associated laboratory's co-directors. They will be responsible for leading and coordinating the performance of the projects under the Associated Laboratory Agreement.
"I am enthusiastic about the CAS/ASIPP-CEA collaboration," said Prof Li after the signature. "The cooperation between EAST and WEST will be good for all fusion communities."
As a first step, ASIPP has already sent two young researchers to IRFM to work for one year on WEST component design and engineering.
* WEST = W (tungsten) environment for steady state tokamak
A new educational currency in the world of fusion becomes available this month with the launch of European Fusion Masters and Doctorate Certificates. The certificates are awarded by FuseNet, Europe's fusion education network, to recognize students with a high level of specialization in fusion, says Professor Niek Lopes Cardozo, FuseNet chair: "Fusion is an exciting, interdisciplinary field. Our students are a group with special qualities and we want to recognize that. 'Fusion' is a quality brand; the certificate is a quality stamp."
The launch comes at a time when there is growing discussion of the preparation of Generation ITER. Writing in Science magazine, journalist Dan Clery drew attention to an "awkward gap" for fusion personnel that could eventuate between JET and ITER, and it is precisely this issue that FuseNet's new certification addresses.
"FuseNet plays an important role in preparing the ITER generation," says Duarte Borba, senior advisor to the EFDA leader. "A new generation of scientists and engineers are needed to operate ITER and to develop the science and technology required to build a fusion power plant."
Read more on EFDA website.
They call it the "snowball in hell"—a bullet of frozen deuterium fuel heading at high speed into the furnace-like plasma of the MAST fusion device at Culham. A team at MAST is investigating this method of fuelling plasmas and how it will work in the future on the giant international experiment ITER.
Firing these tiny pellets is one of the most effective ways of getting fuel into the plasma, enabling fusion reactions and the unlocking of energy. This will become increasingly important as future fusion devices become bigger and plasmas get hotter to reach ignition, the point at which the plasma heats itself without external input—crucial for power-producing reactors. To achieve ignition, the density of the plasma core must be raised and sustained by fuelling it.
Luca Garzotti, one of the CCFE physicists studying pellet injection on MAST, explains the process: "Just like a car engine, a tokamak needs to be fuelled—the fuel goes in to the plasma and there is an exhaust to get rid of unwanted gases. In fusion, helium comes out of the exhaust via a system called the divertor. I'm looking at how we can put the fuel (deuterium and tritium) in at the start.
Read more on Culham Centre for Fusion Energy website.
In Japan there is a saying: "ten years make an epoch." The import of anything lasting a decade is captured in this statement, the equivalent of which in Korean is, "ten years is long enough to transform the mountains and rivers."
For the past nine years, a strong bilateral cooperation has been underway between Korea and Japan on fusion energy. During a two-day meeting of the Korea-Japan Joint Coordinators Meeting from 25-26 April, participants had the opportunity to reflect on the thick and thin of the years together and cherish the memorable moments.
Key achievements to date include the loan of eight types of auxiliary components (heating and diagnostics) to the KSTAR tokamak, which have been installed and put into operation; close partnership in relation to ITER technology and procurement; and the annual exchange of fusion specialists for ITER and KSTAR (approximately 200 fusion scientists exchange visits each year under the auspices of the Joint Coordinators Meeting). The direct outcome of bilateral cooperation, for example in the areas of diagnostics, heating components and joint testing, has contributed significantly to improving the operational performance of KSTAR.
More recently, Korea and Japan have been spearheading the establishment of guidelines for schedule and cost compliance by Members for the ITER Project.
The two-day meeting last April brought together high-level representatives from both Korea and Japan. Representatives from Korea's Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning (MSIP) and the National Fusion Research Institute (NFRI) included MSIP Director Kyung Sook Yoon and President Myeun Kwon of NFRI.
On the Japanese side, the delegation of 19 included Director Shuichi Sakamoto from the International Nuclear and Fusion Energy Affairs Division of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), Director-General Masahiro Mori from the Fusion Research and Development Directorate at JAEA (Japanese Atomic Energy Agency), and Director-General Akio Komori of NIFS (National Institute for Fusion Science).
President Kwon remarked, "As we have walked this path together for the past nine years, I hope to see this relationship continue as we look to a new decade ahead of us and grow into a partnership that will open a new chapter in the history of fusion energy development. I look forward to the discussions at our 10th Joint Coordinators Meeting, where we expect to deal with an important and practical agenda."
As cooperation among Asian countries is critical for the commercialization of fusion energy, bilateral cooperation between Korea and Japan is essential. Bilateral cooperation under the Joint Coordinators Meeting framework is expected to play an increasingly important role. Participants from both nations expressed the wish to see the enduring friendship and solid partnership continue into a new decade.