The Poloidal Field Insert Coil test in the CSMC facility at Naka, Japan, is currently underway, with the coils now at 75K in the cooldown stage. The NbTi PF insert tests a 40m length of the PF6 conductor in a 6T background field provided by the CSMC, simulating the operating conditions of the PF6 coil. The superconducting test is expected to start in late June and will be completed by August.
The fourth ITER Neutronics Workshop was held at the Château de Cadarache 26-27 May, attended by some 35 experts representing all the Members. Held roughly every six months, these workshops are the vehicle for discussions of overall strategy and co-ordination of ITER-specific neutronics, an opportunity to give progress reports and to exchange information on general advances and problems.
"Neutronics" is the science of calculating how radiation behaves using modelling techniques. This is very important for determining the nuclear heating, activation, radiation damage and the overall integration of machine, to ensure the safe operation of the ITER for workers and the public alike and as an essential part of the tritium breeding test blanket program.
This meeting was able to discuss the recently produced ITER neutronics reference model and saw the start of a big push to coordinate research at an international level to address nuclear analysis requirements. Some of the participants in the meeting took the opportunity to visit the ITER site and see for themselves the tangible progress towards the building of a machine which until now has existed only in the virtual world of computer models.
KSTAR, the Korean superconducting tokamak being built in Taedok, is expected to announce First Plasma within the next days. Three members of the ITER international team participated in the final commissioning phase of KSTAR last week. Luigi Serio, ITER Cryogenic System Section Leader, participated to the final cooldown and commissioning of the KSTAR cryogenic system. Also Inho Song, Electromechanical Engineer and Jun Tao, Power Electrical Engineeer, spent last week in the KSTAR premises witnessing the commissioning of the youngest member to the international tokamak family.
KSTAR's role is to establish the scientific and technological base to support fusion research, in particular for the construction, commissioning and operation of ITER. In particular the cryogenic system, despite being much smaller than ITER (between 1/10 and 1/40 depending if cooling power [kW] at 4.5 K or dimension of cryodistribution is taken into account), it is similar for features and components (4.5 K refrigerators, transfer lines, cold circulators, cold compressors, distribution boxes, etc.)
In early April 2008, JET resumed its scientific program after the successful completion of the 2007 Shutdown and the subsequent Restart, both of which were executed in good agreement with the intended timeline. Part of the 2008 experimental program will be dedicated to commissioning and scientific exploitation of JET's new major systems such as the ITER-like Ion Cyclotron Resonance Heating System, and the High Frequency Pellet Injector System. During the Restart phase, the commissioning of the Neutral Beam Injection System went extraordinarily well. On 25 March, 2008, JET reached a new record by injecting a total of 4.9GJ of Neutral Beam Energy into the plasma in 42 pulses (compared with a daily target of 24 pulses) within one day.
Also, on 6 May, JET's new Ion Cyclotron Resonance Heating system (ITER-like ICRH system) coupled power into plasma for the first time. This represents an important milestone in one of JET's most extensive enhancement projects. Read more here ....
A prototype Nb3Sn sample of the Toroidal Field (TF) Coil conductor has been successfully tested in the Sultan high field test facility. The sample was fabricated for the ITER Organization by CRPP/PSI using conductor provided by the United States DA. Two cable configurations were tested in the two strands of the sample, the TF reference and a US derived configuration. At 70kA and 11.8T maximum field, the TF reference conductor achieved about 7K after 200 charging cycles and the other strand 0.7K less. The strand was manufactured by Oxford Superconductor Technologies following the internal tin route process.
Ambassador Craig Stapleton, U.S. Ambassador to France, visited ITER on 29 May. The Ambassador was accompanied by Mr Francois de Rose - 98 years old — one of Europe's great scientific statesmen - who was crucial in setting up CERN. Philip Breeden U.S Consul General in Marseille, was also present.
The visit started with lunch at the Cantine des Cadres on the Cadarache site. All U.S. citizens at ITER were invited to the lunch to have the opportunity to greet the Ambassador. This was a good move, as the relaxed atmosphere facilitated open dialogue throughout the afternoon. M. de Rose recounted fascinating anecdotes of his meetings with such scientific giants as Einstein and Oppenheimer.
During a meeting in the ITER building, the DG, Norbert Holtkamp, Gary Johnson and Neil Calder dispensed with PowerPoint and had a focussed discussion with the Ambassador on progress at ITER. U.S. funding for Financial Years 2008 and 2009 was discussed and Stapleton was very supportive.
There was then a visit to the site guided by Francois Gauché, Head of Agence ITER France and Michel Bedoucha, Deputy Head of CEA Cadarache. The weather was dismal but the mood was bright!
Lorea Alejaldre, the 17 year old daughter of ITER Deputy Director-General Carlos Alejaldre, has initiated a "facebook" (www.facebook.com) page in order to meet other ITER children. "The idea is to get in touch with each other and to learn more about our different origins and cultures," Lorea explains.
Ten ITER children have already got in contact with Lorea via "facebook", some of them even even met for a night-out in Aix-en-Provence during their last summer vacation. This summer, Lorea prepares herself for University. "I will certainly sign in for science, but certainly not physics," the young Madrileña says. "Doing physics you have to be very bright, I believe."