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Actu & Médias


Of Interest

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Kaname Ikeda, ITER Director-General
Energy supply and climate change are two words that rank at the top of the world political agenda. It is not only due to the rising oil and gas prices that society has begun to understand the seriousness of these problems. Next month, the leaders of the world's nations will come together on the island of Hokkaido, Japan, to discuss how to tackle these two issues. It is obvious now that new energy technologies must be developed on a global scale with the necessary impact as soon as possible. And fusion certainly is one of them. Speaking not only as Director of the ITER Organization I am convinced that fusion will play a key role in the world's energy mix.

As I am writing this, the ITER Council, the Governing Board of the ITER Organization with senior representatives from the seven ITER Members - China, the European Union, India, Japan, Korea, Russia and the United States — has just finished its meeting in Aomori on the northern tip of Japan's main island Honshu. The ITER Council convened for the second time in the history of this young international organization to discuss the project's progress since the first Council meeting, the accession of Kazakhstan as an eighth Member state, and the implementation of a Test Blanket Module Program.

One of the key items on the agenda of this two-day meeting was certainly our approach to the new ITER Project Baseline based on the outcome of the extensive review of the 2001 ITER design. The Council approved the new Project Specification defining ITER's scientific goals and technical parameters and also the Overall Project Schedule with a target date of 2018 for First Plasma as reference. Regarding the Resource Estimates, the Council agreed to follow the recommendation of the Management Advisory Board (MAC) to set up an independent international group of experts, headed by Dr Frank Briscoe (EU), to assess the resource estimates as proposed by the ITER Organization.

All Members were satisfied with the progress made so far and encouraged us to maintain the momentum! This means a lot for us! I am certainly not exaggerating in saying that there was and still is a lot of pressure on all of us who have to take the necessary decisions following the comprehensive review of the ITER design. But we have to keep in mind that the outcome of this process will lead to a mature ITER design that will give us confidence of ITER achieving its goals - for the benefit of mankind.

PF insert coil before impregnation with epoxy resin.
The first tests of the PF Insert Coil at Naka have delivered encouraging results. On Monday, 23 June, the conductor was successfully taken up to an operating point of 52kA at 6.5T and 4.6K. The PF Insert Coil is made from a 40m length of conductor that corresponds very closely to the conductor to be used in the PF6 coil. It is wound as a single layer solenoid that is placed inside the bore of the CS model coil which provides the background field (about 6T). In the next few days, the operating margins at the operating points will be measured. The tests will last about eight more weeks and will include pulsed stability tests, AC losses and load cycling.

The second ITER Council meeting in Aomori, Japan.
Last week, the ITER Council, the Governing Board of the ITER Organization, convened for the second time in the history of the still young international organization. At the two-day meeting that took place in Aomori, Japan, senior representatives from the seven ITER Member states took note of the progress this "greatest science adventure of our time" has made, as ITER Director-General Kaname Ikeda said. "The ITER project successfully completed its preparatory stage and is now about to start the full-fledged implementation phase, as we witness today," Dr. Jong-Koo Park, Vice Minister of the Korean Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, stated in his opening speech.

In their opening remarks, the Heads of Delegations all stressed the importance of ITER, which has been made even more apparent by the recent rise in the price of oil. Statements such as "we owe it to the world and to future generations to succeed..." set the tone for the subsequent discussions. "At a time when stable energy supplies and the promotion of strategies to tackle climate change are topics of global concern, the world is watching the ITER project," Mr. Shingo Mimura, Governor of the Aomori Prefecture, welcomed the delegates. Implemented by seven Members that together make up half of the earth's population, ITER is utilizing "the wisdom of humankind to strive for a secure and stable energy supply."

Zoran Stancic, Deputy Director-General for Research in the European Commission and leader of the European Delegation, also stressed the importance the ITER project will play in the quest for sustainable and environmental friendly energy sources. "As the mounting pressure on conventional energy resources manifests itself in record oil prices, and the concerns over future climate trends intensify, ITER's programmatic goals become ever more vital," Stancic said. "We owe it to ourselves, to our future generations and each other and to humanity to ensure the success of our joint project."

Jong-Koo Park from Korea also left no doubt about the importance of ITER achieving its goals: "We, ladies and gentlemen, with the ITER project, are on the front lines of the struggle to solve the most important global issue of the new century. I believe the fundamental solution for these issues and the key to mankind's future sustainable development depend on the success of the ITER project. The ITER Organization should exert the utmost effort to mobilize all possible material and human resources so that the ITER project can be carried out in the most efficient way possible."

Major outcomes of the second ITER Council Meeting included progress towards an updated Baseline Design and an agreed schedule, and the decision to hold an independent review of the resource estimate for the construction period. "While dealing with a significant increase will be very difficult, the recognition that ITER must succeed, and the explicit reference in the Record of Decisions to the importance of maintaining the Project's momentum, were very encouraging," the Council Chairman, Sir Chris Llewellyn Smith, said. "I was also greatly encouraged by the Delegates' warm praise for the significant progress that the ITER Organization and the Domestic Agencies had made since the first ITER Council meeting in November 2007, which was explicitly recognized by the Science and Technology Advisory Committee and the Management Advisory Committee."

The Council approved the conditions for accession of an eighth state during the early ITER Construction Phase and also approved the start of formal interactions with Kazakhstan as a potential new Party to the ITER Agreement on this basis, subject to approval by all Member governments. It was also agreed that representatives from Kazakhstan could participate as observers in meetings convened by the ITER Organization prior to possible accession.

All the Members' representatives expressed their sympathy for the victims of the recent earthquakes in China and Japan.

Read the IC-2 Council Press Release here...

Representatives of Fusion for Energy presenting the ITER project.
The European Research and Innovation Exhibition - otherwise known as Salon Europeen de la Recherche et de l'Innovation (SERI) (See more here) - was hosted in Paris between the 6-8 June at Expo Porte de Versailles. The event brought together more than 25,000 visitors and 360 exhibitors from the field of research, education, industry, science communication and policy offering them the opportunity to debate the challenges that European research currently faces. The Environment was this year's theme and the guest of honour was Finland, one of the leading EU member states in terms of R&D investment.

SERI also proved to be a suitable occasion to raise awareness about EU research. With more than 100 debates and round table discussions taking place, the European Domestic Agency for ITER, "Fusion For Energy", was invited at the exhibition's TV set in order to explain the merits of fusion and present Europe's involvement in the ITER project.

Didier Gambier, Director of Fusion for Energy, offered a rare insight on the politics and diplomacy behind fusion research and commented on the challenges that our world economy will increasingly face if we do not take action and invest in a new energy mix. Glenn Counsell, Fusion for Energy Diagnostics Group Leader, explained the science behind fusion and was confident on the prospect that fusion will become a viable source of energy. Werner Gulden, Fusion for Energy Safety Group Leader, finally stressed the importance attached on strict safety standards and explained the way ITER takes into account environmental concerns.

Cheng Jinpei, Standing Committee Member of National People's Congress, signs the Toroidal Field Conductor Procurement Arrangement on behalf of the Chinese Domestic Agency.
Last week, the ITER Organization signed Procurement Arrangement number 6 and number 7. First, the ITER Organization and the Chinese Domestic Agency signed a Procurement Arrangement for the unit length conductors for ITER's 18 superconducting toroidal field magnets. ITER Director-General Kaname Ikeda signed the document on behalf of the ITER Organization; Cheng Jinpei, Standing Committee Member of National People's Congress, signed on behalf of the Chinese Domestic Agency.

The second Procurement Arrangement was signed between the ITER Organization and the European Domestic Agency "Fusion for Energy" for the supply of ten toroidal field coils for the ITER magnet system. Outside of the vacuum vessel, the toroidal field coils are the biggest components of the ITER machine. Japan is going to build the other nine coils to complete the system.

"The toroidal field coils are an integral part of the ITER machine," Neil Mitchell, Head of the ITER Magnets Division, explains. "They weigh about 350 tons and have to come with an accuracy of 3 to 5 mm."

We work at Cadarache, but ITER's official address is Saint-Paul-lez-Durance. So what exactly is Cadarache?

The first mention of the place we know as Cadarache appears in 1089, in a cartulary of Saint Victor Abbey in Marseilles. The name is spelled "Cadaraia" and refers to an estate the abbey possessed near the confluence of the Durance and Verdon rivers. Two centuries later, "Cadaraia" had transformed into "Cadaracha", later "Cadaracho" and eventually into the modern form "Cadarache". Etymologists agree that the name has its origin in "cataracta", Latin for waterfall.

For more than a thousand years Cadarache has referred to an agricultural domain, one of largest in Provence; to a forest, one of the last remnants of the woodlands with covered southern Gaul in Roman times; to a castle, erected before the year 1000, and, for the past 50 years, to the largest of CEA research centres.

But Cadarache never was a town, not even a village or a hamlet — this is why our mail has to be addressed to Saint-Paul-lez-Durance...

It has been 25 years since JET landed on a large plot of farmland near Culham. The arrival of this mighty machine brought with it jobs and international prestige for the region, but also, more importantly, hope for a world just starting to come to terms with the fact that fossil fuels have only a limited life.

On 25 June, JET will celebrate the 25th anniversary of its first plasma.

Read more here...

The ITER All-Stars Band
The trees were trembling and the cicadas were silenced as the band was playing and the crowd was swinging. It sounded like Woodstock ... it looked like Woodstock ... but it wasn't Woodstock, it was ITER!

Under the pine trees of the woods of Cadarache, the ITER crowd gathered together to have a break from science and celebrate summer and World Music Day. A giant picnic area with a big podium in the middle set the scene for another ITER get-together to meet, chat and toast with old and new colleagues. But there was more to it, it was also the birth of a new band, The ITER Band.

It all started with a group of ITER people, discovering a mutual passion for music, deciding to give playing together a try, and it evolved into a fully-fledged orchestra with an accomplished repertoire. They call themselves The ITER Band and their one-and-a-half hour concert truly made ITER swing.

Thanks so much to them for their time, effort, enthusiasm and great music, they really made the Summer Party a big success! In an email from all the secretaries it says: "We would like to thank musicians and singers for this wonderful afternoon. We all enjoyed this very special moment."

In next week's Newsline, we will include audio recordings of each performer, as well as video clips from the event.

Six volunteers test the equipment prior to deployment.
It is not as if we are preparing for the Tour de France, but the three bicycles purchased a couple of months ago proved incredibly popular. Too popular in fact. They are all back to the repair shop for maintenance, but upon their return they will have company!

Another six bicycles have been bought to help employees navigate between buildings while staying fit. And having tried them myself, they are comfortable, incredibly fast (depends on the driver, of course) and very cool.

The bicycles are at the disposal of all ITER employees and bicycle racks will be installed in front of 525 A,B and C in the coming weeks. To make sure that everybody can benefit from these bicycles, please treat them with the love and care they deserve to stay in good condition.

Magali Benchikhoune
What struck young Magali Benchikhoune when she visited a nuclear power plant with her high school class, years ago, was "how clean, how organized, how under control everything was." Nuclear energy spoke to a deep part of the young student's personality: it could be "useful", it could help make the world better and, even more important, it could make life fun and "interesting".

So when Magali, by then a chemical engineer with a doctorate in organic synthesis and enzymatic chemistry, decided to choose a career, it was on CEA's door she went knocking. "I started working in waste management at Fontenay-aux-Roses in 1990. The place is just five miles from Notre-Dame-de-Paris... You'd be in your lab, dealing with nuclear waste, and you could almost feel the capital's life pulsing and throbbing just outside the fence."

Nuclear research at Fontenay was definitely clean, organized and under control. But there was more to it: "What I discovered there was how rich human relations can be. In the nuclear world, you cannot work alone. So you develop a strong interest for what "the other one" is doing, because it is very closely connected to your own job."

Magali was to spend 17 years in fission, going from waste management in Fontenay to nuclear fuel research in Marcoule and Cadarache. "At one point, she confesses, I started feeling an urge for renewed pressure and challenges. I wanted a change in scale..."

In fission, Magali had operated "hot cells" of 400 cubic-metres capacity. The one she's designing here at ITER is six times bigger: "It will handle components the size of a school bus! It's bold and fascinating." The main function of the Hot Cell Facility (HCF), a stand-alone, four-floor building located to the north of the future tokamak, is to repair, refurbish and test components and equipment which have become activated through the fusion process. The HCF building should be completed by 2013.

Working for ITER as Section Leader of Hot Cell & and Radwaste Services Integration — there are only two women working at this level in the IO — is being part of a long chain. "There is no frustration in knowing that someone else will be operating this installation ten or twelve years from now. On the contrary: I'm working hard for those who will come after me, so that they can have as much pleasure in the future as I'm having in the present."

And when the time comes for what she calls the "third half-time" of her life, she already knows what she'll be doing: she'll be raising horses, these "magnificent beings" who do not ask personal questions.

ITER is making progress, and so is another fusion project: HiPER, the UK-led European High Power Laser Energy Research Facility, which will demonstrate the feasibility of laser driven fusion as a future energy source. HiPER has just completed a two-year design study involving senior scientists from 12 nations.

The conclusions of this study allowed HiPER to be included in the European roadmap for future large-scale science facilities. HiPER is now preparing for a three-year project to resolve all the issues in preparation for construction: financial, legal, strategic, technical, etc. On 5-6 June, the Executive Board met for the first time, one member being ITER Deputy Director-General Carlos Alejaldre. Why build HiPER if ITER is already being built, says one of the FAQs on the project's homepage? The project's coordinator, Mike Dunne, from the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory gives the answer: "Fusion represents a very attractive energy source for the future in that the fuel supply is almost inexhaustible and there are no carbon emissions or long lived radioactive isotopes produced. ITER represents one route for producing fusion but it is sensible to investigate other options to ensure fusion technology can be fully developed to meet our long-term needs. Multiple routes exist for fossil fuel sources (oil, gas, coal, etc) and renewable sources (wind, wave, solar, etc). Similarly, we must plan for multiple routes for our long-term energy requirements."

For more information, click here...

A frequent scene in the woods of Cadarache in the years following the French Revolution. © CEA
Protected by a double electrical fence, patrolled night and day by armed Force Locale de Securite (FLS) agents, Cadarache is a very safe place. But it wasn't always so.

Up to the early 19th century, the mere mention of the name conjured alarm and dread: the woods, vast, deep and dark, were home to gangs of thieves and bandits who made a living ambushing and, more often than not, murdering the imprudent traveller who ventured into these parts with an inadequate escort. Under Count Raymond Beranger V, who ruled over Provence in the early 13th century, merchants were strictly forbidden to ride through the forest. But for many, there was no other choice: from Aix-en-Provence, only one road led to Rians, Vinon, and Greoux.

_Igm1_Violence peaked in the years following the Revolution. Convicts and galley slaves from nearby Toulon and Marseilles had been freed en masse, and hundreds of them had found shelter in the thick woods of Cadarache. On "the 14th of Frimaire, year VII of the Republic", that is December 4, 1798, an infantry platoon, on its way to Digne where it was to deliver state functionaries their wages, was ambushed by a group of more than 60 of these brigands. The sergeant was killed, four men badly wounded and the wages stolen.

Six months later, in Thermidor (August), the same or perhaps another band, set an ambuscade for "six travellers coming back from the Rians fair", and relieved them of all their belongings. On Vendemiaire, 23rd, year IX (or 5 October 1800), "a very considerable group of armed men" raided the village of Saint-Paul, captured the local detachment of the National Guard, broke into the mayor's house, tore down the furniture and kidnapped his 12 year old son, whom they forced to lead them into... the wine cellar.

As in the rest of the country, violence in and around the Cadarache woods lasted until Napoleon seized power, reorganized the police and administration and brought an end to anarchy. In 1805, the Revolutionary Calendar was abolished; soon, the owners of Cadarache castle reclaimed their property and the woods became home to a new, more peaceful, population: charcoal burners whose clearings and huts have been recently brought to light by the archaeological survey conducted on the ITER construction site.

The 35th European Physical Society Conference on Plasma Physics was held in Hersonissos, Crete, Greece last week. Of particular interest to all those following ITER progress was the presentation by Dr. Paul Thomas "After the ITER Design Review" in a special ITER session Tuesday evening. Paul — who chaired Working Group 1 (Physics and Requirements) and is now with the European ITER Domestic Agency (Fusion for Energy) in Barcelona — reviewed the organisational and managerial background to the Design Review (DR).

After the DR in November 2007, a number of the more complex and/or controversial recommendations were picked up during the second meeting of the Science and Technolgy Advisory Committee. The committee requested that work continued until the issues were resolved. The work on these has continued with a major review by STAC at the end of last month. At this time there has been a satisfactory outcome for most, if not all, issues. In some cases where the solutions have not been finalized, plans have been established to resolve the issues.

Looking forward, he noted that a first draft of the ITER Research Plan (IRP) has been issued for consideration by the STAC-4 and MAC-3 meetings. One of the objectives of the DR was to enhance the members' recognition of their 'ownership' of the project. The DR and follow-on activities have made a good start in achieving this objective, but this will be a continuing process.

Examples of the commitment of the parties' programmes to address ITER issues were plentiful. For example, Dr. George Sips reported on the verification of the requirements for the ITER breakdown and current rise phase in dedicated experiments at JET, ASDEX Upgrade and others. These new results show that it is possible to stay within the ITER design parameters, provide some additional heating is used to assist the breakdown phase and current rise. There were many other reports on modelling of all ITER reference scenarios, H-mode access and pedestal characteristics, progress on exploring ELM and disruption mitigation techniques, tungsten operation, etc. The challenge for the IO will be to digest all of this information. This effort will be strengthened by the new partnership between ITER and the International Tokamak Physics Activity (ITPA).

Provençal life under Provençal sun
Entitled "a Cezanne Picnic", an outing was organized by the Welcome Office of the Agence ITER France and provided the ITER spouses with the opportunity to get to know each other while sharing a typically Provencal activity. Artistic inspiration was helped along by a wonderful potluck picnic where all discovered the foods of different countries.