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Actu & Médias


Of Interest

See archived articles


Jerry Sovka
Works are progressing on the ITER site at full speed with the close collaboration of ITER's Civil Construction and Site Support Office, Agence ITER France and the European Domestic Agency. These three parties who are collectively responsible for the specification, design and delivery of the basic site infrastructure, meet on a monthly basis to ensure that the works continue to progress in accordance with the required schedules.

Currently the major and most impressive activity is the site leveling which will provide the 80 hectare level platform on which most of the ITER facility will be built. Over 700,000 cubic metres of rock has been removed by blasting and it is expected that the remaining 1,000,000 cubic metres to be removed by blasting will be complete in early 2009. Integrated with the platform leveling work is a new campaign of site investigation that will ensure that the best possible knowledge of the rock conditions is obtained prior to the commencement of building construction. In addition, fantastic progress has been made on completing the many kilometres of access roads, drainage pipes, retention basins and other infrastructure required to support the construction of the ITER facility.

The JWS 2 temporary building which will house 300 ITER staff is almost complete. The completion of this building, which will be fully commissioned by the end of October 2008, is a milestone in ITER's history as it will be the first building to be occupied on the ITER site and will serve as the ITER Headquarters until the completion of the permanent office building in 2011.

The design of the permanent Headquarters of the ITER Organization is also progressing at great pace. The Architectural Drawings are complete and the Calls for tenders for the construction of the building will be launched in early 2009 with construction expected to commence in the second half of the year.

Acknowledgement is due to the civil engineering teams of ITER, Agence ITER France and the European Domestic Agency as well as the numerous companies who have been involved in the site preparation activities. Their hard work and dedication means that the construction of ITER is now well underway and we all look forward to the next milestone of seeing the Tokamak Excavation works commencing in 2009.

Reducing the costs without increasing the risks,was the goal of the first Value Engineering workshop
Reducing the costs without increasing the risks, while at the same time improving the performance and the quality of the ITER buildings, sounds like squaring the circle. "In a way it is", says Steve Kautz, one of two engineers from Jacobs Ltd. who acted as facilitator during last week's Value Engineering Workshop. "But simply taking off the top of the Tokamak building to save money is clearly not an option."

Two dozen representatives of the ITER Organization, most of them Department Heads and Responsible Officers, as well as 16 independent experts from the Nuclear Civil Engineering Industry, heavy lifting industry, civil engineers from CERN and the European Domestic Agency "Fusion for Energy" met last week in the Aquabella Hotel in Aix-en-Provence in order to validate the ITER building plans and to develop alternative methods of achieving them.

"ITER definitely is a big project", Kautz, an experienced Value Engineering analyst, summarized the meeting — "not only in its physical sense. Bringing all these different personalities together is surely a challenge of its own."

Special focus was put on the big issues such as the Tokamak complex, the Assembly Hall and the Hot Cell Building. Within the next two weeks a study report is to be issued including the detailed recommendations.

These recommendations will then be studied to see whether they can be taken forward for incorporation into the baseline without compromising the overall schedule — "a bit of a challenge" states Tim Watson from the Civil Engineering and Construction Office who was responsible for organizing the workshop.

PF insert coil before impregnation with epoxy resin
The ITER Organization with the Japanese and European Domestic Agencies, represented by Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) and Fusion for Energy (F4E) with the support of the European Commission, respectively, have jointly tested a prototype Niobium(Nb)-Titanium(Ti) superconductor for the ITER Poloidal Field (PF) coils. The test coil using the Nb-Ti conductor achieved stable operation at 52 kA and 6.4 Tesla, emulating the operating conditions of the PF coils in the ITER tokamak.

Cedric Chaumette (left) from the OSIATIS team and
webmaster Topher White in the server room
No email. No internet. No website. No access to documents stored on the server. Last Wednesday, the ITER server crashed leaving the Organization homebase in Cadarache disconnected from the outside world — for 24 long hours. The only communication gateway was the good old telephone.

As the exchange of information and data via the usual line proved impossible, groups gathered in the corridors, speculating on what might have happened and on how long this interruption would last. And on how dependent on modern web-based communication tools we have become.

But what exactly happened? "A series of coincidences", is the short answer from Hans-Werner Bartels, Senior Technical Officer for Information Technology. The long version: that morning, a thunderstorm passed over Cadarache. One lightning strike must have hit the power circuit of the CEA installation which led to a power cut. In the Tore Supra building, where the French tokamak's and the 150 ITER servers are housed, the lights went out.

"Usually, a short power cut is not a problem", explains Bartels. "The nuclear installations on the CEA site have generators to step in — not so Tore Supra. The only backup for the fusion device are some UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supplies) batteries that can feed the demand for about 30 minutes. The only problem was, that the power switch that should have flicked over from the grid to the batteries, did not work. "This has not happened in over 20 years", says Bartels, who, together with seven members of his team, worked until well after midnight trying to fix the problem.

"Lesson learned", he sums up. "We will have to make sure that we don't run into this same embarrassing situation again. Therefore we should make sure that we have a diesel generator as a back up system for the new office building where the new servers will be stored. Also we are currently discussing with CEA to keep the servers here on site, as a second back-up system."

As "bad times have a scientific value", to quote the American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson, some colleagues used the exceptional peace and quiet to write that long postponed paper, or to clean up their desks. Emerson is right, something good always comes out of the bad...

It has probable happened to all of us, calling somebody by the wrong name and causing great amusement or embarrassment because you have mistaken Mister A for Monsieur B.

Well, it won't happen again in our Organization because we will soon have the pictures of every ITER employee in the ITER Phonebook for reference.

Thanks to the support of IT, every ITER employee can now take her or his own picture with the webcam and load it into the Phonebook.

This will only take a couple of minutes if you use this link to find the user guide here.

You can now pick your own time and make sure you look at your best when you take your own photograph.

So please take five minutes in the coming days to take your own picture into the Phonebook. This should just be a plain head shot, nothing fancy or funny, where you are easily recognizable.

We are counting on you to make sure the ITER Phonebook soon becomes the place where we can all check out "who is who" in our fast-growing organization.

It is big and it is blue... the Reacteur d'Essai (RES)
Photos courtesy of CEA
If you ever wondered what is inside this big blue building you pass every morning on the way to work: it will soon house the Reacteur d'Essai (RES), a fourth generation naval propulsion test reactor.

Developing reactors for the French Navy was one of the main reasons why Cadarache was established in 1959. General de Gaulle wanted to move fast and a first on-shore prototype, whose descendants were to operate in the early generation of French ballistic submarines, was operational in 1964.

Construction of the RES will be completed by 2010. It will be "a research installation" more than an actual prototype: It will act as support for the French nuclear fleet and contribute to the training of their officers; test new fuels and new core architectures; validate computational models and simulations and "qualify new concepts". Among them, the Barracuda-class fast attack submarines, a programme with a price tag close to 8 billion euros.

Robert Arnoux
You may wonder who is the author of the entertaining articles on local matters in Newsline. Robert Arnoux works part-time in the Communication team and knows this area well. Born in Château-Arnoux, a small village some 30 minutes drive north of Cadarache, he went to school in Sisteron, where in his last year he was awarded an American Field Service scholarship that enabled him to spend a year in Westchester County, New York, that not only "opened up his mind" to a very different culture from France in the early 70s, but was also the basis of his excellent English. After this he went to live on a tiny kibbutz in Israel on the Syrian/Jordanian border, which he recalls as an intense experience. Having discovered one aspect of Middle East reality, he then discovered the Arab world and back in France he studied Arabic. He then decided to become a journalist to carry on exploring the world and studied at the Ecole Supérieure de Journalisme in Paris. Narrowly missing out on starting his journalistic career in Israel (the paper went bankrupt!) Robert started work on the provincial newspaper that was the earlier version of today's "La Provence", first in the bureaux in Aix and Arles and then as a staff writer covering stories such as the war in Lebanon, American presidential elections or the collapse of the Berlin Wall. Interviewing the Dalai Lama — to whom he gave his personal copy of "Tintin in Tibet" — was a particularly special event for him. He developed a passion for Armenia when covering the earthquake there in 1988, which he has maintained along with his passion for explaining things — including scientific subjects, favourites being fusion and astronomy — in a comprehensible way. He has been writing stories on Cadarache topics for over 25 years now, with his first article on fusion being published in the mid 80s. He co-authored a book on ITER in French with fusion scientist Jean Jacquinot "ITER, le chemin des étoiles?" But as he says, he loves writing in English and Newsline gives him a chance to do just that.

The plasma-facing components of the ITER Divertor, together with the Toroidal Field Magnet Conductors and the Blanket Modules, require a qualification of each of the seven ITER Parties prior to starting of the procurement.

This means that each Party, that is allocated to one of these critical procurement packages, must first "qualify" by demonstrating its technical capability to carry out the procurement with the required quality, and in a timely manner. Regarding the Divertor, this qualification is achieved via the successful manufacturing of medium-sized "Qualification Prototypes" (QPs), which are then subject to high heat flux performance tests in the electron beam facility Tsefey-M located at the Efremov Institute, St. Petersburg, RF.

In order to enable the testing of these medium-size component (about half a meter long), the Tesefey-M facility was substantially upgraded during the last year. The maximum power delivered by the electron beam gun was increased by more than a factor of 3, leading to a new value of 200 kW. The primary cooling circuit was also modified to simulate the same hydraulic parameters (temperature and pressure) of the ITER divertor.

The Russian Domestic Agency (RF DA) is allocated with the procurement of the so-called "Dome" component of the ITER divertor, which consists of a plasma-facing part, made of tungsten tiles joined onto copper alloy substrate, and a steel support structure. The performance requirement, specified by ITER for the dome QP, are 1000 cycles at 3 MW/m^2, plus 1000 cycles at 5 MW/m^2 (absorbed surface heat flux).

As planned, the RF DA has delivered its first QP in July 2008, which was high heat flux tested in August 2008. The test results were above any optimistic expectations. The QP successfully withstood the specified design requirements and its "health" was so good that it was decided to "double the hit" on it. Therefore it was decided to continue the test at double design heat flux, namely 10 MW/m2. The component could still survive additional 400 cycles at this extreme heat load.

Pumping it up... the ITER Vacuum Group poses with the new handbook
ITER will have one of the largest and the most complex high vacuum system ever built, so to scale up to ITER from existing and past fusion devices, orders of magnitude improvements in vacuum reliability are required to achieve the ITER goal of high availability. The ITER Vacuum Group has published a handbook that outlines the necessary rules in design, manufacturing, assembly, and handling to achieve and maintain the different ITER vacuums. "This handbook is issued as a high level project requirements document as it is imperative that the rules and guidance contained in this handbook are followed by the International Organisation, the Domestic Agencies and Industries to ensure ITER operations are ultimately successful", it says in the preface. "In addition this handbook provides significant guides and helpful information which can be used in the production of procurement specifications for ITER components."

"It has been a tremendous pleasure working with you all, the atmosphere at Culham is fantastic."

On 5 September, Chris Llewellyn Smith, Chairman of the ITER Council, retired from his post as Director of UKAEA Culham. Since his appointment in 2003 Chris has worked tirelessly to promote fusion both within Europe and internationally. Two of Chris' many achievements, outlined by UKAEA Chief Executive Norman Harrison at the celebratory lunch, were the contribution that he made in getting Government Chief Scientist Sir David King's fusion fast track report accepted within the European community as part of the fusion programme and his election as Chairman of the ITER Council. Norman also spoke of Chris' role as an International "cheerleader" in support of fusion, a theme taken up by EFDA-JET Associate Leader Francesco Romanelli, who spoke of Chris' skill as an advocate for fusion:

"Chris as the face of European fusion acted with passion and effectiveness in presenting our field to the outside world and made many people aware of the progress made in fusion."

New Culham Director Steve Cowley described Chris as: "the proverbial hard act to follow" and wished him good luck with retirement.

Sir Chris thanked the speakers for their kind words and comments and said: "it has been a tremendous pleasure working with you all, the atmosphere at Culham is fantastic. Looking to the future you are in very good hands with Steve, I am sure he will do a terrific job."

Looking forward to Chris' own future, he will continue to have an important role in fusion both as Chairman of the ITER Council and as Chairman of the senior European committee on fusion.

Last week, Octavi Quintana Trias, Director for EURATOM at the Directorate General for Research, visited Cadarache to meet and hold discussions with the Commission staff working for ITER. "Be assured that we will do everything possible to make ITER become a success", Trias said. After the meeting he took a short tour around the construction site which left him deeply impressed by its sheer size.

The review group including ITER Korea staff along with its senior management during the 2008 Interim ITER Project Progress Review
On 22 August, a Project Progress Review Meeting was organized by the Korean Science and Engineering Foundation (KOSEF). The meeting took place in Yuseong near the NFRI, home of KSTAR, and was attended by selected reviewers from different academies, industry and national research institutions, officials from the Korea Science and Engineering Foundation (KOSEF) and the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology as well as collaborators and staff members from ITER Korea who gave presentations on the current status of the ITER project and the progress of the KO-DA.