There have been many tokamaks in the course of Songtao Wu's life: some which were never made, some his team designed almost from start to finish; some he built for others, and the ITER Project, of course, which he joined exactly a year ago.
Songtao, 47, was born in Hefei, a city of three million inhabitants located some 600 miles west of Shanghai. The city's importance in Chinese scientific research is second only to Beijing. It is home to four national institutes, the Institute of Plasma Physics of the Chinese Academy of Science (CAS) among them.
"My mother worked for 20 years as a chemist at the Optical Fine Mechanical Institute of CAS and, as a child, all the adults around me were scientists. I was like a sponge when it came to science, I'd absorb everything. I was determined to study science, but until entering university in 1979, I didn't know precisely what major I would choose." Family tradition led him to optics and listening to Academician Huo Yuping's conferences steered him to fusion. "At that time, China had a big National Project, the "8th Project," to design and build a large tokamak. But unfortunately, the device was never built."
Another, less ambitious project, HTCD, was to meet the same fate in the following years. "China," says Songtao "was not as rich then as it is now..."
The opportunity to work on a large tokamak came in 1990 with the "transfer" to China of the Soviet T-7, the first superconducting tokamak with toroidal field coils, which had been in operation at the Kurchatov Institute from 1979 to 1985. In Hefei, T-7 was to be "completely rebuilt" with a new vacuum vessel and additional ports added.
China's ambition for a truly national tokamak wasn't completely fulfilled by the revamping of the old T-7, by then renamed HT-7 ("H" for Hefei). "In 1995, we started studying a new proposition, still based on T-7 and called HT-7 U, for upgrade. But we ended up building something completely new."
Songtao, by then, was in charge of the Tokamak Division of Hefei's Fusion Lab. "With a design team of 27, we managed to complete the EAST tokamak design, finish the construction and assembly by 2005, and get the first plasma in 2006. During that busy time, we could even afford to divert seven people to design and build HELIMAK for the Fusion Research Center at the University of Texas. All of this in two and a half years and within budget."
By 2006, EAST had produced its first plasma and joining ITER was the next logical step for Songtao—another device in a life devoted to building tokamaks.
Hiroshi Matsumoto, head of the ITER Director-General's Office, and Alan Costley, Head of the Diagnostics Division, travelled to Canberra, Australia from 1-3 February to explore, in conjunction with Australian scientists and representatives from Government, the ways in which it may be possible for Australia to contribute its scientific expertise to the ITER Project.
Australia has a long and very successful history in fusion research, and a significant fusion facility—the H-1NF—is located at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra. An area of particular expertise for the Australian researchers has been the development and implementation of diagnostic systems, and this area took centre stage at the meetings in Canberra.
Mr. Costley outlined the current status of the ITER Project and emphasized the new diagnostics systems that have been introduced following the ITER design review. These include systems for measuring divertor and first-wall erosion, dust, and retained tritium—all areas that could benefit from Australian know-how. Mr. Matsumoto explained that Australia, as a non-ITER party, could potentially contribute to ITER by concluding a Cooperation Agreement with the ITER Organization, subject to unanimous approval by the ITER Council.
Representatives from the Australian fusion science community reiterated their goal of aligning future R&D efforts with work going on at ITER. Negotiations will continue in Australia to secure financing for a possible contribution. Mr. Matsumoto expressed support for the Australian initiatives, noting that the ITER Project has become a magnet for pooling the world's excellence in fusion research.
"Where there's a will, there's a way," as the proverb goes. The long and indeed winding road on which the biggest components of the ITER machine will travel is making good progress. The ITER Itinerary spans 106 kilometres from the port in Fos-sur-Mer to the construction site in Cadarache. Along its length, roundabouts have been "cut in half and flattened" to allow the special convoys to cross; electricity and telephone pylons have been moved; and bridges have been reinforced or rebuilt for the heavy cargo. The large flatbed transport vehicles which will carry the machine components will only accept curves in the road of less than 10 cm.
The ITER construction site is not exactly situated next to the sea. Finding a feasible solution to get the ITER coils and the vessel to the construction site without scratches or bruises posed some challenges to the logistics team involved in the site studies back in 2001. "We investigated every possible option," explains Akko Maas, a member of the ITER Project Office and part of the site study team at that time. "We investigated transport by helicopter or zeppelin, even a hovercraft along the Durance River was examined."
About 200 very exceptional convoys will travel the ITER Itinerary over the first five years of the construction phase, bypassing 16 villages and crossing two motorways (A7 and A51). Sixteen roundabouts and 24 bridges have been modified to receive the exceptional size and weight of some of the components. The nine parts of the vacuum vessel, for example, or the nineteen toroidal field coils are among the 200 components with an individual weight (including the transport vehicle) of up to 850 tonnes, and a total width of 9 metres. Once loaded onto special flatbed transporters, these components will travel by night at slow speeds in order to minimize disturbance.
Roadwork along the ITER Itinerary is under the responsibility of France, whereas the transportation of components between Fos and Cadarache will be financed by Europe. Work is closely followed by the ITER Transport Itinerary Coordination Group (ITICG), chaired by Akko, with participation from ITER, the European Domestic Agency, Agence Iter France and Mission ITER.
National heritage is something the French take very seriously. All through the country, more than 43,000 monuments are considered "historical" and protected as such.
For most of them, whether castles, cathedrals, bridges or parks, this status and privilege do not come as a surprise. For some it does.
Take for instance the EDF power plant in Jouques, located less than one kilometre south of the bridge in Mirabeau. Most of us drive by it every day. It's not just any 62 MW, three-turbine power-plant ... it is one with an architectural touch. Jean Crozet, is the architect from Marseille who designed the building and its strange, shark-like bridge crane, working hard to achieve perfect integration into the landscape.
The plant was built in 1958-59 as part of the grand hydroelectric development project of the Durance Valley. It bears witness to this colossal work, which tamed the river, brought a regular flow of irrigation water to 150,000 hectares of agricultural land and provided the national grid with a yearly input of 7 billion KWh (25 percent of the PACA region's present electricity needs).
For fifty years, the Jouques power plant has stood as a landmark on the road from Aix to Manosque. In 1989 it was declared a "Historical Monument" and in 2001 was awarded the label "Patrimoine du XXe siècle" ("20th Century Heritage").
On 13 February, three Korean researchers from Kyungpook National University came to visit ITER. In collaboration with IRFM (Institut de Recherche sur la Fusion Magnétique) and Agence ITER France, they visited the Tore Supra facility and the ITER construction site. They also met with other Korean researchers. Although the sun is radiant and the sky bright blue, winter, with its seasonal viruses, is not over yet. The most common viruses at this time of year include viral respiratory infections or gastro-intestinal diseases accompanied by high fevers.
Viruses are primarily transmitted via contaminated surfaces and direct person-to-person contact. A major factor is the close proximity of people to each other. Here are some suggestions for minimizing your risk of seasonal infection:
Exposure avoidance—Sick people should avoid well people, and vice versa. Cough or sneeze into disposable tissues. Wash hands frequently. Disinfect frequently used surfaces between uses.
Self care—Rest. If your temperature is 38 degrees Celsius or more, use a fever reducer. If you are vomiting, perspiring or have diarrhoea, it is necessary to replace water loss with fluids. Hydration is also useful in respiratory infections to help thin mucous. Start re-hydration with water and move to sugar-containing drinks, especially if solid food is not tolerated. When able, try small amounts of bland solid foods, and then gradually return to your normal diet.
Outside help—Seek professional help if you have trouble breathing, a severe headache or stiff neck, severe weakness or dizziness, an extremely high fever or a fever that lasts more than three days.
He does not often speak it anymore, but Hausa, one of the most important African languages, is Yuri Balasanov's second language. Yuri comes from a family of diplomats and grew up in Moscow. He did a fair amount of travelling as a child, and when he chose to study Foreign Relations in Moscow, it came as no surprise to his family. His specialization was Africa and his thesis was titled "Political and Economic Aspects of Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Power in Africa." After a year spent at the Russian Embassy in Sierra Leone he realized that the African climate did not fully agree with him. Africa, thus, would not be part of his future; nuclear power, however, would.
Back in Moscow, Yuri joined the USSR Atomic Energy Committee and was responsible for international relations within the Division of International Organizations. Several years of work in Vienna at the International Atomic Energy Agency followed, during which Yuri witnessed the conception of ITER from up close. In 1989 he became directly involved in ITER development, and in1994 he actually started working for ITER and moved to San Diego. He spent five years there, as head of human resources (HR). He moved to Garching, Germany in 2000 after the US withdrew from the ITER program.
When Cadarache was selected as host location for ITER, Yuri became one of the early recruits on site, arriving in December 2006 to help set up the Human Resources Division. As Senior HR Administrator, he is currently responsible for the recruitment process within the Tokamak Department, and for the Monaco Fellowship Program and for visiting researchers. He is also in charge of global charts and statistics concerning the ITER staff. "Seeing ITER develop from an idea to a reality has been fascinating," says Yuri, "but helping to find the right people to move the project further and build the machine is even more exciting."
"This is a clear signal that we are entering the production phase," remarked Arnaud Devred, ITER section leader for the superconducting magnets, after launching the ITER conductor database last Friday. The database will help the ITER Organization and the six Domestic Agencies involved in producing the conductors to monitor the strand/cable/jacket and conductor production. "It will also enable us to handle the thousands of control points electronically and in a time-efficient manner," Devred explained.
The conductor database is modelled after a similar database developed by CERN for monitoring conductor production at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). Its architecture and specifications were developed with strong support from CERN through the CERN/ITER collaboration. Development was then taken over by the ITER IT Department. "It is a nice example of tight inter-department collaboration within the Organization," says Devred. "The principal investigator in IT is Carlo Capuano and his correspondent in Tokamak is Kazuka Seo, who has been working with us for a year through a contract with the Japanese Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA)." The database relies on the powerful ITER collaborative platform architecture and provides easy interface for the users, while maintaining very tight security of the data since it will include commercial information."
A fusion reactor is frankly difficult to move and thus not very handy when it comes to promoting fusion research to a larger public. This is why the European Fusion Development Agreement, in short EFDA, set up a road show that has attracted many thousands of people around Europe—junior and senior—since its inception.
The Fusion Expo is a traveling exhibition designed to be accessible to non-scientists. In a clear and simple way, it explains the fundamentals of fusion, describes Europe's fusion research facilities, introduces the ITER Project, and looks ahead to the construction of a working fusion power plant. Fusion is presented as an environmentally acceptable, safe and sustainable energy technology.
The exhibition is financed by EFDA and the European Commission. Two years ago, the Expo was entirely revamped and modernized to make it an even more effective tool. Since October 2008, the Expo has been the responsibility of the Slovenian Fusion Association. The next exhibition will be held in Ljubljana, Slovenia, from the 9-20 March.
On 11 February, HSH Prince Albert II personally congratulated the first ITER Monaco Postdoctoral Fellows funded by the Principality of Monaco at a lunch hosted by the Prince in the Palais Princier. The Fellows were chosen from the 28 applicants from the ITER Members and have started work at the ITER Organization in Cadarache.
The ITER Monaco Postdoctoral Fellows are:
Sophie Carpentier, from France, who will work on plasma-wall interaction physics; American Matthew Jewell will work on superconducting magnets; Junghee Kim, from Korea, will work on plasma diagnostics; Russian Evgeny Veschev, will work on energetic particle physics and Axel Winter, from Germany will work on plasma control.
Axel Winter expressed his excitement at working for one of the biggest scientific projects currently under construction in the world. "For me working for ITER is a real challenge. The combination of research in physics and engineering work in an international environment convinced me to apply for the Monaco Fellowship. Coming from a different field of physics, the fellowship will offer me the possibility to gain experience in fusion research and together with my background in accelerator physics to contribute to the success of ITER."
ITER Director-General Kaname Ikeda commented: "The Partnership Arrangement with the Principality of Monaco has allowed us to start developing an important aspect of the ITER Project—the training of the next generation of fusion scientists and engineers. We have been fortunate to attract a very talented group of applicants from across the ITER Members' communities."
The Partnership Arrangement set up these five Postdoctoral Fellowships together with the establishment of an annual conference on ITER related research was signed in January 2008. The Principality contributes EUR 400,000 for five Fellowships every two years over a ten year period, enabling five young scientists from the seven ITER Member countries or from the Principality of Monaco to be trained over two years in research areas related to the ITER Project.
David Campbell, a senior scientist in the ITER Organization who was involved in the selection process said: "It has been a great pleasure interacting with these young people during the selection procedure and appreciating the inspiration they derive from ITER's goal of demonstrating the scientific and technological feasibility of fusion energy."
Representatives from the German Consulate in Marseille, the German Embassy in Paris, German industry, and the management team of Kraftanlagen Heidelberg above the ITER platform, joined by Norbert Holtkamp, Deputy Director-General at ITER, (third from right) and Francois Gauché, Director-General of Agence ITER France (eighth from left).
On 12 January, Wilhem Späth, German Consul in Marseille, Jeannette Tümer, German Consul Deputy in Marseille and Hinrich Thölken, Economic Advisor at the German Embassy in Paris, visited ITER and met with Norbert Holtkamp, Deputy Director-General. Representatives from German industry and the management team of the firm Kraftanlagen Heidelberg also attended this visit.
Representatives of the Embassy and Consulate began with a visit to the International School of Manosque where they met Director Jean- Paul Clément. Back at the ITER site, Francois Gauché (Director of Agence ITER France) presented the work-in-progress. Norbert Holtkamp then made a presentation on the ITER project. Introductions with German ITER staff followed, and one part of the group went on to visit the Tore Supra at Cadarache.