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ITER NEWSLINE 87
If we can produce fusion power in a reliable and competitive way, it will be one very important part of the portfolio of measures that must be taken to meet the energy challenge. I say "if" because we are not certain that we can do it and we don't know what the competition will be or what it will cost. The role of ITER is of course to demonstrate the scientific and technical feasibility of fusion power.
Recognizing the importance of determining the viability of fusion, countries that together house over half the world's population have combined their forces to build ITER. One reason for working together is that we can share costs, because fusion development is thought to be expensive, although in fact the cost is negligible on the scale of the $5 trillion dollars that the world spends on energy every year, or the consequences in the future if we fail to meet the energy challenge. More importantly, in my opinion, by working together we can combine intellectual resources and bring the best talents together, from wherever they may be located, to work on fusion.
I said that we are not certain that fusion power will be viable, although I am optimistic. I am however 100 percent certain that we must make every effort to establish its viability, and that ITER is of vital importance for the world and for future generations.
"Energy" was the featured topic of the fourth Inside ITER seminar given by Llewellyn Smith, the prominent and world-travelling ambassador for fusion energy. "If we can produce fusion power in a reliable and competitive way, it will be one very important part of the portfolio of measures that must be taken to meet the energy challenge."
The seminar followed a round-up for the ITER staff on the outcome of the fourth ITER Council meeting that took place in the Japanese city of Mito the week before.The summary was jointly given by the Council's Chairman and the ITER Director-General, Kaname Ikeda. "The scope of ITER is set," Ikeda stressed, "everything now depends on the schedule."
In Mito, the ITER Organization had presented a proposal to the delegates from the seven ITER Member states to build ITER in stages and to have it commissioned in phases. This approach means that ITER operations will begin with First Plasma in 2018, with all vital components in place such as the vacuum vessel, the superconducting magnets that will confine the hot plasma, and the cryogenic system to cool the magnets. Over the following years all other components will gradually be added to prepare ITER for its ultimate goal: a power-producing plasma of deuterium and tritium by the end of 2026.
"Sticking to 2018 is not only politically important," Llewellyn Smith stressed, "but also important for morale." All big tokamaks have been built in stages, Ikeda pointed out. "This is a better and less risky approach. If something goes wrong, it will still be possible to get in and fix it."
In the context of the world's biggest financial crisis, the pressure was certainly on this fourth ITER Council. However, both the Director-General and the Council Chairman praised the collaborative and committed spirit of the Mito meeting. "Things are really coming together now," Llewellyn Smith said. "This relationship is working." He stressed the importance of keeping 2018 as the target for First Plasma. "The world needs to be convinced that 2018 is a realistic target. This requires a lot of hard work—both by the ITER Organization and the Domestic Agencies. They must work very closely together."
The IPT members and experts from Korea, China and the ITER Organization discussed and reviewed the progress of the design work for the new baseline of the AC/DC power converters for ITER.
Magnum-PSI is a unique experiment, specifically designed to study the processes that will take place in the ITER divertor. This is the region in the fusion experiment where the hot plasma fuel will actually come into contact with a material wall. Magnum-PSI will allow scientists to create plasma conditions of their choice and use a range of wall materials. The effect of the plasma on the wall materials can be studied in situ with a variety of advanced diagnostic tools. It is the only experiment of its kind that will be capable of actually reproducing the plasma density, temperature and magnetic field expected in the ITER divertor.
Earlier, researchers at Rijnhuizen demonstrated their ability to recreate these conditions in the Pilot-PSI experiment, a smaller forebearer of Magnum-PSI. When finished, Magnum-PSI will feature a much wider plasma beam than Pilot-PSI. This will allow the study of the "strongly coupled regime," where eroded wall material will remain in the plasma and can chemically and physically interact with the wall and plasma.
The third major milestone—the installation and testing of the superconducting magnet system—is scheduled for November 2009. At the end of 2009, the construction of Magnum-PSI should be completed and high-level commissioning and first experiments are expected to start early 2010.
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Bharat Doshi joined ITER in May as Section Leader for the Cryostat & Vacuum Vessel Pressure Suppression System (VVPSS). As the mounded dossiers on his desk attest, his first weeks on site have been extremely busy. "Our team is finalizing system requirements documents for the end of this month, before beginning the conceptual and preliminary design review process. These are necessary steps in finalizing the design of the cryostat down to the last detail before signing Procurement Arrangements in 2010." From two team members currently, staff in his Section will be added over the next months.
Bharat was trained as a mechanical engineer at Gujarat University in India. Early on, he worked on the design and development of mechanical systems for the MIG-27 fighter plane. He joined the Institute for Plasma Research's Tokamak fusion program in 1990, and contributed toward the development of two experimental tokamaks—ADITYA and SST1—following SST1 development from conceptual design through to integration.
For the last three years, Bharat was Project Manager for the cryostat and VVPSS system at the Indian Domestic Agency in Ahmedabad. He worked on developing the design and specifications for the ITER cryostat, and developed the ITER-India Quality Assurance Program Manual; India will have full responsibility for cryostat and VVPSS procurement for ITER. He collaborated closely with the ITER Organization during these years and with people who are now situated just a few doors away.
"Part of the complexity of the project is fostering efficient collaboration between the ITER Organization and the Domestic Agencies, and beyond that between the Domestic Agencies and their industrial partners. Industry needs a solid blueprint to move ahead. That is what the ITER and the Domestic Agencies are working toward now. It will take much devotion and dedication; I'm glad to be a part of such an interesting challenge."
Equipped with information researched over the internet or supplied by the German fusion research centres in Jülich and Karlsruhe, and armed with a model of the ITER Tokamak, Nicolas, Constantin, Magnus, Tobias and Frederik submitted their project—as did 4,500 other students—and made it into the final that took place in Wolfsburg last Saturday.
Selling tokamaks sounds like a rather unique business ... at least for the time being. When asked why they chose this project, 17 year-old Magnus Schückes replied: "With only two litres of water and 250 grams of minerals we can supply a four-person household with energy for one year. Our company "FusionEnergy" is producing and selling the "nucFusion Reactor" which will solve our energy problems and is based on the promising tokamak concept."
They presented their most-convincing arguments to investors at the fictional business fair, and described the process. "Fusion power plants will achieve economic and environment-friendly energy. The nucFusion reactor breeds lithium to tritium and fuses it with deuterium; helium is the result and energy is set free. For fusion to take place, high temperatures and density are necessary. With sophisticated tokamak physics and stellarator research the plasma field will effectively be locked in by strong magnets," explains Magnus, showing he did his homework and understood the concept.
And the concept paid off. Gentle on our resources, future-orientated, safe, environment-friendly: "Our future-proof Strategy: FusionEnergy" won 7th place.