The Department for Central Engineering & Plant Support (CEP) has made good progress in the last few months, including the signature of the Tokamak Cooling Water System Procurement Arrangement—the first phased Procurement Arrangement in our Department. We are pushing hard to finalize the additional Procurement Arrangements for the steady state (SSEN) and pulsed power (PPEN) electrical networks, the component and chilled water systems (CCWS) and the heat rejection system (HRS) this year.
CEP is currently working on other high-priority tasks such as the Preliminary Safety Report (RPrS) update—part of ITER's nuclear licensing process—as well as support for building Procurement Arrangements, Baseline documentation, the resource-loaded schedule, and the risk assessment and mitigation plan. This work should be finished in two to three months time to meet the ITER Organization construction schedule. In light of this objective, all the CEP technical groups regularly meet with the Responsible Officers in the Safety, Building and Project Offices to update and finalize the input documents. The RPrS encompasses a broad range of issues including tritium safety, detritiation, radwaste treatment, earthquake and fire safety; some of which require associated R&D tasks to satisfy the requests from the French nuclear regulator.
The ITER Council endorsed the phased approach to the completion of ITER construction and the target date for first plasma of the end of 2018, while maintaining planned operation with deuterium and tritium fuels for 2026. Following this decision, the Integrated Project Schedule (IPS) is currently being updated at the system level in accordance with the changed schedule.
A series of conceptual design reviews are ongoing. Those for the Hot Cell, the SSEN, and the Tokamak cooling water system (TCWS) were completed as scheduled. Final conceptual design reviews for the CCWS and the HRS systems are scheduled for early September.
Three Integrated Product Teams (IPTs) are in operation in the areas of electrical power supply, cryoplant and distribution, and fuel cycle. These teams were formed to establish a closer working relationship between the ITER Organization and the Domestic Agencies. Monthly in-person or video conferencing meetings are held to finalize the organization and work plan of each IPT in cooperation with the Domestic Agencies.
The ITER Vacuum Handbook and its welding attachment were finalized and approved by the ITER Organization last month. These were presented at the ITER Organization-Domestic Agency meeting where the requirements for successful construction of one of the largest and most complex vacuum systems were emphasized.
Challenging work remains in the areas of leak localization and cable management. Following the recent workshop with related DA officers and experts, the mid-term R&D strategy for leak localization was developed and several R&D tasks will be launched in coming months. Cable management is also a very important area; the ITER Organization is responsible for the establishment of applicable codes and cable standards, the setting up and management of the cable database, and the design and installation of cable raceways. Last week an internal meeting was held, with the related Responsible Officers and industry experts, to formulate this strategy. We plan to award contracts for cable management support, including the production of routing diagrams and space allocation, in 2010.
We all know that Year 2009 will be the year of the finalization of the new baseline design and resource-loaded schedule. We expect that we can strengthen the construction work, according to the updated schedule, with the full support from the Members from 2010.
The ITER-Monaco Post-Doctoral Fellows are a group of young and talented scientists selected to pursue research at ITER for two years under the sponsorship of the ITER-Monaco Partnership Arrangement, signed in January 2008. The first five Fellows were chosen from among 28 applicants, and were personally congratulated by HSH Prince Albert II in February of this year at the beginning of their appointments.
At the Post-Doctoral Seminar on 23 July, the Fellows were invited by ITER Director-General Kaname Ikeda, and ITER Principal Deputy Director-General Norbert Holtkamp to present the state of their work. "You have been at ITER since the beginning of the year," said Director-General Ikeda in his opening remarks. "Many of us—at ITER and also on the outside—would like to know how you are enjoying your stay, and how your work is progressing."
American Matthew Jewell focuses his research on the quality analysis and control of niobium-tin (Nb3Sn) superconducting strands. Some 500 tonnes of these strands will be procured for ITER through nine suppliers on three continents. Using a database to keep track of the properties of each unit length of strand—from raw materials right up to the finished product—is an important part of Matt's work at ITER. He is also working with other researchers to understand more about predicting strand performance. "Historically, it has been difficult to predict conductor performance from individual strand performance," Matt told his colleagues at the Seminar. "By coordinating global research efforts on expected performance under strain with the first test results from qualification samples, we can provide a benchmark for worldwide qualification and production efforts."
Inside the ITER Tokamak, where plasma at millions of degrees Celsius will be only centimetres from material surfaces, some of the tritium fuel will be "captured" by the first wall during operation. Sophie Carpentier, from France, uses physics modelling to provide estimates for this quantity of retained tritium—an important part of meeting nuclear regulations that stipulate the maximum amount of tritium allowable in the vacuum chamber at any one time. Sophie and her colleagues are refining rather crude previous estimates, using and improving upon existing modelling tools. "We aim to develop a picture of the global erosion/redeposition pattern on each blanket shield module within the vacuum vessel in order to provide the best estimates of expected tritium retention before deuterium-tritium operation."
Axel Winter from Germany has joined the team at ITER that is developing the specifications for the ITER plasma control system, or PCS. This complex electronic system will respond to input from 55 diagnostic systems during ITER operation and issue commands within tens of microseconds, thereby closely regulating the performance of the plasma. "We are establishing a framework for the PCS that includes all expected interfaces with operational and diagnostic systems. This work is very important to the success of ITER operation, and must be done before we actually begin to procure hardware and write software code and algorithms," says Axel. "We can only partially base our design on existing tokamak PCSs, as many of the controls necessary for ITER have not yet been implemented on other machines."
Like Sophie, Junghee Kim from Korea is interested in tritium retention, as well as in erosion of divertor surfaces and the creation of "dust" during operation. He is studying the best diagnostic tools for the measurement of these parameters, which will require close monitoring during ITER operation for safety and optimum plasma performance. Measurement requirements have been established for the different systems and candidate diagnostic tools have been identified; Junghee is participating in their evaluation. "By studying competitive techniques, monitoring experimental and theoretical activities and evaluating potential hazards, we are on our way to identifying the most promising diagnostics for ITER to monitor divertor erosion, dust production and tritium retention arising from plasma operation," explains Junghee. "Once chosen, we will integrate the diagnostic system into the design of ITER in the most optimum way."
The physics of energetic plasma ions is the research focus for Evgeny Veshchev from the Russian Federation. It is an important field of study since effective plasma heating and good fast ion confinement are essential for ignition. When fusion-born alpha particles escape from the plasma, they are responsible for energy loss and can also cause first wall damage within tokamaks. Evgeny is working with theoretical predictions as well as simulation results for this phenomenon in order to identify new diagnostic techniques and alternative candidates for lost alpha measurements. "Fusion alpha particles should transfer their energy to the plasma," explains Evgeny, "however some losses are foreseen. Our research work will contribute to the optimization of plasma discharge scenarios and the protection of the machine."
On 17 September 2007, one of the key fusion experiments at Culham, UK during the nineties—COMPASS-D—began an epic journey to a new home at the Institute of Plasma Physics (IPP) in Prague. COMPASS is now the centrepiece of the expanding Czech fusion research program, with 0.6 MW of heating power and the same magnetic geometry as JET. Radomír Pánek, Head of the Tokamak Department at the IPP, explains the 21-tonne machine's latest achievements and the overall objectives of the Czech fusion program.
Newsline: On 9 December 2008, at noon, the relocated COMPASS-D machine had its first plasma at the IPP in Prague. In the photo, you can see the excitement in the faces of the staff witnessing the event from the control room. What were you thinking at that moment?
Panek: First plasma was obtained after three years of hard work by many enthusiasts. We had been following a very tight project schedule and I felt, of course, a lot of relief after success on the first attempt. On the other hand, I knew that a huge amount of work remained to be done before we would be able to provide really new scientific results.
Newsline: How and why did the machine that had served for so many years in Culham come to Prague?
Panek: In terms of fusion research, the Czech Republic occupied a special place among the new European member states, with the only operating tokamak and a long history of international cooperation on fusion through association with Euratom since 1999. Czech researchers operated the CASTOR Tokamak, which had basic components dating back to 1960 when it had started as TM-1 in the Kurchatov Institute in Moscow. Although it had been significantly modernized several times, CASTOR was no longer adequate for contemporary research, mainly focused on preparation for ITER. UKAEA, at the same time, was looking for a new operator for the COMPASS-D Tokamak due to resource shortages. This ITER-like machine had provided ten years of valuable data, but had been mothballed with the start of MAST Tokamak operation, long before its research potential was fully exploited. We were able to successfully negotiate support from the Academy of Sciences and the Czech government. We began tenders for the design and construction of a new building to house the device, at the same time as COMPASS-D was being dismantled by the IPP Prague team with assistance from their Culham colleagues. In October 2007, the COMPASS Tokamak was lifted through the roof and transported to Prague on a special oversized vehicle.
Newsline: What are your projects with COMPASS? What are the main technical features of the machine?
Panek: COMPASS was originally designed to study MHD (MagnetoHydroDynamic) physics. Our goal is to contribute with COMPASS to the field of edge plasma research, in which our Institute has a long tradition. We have installed two neutral beam injection heating systems enabling both unbalanced and balanced injection. These systems, together with ITER-like geometry and new edge plasma diagnostics with high temporal and spatial resolution, will allow many key problems of present tokamak research to be addressed at a relatively low-cost facility. Coils for resonant magnetic perturbation are installed in COMPASS and experiments with ELM suppression are planned for next year. We plan to study L-H transition, resonant magnetic perturbation technique for ELM mitigation, pedestal and ELM physics, and turbulence. We are interested in performing joint experiments with other ITER-like tokamaks—namely JET and ASDEX-U—and in contributing to scaling databases.
Newsline: How do you see the Czech role in the European/international fusion program?
Panek: I see a Czech role in the following three areas. First, we would like to create a middle and Eastern Europe centre for tokamak research and significantly increase collaboration with large-scale devices. Second, we'd like to organize a training school for students and young scientists in experimental physics and tokamak operation, on the model of what we had done on CASTOR. The COMPASS project has been the cause for considerable interest, and a new nuclear fusion curriculum has been established at the Czech Technical University. Lastly, we'd like to apply the Czech Republic's long tradition in fission research to fusion, for example to prepare Test Blanket Modules for next-step fusion devices.
Safety and/or health signs refer to a specific object, activity or situation in the workplace and provide information and instructions by means of a signboard, a colour, an illuminated sign or acoustic signal, a verbal communication or a hand signal. |
Think of ITER remote handling as a space mission: once the equipment is launched for a task inside the vacuum vessel or the neutral beam cell there is almost no going back. Like the Hubble Space Telescope or the International Space Station, the tokamak can be "serviced"—but only after meticulous mission planning and task rehearsal. "In terms of mission success," says Alessandro Tesini, ITER's Remote Handling Section Leader, "an ITER Remote Handling task is a one-shot mission. Failure cannot be accepted."
This is why dialogue between the ITER component designers and the remote handling systems engineers is so important. JET taught us an important lesson: components have to be designed so that they can be remotely handled. It is a matter of design process discipline as well as of attitude.
Together with the ITER Remote Maintenance Management System, the ITER Remote Handling Code of Practice, which Alessandro and his team have just completed, sets the background and establishes the rules for such a dialogue. Both documents "... give the essence of what remote handling is, what it can do and how it can do it." They also provide the designers with a tool and a set of data sheets to help design the components in a "remote handling-friendly" way.
"What we have to instill in the designers' minds here at ITER and in the Domestic Agencies is component design simplicity," says Alessandro. "The simpler the component, the simpler the related remote handling equipment and operations. Simplicity provides a guarantee of reliability, which in turn gives you an acceptable machine availability factor."
ITER will be "one of the most complicated machines ever built" and a nuclear installation at that. "This means we are not allowed to make mistakes," says Alessandro. But the Leader of the Remote Handling Section has no fear: "ITER remote handling," he assures, "will work like clockwork."
The Steering Committee of the Association Euratom-FOM has appointed Tony Donné as Head of Research Unit. Tony Donné succeeds Niek Lopes Cardozo who will continue to work on fusion at Eindhoven Technical University.
Tony Donné has great experience working on ITER diagnostics. After a PhD in nuclear physics, Tony Donné headed work on the Rijnhuizen TORTUR Tokamak, and lead the diagnostics group of the Rijnhuizen Tokamak Project and the Rijnhuizen collaboration in the TEXTOR Tokamak in Jülich, Germany. He coordinated the European work on microwave and far-infrared diagnostics for ITER during the ITER Engineering Design Activity, was appointed chairman of the ITER Expert Working Group on Diagnostics in 1999 and chaired the ITPA Topical Group on Diagnostics from 2001 to July 2008. Since 2008, Tony Donné chairs the EFDA Diagnostics Topical Group.
The focus of the fusion physics department of Rijnhuizen will be twofold: plasma-surface interactions with Magnum-PSI as the central experimental device, and active control of magnetohydrodynamic modes in burning plasmas with experimental work focused on ASDEX-UG and JET. Both experimental lines will be accompanied by a dedicated effort in the field of theory and modelling.
Had Valensole been chosen to host ITER, there would have been no need to build a platform—nature had already provided it in the form of a perfectly flat plateau of 13,000 hectares.
In the summer, under a bright blue canopy, the Valensole Plateau epitomizes Haute-Provence. Dotted with small farmhouses and dry stone cabins, the lavender fields and almond-tree plantations sprawl as far as the eye can see. In the winter, when fields are bare and storms gather over the plateau, it feels more like Tibet or the Bolivian Altiplano. Rising high over the horizon to the north, the snow-capped foothills of the Alps remind the visitor of the Andes or the Himalayas.
Despite a recent drop in production and fierce competition from places such as China, Romania or Bulgaria, lavender (and its hybrid lavandin) is what Valensole is all about: the better part of the 10,000 hectares of lavender in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence département are grown here.
Lavender, whose name derives from the Latin lavere meaning "to clean," has been used since the earliest time to cleanse and disinfect. The perfume and detergent industry are now the main outlets for the essence, which one extracts from the lavender plant through a distillation process. Depending on location and plant variety, yields vary from 15 to 60 kilos per hectare. Like wine, cheese or olive oil, the finest lavender essences have been granted the Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée label (AOC, or Controlled Term of Origin).
Every household in Provence stores a small vial of lavender essence that is used to treat sores, cuts, burns and insect bites. There may be some, also, in other places very far from Provence: in the early hours of 1 July 1965—in what was to become one of the most famous UFO "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" in Europe—two small creatures were reportedly seen picking lavender plants next to their diminutive spacecraft.
Staff at the US ITER Project Office raised nearly $2,500 for the United Way during a recent raffle and luncheon. The effort, led by the project's United Way coordinator, Kelli Kizer, netted some $2,470 for the United Way Campaign at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).
United Way is a national network of nearly 1,300 local organizations that work to advance the common good by focusing on education, income and health. Common focus areas include helping children and youth achieve their potential, promoting financial stability and independence, and improving people's health.
U.S. ITER staff members prepared the seven luxury baskets that were raffled to lucky winners during the luncheon. The baskets had themes like "Love Is in the Air" and "International Date Basket," and included items such as a night's stay at a downtown Knoxville hotel, gift cards for area restaurants, and a selection of home-canned fruits and vegetables. Basket coordinators were Allison Moe, Robyn Rose, Sherry Rowley, Loretta Simpson, and Kirby Wilcher.