It is August, traditionally a drowsy month for much of the rest of the Europe, and although it might seem quiet from the outside, inside ITER is buzzing with activity. But before concrete is poured, magnets assembled or vacuum systems welded together, all the "i's" need to be dotted and "t's" need to be crossed. And that means that all documentation needs to be consistent and finished. Only then we can call a plan a real PLAN. That was the homework from the last ITER Council and that's what we are doing. Almost everyone in the Organization is to a greater or lesser extent involved in the completion of the Project Baseline, which must be ready for review at the upcoming Briscoe panel meeting in October, the MAC and STAC meetings and final presentation to the ITER Council in November.
The Project Baseline is comprised of hundreds of documents with thousands of pages presenting the ultimate description of the ITER Project: the technical scope, the schedule and cost. The word "document" though seems inadequate to describe the Project Baseline. It is a conglomeration of dozens of documents containing specific information on each element of the construction: design, schedule, management or cost of ITER. It includes information and documentation on processes that were implemented as a response to the Briscoe Panel review such as new tools for cost assessment and a full risk analysis down to the last screw and connection. It describes the project all the way from the beginning of construction through commissioning, major "need dates" for equipment delivery and required inter-project links which describe the interconnection of deliveries between Domestic Agencies or to the phased assembly on site.
At the end, we know that all the activity timelines meet the 2018 project completion date and on to deuterium-tritium operation in 2026, having integrated the overall schedule with all the detailed schedules from the Domestic Agencies. This by itself is a tremendous achievement of the integrated Scheduling Group, which incorporates people from the project offices of the ITER Organization and the Domestic Agencies.
For the Council, this means looking at four high-level documents: the Project Specification (PS) which is approved already, the Overall Project Schedule (OPS), the Overall Project Cost (OPC), as well as the Project Plan and Resource Estimate (PP&RE). These four high-level documents provide the general guidance for the ITER Organization to implement the scope (PS) and the schedule (OPS) for an agreed-upon cost (OPC). The PP&RE is for the yearly planning of the ITER budgets. From there it goes into a flurry of other documents which must be consistent with Council guidance, managed by the ITER Organization.
Producing these documents is a truly joint effort involving every division in the house and many people from the Domestic Agencies. Acceptance by Council will be the reward, which is a key milestone that transitions the ITER Organization and Domestic Agencies from being "new" to being "mature," since from here on in it is fully our design.
The European qualification mockups for ITER's blanket first wall have successfully completed the initial phase of the qualification program. The objective of this program is for the Domestic Agencies involved in manufacturing critical first wall blanket components to demonstrate their technical capability by validating the joining technique for beryllium/copper joints, and by producing large-scale first wall components.
The European Domestic Agency provided two identical first wall qualification mockups for the first test set. Each mockup was comprised of 3 x 80 mm x 80mm x 10 mm-thick beryllium armour tiles joined to a CuCrZr heat sink using hot isostatic pressing (HIP). A stainless steel beam structure and cooling pipes makes up the assembly.
One mockup was subsequently sent to both European and US test facilities for the thermal fatigue testing of the assemblies. In the US, tests were undertaken in the EB 1200 electron beam facility at Sandia National Laboratory, and in the EU, at the BESTH facility in Prague, Czech Republic and the JUDITH-II facility in Juelich, Germany.
Testing of the mockups comprised 12,000 "normal" cycles at heat flux levels of 0.88 MW/m² plus 1,000 "MARFE" (off-normal event) cycles at heat flux levels of 1.75 MW/m². Following the formal test campaign, the heat flux levels for both "MARFE" tests at both facilities was increased to a maximum 2.25 MW/m².
This maximum test level was defined not by the mockup, but by a facility-imposed maximum beryllium temperature. Tile temperatures above 600 °C lead to accelerated levels of beryllium deposition and facility clean-up can become a significant cost issue. In addition, mockups from other involved Domestic Agencies such as the US, China, Korea, Japan and the Russian Federation are currently undergoing testing in the European and American labs.
The first phase of first wall qualification is planned to be completed by December. This date is significant, as January 2010 sees the commencement of the second part of the qualification program: the large-scale semi-prototype program which will provide final qualification in readiness for signing the Procurement Arrangement in summer 2012.
In a large science experiment like a particle accelerator, a giant telescope or a tokamak, thousands of different components have to be monitored, controlled and activated in real-time.
A large science experiment is like a philharmonic orchestra playing a complex symphony; however good the individual players, the overall performance depends heavily on the conductor. In ITER, the conductor is the control system, better known as CODAC (COntrol Data Access and Communication).
Moving from conceptual to engineering design, the CODAC Group recently selected the "software environment" which will operate the system.
In choosing EPICS (Experimental Physics and Industrial Control System), the CODAC team made what Section Leader Anders Wallander calls "a safe, conservative choice"— the very choice KSTAR, DESY, (Deutsches Elektronen Synchrotron), the Spallation Neutron Source at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and scores of other big science projects have also made.
EPICS can be defined as three things at once: an architecture for building scalable control systems, a collection of codes and tools and a collaboration between major science labs and industry.
"It is a free software, well-proven and reliable," explains Franck Di Maio, who organized a four-day EPICS training program for the CODAC team last week. "Since EPICS is being implemented in other large facilities, we can get feedback and help from the users community and since it is open-source, we can improve it."
Having familiarized themselves with EPICS, the CODAC Group will in turn support users and, as Anders says, "spread the word" to all those in ITER who will be using this standard.
The collaborative IT network established between the ITER Organization and the seven Domestic Agencies over the past months is the technical backbone of the day-to-day work performed around the globe in order to build ITER. Over the past months satellite servers have been set up in order to facilitate the exchange of large data files and other information.
One of the first "clients" to use this new network is the Design Office. The satellite servers allow the ITER CAD designers spread around the globe to access and to process the same 3D-datasheets. What formerly took a CAD designer in China about 60 minutes—opening a data-file for a specific tool of the machine only to find out that it wasn't the right one—now takes him a minute.
In May this year, the first IT satellite at the Indian Domestic Agency was installed, followed over the past couple of weeks by the Domestic Agencies in China, Japan, and the US. Next week, ITER IT specialist Björn Wilhelm will travel to Korea in order to set up the infrastructure there. The last element, the Russian Domestic Agency, will get its servers and thus close the circle by the end of September.
On a winter day in 1905 the great Provençal poet and philologist Frédéric Mistral received a most unlikely visit. Standing on the doorstep of the family farm, in Maillane, near Arles, was a man about his age who looked strangely like him—same longish hair, same moustache and goatee, same wide-brimmed hat—but who came from a very different world. The man's name was William Cody, better known by his nom de guerre Buffalo Bill.
Both men were legends in their own right; the American as the famed bison hunter, Pony Express rider and US Cavalry scout turned travelling show entrepreneur; the Frenchman, or rather the Provençal, as the 1904 Nobel Prize laureate, a man who had devoted his life to reviving the language, culture and traditions of his native Provence.
How the two came to meet is part history, part legend. "What we know for certain," says the curator of the Mistral Museum in Maillane, "is that Frédéric Mistral attended Buffalo Bill's Wild West show which was touring southern France at the time. Both men being very famous, it is likely they were introduced to each other."
Despite their different background, Mistral and Cody certainly felt a kinship. Through different means, they were both trying to salvage a fast disappearing culture. Cody had turned the waning Old West into a travelling show of staggering proportion; Mistral had revived the Provençal language in order to celebrate the rich civilization of rural Provence. Both had contributed to transforming reality into a myth that would survive them.
On leaving Frédéric Mistral, Buffalo Bill left him a present: a little dog that the poet named "Pan Pardu," Provençal for "French toast." Or, in another version of the story, the little dog escaped from the Wild West Show at the Tarascon train station and wandered the roads until it found itself in Frédéric Mistral's backyard. The poet's goatee, moustache, longish hair and wide-brimmed hat had fooled him—the little dog thought he had at last found its master.
Pan Pardu was not the only one the Wild West Show left behind: seven Indians, from the Lakota and Oglala tribes, decided to stay and settle in Marseille. In his 2000 novel "The Heartsong of Charging Elk," American author James Welch tells the romanticized story of one of them, who found himself in a Marseille hospital long after the travelling show had left having to adapt to a world so different from his native Black Hills. Like Frédéric Mistral and Buffalo Bill's story, the novel is based on history as much as it feeds on legend.
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