ITER chief: I won't live to see benefits of fusion, but I will help us get there
17 Mar 2018
Bernard Bigot, Director-General of the world's biggest nuclear fusion project, tells Brussels-based Science|Business the perpetually out-of-reach energy source is finally in sight—so long as Trump does not scale back US involvement.
Deep learning improves plasma disruption prediction
15 Mar 2018
A research team at Princeton University has succeeded in significantly improving the quality of disruption predictions for a plasma in a tokamak fusion device through deep learning.
The team led by plasma physicist William Tang had access to the database of the Joint European Torus (JET) tokamak to demonstrate the potential of deep learning and neural networks in the analysis of large amounts of plasma disruption data. They fed more than a half-petabyte of information into their fusion recurrent neural nets (FRNN) deep learning software.
Through GPU-accelerated computing—i.e., the use of a graphic processing unit together with a CPU—disruption prediction improved dramatically in accuracy and speed. The Princeton team also demonstrated the scalability to over thousands of even more advanced GPUs.
According to Tang, this development holds a huge potential for accelerating scientific discovery through deep learning for fusion research.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has just released plans for a number of initiatives that will broaden its engagement in fusion research.
MIT has been a long-standing player in fusion research, receiving support primarily from the US Department of Energy that has included funding in three major experiments at MIT's Plasma Fusion and Science Center (PFSC). The last of these—the Alcator C-Mod tokamak—ended operations in 2016 after 23 years and approximately 33,000 plasma shots.
Now, in a renewed approach, researchers at MIT will be working with a newly formed company, Commonwealth Fusion Systems, to combine the experience of a well-established lab with the more nimble and longer-term financing perspectives from the private sector.
Commonwealth Fusion Systems is an independent, for-profit company created by former MIT staff and students for the accelerated commercialization of fusion energy.
Joint teams will be working to develop a new class of high temperature superconducting magnets, followed by the conception and construction of a compact 100 MW fusion experiment called SPARC, and finally a larger demonstration power plant.
Commonwealth Fusion Systems has obtained $50 million in funding from the Italian energy company Eni, which is also a founding member of the MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI). Eni has also announced funding to the order of $2 million per year for PSFC's newly created Laboratory for Innovation in Fusion Technologies, which will focus on cutting-edge solutions for some of the challenges on the road to a steady-state fusion reactor.
Read more about the new initiatives on the MIT website.
Monaco-ITER Fellowships: apply by 1 March
26 Feb 2018
If your PhD was awarded after 1 January 2015—or you are about to obtain one—you are eligible to apply for a Monaco/ITER Postdoctoral Fellowship.
The Fellowship Program is recruiting now for two-year terms beginning autumn 2018.
Since 2008, 25 young scientists and engineers have been able to participate directly in ITER, working on cutting-edge issues in science and technology with some of the leading scientists and engineers in each domain. The principal aim of the Research Fellowships, which are funded by the Principality of Monaco under a Partnership Agreement that was renewed in early 2018, is the development of excellence in research in fusion science and technology within the ITER framework.
The deadline for application is 1 March. All information can be obtained here.
Using electron cyclotron heating to stabilize the plasma
26 Feb 2018
In a recent report in Nuclear Fusion, an international team of researchers outlines an approach for using electron cyclotron heating to control instabilities known as "neoclassical tearing modes" that can cause magnetic islands to grow in, and perturb, the plasma.
Lead physicist Francesca Poli of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) worked with two of her colleagues and researchers from the ITER Organization, the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics in Germany, and the Institute of Plasma Physics in Italy, to describe an approach that for the first time simulates the plasma, the magnetic islands and the feedback control from the electron cyclotron waves.
The current from the electron cyclotron waves (see related article in Newsline) has to be matched with the magnetic island. The simulations performed help to determine the maximum misalignment that can be tolerated and under which conditions experiments should be run.
Robotics developed for fusion to serve other applications
21 Feb 2018
An institute created at the Dutch Institute for Fundamental Energy Research (DIFFER) to research remote maintenance technology for ITER has now been spun-off as a separate entity.
The Dutch Remote Handling Study Center (RHSC), founded in 2011 in collaboration with the company Heemskerk Innovative Technology, will continue to carry out tasks for ITER through the European Domestic Agency.
But its experience developing maintenance procedures for ITER components using remotely controlled robots will now be applied to a wider scope of applications, including industrial maintenance and health care.
MIT graduate student contributes to the understanding of plasma heat transport
21 Feb 2018
A team led by MIT professor Anne White, Cecil and Ida Green Associate Professor in the Nuclear Science and Engineering Department, and Pablo Rodriguez Fernandez (pictured), a graduate student in the Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering, has conducted studies that offer a new take on the complex physics of plasma heat transport, and point toward more robust models of fusion plasma behaviour. The results of their work appear this week in the journal Physical Review Letters, in which Rodriguez Fernandez serves as first author.
To make fusion energy a reality, scientists must harness fusion plasma, a fiery gaseous maelstrom in which radioactive particles react to generate heat for electricity. But the turbulence of fusion plasma can confront researchers with unruly behaviours that confound attempts to make predictions and develop models. In experiments over the past two decades, an especially vexing problem has emerged: In response to deliberate cooling at its edges, fusion plasma inexplicably undergoes abrupt increases in central temperature.
These counterintuitive temperature spikes, which fly against the physics of heat transport models, have not found an explanation—until now.
Read the detailed account on the website of MIT's Plasma Science and Fusion Center.
Spinoffs from the science at the heart of the stars
19 Feb 2018
"Many basic science discoveries, while important by themselves and foundational in their fields, also yield spinoff applications or enabling technologies not envisioned by the scientists doing the original work. This is what makes investment in science like fusion energy research so powerful—the impact extends well beyond the laboratory."
This statement prefaces a new brochure issued by the US Office of Fusion Energy Sciences (Department of Energy) on the many areas of science and technology—modern electronics, lighting, communication, manufacturing, transportation—that have benefitted directly from research into fusion.
The chemical element lithium may just have found itself a new application. Scientists at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) and China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) have found that lithium powder can reduce periodic instabilities in plasma when used to coat tungsten surfaces in fusion devices.
These instabilities are known as edge-localized modes (ELMs) and occur at the outer parts of the fusion plasma. ELMs develop regularly when the plasma enters what is known as high-confinement mode, or H-mode, which holds heat within the plasma more efficiently. ELMs can damage the divertor, a plasma-facing component that extracts heat and ash produced by the fusion reaction, and cause fusion reactions to fizzle.
The researchers also found that it became easier to eliminate ELMs as the experiments progressed, possibly requiring less lithium as time went on.
The results cause physicists to be confident that these techniques could also reduce ELMs in larger fusion devices that were designed to be compatible with lithium.
The main webpage for ITER news has evolved. Follow this address—https://www.iter.org/news—to find all the latest social media posts, announcements, articles, photos and videos.
The page serves as an aggregator; from there you can consult the full archive of press articles on ITER, scroll through photo galleries, dig more deeply into the Newsline archive for a research topic, or click on our live site cam.
Make it your bookmark today!
Planning for a fusion-relevant neutron source
29 Jan 2018
Spain and Croatia have announced they will join forces in preparation to host DONES, the DEMO Oriented Neutron Source facility. The specialized installation will help scientists to test materials in an environment of neutron irradiation similar to that of a demonstration fusion reactor (DEMO), the intermediate step from ITER to a commercial fusion reactor.
A scientific collaboration framework between Japan and Europe—the Broader Approach—is helping to pave the way to DONES by validating key technological concepts. The engineering validation and engineering design activities of IFMIF (the International Fusion Materials Facility) aim at producing a detailed, complete and fully integrated engineering design of fusion-relevant neutron source by validating the continuous and stable operation of prototypes for each IFMIF subsystem.
Research into materials with neutron-resistant properties is one of the key tasks laid out in the European Roadmap, Europe's guiding document to addressing the scientific and technological challenges on the way to adding fusion energy to Europe's future energy mix.
It has not yet been decided where DONES will be located. For Europe, Spain and Croatia have now agreed to propose Granada, Spain, as host. Should this not be possible for technical reasons, the project would be hosted in Moslavačka Gora, Croatia. A technical group of experts from both countries that evaluated both sides declared the Granada site as fully operational and acknowledged that construction works could start immediately.
Read the full article on the European Domestic Agency website.
UK industry invited to seize opportunities
29 Jan 2018
Two months after the announcement of a £86 million government investment in the UK's nuclear fusion research program, the UK's Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) met with more than 80 industry stakeholders on 16 January in Oxford to present opportunities for the nuclear industry to get involved and secure major contracts with ITER.
The government investment will support the UKAEA's plan to build a National Fusion Technology Platform at its Culham Science Centre. The platform will consist of two centres of excellence which, according to the Head of the UKAEA, Ian Chapman, would help in making commercial fusion a reality:
- the Hydrogen-3 Advanced Technology (H3AT) centre to research how to process and store tritium, with a direct link to ITER's development; - and the Fusion Technology Facilities (FTF) to develop thermal hydraulic tests for components under fusion conditions.
Both centres open up opportunities for British industry. Partnering with UKAEA will support industry in preparing to bid for forthcoming multi-million-pound ITER contracts.
While ITER takes shape, plasma physicists continue searching for answers to some rather tough questions. What causes a plasma to go from a weakly confined, turbulent state to a more defined and calmer state which is necessary for fusion to occur? Answering this question, scientists from the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, the University of California and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology join forces to simulate tokamak plasmas.
With the help of a supercomputer located at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) called Titan, the research team uncovered for the first time the basic physics behind a plasma's transition into the high-confinement or H-mode.
Future simulations will study the transition of a plasma into H-mode at ITER scale. An issue of crucial importance is the right balance between the core temperature of a plasma and the temperature at its edge, which will have an effect on the size of the plasma.
These simulations are of unprecedented scale. Only with such high-performance computing resources such as Titan involving over 18,000 graphic processing units (GPUs) and close to 300,000 central processing units (CPUs), can problems of such great scientific complexity and importance be addressed.
Early January, ITER's Director-General spoke with Foro Nuclear, the Spanish nuclear industry forum. The exchange covered the challenge of leading a multicultural project, the critical phase ahead as ITER begins assembly activities, and Bernard Bigot's conviction that there is nothing more exciting, more motivating, than contributing to a project that could change the course of civilization for hundreds of thousands of years.
On managing one of the world's largest research projects:
I accepted the Council's offer at a crucial moment in ITER history, when the project was entering into manufacturing and preparations for assembly. This new phase required a new organization—one tailored to meet the double challenge of delivering an installation that is both a research facility and an industrial facility. What we needed at that point and need even more today was integration.
ITER is a complex structure, with a central team here in France and seven "domestic agencies" emanating from the seven ITER Members that are responsible for the in-kind procurement of machine components and installation systems. To achieve this integration, we needed a clear, centralized decision-making process under the authority of the Director-General. This being established and accepted by all, we could move on, as "One ITER," to promote and establish a project culture based on shared values of excellence, adherence to commitments, adherence to schedule and budget, and careful and effective use of public funds. And all the while making safety and quality our highest priority.
On striving for excellence in a multicultural environment:
How do we achieve harmony and efficiency? Through mutual respect and the understanding that each culture has its own work habits, traditions and "best practices." However at the end of the day, after well documented debates, decisions have to be taken and implemented by all. The global world we live in has not erased national particularisms. But instead of seeing this as a problem, we see it as an asset: we are building a project culture in a way that takes advantage of the diversity of these "best practices" to achieve an optimal result.
On considering a job at ITER:
I've often said that, when joining ITER you symbolically abandon your nationality. You become Iternational... Working at ITER is very demanding but it is also very rewarding. Can you think of something more exciting, more motivating, than contributing to a project that can change the course of civilization for hundreds of thousands of years?
On the importance of fusion
My conviction is that in the second half of this century, beyond 2060, we will have accumulated enough knowledge and experience to create a large fusion industry—just like in the past decades we have created an oil, gas or nuclear fission industry. But like with any of these industries, the decision will be both technical and political and rest in the individual governments' and investors' hands.
Bored with the Kardashians? Not interested in your regular TV program? You can now tune in to a new channel that will allow you to follow—in real time!—the construction of the Tokamak Complex.
Streamed from a video camera mounted 60 metres above platform level, the footage gives you an eagle eye's view of the ongoing activities in the Holy of Holies of the ITER Project —day and night, any day, any hour.
On 18 December 2017, the current was raised in the divertor coils and the very first X-point plasma was obtained in the WEST tokamak (France).
The current was raised in limiter configuration up to 500 kA and controlled during a couple of seconds, while the divertor coils entered into action and an ITER-like configuration was reached.
The WEST project consists in transforming the former Tore Supra tokamak in order to extend its long pulse capability and test ITER's divertor technology. The implementation of a full tungsten, actively cooled divertor with plasma-facing units that are representative of ITER's divertor targets will allow scientists and engineers to address the risks both in terms of industrial-scale manufacturing and operation.
Read all about the test campaign underway in WEST's December 2017 newsletter here.
L'Oréal-UNESCO Fellowships For Women in Science
17 Jan 2018
The L'Oréal Foundation, in partnership with UNESCO and the French Academy of Sciences, is calling for applications to its 2018 "For Women in Science" Fellowship program.
Thirty young and talented female scientists at the doctoral or postdoctoral level will be selected this year in France. Candidates must be specialized in Life or Physical Sciences, currently work or study in France, and demonstrate academic excellence and original research.
The application deadline is 4 April 2018.
For full information, please see the website in English and French.
Fusion documentary "Let there be light" available for rent/purchase
08 Jan 2018
EyeSteelFilm's 90-minute documentary on fusion and ITER—Let there be light—is now available worldwide for rent or purchase on the Vimeo platform. For audiences in North America it is also available on iTunes for purchase and on Amazon Prime for rent or purchase.
Subtitled ''The 100 Year Journey to Fusion,'' the documentary shows work underway around the world at both ends of the fusion spectrum—from the giant ITER Project to the warehouse-based startup. It has had success at film festivals in North America and Europe since its launch in early 2017 and major international broadcast stations are showing interest. The European culture channel Arte is set to show the documentary in the coming months.
In early January 2018, "Let there be light" was listed as one of the top ten Canadian films in 2017.
The documentary is now available for rent or purchase worldwide on Vimeo.com in English or French. In North America it is also available for purchase on iTunes and for purchase or rent on Amazon Prime, both in English.
Next stop: Europe-Japan tokamak in Naka
08 Jan 2018
The JT-60SA tokamak is part of the Broader Approach agreement signed between Japan and Euratom to complement the ITER Project and accelerate the realization of fusion energy. The JT-60SA tokamak represents an upgrade of a previous tokamak at the Naka facility, designed to support the operation of ITER. It will investigate how best to optimize the design and operation of fusion power plants built after ITER. First Plasma is planned for 2020, at the end of a six-year assembly and commissioning period.
In the latest news of progress, 12 cryostat vessel sectors manufactured in Spain are now ready for transport to Naka. Heavy frames and robust plastic and tarpaulin wrapping will ensure adequate protection during transport of the sectors, each measuring approximately 11 metres in height, and during storage in Japan. (Storage is required as the elements will arrive ahead of their scheduled assembly in the JT-60SA Torus Hall.)
Along with the completed cryostat vessel sectors the shipment also includes heavy lifting equipment. In total the shipment weighs about 322 tonnes. It is scheduled to arrive at the Hitachi port in Japan by mid-January 2018.
See the full article here and related information here.
You've got mail: the ASDEX Upgrade Letter
22 Dec 2017
The ASDEX Upgrade at the Max-Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP) in Garching, Germany, is one of three medium-sized tokamaks which are part of the EUROfusion program. In conjunction with JET it provides important input to the ITER Project.
The 18th issue of the ASDEX Upgrade Letter provides the latest news in three topics. The first presents results of research on plasma stability, in particular on instabilities in the plasma edge. The second item describes the use of a newly upgraded core turbulence microwave diagnostic system, known as correlation electron cyclotron emission (CECE). Thanks to the CECE, plasma physicists will have a better understanding of turbulence in fusion plasmas.
A third contribution focuses on alternative power exhaust concepts for the APDEX Upgrade tokamak. The extraction of the power produced in a future reactor poses one of the challenges in fusion research. In the ASDEX Upgrade the lower divertor is normally used for this purpose; now, scientists are investigating alternative configurations with a new, modified upper divertor. The design phase has already started and first hardware installation is expected in 2020/2021.
The Letter also honours the young IPP physicist Benedikt Geiger who was awarded the Hans Werner Osthoff Plasma Physics Prize 2016. The prize honours outstanding achievements in the field of plasma physics.
For more information and access to the ASDEX Upgrade Letter click here.
Register now: 2018 Kudowa Summer School
22 Dec 2017
The Polish Institute of Plasma Physics and Laser Microfusion (IPPLM) invites young scientists to attend the 14th Kudowa Summer School. The summer school, under the motto "Towards fusion energy," will be held in Kudowa-Zdrój, in the Lower Silesia region in southwest Poland, from 4 to 8 June 2018.
The school provides courses on fusion energy, plasma experiments and related technology. It will mainly look at laser fusion and laser-matter interaction studies. Topics include plasma basics and fusion energy; inertial confinement fusion; magnetic confinement fusion; plasma-diagnostics; and technology.
Registration is open until 20 March 2018. Interested participants are encouraged to give presentations. The deadline for submitting abstracts is 8 February 2018.
For all related information please go to the Kudowa Summer School website.
Artificial intelligence and supercomputers
21 Dec 2017
One of the big challenges in developing fusion energy is controlling the plasma. Disruptions of the burning plasma can halt the fusion reaction and damage the walls of the fusion device. Scientists therefore are keen to learn how to predict plasma disruptions.
Researchers at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) employ artificial intelligence to improve predictive capability. They developed predictive software, the Fusion Recurrent Neural Network (FRNN) code, which is a form of what is called "deep learning"—a powerful version of modern machine-learning software. (Research team: William Tang, to the left; Eliot Feibush; and Alexey Svyatkovskiy, seated)
Drawing from data of the JET facility in the UK, the team has demonstrated the tool's ability to predict disruptions more accurately than previous methods. Turning their attention now to ITER, the team aims to improve the correct prediction of disruptions and reduce the number of false alarms.
The deep learning software is also a challenge for computing hardware. Several tests with the FRNN on modern powerful supercomputing devices, so-called GPU clusters, in the United States, Europe and Asia showed promising results.
At the joint meeting of the 26th International Toki Conference (ITC) and the 11th Asia Plasma and Fusion Association (APFA) conference—held from 5 to 8 December in Toki, Japan—ITER Science & Operations Department head David Campbell gave a plenary talk on ITER progress.
It was the occasion to recognize the many contributions of Dr Campbell to fusion research over the course of his career. The chair of the international program committee, Yutaka Kamada, and the chair of the international advisory committee, Yasuhiko Takeiri, both presented tributes. Dr Campbell retired in December from the ITER Organization.
The theme this year of the ITC meeting was "A new era in plasma and fusion research." The launch of deuterium experiments in Japan's Large Helical Device, and the first experimental results, were highlighted at the meeting, which also brought together academics and researchers from Japan, China, Korea and India in the context of the biennial APFA meeting. Three hundred participants in all took part in the four-day event.
UK government invests in nuclear fusion research
11 Dec 2017
The UK's nuclear fusion research program can expect a big financial boost. A £86 million government investment—announced last week—will benefit the UK's Atomic Energy Authority's (UKAEA's) Culham Science Centre and its plan to build a National Fusion Technology Platform.
The platform will comprise two centres of excellence:
- The Hydrogen-3 Advanced Technology (H3AT) centre to research how to process and store tritium;
- The Fusion Technology Facilities to conduct tests on prototype components under conditions they would experience in future fusion reactors.
The new national fusion technology platform will open in 2020. It will enhance the UK's expertise in critical areas of fusion research and help British industry to secure contracts from ITER and other global fusion projects. It will also provide a powerful signal of the UK's intent to continue its participation in international science collaboration after leaving the European Union.
Taking a longer term view, the platform's two centres will help the UK to prepare the grounds for the first nuclear fusion power plants.
The Head of the UKAEA, Ian Chapman, said that this latest development means that: "...the UK will be at the forefront of developing fusion and bringing cleaner energy to the world."
The starting shot for the 2018 SOFT Innovation Prize has sounded. The prize is a feature of the Symposium on Fusion Technology (SOFT), a biennial conference organized by the Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (ENEA). It rewards outstanding researchers or companies who find new physics or technology solutions to address the challenges of fusion, with the potential of wider application.
The competition is open to researchers, research teams and companies from around the world. Anyone interested to enter the competition needs to apply through the Research and Innovation portal of the European Commission; the deadline for submissions is 8 March 2018. An independent jury of experts in technology transfer will select the three winners and the award ceremony will take place as part of the 30th SOFT conference taking place in Giardini Naxos, Sicily, Italy, from 17-21 September.
Last year's winners were awarded the prize for a novel type of high temperature superconductor cable based on REBCO tape material, a new membrane technology to produce ultra-pure hydrogen and a new virtual reality software technology to improve radioprotection.
SOFT is an important conference in the area of fusion technology and research in Europe. It attracts over 800 scientists, engineers, industry representatives and exhibitors from around the world.
Physicist François Ryter, of the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP) in Garching, Germany, has received the 2017 Nuclear Fusion Award.
The annual award recognizes exceptional work that has appeared in Nuclear Fusion, and that has had the greatest influence in the two years following publication.
Ryter was honoured for his 2014 paper on experiments in Garching's ASDEX Upgrade tokamak. "Delivering an outstanding piece of work on L—H transition physics, Ryter et al present a systematic and rigorous experimental study revealing the key role of the ion heat flux at the plasma edge. This explains the nonlinear dependence of the L—H threshold power on density and enables the derivation of a general expression for the density minimum. This is an important physics finding, with implications for ITER operation," the award panel announced.
"Few projects in the world combine such ambition, cutting-edge science and technology, and energy for future generations."
With these words Johannes Schwemmer, the Director of the European Domestic Agency, opened the 10-year anniversary celebration of Europe's involvement in ITER on 30 November.
European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, Miguel Arias Cañete, went on to highlight the human capital behind this one-of-kind project and praised "the work of so-many scientists and engineers, and the fact that countries, industries and research centres are working together to translate a common vision into a reality." The Mayor of the city of Barcelona, Ada Colau, explained that it was "an honour to host the European Agency and this was also proof of Barcelona's commitment to science and innovation." For Spain's Secretary of State for Research, Development and Innovation, Carmen Vela, ITER will "also open the door to the commercialization of fusion energy by laying the industrial foundations in each of its parties."
View more on the event, as well as anniversary video clips, here.
Honoured for his role in fusion energy science
04 Dec 2017
The US Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded physicist Edmund Synakowski with its Meritorious Service Award. He received the honour "for strong and insightful leadership" during his eight years as Associate Director of the DOE's Office of Fusion Energy Sciences and for having "reshaped and improved the national fusion energy sciences program," administering an annual budget of about US $400 million to develop nuclear fusion as an energy source.
Synakowski is the new vice president for research and economic development of the University of Wyoming where the award ceremony took place on 29 November 2017. He previously led the fusion energy program at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and held a number of roles at Princeton University's Plasma Physics Laboratory.
Synakowski is an expert in plasma physics and has authored over 160 peer-reviewed articles on plasma fusion science.
Read the full article by the University of Wyoming here.
The Wendelstein 7-X magical virtual tour
30 Nov 2017
An unknown version of the famous Beatles song? No—a new way of exploring the experimental fusion device Wendelstein 7-X, located at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics in Greifswald, Germany.
Similar to ITER, Wendelstein 7-X aims to replicate the process at work in the core of the Sun to develop a clean and abundant energy source. This fusion device of the stellarator variety celebrated its first plasma in December 2015.
Are you interested in having a peek inside an extraordinary feat of science and technology? Normally accessible to experts only, Wendelstein 7-X has now opened its virtual doors and invites the interested public to a 360-degree tour. You can look into every corner of the experimentation hall, climb into the plasma vessel itself and visit the beam duct or listen to scientists explain the intricacies of the device and present their work. Information panels provide further background on plasma, superconducting magnets, graphite cladding, divertors and much more.
Go to this address to take a tour on your PC, tablet or smartphone.
Fundamental energy research at DIFFER (Eindhoven)
30 Nov 2017
At the Dutch Institute for Fundamental Energy Research, DIFFER, scientists are working to accelerate the transition to a sustainable society.
In the latest edition of the newsletter EXPLORE, researchers report on the promise of liquid metal walls in fusion reactors, the possibility of vapour shielding, and the institute's strategic plan for 2017-2022, which maintains a strong focus on fusion energy and solar fuels.
Plasma science is about to get a new online outlet. Aptly named Plasma, the cross-disciplinary scholarly journal will be a platform for all aspects of plasma science such as plasma physics, plasma chemistry and space plasma. Publication formats include research articles, reviews, short communications and letters.
The international, open-access and peer-reviewed scientific journal will be published quarterly by the Swiss online publisher MDPI. The first volume of the new journal is expected to come out in 2018.
David A. Gates, principal research physicist and Stellarator Physics Division Head at the US Department of Energy's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), is the newly appointed editor-in-chief of the journal. Following his nomination Gates said: "I look forward to helping advance the international research arena in plasma science. This is an outstanding opportunity to help promote the research of a vital area of physics and to open the door to communicating that research to the global community."
Plasma is the fourth state of matter. It is a hot, electrically charged gas and the most abundant form of visible matter in the universe. Some 99 percent of the known universe is in plasma state. Plasma can also be found on Earth such as in lightning and fluorescent light bulbs.
Representatives of the European Commission and delegates to the Council of the European Union responsible for science and research visited ITER on 20 November.
Their aim was to get first-hand information on the current status of the ITER Project to allow member states to respond to the Commission. Thirty-four delegates from 18 states plus Switzerland participated.
In a communication issued in June 2017, the Commission had requested support from the European Parliament and for a mandate from the Council of the European Union to approve—on behalf of Euratom—the new ITER Baseline, including the new schedule and the associated resource requirements.
The request was based on the Commission's positive assessment of the changes in the overall management of the ITER Project and the completion of important milestones in the preceding two years.
"Baking" the MAST tokamak
20 Nov 2017
The Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE) in the United Kingdom, owned and operated by the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA), is home to two magnetic fusion experiments.
The European tokamak JET is currently getting ready for a run of experiments using the high-power fuel mixture of deuterium and tritium (DT), while the Mega Amp Spherical Tokamak (MAST) is nearing the end of an upgrade program (completion 2018) to investigate the super-X divertor—a magnetic configuration that spreads the heat loads at the divertor area of the machine.
MAST is about to undergo a baking operation in order to clean the interior surfaces of the vessel and enable the ultra-high vacuum required for operation. In this picture, the machine has been fitted with a thermal jacket, ready for baking at 160 °C.
Read more about the operation on the CCFE website.
13 Nov 2017
Fourteen authors and one illustrator share their passion for fusion in special October issue of Fusion in Europe. The issue contains a variety of topics ranging from ITER, JET, Brexit, material science, the Lawson Criterion, plasma turbulence and the history of fusion research in Mexico.
What is also special about the issue is that most of the authors are students or young researchers from around the world. The newsletter is thus a window onto the views of the next generation of fusion professionals and enthusiasts.
Click here to view the full October issue of Fusion in Europe.
Improving plasma stability in KSTAR
13 Nov 2017
A major challenge in the development of fusion energy is maintaining the ultra-hot plasma of a fusion device in a steady state, or stable form. While superconductors can allow a fusion reactor to operate indefinitely, controlling the plasma with superconductors presents a challenge because engineering constraints limit their response time compared to the more energy consuming copper coils.
The slower pace makes it difficult to operate a stable discharge with the large plasma volume or extended vertical height required for producing fusion power. Exploration of this issue in a current superconducting device is particularly helpful for ITER, which will be operational in 2025.
At the leading edge of this control challenge is the Korea Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research (KSTAR) device, one of the largest superconducting tokamaks in the world. Its superconductors are made of niobium and tin, the same conductor that is planned for use in ITER.
A team of US and Korean researchers, led by physicist Dennis Mueller (photo) of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), has now sharply improved the stability of the elongated plasma in KSTAR, setting an example for how to address similar issues in other superconducting devices such as ITER. The successful control method, demonstrated this summer by Mueller and physicists from the National Fusion Research Institute (NFRI) in South Korea, which operates the tokamak, and General Atomics in San Diego, caps years of effort to control the vertical instability, which had allowed the plasma to bounce up and down in the 11-foot-high vacuum vessel.
See how they did it in the full article on the PPPL website.
Just like the sun? Not quite ...
13 Nov 2017
It is inscribed in bold letters on the large poster that is affixed to the ITER Assembly Hall: harnessing fusion energy is akin to "bringing the power of the Sun to Earth."
And it is true: like the Sun, the ITER Tokamak will produce energy by fusing hydrogen nuclei into helium.
The fusion reaction in our machine, however, is not like that which occurs in Sun-like stars. Although the end product (helium) and the ingredients (hydrogen isotopes in one case, hydrogen in the other) are the same, the nature of the process is profoundly different.
In a recent article on the Forbes website astrophysicist Ethan Siegel explains how "hydrogen-fusing-into-helium makes up less than half of all nuclear reactions in our Sun," and how the nuclear physics in stellar bodies abounds in "strange, unearthly phenomena."
The inscription on the Assembly Hall remains nonetheless true. ITER is indeed "bringing the power of the Sun to Earth." It's just that stars and tokamaks have different ways of obtaining a similar result.
Microwaves can control Alfvén waves in fusion plasmas
09 Nov 2017
An international team of fusion experts working at the DIII-D National Fusion Facility in San Diego, California, has discovered a way to minimize the effects of a phenomenon that can decrease the performance of fusion reactors and even possibly cause damage to the device. This work shows that localized electron heating by microwaves is an effective tool for modifying Alfvén eigenmode activity in DIII-D and other devices worldwide.
Alfvén waves can cause redistribution or loss of the injected neutral beam ions that are needed to heat fusion devices and of the helium nuclei (alpha particles) produced by the fusion reaction that also contribute to the continued heating of the plasma. If left to grow unabated, the Alfvén waves can result in reduced performance and potentially damage vessel components.
Powerful microwave beams deposited near the location of so-called reversed shear Alfvén eigenmodes (RSAEs) are found to modify the wave activity significantly—in some cases completely removing the modes. Based on experiments run at the DIII-D tokamak, the team has arrived at a simple model that determines how to predictably minimize RSAEs by using microwaves to heat the electrons at particular points in the plasma.
-- Spectrograms showing the change in wave activity with and without microwave heating. With no heating (top), upward frequency sweeping RSAEs are observed. With heating near the wave location (bottom), no RSAEs are expected or observed. Adapted from: M.A. Van Zeeland, W.W. Heidbrink , S.E. Sharapov , D. Spong , A. Cappa, et.al., Nucl. Fusion 56, 112007 (2016).
Is fusion the fuel of the future?
30 Oct 2017
An update on ITER has been published in the Autumn 2017 issue of Energy Focus, the flagship magazine of the UK-based Energy Industries Council.
Titled "Is Fusion the Fuel of the Future?" the article describes recent project performance, concerns about the effect of Brexit, and why it's all worth it.
You can read the article on line at Energy Focus (pp 46-47).
ITER on National Geographic
25 Oct 2017
A new National Geographic series on renewable energy, called "Positive Energy," will be featuring the ITER Project in one of its upcoming episodes.
The episode will be viewable on the National Geographic Channel in Europe on Wednesday 1 November at 10:00 p.m.
It has already been broadcast on the National Geographic Channel in Africa and China (25 October) and in the Americas (18 October).
How bubbles at the edge of plasmas can reduce reaction efficiency
23 Oct 2017
For hydrogen atoms to fuse into helium, the heat of the ultrahot plasma in the tokamak must be maintained. But, like boiling water, plasma has blobs (or bubbles) that percolate within the plasma edge, reducing the performance of the plasma by taking away heat that sustains the fusion reactions.
Now, scientists at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) in the US have completed new simulations that could provide insight into how blobs at the plasma edge behave. The simulations, produced by a code called XGC1 developed by a national team based at PPPL, performed kinetic simulations of two different regions of the plasma edge simultaneously. This ability produces a more fundamental and fuller picture of how heat moves from plasma to the walls, potentially causing damage.
Blobs play an important role in the outward movement of particles in plasma. Blobs cause approximately 50 percent of the particle loss at the plasma edge, and researchers have observed blobs in a wide range of plasma devices, including tokamaks, figure-eight-shaped fusion devices known as stellarators, and linear machines. "The big picture is that blobs can pull energy and particles out of the plasma, and you don't want that," said PPPL physicist Michael Churchill, lead author of a paper describing the results in the journal Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion. Churchill said. "You want to keep things confined."
Researchers led by the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have proposed an innovative design to improve the ability of future fusion power plants to generate safe, clean and abundant energy in a steady state, or constant, manner. The design uses loops of liquid lithium to clean and recycle the tritium, the radioactive hydrogen isotope that fuels fusion reactions, and to protect the divertor plates from intense exhaust heat from the tokamak that contains the reactions.
"There are many challenges to developing fusion energy and the handling of heat on divertor plates is among them," said PPPL physicist Masa Ono, lead author of a paper about the design published in the journal Nuclear Fusion. "We wanted to see how we can protect the divertor plates and keep the fusion chamber clean."
The system that Ono and colleagues designed calls for pumping liquid lithium in and out of a tokamak, a type of magnetic fusion device, to maintain steady state operation while cleaning out dust and other impurities from the plasma and safeguarding the divertor. The lithium, a silvery metal that readily combines with other elements, would serve a number of functions, including protecting the divertor plates, capturing tritium for recycling, and removing dust and other unwanted elements.
-- Physicist Masa Ono of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory.
Powering the world
16 Oct 2017
According to the United States Energy Information Administration, the amount of energy supplied by all fuel sources across the world is tremendous: 155,481 teraWatt-hours as of 2014, the latest year on record.
In order to meet this enormous energy demand in a given year, we need to burn 24 billions tonnes of coal, or 12 billion tonnes of oil, or a bit less of natural gas (10.4 billion tonnes).That's for fossil fuels.
If we were to use only conventional nuclear energy to power the world, we would need to consume approximately 7,000 tonnes of nuclear fuel (enriched uranium or mixed oxyde).
However with nuclear fusion, only 867 tonnes of hydrogen would suffice...
Forbes magazine has a detailed article on this topic here.
Experiments on the WEST tokamak should resume in October
13 Oct 2017
The WEST project is based on an upgrade of the Tore Supra tokamak, in operation since 1988 in France (CEA- IRFM).
With its new tungsten divertor WEST has become a test bed for ITER, capable of testing ITER high heat flux component technologies in relevant plasma conditions.
Following the commissioning of its sub-systems, WEST has had a short shutdown period during which the ICRH antenna was installed and other machine optimization activities carried out. Plasma experiments should resume in October.
The European Domestic Agency has successfully tested prototypes of a specific type of magnetic diagnostic sensor at the Belgian SCK-CEN and the Czech REZ laboratories.
The diagnostic sensor prototypes, based on Low-Temperature Co-fired Ceramic (LTCC) technology, responded well to neutron exposure. Data collected throughout the experimentation will help engineers optimize the sensors' final design.
The diagnostic LTCC sensors measure the magnetic field around the plasma core and yield vital information regarding its position and shape. Of the more than 1,500 magnetic field sensors of various different types required on ITER, the LTCC-based sensors will be most exposed to neutrons.
The prototypes were manufactured by EPFL (Switzerland), Via Electronic (Germany) and VTT (Finland).
Read the full story on the European Domestic Agency website.
Fusion documentary opens Pariscience Film Festival
09 Oct 2017
It was against the backdrop of the magnificent National Museum of Natural History where "Let there be Light" celebrated its most recent success by opening the 2017 edition of the Pariscience Film Festival.
More than 200 guests, among them many film-producers and journalists, had gathered in the historic amphitheatre to watch the award-winning 90-minute documentary on fusion energy produced by Canadian director Mila Aung-Thwin and cinematographer Van Royko.
Only four days before, Mila Aung-Thwin had attended the Zurich Film Festival where the film screened twice. Now he was on stage in Paris, together with ITER Director-General Bernard Bigot and ITER scientist Mark Henderson, answering the questions from the audience. For most of the attendees, the film had been the first contact with the ITER Project and so the crowd was curious to learn more about the international quest for fusion energy.
The applause at the end paid tribute to an entertaining evening and—as many professional film producers attested—to an outstanding film.
Russia ships 85 tonnes of busbars
02 Oct 2017
A third batch of electrotechnical equipment has left the port of Saint Petersburg, Russia, for delivery to ITER. On board are 85 tonnes of aluminium DC busbars and system components, part of an overall procurement package that includes some 5 kilometres of busbars (500 tonnes) as well as fast discharge units and switching networks.
Busbars are the long metal components that will "snake" through the installation to feed the superconducting magnets with large amounts of current. The biggest are designed to carry close to 70 kiloamps of current to the 18 toroidal field coils of the machine; others will connect to the poloidal field coils, correction coils and the central solenoid.
The first two batches of equipment were delivered and 2015 and 2016, and more are expected. The main supplier of this equipment is the Efremov Institute (NIIEFA), St. Petersburg.
--Alex Petrov, ITER Russia
New interim director for Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory
28 Sep 2017
Rich Hawryluk—who was Deputy Director-General for the Administration Department at the ITER Organization from 2011 to 2013—has been appointed interim director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) while an international search for a permanent director moves forward.
The leadership change comes as PPPL moves forward with the recovery phase of the NSTX-U spherical tokamak, which encountered a malfunction in one of its magnet coils in 2016. The lab is constructing prototype magnets in preparation for replacing the one that failed last year, as well as five others that were built under similar conditions.
Hawryluk has a long association with the PPPL lab, having served as former head of the Tokamak Fusion Test Reactor (TFTR) in the 1990s, deputy director of the laboratory from 1997 to 2008, and head of the ITER and Tokamaks Department from 2009 to 2011 and 2013 to the present.
Photo reportage of the KTM tokamak
14 Sep 2017
The KTM tokamak, based at the National Nuclear Center in Kurchatov, Kazakhstan, is a small and versatile machine that is capable of testing materials under high particle and heat flux.
The spotlight turned this summer to this recent member of the worldwide tokamak community, as Kazakhstan hosted the 2017 World's Fair. A Cooperation Agreement was also signed between Kazakhstan's National Nuclear Center and the ITER Organization in June 2017 that opens the door to scientific and engineering cooperation between the two institutions.
Kazakh Journalist Grigory Bedenko has visited the KTM Tokamak in Kurchatov, where commissioning operations are underway in preparation for the start of operations next year.
ITER's vacuum vessel port plugs are critical components that seal the plasma chamber and allow experiments to take place in a high vacuum environment.
The Russian Domestic Agency—responsible for supplying four test stands for the vacuum, heat and functional testing of the port plugs before their installation on the machine—has contracted with the Russian firm Cryogenmash for the development of the technology.
The team at Cryogenmash is currently testing the sealing flanges that will secure the port plugs on the test stand and running tests on the gaskets to arrive at a final choice of technology and material. Vacuum and leak tests were run recently with results that surpassed expectations.
The latest podcast from Decrypted by Bloomberg starts with the question: "How close are we to realizing the silver bullet for clean, cheap and abundant energy ... fusion?"
Featuring lengthy interviews at the US Department of Energy's largest science and energy laboratory, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, journalists Jing Cao and Aki Ito delve into the way nuclear fusion fuels our Sun and stars and how scientists plan to make it commercially viable on Earth, despite a lack of funding ...
Follow the 25-minute podcast "The Nuclear Tech Breakthrough That Could Make Oil Obsolete" here.
PPPL physicist discovers that some plasma instabilities can extinguish themselves
24 Aug 2017
Physicist Fatima Ebrahimi from the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) has for the first time used advanced models to accurately simulate key characteristics of the cyclic behaviour of edge-localized modes (ELMs), a particular type of plasma instability.
The findings could help physicists more fully comprehend the behaviour of plasma, the hot, charged gas that fuels fusion reactions in doughnut-shaped fusion facilities called tokamaks, and more reliably produce plasmas for fusion reactions. The findings could also provide insight into solar flares, the eruptions of enormous masses of plasma from the surface of the sun into space.
ELMs occur around the outer edge of high-confinement, or H-mode, plasmas due to strong edge currents. Ebrahimi used a computer simulation code known as NIMROD to show how ELMs go through a repeated cycle in which they form, develop, and vanish.
The model demonstrates that ELMs can form when a steep gradient of current exists at the plasma edge. The gradient develops when the plasma moves suddenly up or down, creating a bump in the current and forming an edge current sheet. The instability then forms a current-carrying filament that moves around the tokamak, producing electrical fields that interfere with the currents that caused the ELMs to form. With the original currents disrupted, the ELM dies. "In a way," Ebrahimi said, "an ELM eliminates its own source — erases the bump on the edge current — by its own motion."
Ebrahimi's findings are consistent with observations of cyclic behaviour of ELMs in tokamaks around the world. These include Pegasus, a small spherical device at the University of Wisconsin; the Mega Ampere Spherical Tokamak (MAST) in the United Kingdom; and the National Spherical Torus Experiment (NSTX), the flagship facility at PPPL before its recent upgrade. The research could also improve understanding of solar eruptions, which are accompanied by filamentary structures similar to those produced by ELMs. Her next step will involve investigating the impact of differences in plasma pressure on the cyclic behaviour of ELMs.
The elements of the ITER divertor that will directly face the hot plasma must withstand a heat load that is estimated at ten times that of a spacecraft re-entering Earth's atmosphere.
Procuring parties Russia (divertor dome), Japan (divertor outer targets) and Europe (divertor inner targets) are all engaged in multiyear qualification programs that include prototype fabrication and high heat flux testing.
The European Domestic Agency made the choice of contracting with three separate manufacturers for the development of small-scale inner vertical target prototypes that are 1/19th of the actual scale needed for ITER. In the first stage of the pre-qualification program the prototypes were successfully tested in high heat flux conditions; the next step will now be to develop full-scale prototypes. This phase—which involves the three manufacturers plus a fourth, pre-qualified supplier—is expected to last approximately three years.
Read the full article on the European Domestic Agency website.
In memoriam: Dr Yasuo Shimomura
04 Aug 2017
We have learned with profound sadness of the passing of Dr Yasuo Shimomura, who served as ITER Deputy Director from the beginning of the Engineering Design Activities (EDA) in 1992 until 2001. From 2001 until 2003 Dr Shimomura was ITER International Team Co-Leader, and from 2003 until 2005 he was ITER Interim Project Leader; during this last period he led the ITER team through the difficult transitional phase from the design activity to the start of construction in 2006.
A graduate of Osaka University, Dr Shimomura had a distinguished career in fusion research at the Japan Atomic Energy Research Institute, JAERI (now part of the National Institutes for Quantum and Radiological Science and Technology, QST). He was a leading figure in the construction and operation of the JFT-2a/DIVA tokamak, developing a reactor-relevant divertor concept that is currently being applied to ITER. He was also Leader of the JT-60 Experimental Planning and Analysis Group, and in 1986 was appointed as Head of the Large Tokamak Experiment Division at JAERI, with overall responsibility for the JT-60 tokamak. From 1988 he combined the leadership of the JT-60 device and its conversion to JT-60U with an appointment as Head of the Poloidal Field Design Group within the ITER Conceptual Design Activities (CDA). He was appointed ITER Deputy Director within the ITER EDA in July 1992, with responsibility for the design integration of the project. Dr Shimomura also held guest scientist positions at Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory from 1976 to 1977 and at the Max-Planck-Institut für Plasmaphysik in Garching from 1981 to 1982.
Dr Shimomura will be remembered by his many friends and colleagues in the ITER community as a gifted physicist who contributed greatly to the project during an involvement spanning 20 years. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him and who benefitted from his leadership and guidance.
Exploring welding techniques for test blanket modules in Europe
03 Aug 2017
In ITER, six technological solutions for tritium breeding—in the form of test blanket modules plus associated ancillary systems—will be operated and tested for the first time. Their experimental validation will represent a major step for fusion development beyond ITER, when tritium fuel will necessarily have to be bred within the reactor.
In China, Europe, India, Japan and Korea these solutions are under development, with Russia and the United States contributing R&D and providing general support for the test blanket module program.
Europe is developing two types of test blanket modules, which consist of a steel box containing tritium breeders, neutron multiplier materials and heat extraction plates. Over the past two years, the European Domestic Agency and industrial partners have been manufacturing mockups of these boxes to test welding techniques. A preliminary welding procedure, employing a tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding robot to carry out the tasks within the limited space of the box, has been identified. The welding qualification cycle is expected to end within the next two years.
See the full article on the European Domestic Agency website.
Ed Synakowski changes roles
26 Jul 2017
Edmund Synakowski—the Associate Director of the US Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Fusion Energy Sciences and former ITER Council Vice-Chair—has been chosen as the University of Wyoming's vice president for research and economic development. Synakowski will also be a professor in the university's Department of Physics and Astronomy.
The role of the vice president for research and economic development is to support and facilitate the research efforts of University of Wyoming's faculty, staff and students; direct the university's research mission as a public research university; promote the university's research program with stakeholders; and direct technology transfer and commercialization efforts for the university's intellectual property.
Synakowski has held his current position, associate director of science in the Department of Energy, since 2009, administering a budget of about $400 million annually to develop nuclear fusion as an energy source. His agency supports research at more than 50 universities, eight national and two federal laboratories, and 15 industry groups.
He previously led the Fusion Energy Program at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and held a number of roles at Princeton University's Plasma Physics Laboratory.
Read the full report on the University of Wyoming's website here.
Miniature eyes for maintenance
26 Jul 2017
At least 100 miniature cameras will be installed inside the ITER machine to act as the eyes for operators charged with machine maintenance.
Some of them will give a wide-angle view of the inside of the machine; others will be embedded on the robotic arms used for repairs. By receiving live image from the cameras, engineers hundreds of metres away will be able to operate maintenance and repair equipment with extreme accuracy.
The European Domestic Agency has been working with Oxford Technologies Limited (OTL) to develop and validate the different subsystems of the miniature cameras, which will have to operate within severe space constraints and often in an environment exposed to radiation. Subsystems developed by ISAE, France (image sensors); CEA, France (illumination system); and Jean Monnet University Saint Etienne, France (optic system) have been successfully tested over the past year at Belgium's SCK-CEN facility where they were exposed to different levels of gamma radiation.
The next step will be to develop a camera prototype.
Read the full story on the European Domestic Agency website.
How hot is too hot?
10 Jul 2017
To predict the impact of removing exhaust heat from the ITER Tokamak, researchers are calling on the Titan supercomputer at the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility in the US.
Using the 27-petaflop behemoth, researchers based at Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) are simulating the area where the plasma edge meets the divertor—the material structure engineered to remove exhaust heat from the vacuum vessel. Specifically, the team has evaluated the heat-flux width at the divertor, or the width of the material surface that might sustain the highest heat load.
Because the divertor directly faces the exhaust flow, it is bombarded with hot particles driven by electromagnetic fluctuations. In ITER, in order to withstand the highest surface heat load, the divertor will be made of the toughest element on Earth: tungsten.
"You don't want to start and stop ITER too often to replace this divertor material, so it has to be able to withstand the heat load," team leader C.S. Chang reports. "Ideally, we want the hot exhaust particles to hit the surface in a much wider area so that it's not damaged."
Based on simulations made possible by Titan's supercomputing capacity, Chang's team predicts that in ITER, due to the size of the plasma, edge plasma turbulence may spread heat across a larger area of the divertor surface and significantly increase the heat-flux width relative to current smaller-scale fusion devices.
At the Swiss Plasma Center in Lausanne, Switzerland, the TCV tokamak was recently shut down for an upgrade of its Thomson scattering diagnostic. The operation was successful: shortly after commissioning the first measurements demonstrated greatly enhanced spatial and spectral resolution for the temperature and density profile measurements of TCV plasmas.
TCV is a variable configuration tokamak with highly specialized capabilities (plasma shaping, versatile electron cyclotron heating, measurement, control systems) for the exploration of the physics of magnetically confined plasmas.
See the full article on the EPFL/Swiss Plasma Center website.
How to maintain the divertor?
26 Jun 2017
Under contract with the European Domestic Agency, a team of experts has been working for more than a year to identify key technologies to perform the cutting and welding operations that will be required during the change-out of ITER divertor cassettes.
The technical constraints are enormous—the work (both cutting and welding) will have to be performed remotely, the operational space is severely limited, and no lubricant can be applied as ITER is a nuclear environment.
Experts from Assystem UK and the UKAEA robotics development laboratory RACE (for Remote Applications in Challenging Environments) have identified candidate techniques; now trials are underway and the search is on for the best tools to do the work remotely.
Read more on the European Domestic Agency website.
26 Jun 2017
The steel, the pipes, the tangle of cables and wires ... to sum it looks confusingly technological—but to others it's inspiring!
UK artist Sarah Moncrieff specialises in urban scenes and industrial interiors. She first heard of JET, the European fusion research experiment hosted at the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE), via a friend who works at the site.
"He thought, quite accurately, that I would be interested in it as a subject for my painting. What I hadn't anticipated was how much I would become interested in the work that is done at Culham. The work is fascinating and the sense of seeing something at the forefront of scientific progress was thrilling for me. I know that excitement informed my paintings."
Sarah's paintings of JET were recently exposed at an on-site Open Day, to popular acclaim. You can see more of Sarah's work on her website.
After celebrating its First Plasma in December 2016, the WEST tokamak (for WEnvironment in Steady-state Tokamak) was reopened for the installation of two modified LHCD antennas for plasma heating (through lower hybrid current drive), then plasma operations restarted in April 2017.
Although plasma breakdown was routinely achieved, the ramping up of the plasma current was found to be difficult due to induced currents in the passive structures that have been introduced inside the vacuum vessel to produce the divertor configuration.
In effect, the WEST test platform is a modification of the Tore Supra tokamak at the Institute for Magnetic Research (CEA Cadarache, France) that introduces an actively cooled tungsten divertor. The machine has been considerably altered, with a "welcoming structure" for the new divertor, new in-vessel coils, new diagnostics, and adaptations to the heating, fuelling and cooling systems.
The vessel has been reopened to address stray magnetic field compensation through modification of the divertor baffle and a reduction in its electric conductivity to limit induced current. Experiments are expected to resume by the end of June.
For fusion to generate substantial energy, the ultra-hot plasma that fuels fusion reactions must remain stable and kept from cooling. Researchers have recently shown lithium, a soft, silver-white metal, to be effective in both respects during path-setting US-Chinese experiments on the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) in Hefei, China.
Seven US researchers traveled to EAST in December, 2016, to participate in the experiments. They deployed lithium in the Chinese tokamak in three different ways: through a lithium powder injector, a lithium granule injector, and a flowing liquid lithium limiter (FLiLi) that delivered the element in liquid form to the edge of EAST plasmas. Good results were shown by all three techniques.
Leading the US collaboration is the US Department of Energy's (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), together with co-principal investigators Los Alamos and Oak Ridge National Laboratories, with Johns Hopkins University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Scientists from General Atomics also participate via a separate grant.
It is with great regret that the ITER community has learned of the sudden passing of Professor Predhiman Krishan Kaw on 18 June.
Professor Kaw was a well-known and highly respected plasma physicist, author of over 380 research publications in scientific journals. He was the founding director of the Institute for Plasma Research in Gujarat, India, which he led from 1986 to 2012. Named Year of Science Chair by the Indian Department of Science & Technology (DST), Professor Kaw continued to be active in research and in the mentoring and training of the younger generation of plasma physicists as DST Professor at the Institute for Plasma Research.
Professor Kaw was also the first Chair of the ITER Council Science and Technology Advisory Committee (STAC), leading the committee's deliberations from 2007 to 2009, and a regular participant to ITER Council meetings as Representative of India.
For his outstanding contributions to experimental and/or theoretical research in fundamental plasma physics and plasma applications, he was awarded the prestigious Padma Shri award (India's fourth highest honour) in 1985; the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize for Science and Technology in 1986; the World Academy of Sciences (TWAP) Prize in 2008; and the Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar Prize of Plasma Physics in 2016 (see related article in Newsline).
See the Institute for Plasma Researchwebsite for more information.
Professor Predhiman Krishan Kaw (2nd from left) is seen here on 21 November 2014 at the inauguration of the Cryostat Workshop, where India is assembling the ITER cryostat. With him are the former ITER Director-General Osamu Motojima; M.V. Kotwal, president of Larsen & Toubro's Heavy Engineering Division; and Shishir P. Deshpande, Head of the Indian Domestic Agency.
Does your project need computing power?
12 Jun 2017
The Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE) in the UK is looking for people in the fusion community who could benefit from its new cloud-based computing facility, which has a capacity to crunch data that could help researchers and promote collaborative projects.
The CUMULUS Modular Data Centre, which opened in May, propels CCFE into the next era of supercomputing. With a total of 1128 cores, 18 terabytes of RAM and 170 TB of high performance storage—and the capacity to grow in sync with CCFE's need for computing power—the cloud-base system is also open to users across the international fusion community.
Lithium oxide on tokamak walls can improve plasma performance
05 Jun 2017
Lithium compounds improve plasma performance in fusion devices just as well as pure lithium does, a team of physicists at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) has found.
The research was conducted by former Princeton University physics graduate student Matt Lucia under the guidance of Robert Kaita, principal research physicist at PPPL and one of Lucia's thesis advisors, as well as the team of scientists working on a machine known as the Lithium Tokamak Experiment (LTX).
Lucia used a new device known as the materials analysis and particle probe (MAPP), invented at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and installed on LTX. The MAPP system lets scientists withdraw samples into a chamber connected to LTX and study them without compromising LTX's vacuum environment. MAPP lets scientists analyze how tokamak plasmas affect a material immediately after the experiment ends. In the past, scientists could only study samples after the machine had been shut down for maintenance; at that point, the vacuum had been broken and the samples had been exposed to many experiments, as well as to air.
Lucia used the evaporation technique to coat a piece of metal with lithium, and then used MAPP to expose the metal to plasma within LTX. As he expected, Lucia observed lithium oxide, which forms when lithium reacts with residual oxygen in LTX's vacuum chamber. He was surprised, however, to find that the compound was just as capable of absorbing deuterium as pure lithium was.
"Matt discovered that even after the lithium coating was allowed to sit on the plasma-facing components within LTX and oxidize, it still was able to bind hydrogen," said Kaita.
Lucia's results are the first direct evidence that lithium oxide forms on tokamak walls and that it retains hydrogen isotopes as well as pure lithium does. They support the observation that lithium oxide can form on both graphite, like the tiles in NSTX, and on metal, and improve plasma performance.
Read the full article by Raphael Rosen on the PPPL website.
-- Physicists Robert Kaita and Michael Jaworski in front of another PPPL fusion device, the NSTX-Upgrade.
Six plasma exhaust projects to receive funding in Europe
23 May 2017
In the context of its Roadmap to the realization of fusion electricity EUROfusion, the European Consortium for the Development of Fusion Energy, has identified a number of crucial technical challenges that must be addressed through advanced research.
One of these is finding a viable solution for the heat exhaust in a future fusion reactor, considering that the divertor strategy planned for ITER cannot be extrapolated to a larger, steady-state facility.
Late 2015, EUROfusion called for proposals on plasma exhaust projects, which an independent panel of experts evaluated. The call, termed Plasma Exhaust (PEX) Assessment, received ten proposals that covered conventional and alternative divertors, as well as conventional materials and plasma-facing units as well as advanced materials.
EUROfusion selected six projects for receiving support. These include: ASDEX Upgrade at the Max Planck Institute of Plasma Physics, Garching (Germany); Forschungszentrum Jülich (Germany); Jozef Stefan Institute (Slovenia); MAST-Upgrade, (United Kingdom); TCV at the Swiss Plasma Center (Switzerland); and WEST at CEA (France).
After the success of the first fusion writers' edition of Fusion in Europelast year, the magazine is again looking for ambitious volunteer writers for the 2017 autumn issue.
Fusion in Europe is the regular publication of EUROfusion, the European Consortium for the Development of Fusion Energy, which manages European fusion research activitites on behalf of Euratom.
Applicants should be enthusiastic and ambitious, with ideas about how to share the promise of fusion with the world. The deadline is 21 June. For more information, please visit this link.
Fusion materials tested at unique facility
15 May 2017
Scientists now have a better understanding of the factors leading to steel degradation and of the ways to improve the design and development of key components, such as the ITER breeding blankets—where tritium fuel will be produced from the interaction of fusion neutrons with lithium.
In a unique test facility at the Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (ENEA) in Brasimone, candidate steels were exposed to liquid lithium in order to measure degradation (corrosion and/or erosion) over time.
Two types of reduced activation ferritic martensitic (RAFM) steels under consideration for fusion applications—EUROFER97 and F82H—were tested at ENEA's LiFus6, built for the IFMIF/EVEDA project (IFMIF will carry out testing and qualification of advanced materials under conditions similar to those of a future fusion power plant/EVEDA is advancing the engineering validation of key IFMIF components and systems).
IFMIF/EVEDA is developed jointly by Europe and Japan in the framework of the Broader Approach agreement, which covers fusion R&D activities that are complementary to ITER and the next-stage device DEMO.
Read more about the successful LiFus6 test campaign on the European Domestic Agency website.
Image: Celebrating at ENEA: IFMIF/EVEDA Project Committee members and representatives of contributing laboratories.
Useful downtime at Wendelstein 7-X
01 May 2017
Following an initial run at the Wendelstein 7-X stellarator that lasted from December 2015 to March 2016, a shutdown phase ensued to equip the machine for an operational campaign with longer discharges and higher heating power.
As part of tasks to prepare for the next phase, programmed to start this summer, technicians have installed or adapted 8,000 graphite tiles on the inner wall of the plasma vessel, replaced the limiter with a test divertor, and installed cooling structures such as pipes and shields.
Culham's new tokamak MAST Upgrade is to receive funding to tackle one of the hottest issues in fusion energy research—plasma exhaust.
EUROfusion, the European consortium for fusion R&D, has approved the first phase of its contribution to a £21-million program of enhancements to MAST Upgrade, which is only months away from its first operations. Funding for the enhancements, which will be phased from now to 2022, will come jointly from EUROfusion and the UK's Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.
The controlled exhaust of power and particles from a very hot tokamak fusion plasma, through the divertor area of the machine, is arguably the biggest challenge facing a future fusion power plant. The extreme power loadings (>10 megawatts per square metre—higher than that on a spacecraft re-entering Earth's atmosphere) in a conventional divertor will require regular replacement of reactor components and adversely affect the economics and cost of electricity. It is no surprise, then, that divertor and exhaust physics is a major part of EUROfusion's reactor design work as part of their EU Roadmap to the Realisation of Fusion Energy.
See the original article at the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE) to find out more about the planned enhancements.
Light shed on mysterious plasma flows
10 Apr 2017
Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) and General Atomics have simulated a mysterious self-organized flow of the superhot plasma that fuels fusion reactions. The findings show that pumping more heat into the core of the plasma can drive instabilities that create plasma rotation inside the doughnut-shaped tokamak that houses the hot charged gas. This rotation may be used to improve the stability and performance of fusion devices.
The results, reported in January in the journal Physical Review Letters, use first principles-based plasma turbulence simulations of experiments performed on the DIII-D National Fusion Facility that General Atomics operates for the DOE in San Diego. The findings could lead to improved control of fusion reactions in ITER, the international experiment under construction in France to demonstrate the feasibility of fusion power.
In order to master what's commonly refered to as "the energy transition," a diversity of energy sources need to be matched up in the energy system of the future — decentralized and centralized, weather-dependent and continuously operable units.
The technological and economic interactions of all system components (generation, storage, load and transport facilities) and their intelligent networking are being tackled by the Energy System Integration project, which the Helmholtz Association is funding with five million euros in the next three years in the context of their Initiative and Networking Fund. The partners involved, including Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP) at Garching und Greifswald, are making further contributions.
The aim of the research project is to model the architecture for an environmentally compatible, efficient and stable energy system of the future.
Expected as new primary energy source in the second half of the century are fusion power plants, environmentally and climatically friendly facilities supplying about one gigawatt of electric power. The contribution of IPP will therefore be to work out the physical and technical properties of these devices — of either the tokamak or stellarator type.
Are you a university graduate who wants to gain international professional experience and contribute to the work of the European Domestic Agency for ITER? Or who is curious about ITER and simply wants to be part of one of the most ambitious energy projects in the world today? The European Domestic Agency for ITER is looking for graduates in engineering, physics, law, human resources, finance and communication for four to nine months beginning 1 October 2017.
The traineeship program is open to university graduates who are nationals of one of the Member States of the European Union or Switzerland, who have at least a three-year university degree obtained within the last three years, and a very good knowledge of English. Traineeships are offered in Barcelona (Spain), Garching (Germany) and at the ITER site in France.
The deadline to apply is 26 April 2017. Please find all information here.
Last piece in the MAST tokamak puzzle
22 Mar 2017
At the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy in the UK, the central magnet of the new MAST upgrade tokamak was positioned in early March, bringing the project one step closer to the finishing line.
When completed, the MAST upgrade will mark a step-up in performance from the original device, with an increase in magnetic field from 0.52 tesla to 0.78 tesla and in pulse length from 0.5 seconds to 5 seconds. The centre column, completely re-manufactured, is part of the magnetic coil system of the device with the role of inducing current to begin to heat the plasma.
Commissioning should begin this year.
Read the full report on the Culham Centre's website.
Helios supercomputer: retired after 5 years of service
20 Mar 2017
For five years, it has been a resource for the plasma physics community. The Helios supercomputer has performed complex calculations for plasma physics and fusion technology, allowing users to draw comparisons between current fusion experiments and run predictive simulations for future devices like ITER.
Helios has been in operation at the International Fusion Energy Research Centre (IFERC), hosted by the Japanese Atomic Energy Authority (JAEA) since late 2011. IFERC is one of the sub-projects of the Broader Approach agreement signed between Europe and Japan for advanced fusion R&D in complement to ITER.
After a very successful operational campaign, Helios was shut down earlier this year.
Read the full story on the European Domestic Agency website.
--The Helios Supercomputer at the Computational Simulation Centre in Japan (Source: JAEA)
No sleep during shutdown of JET tokamak
20 Mar 2017
The European tokamak JET is currently in an engineering shutdown phase. But shutdown doesn't mean inactivity—scientists are currently reviewing the 2015-2016 experimental campaign and preparing for the next scientific program, which will include tritium-tritium operation followed by full fusion power experiments using deuterium and tritium in 2019.
The JET remote handling team has taken advantage of shutdown to carry out a photographic survey of the vacuum vessel to inspect the condition of the wall, and to calibrate the detector that measures neutrons using the MASCOT remote handling system—a system allowing operators to undertake a wide range of tasks including welding, cutting, bolting, handling and inspection through a special manipulator that acts almost as the extension of an arm.
Read the full report on the website of the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE).
A new filter for heavy hydrogen
14 Mar 2017
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems, the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research, the University of Leipzig, Jacobs University Bremen, the University of Augsburg, and the US Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) are working collaboratively on a new technique for filtering the fusion fuel deuterium out of the natural isotopic mixture of hydrogen.
Deuterium is obtained from heavy water, which occurs in natural water at a concentration of just 15 parts per thousand. The heavy water is first isolated by a combination of chemical and physical methods, such as distillation, to obtain deuterium gas. The whole process is so intricate and energy-intensive that a gram of deuterium with a purity of 99.8 percent costs around $100, making hydrogen's heavy brother around three times more precious than gold, although deuterium is more than 300 times more abundant in the oceans and Earth's crust than gold.
A metal-organic framework compound presented by the group could make the process easier and less energy-intensive.
Every summer, the Max-Planck-Institute for Plasma Physics in Garching near Munich, Germany, organizes a one-week summer school in plasma physics for undergraduates.
The course covers the main aspects of plasma physics with emphasis on nuclear fusion:
Energy consumption and selected aspects of the environmental impact of energy production
Basics of plasma physics and nuclear fusion
Kinetic and magneto-hydrodynamic description of a plasma
Concepts and experimental results of tokamak and stellarator configurations
Plasma heating and diagnostics
Plasma-wall interaction and materials research
Safety and environmental aspects of fusion
ITER and the next steps towards a reactor
The lectures—held in English—are designed for physics and engineering students who have passed their bachelor (undergraduate) courses or Masters students who have not yet decided their PhD topic.
The next summer school will take place from 11 to 15 September 2017 at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP) in Garching, Germany. Follow this link for more information.
Quench tank delivery video
20 Feb 2017
Some 4,500 components, large and small, will be shipped to ITER for integration into the ITER cryoplant, which is under construction now on the ITER platform.
Two of the largest were delivered in November 2016 by the European Domestic Agency: 35-metre quench tanks that will store gaseous helium in the case of a magnet quench.
The tanks are formed from an inner stainless steel container that will hold the gas and an outer carbon steel shell that will insulate the inner vessel and keep the temperatures low.
Manufacturered by Air Liquide subcontractor Chart Ferox (Czech Republic) according to ITER Organization and European Domestic Agency requirements, the tanks travelled at night in a long convoy along the ITER Itinerary from the Mediterranean port of Fos-sur-Mer to ITER.
See the full report here (including a 4'10" video).
A new code and its photographic by-product
20 Feb 2017
A physicist at the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE) is developing a code to calibrate camera views of fusion experiments.
For the past two years, Scott Silburn has been leading the development of Calcam, a program for calibrating camera viewing geometry on fusion devices. The program allows the user to match up features seen in the camera images with those on a computer-aided design model from the drawing office at Culham. From this, the position, orientation, and lens properties of a camera system can be determined. This information can then be used to calculate exactly where the camera's lines-of-sight pass through the plasma, and also which locations on in-vessel components correspond to which positions in the image.
An example application of the code is improved positional calibration for JET's high-resolution divertor infrared cameras, which measure the heat loads at the strike points where the plasma interacts with the divertor tiles. The improved information has been used to improve the accuracy of some of the signals from the cameras, and makes it easier to compare the camera data against other diagnostic signals.
An agreable off-shoot of the technique is that it produces interesting images, as seen in the image above (photo credit: CCFE).
1st segments of the cryostat lower cylinder en route
13 Feb 2017
On 30 January, six large steel elements of the ITER cryostat left the port of Hazira, India for their one-month voyage to ITER.
These are the first segments of the cryostat lower cylinder (tier 1). On site at ITER, assembly activities (welding, testing) for the cryostat base have been underway since September 2016
Update available to 360° ITER site tour
13 Feb 2017
A lot has happened on the construction platform since the ITER 360° virtual tour was released to the website last year with an October data set.
The first ground-level walls of the Tokamak Complex are now visible from afar, the circular bioshield dominates in the centre, and two new buildings—one for radiofrequency heating and the other for cryogenics—are now completely framed out. Elsewhere on site, excavation and early foundation works are underway and the first activities to energize the 400 kV electrical switchyard have been carried out.
The best way to catch up on recent progress is to open the January 2017 update of the 360° virtual tour.
In a recent statement to parliament, the UK government confirmed that—as part of withdrawal from the European Union—the UK would also withdraw from the Euratom Treaty.
On 27 January EUROfusion, which manages European fusion research activities (including the exploitation of the JET tokamak) on behalf of Euratom, issued the following statement:
Although the withdrawal from Euratom brings in uncertainty to the future of the Joint European Torus (JET), EUROfusion's flagship experiment located at the Culham Center of Fusion Energy (CCFE) in Oxfordshire, the UK government has indicated strong interest in continuing collaboration in nuclear research. "The UK is a world leader in nuclear research and development and there is no intention to reduce our ambition in this important area. The UK fully recognises the importance of international collaboration in nuclear research and development and we will ensure this continues by seeking alternative arrangements," the government said in the statement.
[...] Researchers, engineers and technicians working at JET come from all over Europe, and currently, JET operations receive funding of €69 million, 87.5 percent of which is provided by the European Commission and 12.5 percent by the UK. It is the only existing fusion device capable of operating with the deuterium-tritium fuel, which will be the fusion fuel of the future. And, experiments carried out at JET are important foundations to the fusion experiment ITER, which is currently being built in Cadarache, France. "Naturally, the European fusion community is extremely interested to see a continuation of the JET programme," says Prof. Donné, EUROfusion program manager.
Please see the full statement on the EUROfusion website.
9th ITER International School
06 Feb 2017
Aix-Marseille University and the ITER Organization are pleased to announce the 9th ITER International School which will be held in Aix-en-Provence, France, from 20-24 March 2017.
This school, held annually either near ITER or in one of the ITER Members, aims at preparing young researchers to tackle the challenges of magnetic fusion devices, and spreading the global knowledge required for a timely and competent exploitation of the ITER physics potential.
This year, the summer school will cover the physics of disruptions and control—one of the key issues for the ITER reactor and burning plasmas in general. Lectures and specialized seminars will cover current developments in theory and experiments, but are also intended to give the basics of the field. Poster sessions allowing participants to show their work are planned. The 2017 ITER school will be a good opportunity for reviewing the recent progresses in this field and promoting the interaction between different branches of plasma physics, computational physics and applied mathematics.
The course is open to PhD students and postdocs aiming to work in the field of magnetically confined fusion, as well as Master students in physics or engineering.
Registration ends on 7 March 2017. For more information, please visit thewebsite.
Editor's note: The first ITER school was organized in July 2007 in Aix-en-Provence, France, and was focused on turbulent transport in fusion plasmas. Five different editions have followed, focused on different subjects: in 2008 in Fukuoka, Japan (magnetic confinement); in 2009 in Aix-en-Provence, France (plasma-surface interaction); in 2010 in Austin, Texas (Magneto-Hydro-Dynamics); in 2011 in Aix-en-Provence (energetic particles); in 2012 in Ahmedabad, India (radio-frequency heating), in 2014 in Aix-en-Provence (high performance computing in fusion science); and in 2016 in Hefei, China (transport and pedestal physics in tokamaks).
Looking for a high-alloy needle in the haystack
30 Jan 2017
Could high-entropy alloys—a combination of different metals in roughly equal concentration—turn out to be THE material for fusion reactors? That's the question materials physicists from the University of Helsinki (Finland) and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (US) are investigating.
The concept behind the creation of these alloys is ten years old and was first proposed by metallurgists. But based on work done at Oak Ridge, where these new hybrid metals were being tested under the influence of radiation, researchers in Finland began running experiments and simulations using different mixtures with nickel.
High-entropy alloys appear to be much more resistant to radiation than pure alloys. To date, the labs at Oak Ridge and the University of Helsinki have just combined two, three or four elements, whereas millions of possible combinations exist.
Specialists from The Welding Institute (TWI) in the United Kingdom visited ITER on 18 January to deliver a workshop to over 70 attendees from across the organization.
Overviews were given on different welding, joining and inspection techniques as well as the benefits and services available to ITER as corporate members of the TWI. Details of previous case studies carried out for both the ITER Organization and the European Domestic Agency were provided to demonstrate the large portfolio of services that can be called on.
During the open discussions there was particular interest from a number of ITER divisions in the potential use of ultrasonic inspection for both thin wall pipes and thick-section plates as an alternative to radiography; auditing of potential/in-contract suppliers; and third party manufacturing process review capabilities. Follow up meetings and initiatives on these and other subjects are anticipated to address the challenging, state of the art manufacturing processes required both at suppliers and on-site to enable the construction and assembly of ITER.
--Paul Edwards, ITER mechanical engineer/blanket manifolds
New member for the EUROfusion consortium
23 Jan 2017
The EUROfusion consortium welcomed its 30th member in January: Ukraine.
The Ukrainian signatory is the Kharkov Institute for Physics and Technology (KIPT), acting as coordinator for fusion research in seven national universities and research institutes. Fusion infrastructure in Ukraine includes two stellarators and two plasma accelerators, with particular expertise in the areas of plasma-facing components, materials, stellarator research and diagnostics.
The EUROfusion consortium coordinates work within the EUROfusion roadmap, which breaks down the path to the realization of fusion energy into specifically defined missions. Thirty research organizations and universities from 26 European countries plus Switzerland are now members; in addition about 100 Third Parties contribute to the research activities through the consortium members.
EUROfusion collaborates with the European Domestic Agency for ITER and intensively supports the ITER Organization.
Read the full story and find out more about EUROfusion and the European roadmap here.
New issue of ASDEX Upgrade newsletter
16 Jan 2017
The latest newsletter from the ASDEX Upgrade tokamak team in Germany reviews the improvements that were made in 2016 to the machine's in-vessel components and heating systems, discusses plans for the 2017 experimental campaign, and highlights the importance ASDEX operation to the achievement of Europe's Roadmap to the Realisation of Fusion Energy.
ASDEX Upgrade, in addition to contributing to the knowledge basis required to operate ITER, is focusing increasingly on issues relevent to DEMO, the next-step fusion device.
Read the December issue of the ASDEX Upgrade here.
ITER-like vertical stabilization system tested on EAST tokamak
16 Jan 2017
At the EAST tokamak in China, five Italian scientists recently joined their Chinese colleagues to participate in a week-long experiment aimed at testing a voltage-driven vertical stabilization system. The successful tests, carried out in the framework of a joint ASIPP-CREATE-ENEA collaboration, were a key step on the way to MIMO (multiple input, multiple output) control of advanced tokamak configurations, capable of decoupling shape control from vertical stabilization.
The new vertical stabilization system implemented and tested on EAST is identical to the one proposed for ITER, and these first tests show that it is compatible with the installation a new ITER-like multivariable shape controller for advanced configurations.
Logistics provider DAHER to run new distribution centre
09 Jan 2017
In 2012 the ITER Organization retained the European company DAHER to provide global transport, logistic and insurance services for the transport of components from supplier factories to the ITER site.
Since that date, DAHER has worked with all ITER Members on their transport needs, including the transport of exceptionally sized loads. The company manages all ITER logistics operations from a control room established in Marignane, France, close to the international airport that services the Marseille region.
In November 2016, the ITER Organization strengthened its ongoing relationship with DAHER with the signature of a new framework contract for the establishment and management of a central distribution centre located at the arrival port for all components shipped by sea (Fos-sur-Mer, France).
A warehouse space of 12,000 m2 has been fully refitted for ITER component storage. The central distribution centre will allow DAHER to match the rhythm of component deliveries to ITER's assembly needs.
Supercomputer in Japan used for plasma edge simulation
09 Jan 2017
Precise conditions are necessary to achieve fusion reactions inside of a high-temperature plasma. In addition to raising the temperature and the density in the core region of the plasma, which is confined by strong magnetic field, it is also necessary to control the edge region to prevent particles from moving in the direction of the vessel wall.
A precise understanding of this edge region of the plasma—and accurate predictions of its behaviour—is one of the important topics of fusion research around the world.
At the National Institute of Fusion Science (NIFS) in Japan, two researchers have succeeded in running a micro-level simulation of a plasma "blob" in the edge region by using their institute's Plasma Simulator supercomputer.
By marrying the supercomputer's computational capacity with a newly developed calculation program, they were able to calculate the movement of one billion particles. Their research results advance the understanding of the behaviour of the plasma edge and improve prediction accuracy.
Europhysics News has produced a special issue on nuclear fusion and plasma physics (Volume 47/No 5-6, September-December 2016).
The issue describes the state of fusion research in Europe, how ITER fits into the long-terms goals, and plans for the demonstration reactor after ITER (DEMO).
Highlights include contributions by the head ITER Organization's Science & Operations Department, David Campbell; EUROfusion's Tonny Donné; L.D. Horton from the JET tokamak; and Thomas Klinger from the Wendelstein 7-X stellarator program.
The full issue is available for download on the Europhysics Newswebsite.
Excellence in Fusion Engineering Award
16 Dec 2016
Stefan Gerhardt (left), principal research physicist and head of experimental operations on the National Spherical Torus Experiment-Upgrade (NSTX-U) at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) in the US, has won the Fusion Power Associates 2016 Excellence in Fusion Engineering Award.
The honour, given by directors of the research and educational foundation, recognizes "persons in the relatively early part of their careers who have shown both technical accomplishment and potential to become exceptionally influential leaders in the fusion field." The award was presented on 13 December at the 37th annual meeting of the Fusion Power Associates.
The group's board of directors cited Gerhardt's "many scientific contributions," including his "recent work on predicting plasma disruptions, which will provide major benefit to ITER and other major fusion experiments, and the leadership you provided and are providing."
Even the greatest performers need rehearsals ... and JET is no exception. Scientists and engineers at the world's largest operating tokamak have been preparing for JET's next starring role — a run of tests using the high-power fuel mixture of deuterium and tritium (D-T).
The deuterium-tritium combination is the one that will be used to gain maximum fusion output in ITER and in the first fusion power stations that will follow it. JET is the only present-day fusion machine that can use tritium and therefore has a vital role in preparing for ITER operations.
As a radioactive substance, and one that is in short supply, tritium is not used very often at JET. Most research is carried out with deuterium only (the last operations with tritium were in 2003). However new campaigns of both T-T and D-T experiments are planned in 2018 and 2019 to give the best simulation yet of how fusion plasmas will perform in ITER.
The D-T rehearsal at JET during this summer and autumn aimed to simulate the operating environment for the tritium campaigns. With 13 years since the last tritium experiments, many of the systems and the people working on them have changed. The rehearsal was an ideal opportunity to test procedures for using tritium, train staff and iron out any flaws ahead of the real thing.
See video interviews on the rehearsal experience at CCFE (Culham Centre for Fusion Energy).
FOM to tame the flame
12 Dec 2016
The FOM Institute DIFFER, in the Netherlands, is starting a large research program to investigate one of the most fundamental difficulties in designing the fusion reactors of the future—how to protect the solid vessel from the intense heat and neutron bombardment of the reaction, especially in the divertor region which "exhausts" the plasma.
The research program "Taming the Flame" is supported by strategic funding from Foundation FOM (Fundamental research On Matter).
Nine new researchers (seven PhD positions and two postdoc positions) will be recruited to work in an integrated approach together with DIFFER's existing scientific staff.
"In a fusion power plant, even a sturdy metal wall with a high melting point will not be able to resist the plasma," says DIFFER's head of fusion research Marco de Baar. "In our research program, we want to already start managing the heat load inside the plasma, and bring the energy to the wall in a controlled way." The research will focus on controlling and diluting the plasma before it reaches the wall, and on the novel concept of a self-repairing exhaust wall, with a liquid metal layer flowing over and protecting the solid reactor wall.
A key experiment in the program is DIFFER's linear plasma generator Magnum-PSI, the only laboratory facility in the world capable of examining materials exposed to the intense plasma conditions at the walls of future fusion reactors. In addition, the team will test their research at existing fusion experiments in Germany, Switzerland and the UK.
The European Domestic Agency for ITER has awarded a contract to Equipos Nucleares SA (ENSA, Spain) for the supply of two holding tanks and two feeding tanks for ITER's water detritiation system. When manufactured and installed in the basement of the Tritium Plant, they will join six other tanks, also supplied by Europe, that were installed earlier in the year.
The water detritiation system at ITER will remove tritium from process water during plant operation and recycle it as fuel.
For the first time in twenty years, a tokamak will experiment with nuclear plasmas. Ian Chapman, the recently appointed UKAEA Chief Executive confirmed in a Newslineinterview that "JET will be operating with tritium again in 2018, and then operating with a deuterium-tritium mix in 2019."
This video takes you into the innards of the European machine, which is presently the largest in the world.
WEST in starting monoblocks
28 Nov 2016
After four years of non-stop work, the French tokamak Tore Supra has now become WEST,the tungsten (W) Environment Steady-state Tokamak. Equipped with an actively cooled tungsten divertor and additional power, experiments at WEST will provide precious data on operation in a tungsten environment in advance of ITER operation.
Considerable modification to the machine's internal elements has been carried out. New components have all been installed in the vacuum vessel (divertor coil windings, protection panels, antennas, diagnostics, tungsten plasma-facing components) and the chamber has now been closed for final commissioning before plasma operation.
The transformation mobilized more than one hundred people: staff from the Institute for Magnetic Fusion Research (CEA-IRFM) and also WEST partners, in particular Chinese and Indian on-site collaborators.
Following the upcoming divertor coil impregnation and integrated commissioning, WEST will embark on its scientific life focused on the preparation of ITER divertor operation.
The 2015-2016 experimental campaign at the JET tokamak, Europe's flagship device, came to an end on 15 November with nearly all goals met, according to a recent article published on the EUROfusion website.
Highlights included rehearsing the procedures for future tritium-tritium and deuterium-tritium experiments; running a hydrogen campaign during which physicists learned about the dependence of plasma parameters on the mass of the hydrogen fuel used; and the high-power deuterium campaign.
This success means that JET is right on track for the tritium-tritium and deuterium-tritium experiments planned for upcoming campaigns, which are expected to provide important results for the operation of ITER.
Quadrillions of calculations per second for fusion
21 Nov 2016
The Radiation Transport Group at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has won a prestigious award through the US DOE Innovative and Novel Computational Impact on Theory and Experiment (INCITE) program for radiation shielding model for ITER.
The project, titled "Safe fusion energy: predictively modeling ITER radiation shielding," has been awarded 80 million computer processor hours on the Titan Cray XK7, the most powerful supercomputer in the US for open science.
INCITE awards are given annually to projects that represent "the biggest challenges in science and engineering today, and can't be done anywhere else."
Investigators Seth Johnson, Thomas Evans, and Stephen Wilson propose a radical solution for accurately modelling ITER's shielding design at an unprecedented level of detail and scale.
Read more about the INCITE program and the 2016 winners here.
First deliveries for centralized piping procurement
14 Nov 2016
Less than one year ago, last December, the ITER Organization signed a large supply contract with W. Schulz GmbH in Germany for the procurement of piping materials. The scope covers up to 65 km (1,800 tonnes) of pipes and 43,000 units (250 tonnes) of fittings.
The first shipment of pipes and fittings under this contract was delivered late October to the ITER worksite. It was the inaugural delivery of a broad ITER Organization-Domestic Agency program for the centralized procurement of piping materials for the component (CCWS), chilled (CHWS), and tokamak cooling water systems, expected to play out over five years.
Thirty-three tonnes of material were delivered, including 450 metres of stainless steel seamless pipes and 350 stainless steel fittings such as tees, elbows and reducers. The material will be stored in ITER's largest warehouse on site until needed for installation.
Plasma movement at 100,000 frames per second
14 Nov 2016
Some of the most detailed images ever of a hot plasma inside a tokamak have been captured at MAST, the spherical tokamak device at the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE) in the UK.
At 100,000 frames per second, the movies from the MAST device give a vivid illustration of how tokamaks keep fusion fuel trapped in a magnetic cage, with particles moving around magnetic field lines and resembling a large spinning ball of wool.
If only it were that simple; in reality, a magnetically-confined plasma is a highly complex system, and predicting how it behaves is key to making nuclear fusion a viable energy source. In particular, knowing how the hot fuel affects the cold walls of the machine is integral to ensuring that future reactors survive.
Turbulence in the magnetic field throws out wispy bunches of particles—known as filaments—from the plasma in a seemingly random fashion, ejecting fuel which touches the surfaces of the tokamak. Researchers are now working to unravel meaning within this randomness to understand this complex interaction with the machine walls, and videos such as these can give them pointers to what is happening.
Nick Walkden of CCFE's Theory & Modelling Department, who produced the videos, explains: "We believe that filaments are a vital part of the 'exhaust process' within a tokamak—how particles are expelled from the plasma. Seeing the MAST plasma at this unprecedented level of detail enables us to image individual filaments and measure their size, velocity and position within the plasma. It tells us a lot about their physics so we can find out how to predict their motion and, in future experiments, possibly learn to control them."
Rich Hawryluk will chair the editorial board of "Nuclear Fusion"
14 Nov 2016
Physicist Richard Hawryluk of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) has been named chair of the board of editors of Nuclear Fusion.
Current head of the ITER and Tokamaks Department at PPPL and former Deputy Director-General of Administration at ITER, Hawryluk has been a member of the editorial board at Nuclear Fusion since 2009. In his new role as chair he will provide policy oversight and support to the journal's editor.
From 1991 to 1997 he headed the Tokamak Fusion Test Reactor (TFTR) project, the only magnetic confinement fusion experiment in the US to have operated on a high-power mix of deuterium and tritium. He was also deputy director of PPPL lab from 1997 to 2009, before taking over the running of the ITER and Tokamaks Department.
Members of the European Parliament at ITER
07 Nov 2016
Europe is responsible for the largest portion of ITER construction costs (45.6 percent); the remainder is shared equally by China, India, Japan, Korea, Russia and the US (9.1 percent each).
On 24 October, six Members of the Industry, Research and Energy Committee of the European Parliament spent the day at ITER, meeting the ITER Director-General, visiting the design offices and the construction site, and exchanging with staff and contractors from the European agency for ITER, Fusion for Energy on project progress and upcoming milestones.
Read the full article on the European Domestic Agency website.
NSTX-U spherical tokamak: first results
07 Nov 2016
Following a four-year upgrade to double the magnetic field strength, plasma current and heating power capability of the NSTX spherical tokamak, located at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory in the US, researchers reported on the first ten-week operational campaign at the recent IAEA Fusion Energy Conference in Kyoto, Japan.
Important results included increased pulse duration and maximum magnetic field strength; achievement of the optimum H-mode regime; success in reducing plasma instabilities through a second neutral beam injector; and commissioning all magnetic diagnostics.
Professor Paul Vandenplas, emeritus professor of the Royal Military Academy in Brussels, Belgium and longtime proponent of nuclear fusion, has passed away at age 84.
In the course of his illustrious career he was director of the association "EURATOM-Belgian State" for controlled nuclear fusion; acted in the role of president of the EURATOM Fusion programme committee and vice-president of its advisory committee; served on the governing board of the JET tokamak; and played a role in the site negotiations for the ITER Project. He was also the director/founder of the Laboaratory for Plasma Physics ERM/KMS
In 2014 he was honoured for his contributions to fusion research with the Minerva Prize (Förderverein Museum Jülich e.V.). Professor Vandenplas was also Grand officer of the Order of the Crown, Officer and Grand Officer of the Order of Leopold II, and Knight.
Australian Parliament: on Australia and ITER
26 Oct 2016
One month ago, on 30 September, the ITER Organization signed a technical Cooperation Agreement with Australia, as represented by the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO). ANSTO CEO Adi Paterson had the opportunity to report on the Agreement to the Australian Parliament on 20 October. See the official recording here (Senate Economics Legislation Committee, 15:07:00).
Newsletter launched by Dutch research institute DIFFER
25 Oct 2016
At the Dutch Institute for Fundamental Energy Research (DIFFER) research focuses on two major energy themes: fusion energy, and the conversion and storage of sustainable energy in solar fuels. In this first issue of the DIFFER newsletter EXPLORE, launched in October, read all about the different experiments underway.
October flyover by drone
24 Oct 2016
The European Domestic Agency has published a short flyover of the ITER worksite that was filmed in early October.
Click here to see the latest progress on the Tokamak Complex and the work that is advancing on the ITER Cryoplant Building, the cooling tower area, and the Magnet Power Conversion Building area.
The biennial rendezvous for fusion researchers from over 40 countries, the conference aims to highlight worldwide advances in fusion theory, experimental results, technology, engineering, safety and socio-economics.
ITER Director-General Bernard Bigot spoke on the first day, presenting the progress in ITER construction, manufacturing and R&D to an audience of scientists, engineers, policy makers, and representatives of industry.
Over 1,000 visitors are expected during the six-day event, hosted this year by the Government of Japan and organized by the International Atomic Energy Agency in cooperation with the Japanese National Institute for Fusion Science (NIFS).
At the ITER stand, visitors will have the occasion to experience a virtual reality tour of the ITER construction site (Oculus Rift) and admire a Lego tokamak designed and built by students from Kyoto University.
IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano (here with ITER's Julie Marcillat) was one of the first visitors to the ITER stand on Monday 17 October.
Gleaming beamlines for MAST Upgrade
17 Oct 2016
The Mega Amp Spherical Tokamak (MAST) facility at Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE) in the UK is undergoing a major upgrade that, once completed, will allow it to add to the knowledge base for ITER and experiment with candidate technological solutions for future fusion power reactors.
The upgrade will permit longer pulse lengths, improved neutral beam heating, and new features to improve plasma profile control and the study of plasma instabilities.
Recently, progress on the largest sub-system—neutral beam heating—was made as the internal components were installed into two neutral beam injector vacuum vessels. The team is now on schedule to have both beamlines finished by the end of the year.
Mockup deck tests successfully at high voltage lab
14 Oct 2016
At a specialized laboratory in Germany, electrical tests have been successfully performed on a 1/15th scale mockup of the high voltage deck planned for MITICA, the ITER-sized neutral beam injector that will be tested in advance of installation on ITER at the PRIMA neutral beam test facility in Italy.
Positioned on four large gas-insulated columns at six metres above the floor, the 4 x 4 x 4 metre mockup was subjected to high voltage testing in order to validate the design choices of the European Domestic Agency supplier SIEMENS AG.
In a 24-hour period, the mockup passed one long-duration test (5 hours at 1.2 million volts DC) and several short-duration tests (impulses of 50 micro-seconds at 2.1 million volts). The tests were designed to verify that the deck will sustain the different voltage levels that are expected during MITICA operation.
Read more about the high voltage tests on the European Domestic Agency website. For more on PRIMA, click here.
Neutrons for DEMO
10 Oct 2016
A new acronym is making its way into the fusion landscape: DONES, for DEMO Oriented Neutron Source.
In Europe, a roadmap* for the realization of fusion energy was published in 2012 that breaks down the quest to supply fusion electricity to the grid into eight missions. One of these is to investigate and select neutron-resistant materials for DEMO, the demonstration fusion reactor that—according to the European strategy—is the step between ITER and a commercial fusion power plant.
More powerful than ITER and connected to the grid, DEMO will require materials capable of withstanding a stronger flux of neutrons for longer periods.
Currently three R&D projects carried out with the framework of a scientific collaboration between Europe and Japan (the Broader Approach) are contributing to the design of DEMO. The engineering design and validation activities for the International Fusion Materials Irradiation Facility (IFMIF/EVEDA) are evolving successfully. But when its operation will come to an end, DONES, a future version of IFMIF, will take over and help the scientific community to perform tests and start collecting data.
Designed to mimic the conditions of neutron irradiation in DEMO, DONES would allow scientists to test materials and characterize candidate fusion materials.
Three European countries—Croatia, Poland and Spain—have expressed interest in hosting the facility. In September, the European Domestic Agency for ITER, which acts as a coordinator for the European activities of the Broader Approach, invited representatives from all three to a technical information session in Barcelona to explain the scope of DONES, outline preliminary technical specifications, and discuss the different steps leading to the submission of applications.
Read the full article on the European Domestic Agency website.
Timelapse of coil manufacturing activities on site
10 Oct 2016
In the Poloidal Field Coil Winding Facility, on site at ITER, fabrication of a qualification mockup of poloidal field coil #5 (17 metres in diameter) began in September.
Click here to view a timelapse video produced by the European Domestic Agency for ITER. More information on the manufacturing process here.
The making of poloidal field coil #1
03 Oct 2016
At the Srednenevsky shipyard, on the Neva River near Saint Petersburg (Russia), manufacturing work is underway on ITER's poloidal field coil, #1 (PF1).
Click here to view the different stages of fabrication of this 200-tonne component, the smallest of ITER's six ring-shaped magnets. (ITER Russia)
ITER Japan makes book donation
03 Oct 2016
The Japanese Domestic Agency has delivered a large number of books and teaching materials to the Japanese section of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur International School (EIPACA), which caters to the families of ITER staff as well as to the regional population.
This is the third book donation made by ITER Japan to the Japanese language section and its pupils since the school opened in 2007. The school currently hosts six language sections (Chinese, English, German, Italian, Japanese and Spanish), where teaching is divided between the host language (French) and the language of the section.
The books were presented in a ceremony on 30 September by the head of the ITER Japan Liaison Office, Katsumi Nakajima, to school director Bernard Fronsacq.
Learn plasma physics, on line
03 Oct 2016
For the third year in a row, the Swiss Plasma Center is offering a free Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on plasma physics.
The popular class is divided into two parts--the basics of plasma physics, followed by applications of plasma physics (including fusion). Students can follow the segment sequentially, at their own pace, or begin with the more advanced course.
The class, which begins on 13 October, is given in English by plasma physicists from the Swiss Plasma Center.
Prof. Stewart Prager, a world-renowned plasma physicist and passionate voice for a future of clean, abundant and benign energy fueled by fusion, has stepped down from the directorship of the national laboratory he has headed for the last eight years. [...]
Prager, the sixth director in the 65-year history of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), joined the lab in the fall of 2008 after a long career at the University of Wisconsin. A pioneer in plasma physics, he is internationally known for experiments that contribute to the fundamental knowledge of fusion energy and the design of devices that will produce it.
The last shipment of cryostat base segments (three segments/120 tonnes each) left Hazira, India on 2 September. Prior to being shipped, on 16 August, a flag-off ceremony was held at the Larsen & Toubro Ltd plant, where the cryostat segments are being manufactured. With this shipment, due to reach France after a month-long sea journey, India has completed shipment of all major pieces of the cryostat base (tier-1 and tier-2). Welding operations for Tier 1 of the cryostat base have already begun on the ITER site.
A computing powerhouse turns on in Italy
19 Sep 2016
Marconi-Fusion, the new high performance computer for fusion applications, was inaugurated on 14 September 2016 at the CINECA headquarters in Bologna.
Supercomputing is an important aspect of nuclear fusion research as it plays a crucial role in the modelling of the plasma and materials, validating the experimental results of fusion devices and designing the next-generation fusion machine DEMO. Marconi Fusion should be capable of a total computational power of around 6 petaflop per second, thanks to the modern generation of Intel Xeon processors. A petaflop means 1015 operations per second... a total of a one quadrillion head-spinning calculations simutaneously.
The goal of this system will be to provide a common high performance computing platform for European fusion researchers.
In 2015 EUROfusion's highest decision-making body, the General Assembly, selected the Italian research unit ENEA along with CINECA, the largest Italian computing centre, to develop and run the new system.
The supercomputer was named after Guglielmo Giovanni Marconi, the inventor of wireless communication, who was born in Bologna in 1874.
From 28 April to 4 May 2017, the Ettore Majorana Foundation in Erice, Sicily, will host the 16th edition of the International School of Fusion Reactor Technology (ISFRT16).
The course will cover areas of interest to the magnetic fusion confinement (tokamak, stellarators), inertial confinement, and plasma physics scientific communities, with particular focus on developments in diagnostics and technology in view of ITER and the machine that comes after ITER, DEMO.
ISFRT16 is open in particular to students and researchers wishing to enter this new field. Lectures will cover current developments in theory and experiments but are also intended to give the basics of the field. Poster sessions are planned to allow participants to show their work.
Registration ends on 28 February 2017. More information on the conference website.
Manufacturing milestone in Russia
15 Sep 2016
At the Srednenevsky Shipbuilding Plant in Russia, technicians have completed the winding operations for the first poloidal field double pancake—one of eight double pancakes that will be stacked to form ITER's smallest ring magnet, poloidal field coil 1 (PF1).
During the next stage in the manufacturing process, the completed pancake will be impregnated with epoxy resin. The resin hardens the glass tape that is wrapped around the conductor to bind the double pancake into a rigid assembly. Following the successful manufacturing readiness review for the technique, called vacuum-pressure impregnation, impregnation activities on the first PF1 pancake will begin in October.
ITER's poloidal field coils are fabricated from niobium-titanium superconductor, which becomes superconducting at super-low temperatures.
Of ITER's six poloidal field coils, PF1 is the first to proceed to the impregnation stage of the fabrication process, which involves winding and impregnating each double pancake before forming the final assembly.
Image: The winding table at the Srednenevsky Shipbuilding Plant.
Steel to capture the sun
13 Sep 2016
Temperatures of over hundred million degrees centigrade and high energy neutrons and alpha particles that blast everything to shreds. What materials can withstand the harsh conditions in fusion reactors? TU Delft researcher Inês Carvalho set out to discover.
On Saturday 10 September, close to 450 participants met near ITER, in Vinon-sur-Verdon, for a number of sporting events designed to create and reinforce ties between people working on the ITER Project and neighbours from the surrounding villages. The 2016 edition of the ITER Games offered a broad choice of sporting disciplines for all levels, including football, cross-country running, mountain biking, kayaking, tennis and petanque. The competitions were followed by a bucolic lunch and an afternoon of family activities.
Massive transformers ready for shipment
12 Sep 2016
The last of three electrical transformers have successfully passed factory acceptance tests in China and are ready for shipment.
China is responsible for procuring ITER's pulsed power electrical network (PPEN), which will feed power to the heating and control systems during plasma pulses.
As part of the procurement package, three massive PPEN transformers (15 metres tall, 460 tonnes when completely fitted out) have been manufactured by supplier Baodin Tianwei. The first of these reached the ITER site in June 2016; now, following the successful completion of factory acceptance tests, the last two are ready for shipment.
China-Japan-Korea collaboration meeting
05 Sep 2016
For the third year in a row, representatives of the ITER Domestic Agencies of China, Japan and Korea met to report on progress in the procurement and manufacturing of ITER components and exchange on technical issues. Nearly 60 participants were present for the workshop which was held from 27 to 28 July at the Haeundae Grand Hotel in Busan, Korea.
Openings made by representatives from each government were followed by reports on manufacturing progress achieved since the last trilateral meeting, including progress on components for the ITER blanket, the divertor, the test blanket systems, magnets, the vacuum vessel and diagnostics. Focus discussions took place on forward-looking topics such as warranty after delivery, on-site installation work at ITER and the potential for further collaboration.
Participants also visited the Hyundai Heavy Industry workshop (pictured) in Ulsan, Korea, where manufacturing is underway on segments of the ITER vacuum vessel and toroidal field coil structures.
A fourth China-Japan-Korea trilateral workshop is planned next year in China.
Princeton fusion lab goes EAST
05 Sep 2016
The Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) has been named principal investigator for a multi-institutional project to study plasma-materials interaction on the EAST tokamak in China. The experiments will be designed to test the ability of lithium to protect the EAST walls from the hot plasma and to prevent impurities from bouncing back into the core of the plasma and halting fusion reactions.
Success could point to a method for optimizing long-running plasmas.
PPPL will use devices called flowing liquid lithium limiters and granule injectors, as well as optimization of coating techniques, to protect the plasma-facing components. PPPL has experience with applying lithium to its National Spherical Torus Experiment (NSTX), which has recently been upgraded, and at the Lithium Tokamak Experiment (LTX), a small, short-pulse complementary experiment at the laboratory that explores the effect of a liquid-lithium boundary on the plasma.
"Chirp, chirp, chirp." The familiar sound of birds is also what researchers call a wave in plasma that breaks from a single note into rapidly changing notes. This behaviour can cause heat in the form of high energy particles—or fast ions—to leak from the core of plasma inside tokamaks.
Physicists want to prevent these waves from chirping because they may cause too many fast ions to escape, cooling the plasma. As the plasma cools, the atomic nuclei in the tokamak are less likely to come together and release energy and the fusion reactions will sputter to a halt.
"Chirping modes can be very harmful because they can steal energy from the fast ions in an extended region of the plasma," said Vinícius Duarte, a graduate student from the University of São Paulo. Duarte is at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) conducting research for his dissertation.
Chirping modes have been studied for decades as physicists seek to understand and eliminate them. In a recent theoretical study, Duarte discovered some conditions within plasma that can make the chirping of modes more likely. A paper he is preparing on this topic explains the phenomenon and may help to optimize the design of fusion energy plants in the future.
New books on magnetic fusion energy and plasma physics
30 Aug 2016
Magnetic fusion energy and the plasma physics that underlies it are the topics of ambitious new books by Hutch Neilson, head of the Advanced Projects Department at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (US), and Amitava Bhattacharjee, head of the Theory Department at the Laboratory.
The books describe where research on magnetic fusion energy comes from and where it is going, and provide a basic understanding of the physics of plasma, the fourth state of matter that makes up 99 percent of the visible universe.
The volume Magnetic Fusion Energy: From Experiments to Power Plants, edited by Neilson and published in June, introduces early career researchers to the current body of fusion work and points the way to breakthroughs still to be achieved. Bhattacharjee's book, the second edition of the text Introduction to Plasma Physics co-authored with Donald A. Gurnett of the University of Iowa, keeps pace with the fast- and ever-changing field. New topics in the book, which will be out this fall, range from tearing modes in fusion plasmas to particle acceleration by shocks to the magnetorotational instability in accretion disks that surround celestial bodies.
The Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) has just released the annual edition of Quest, the laboratory's research magazine. This fourth edition highlights research underway on the recently upgraded spherical tokamak experiment NSTX-U.
Plasma—the hot ionized gas that fuels fusion reactions—can also create super-small particles used in everything from pharmaceuticals to tennis racquets. These nanoparticles, which measure billionths of a metre in size, can revolutionize fields from electronics to energy supply ... but scientists must first determine how best to produce them.
After more than two years of planning and construction, the U.S. Department of Energy's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) has commissioned a major new facility to explore ways to optimize plasma for the production of such particles. The collaborative facility, called the Laboratory for Plasma Nanosynthesis, is nearly three times the size of the original nanolab, which remains in operation, and launches a new era in PPPL research on plasma nanosynthesis. Experiments and simulations that could lead to new methods for creating high-quality nanomaterials at relatively low cost can now proceed at an accelerated pace.
Nanomaterials exhibit remarkable strength, flexibility and electrical conductivity. Carbon nanotubes, found in sporting goods, body armor, transistors and countless other products, are tens of thousands of times thinner than a human hair and stronger than steel on an ounce-for-ounce basis.
Plasma could serve as an ideal substance for synthesizing, or producing, nanomaterial. The new laboratory will study so-called low-temperature plasmas that are tens of thousands degrees hot, compared with fusion plasmas that are hotter than the 15-million-degree core of the sun. These low-temperature plasmas contain atoms and free-floating electrons and atomic nuclei, or ions, that can be shaped by magnetic fields to provide reliable, predictable and low-cost synthesis of tailored nanoparticles.
A delegation led by Zhao Jing, deputy head of the Chinese Domestic Agency, delivered some 40 kgs of textbooks and teaching materials to the Chinese section of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur International School on Friday 8 July.
Since its opening in September 2007, virtually all the children of ITER families and many local pupils of both European and non-European nationalities have attended the International School, which provides a bilingual curriculum. The school's pedagogical structure currently comprises six section languages (Chinese, English, German, Italian, Japanese and Spanish), operating on the principle of parity (French language/section language). Furthermore, from the "collège" level (junior high school), the English speakers students can be enrolled in the English section of European teaching, where the courses are taught in English at 80%.
School director Bernard Fronsacq is pictured at centre.
Call for EUROfusion grants
11 Jul 2016
The call to send in proposals for the next round of EUROfusion Researcher Grants is now out. The deadline is 8 September 2016. Detailed information about eligibility and the selection procedure is available for download here.
A core function of EUROfusion, which manages and funds the European research activities, is to coordinate the training and education activities for European fusion research. The aim is to invest in building a strong fusion community that will not only continue to advance fusion research but also play a vital role in the future when fusion energy is realized. EUROfusion supports PhD and pre-doctoral candidates working on fusion research and has established research and engineering grants to fund the training of fusion engineers and scientists every year.
Two types of grants are offered: EUROfusion Research Grants, which support about ten post-doctoral researcher or equivalent for up to two years; and EUROfusion Engineering Grants, which provide funding for around 20 engineers for a period of three years.
Beryllium, from laboratory to practice
11 Jul 2016
The advanced technology that will be required in the pursuit of fusion energy will require the use of beryllium and other specialized, high-performance materials.
A few days before the 29th Symposium on Fusion Technology (SOFT 2016) opens in Prague this year, a group of specially chosen experts from the fields of science, technology, politics, economics, and media will gather in Berlin, Germany to discuss beryllium applications at BeYOND (Beryllium Opportunities for New Developments).
The latest edition of Fusion in Europe is now available from EUROfusion, the consortium of 29 research organization and universities from 26 European countries plus Switzerland. Updates on the operational campaigns of three European tokamaks and one stellarator, upgrades underway on fusion devices in the UK and France, news from the world of materials research and high performance computing for fusion ... all this and more can be found in the June issue.
Four turbines produced for ITER's liquid nitrogen (LN2) cryogenic plant have successfully passed factory acceptance testing and will be delivered to ITER this autumn.
One oil brake turbine and one turbine booster will be installed in each of the cold boxes of the LN2 plant, which is under European procurement.
The liquid nitrogen plant and auxiliary systems will cool down, process, store, transfer and recover the cryogenic fluids of the machine. Two nitrogen refrigerators will be delivered along with two 80 K helium loop boxes, warm and cold helium storage tanks, dryers, heaters and the helium purification system.
In spite of the small diameter of the turbines—not exceeding 15 cm—these tiny pieces of equipment will generate enough cooling power to keep the ITER thermal shields extremely cold. It took Air Liquide contractor Cryostar (France) eight months to complete fabrication.
Image: One turbine booster, fully assembled for factory testing.
See the original article on the European Domestic Agency website.
First Plasma in Costa Rica
04 Jul 2016
Latin America's first stellarator was officially inaugurated on 29 June 2016.
The small SRC-1 stellarator device was planned and built by the Plasma Laboratory for Fusion Energy and Applications, which belongs to the Costa Rica Institute of Technology (TEC) in Cartago.
The countdown for producing the first plasma was started by a high-ranking government representative from Costa Rica and the TEC President and was witnessed by guests from science and politics. Electronic congratulations had been sent by representatives of international stellarator research from Princeton (US) and IPP at Greifswald (Germany) to mark the advent of the new device.
"Our work is to serve future generations," stated Institute Director Iván Vargas. "If research like this continues to evolve, in the future this technology could be used at a power plant that would take alternative energy to our communities."
The Plasma Laboratory for Fusion Energy and Applications was founded six years ago. It covers the fields of plasma medicine, industrial plasma technology and fusion research. Work hitherto had been concentrated on the small MEDUSA-CR device (Madison Education Small Aspect ratio tokamak), which was taken over from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and on the preparation of the SCR-1 stellarator.
The investment costs for SCR-1 came to USD 500,000. The plasma vessel and modular coils were made in Costa Rica. The small device aims to attain plasma temperatures of 300,000 degrees Celsius. Latin America's first stellarator now joins the ranks of the stellarators in Australia, Germany, Japan, Spain and the USA.
In June, the Budker Institute in Russia was host to two meetings on ITER diagnostics, with at least 70 international specialists attending.
The members of the Diagnostics Topical Group, ITPA (International Tokamak Physics Activity) met for the 30th time to discuss a range of internationally coordinated research areas that are important to the development of ITER and fusion diagnostic systems. Topics included progress on diagnostic mirrors, which must withstand conditions close to the high-temperature plasma; diagnostics for alpha particles; plasma wall reflections; and plasma control. In parallel, a meeting on port integration reunited several Russian organizations that are—like the Budker Institute—involved in the engineering integration of diagnostics into the ITER port plugs.
In addition to diagnostic engineering, the Budker Institute plays a key part in the development of high-tech electron equipment, research into the investigation of high-temperature plasma on first-wall materials, and the development, manufacturing, and testing of equipment for the ITER machine.
Michal Walsh, head of the Port Plugs & Diagnostics Integration Division at ITER, toured the host facilities in the company of the ITPA members. "Given the technical potential of this research centre and our successful cooperation to date, I look forward to continued cooperation in the future."
-- Alla Skovorodina, Budker Institute
Huge elements of the cryostat due this week
20 Jun 2016
Three additional ITER cryostat segments have arrived in the port of Fos-sur-Mer after a one-month voyage from India.
The 60° segments make up half of Tier 2 of the cryostat base (three other Tier 2 segments are due at a later date). The 120-tonne components have been unloaded in Fos in preparation for their delivery to the ITER site this week (weather permitting) along the ITER Itinerary.
Each 96-wheel transport trailer will carry a protected load that is just over 14 metres long and six metres wide.
Of space shuttles and divertors
20 Jun 2016
In a tokamak fusion reactor, the plasma causes intense heating of the divertor, similar to that encountered by a space shuttle when it re-enters the Earth's atmosphere. The belly of the shuttle must be protected by special heat tiles. In the same way, the divertor surface is made of small tungsten tiles that are tilted at a grazing angle with respect to the plasma stream. The edges of the tiles, like the nose and wings of the shuttle, are subject to very intense heat flux...
Read more on the shaping of the plasma-facing components, and many other subjects, in issue #13 of the WEST Newsletter.
At Cadarache (south of France), the Institute for Magnetic Fusion Research (CEA/DSM/IRFM) is modifying the Tore Supra plasma facility to become a test platform open to all ITER partners. WEST stands for W (tungsten) Environment in Steady-state Tokamak.
"A slice of the Sun": ITER on BBC Horizons
20 Jun 2016
"The proponents of fusion power have for years been promising us a plentiful and relatively safe form of new energy. Well here, at ITER in France, they are starting to make good on that promise."
So begins the 30-minute documentary film on ITER and fusion that aired this past weekend on BBC Horizons.
Presenter Adam Shaw visits ITER in the south of France as well as labs around the world (Germany, US and Canada) to learn more about the "tantalizing possibility" of fusion and its chance at transforming the world's relationship with energy.
From outside the UK view the program here (inside the UK, watch here).
A home for the Sun
13 Jun 2016
With transparent skies and 300 days of sunshine a year, the tiny Alpine village of Saint-Véran (alt: 2,042 metres) offers a unique viewpoint on our own familiar fusion furnace. In the 1970s professional astronomers from the Observatoire de Paris used it to observe the Sun's corona with instruments they eventually donated to the village.
Walking in the scientists' footsteps, the local population soon developed a passion for solar astronomy—an amateur club was created, more instruments were acquired through donations and the municipality soon decided to capitalize on its privileged relationship with the Sun.
La Maison du Soleil was inaugurated on Thursday 9 June in the presence of French Vice-Minister for Higher Education and Research, Thierry Mandon, and of ITER Director-General Bernard Bigot.
Designed for the general public, La Maison du Soleil will organize exhibits, conferences and solar observations. Nuclear fusion and ITER are of course part of the permanent exhibit, with posters, panels ... and even a conductor sample provided by the ITER Magnets Division.
Saint-Véran is located in the heart of the Queyras Regional Park, two-and-a-half hours north of ITER.
Reference textbook on plasma physics re-edited
13 Jun 2016
The third edition of Introduction to Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion by author Francis F. Chen is now available from Springer (follow this link). In addition to updates in all chapters, the 2016 release includes new chapters on special plasmas and plasma applications.
A recent Chinese version of the 1973 edition of the book is also available here.
What spin-offs from fusion research?
10 Jun 2016
While the fusion community continues its quest to harness fusion for energy needs, numerous spin-off benefits are resulting from the research carried out all over the world.
Given its complex, multidisciplinary nature, it should be no surprise that fusion research has driven advances in disciplines ranging from medical technology and environment to astrophysics and material sciences. EUROfusion, the European Consortium for the Development of Fusion Energy, has identified some of these spin-offs and put together a non-exhaustive list that demonstrates the short-term benefits of fusion research on the way to fusion electricity.
Read more about them on the EUROfusion website or download an infographic.
Tiny cameras for remote handling
10 Jun 2016
Two types of cameras will be needed inside of the ITER vacuum vessel to support inspection and maintenance operations—oversight cameras that give engineers a broad view inside the vacuum vessel, and cameras embedded on tooling or robotics for a view inside tightly confined spaces.
The European Domestic Agency for ITER is working with industry to develop purpose-built equipment small enough to fit into tight space constraints and capable of withstanding the harsh conditions close to the plasma.
In a project called FURHIS (for FUsion for Energy Radiation Hard Imaging System), Europe is collaborating with Oxford Technologies (UK) to produce mockups of sub-systems that will soon be tested in a radiation environment. Working with French laboratories ISAE (image sensors), CEA (LED illumination system), and Université Jean Monnet (optic system), a 15 mm mockup—small enough to fit inside a one euro coin—has been developed.
The FURHIS sub-systems will now be tested at the Belgian Nuclear Research Centre SCK•CEN.
Read the original story on the European Domestic Agency website.
Loss of a pioneering plasma physicist
06 Jun 2016
Ronald C. Davidson, a pioneering plasma physicist for 50 years who directed the US Department of Energy's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) during a crucial period of its history and was a founding director of the Plasma Fusion Center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), passed away on 19 May at his home in Cranbury, New Jersey. He was 74.
"Ron was an anchor for the Laboratory both through his science and through his wisdom," said Stewart Prager, director of PPPL. "His prodigious contributions not just to PPPL's science but also to plasma physics writ large are clear and widely known. Within the Laboratory, he was a mentor and a guide to people young and old. His impact within the Laboratory was enormous."
The physicist won numerous honours in his lifetime, including the prestigious James Clerk Maxwell Prize in Plasma Physics in 2008, the highest national honour in plasma physics. He was a fellow of both the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Davidson was known as a prolific researcher, writer and academic.
Read the full-length obituary on the PPPL website.
Of cold boxes and presidents
06 Jun 2016
On the last day of her state visit to France, South Korea's President Park Geun-hye stopped in Grenoble, a city in the French Alps where she studied in the mid-1970s after graduating from South Korea's Sogang University.
Nostalgia wasn't the only reason for this last stop, however. The South Korean President wished to visit the Air Liquide plant in Sassenage, where hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are being developed in cooperation with the Korean automaker Hyundai Motor Co.
Also of interest to President Park were the ITER cold boxes that are currently being equipped with internal components before integration into the ITER cryoplant.
One of the three ITER cold boxes (21 metres long, 4.2 metres in diameter) provided a spectacular background to the presentation of the company's activities by Xavier Vigor, Air Liquide advanced Technologies CEO. Also present were Benoît Potier, Air Liquide Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, and Pierre-Etienne Franc, Vice President of Advanced Business & Technologies.
It was the second time the ITER cold boxes were in presidential company: in August 2015 French President Hollande also made a stop at the Air Liquide plant and even signed cryoplant cold box number two ...
--Photo courtesy of Air Liquide
Click here for an article in the Korea Times and here to watch a video on French public TV.
Simulations support alternative plasma start technique
06 Jun 2016
New computer simulations at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) indicate that an innovate start-up technique for tokamaks, called coaxial helicity injection (CHI), may support a strong electric current without a traditional solenoid magnet.
In tokamaks, a complex web of magnetic fields control the superhot plasma. In addition to large D-shaped magnets surrounding the vacuum vessel, a central electromagnet known as a solenoid participates in creating the twisting vortex that prevents the plasma from touching the tokamak's walls.
Compact spherical tokamaks, like the NSTX-U recently dedicated at PPPL, as well as future tokamaks may not have room for solenoids. During CHI, magnetic field lines, or loops, are inserted into the tokamak's vessel through openings in the vessel floor. The field lines then expand to fill the vessel space, like a balloon inflating with air, until the loops undergo a process known as magnetic reconnection and snap closed. The newly formed closed field lines then induce current in the plasma.
"Can we create and sustain a big enough magnetic bubble in a tokamak to support a strong electric current without a solenoid?" asks Physicist Fatima Ebrahimi, who performed the computer simulations. "The findings indicate that 'yes, we can do it.'"
In line with a First Plasma in 2017, the 41-tonne vacuum vessel of the MAST Upgrade project was returned to its concrete-shielded home in late May, where it can now be refitted with its components and systems before commissioning.
The upgraded MAST tokamak will help to add to the knowledge base for ITER by experimenting with key plasma physics issues.
Watch a short video of the milestone on the website of the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (UK).
Calling for nominations: 2016 Fusion Technology Award
30 May 2016
During the next Symposium on Fusion Engineering (SOFE June 2017), Fusion Technology Awards will be presented for the years 2016 and 2017 to individuals who have made outstanding and innovative contributions to research and development in the field of fusion technology.
The Awards each consist of a USD 3,000 cash prize and a plaque. Any person, regardless of nationality or Society affiliation, is eligible for the award, with the exception that no current member of the IEEE/NPSS Standing Committee on Fusion Technology may be considered. The nomination package should be sent to IEEE Senior Member Martin Nieto-Perez (email@example.com), and it should consist of a nomination letter describing the technical and/or leadership contributions on which the nomination is recommended and a resume from the candidate.
The nomination deadline for the 2016 Award is 15 June 2016.
For more detailed information on eligibility, basis for judging, nomination process and a list of past Award recipients, please visit IEEE_NPSS.org and go to the "Fusion Technology Awards" section.
US in ITER "is in the best interest of the nation"
27 May 2016
In a report to the US Congress released on 26 May, the Department of Energy (DOE) recommends "that the US remain a partner in the ITER project through Fiscal Year 2018," at which time the country's participation in the project will need to be reassessed.
"At this time, our continued participation [...] is in the best interest of the nation," writes Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz in the introductory message to the report.
The 17-page report notes that "the management of the ITER Organization and the performance of the project have improved substantially" under Bernard Bigot's leadership. "The project is now being well-run."
However, "the improvements and performance, while promising, still require additional time to determine if they will be sustained and lead to the long-term success of the project."
Despite the accumulated delays "ITER remains the fastest path for the study of burning plasma," concludes the report.
Photo: Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz
Download the DOE report on US participation in ITER here.
ITER @ Atoms for the Future
26 May 2016
The ITER Organization will participate in this year's international symposium Atoms for the Future—the annual meeting of students and young professionals from the nuclear field (more information here). ITER Director-General Bernard Bigot will be among the speakers on 27 June 2016, and two days later students will have the possibility to visit the ITER site in southern France.
Registration for Atoms for the Future also gives you access to the World Nuclear Exhibition (28-30 June 2016) where the ITER Organization will be also be present.
Launch of newest US fusion experiment, NSTX-U
23 May 2016
US Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Ernest Moniz dedicated the most powerful spherical torus fusion facility in the world on 20 May 2016. The $94-million upgrade to the National Spherical Torus Experiment (NSTX-U), funded by the DOE Office of Science, is a spherical tokamak fusion device that explores the creation of high-performance plasmas at 100-million degree temperatures.
NSTX-U at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) will allow researchers around the world to explore fusion reactions [...] "The vastly expanded capabilities of this spherical tokamak will enable us to explore new physics regimes and tackle the major engineering problems for fusion energy," Moniz said.
NSTX-U draws on a 65-year-old legacy of fusion energy research at Princeton University's Plasma Physics Laboratory where, in the 1950s, physicist Lyman Spitzer created a machine he called a stellarator to produce energy the same way as the Sun. Experimental stellarators and tokamaks, the two most prominent fusion reactor designs, now dot the globe.
"This is exciting new territory, and we're thrilled to embark on the next frontier of fusion research. This device could transform the world by showing us the way to a pilot plant design for the generation of power from fusion energy for use by all," said Stewart Prager, director, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory.
30 companies on site for latest Industrial Info Day
23 May 2016
During an Industrial Info Day on 20 May, the ITER Organization presented an upcoming tender for electrical, cabling, instrumentation and control installation works to the representatives of 30 companies (48 participants).
The ITER Organization will now pre-qualify interested companies before launching the tender.
Industrial Info Days like this one are organized to inform industry about the scope of installation work to be performed under individual contracts and to encourage companies to participate in the tender. Companies have a chance to meet potential partners in Business-to-Business (B2B) meetings, with the aim of building better consortia in order to respond to the scale and challenges of the task. Info Days are also an opportunity for the ITER Organization to listen to industry and to get feedback on its strategy.
Princeton University produces a "distillate" on fusion
23 May 2016
A new energy technology "distillate" has been published by Princeton University's Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment on magnetic confinement fusion, a technology with "enormous promise" as a global energy source, according to the authors.
The paper presents some of the basic science relevant to fusion energy and the central technical challenges before addressing the economic prospects for commercial fusion, the differences between fusion and fission, and the politics and progress in the global effort to develop nuclear fusion.
Andlinger Center distillates aim to provide succinct yet substantive information to a non-specialist audience on emerging topics in energy and the environment that combine technological, economic, and policy considerations. This is the third in the series so far.
On 28 April, the ITER Organization signed a contract with the European consortium GNMS for the procurement of approximately 10 km of vacuum pipework, ranging in diameter from DN 25 to DN 250.
The ITER vacuum system will be one of the largest in the world. Vacuum pumping is required prior to starting the fusion reaction to eliminate all sources of organic molecules and to create low density—about one million times lower than the density of air. The network of pipework will form one of the most extensive distributed systems in ITER, alongside cryogenic and water cooling systems.
The contract signature marks a significant step forward for the ITER vacuum system.
Wanted: university grads from Europe
18 May 2016
Are you a university graduate who wants to gain international professional experience and contribute to the work of the European Domestic Agency for ITER? Or who is curious about ITER and simply wants to be part of one of the most ambitious energy projects in the world today? The European Domestic Agency for ITER is looking for graduates in engineering, physics, law, human resources, finance and communication for four to nine months beginning 1 October 2016.
The traineeship program is open to university graduates who are nationals of one of the Member States of the European Union or Switzerland, who have at least a three-year university degree obtained within the last three years, and a very good knowledge of English. Traineeships are offered in Barcelona (Spain), Garching (Germany) and at the ITER site in France.
The deadline to apply is 31 May 2016. Please find all information here.
BBC Radio explores fusion and ITER
13 May 2016
If new energy sources offer cheap, plentiful power to everyone, how will the planet cope? FutureProofing examines a new method of power generation promising clean, limitless power for everyone. Can it work, what are the consequences, and is there a viable alternative?
Fusion has long-promised cheap, clean and limitless power, but over half a century of effort this technology has still not delivered an operational power plant. Now hopes are high that a vast project in the south of France will finally crack the problems and deliver a working model that can be replicated around the world. FutureProofing presenters Timandra Harkness and Leo Johnson travel to Provence to find out what the prospects are for a scheme costing upwards of £10 billion which could transform the energy supply for us all and with it global geopolitics and the environment for centuries to come.
The program explores what viable alternatives there could be to generate power at the same scale for billions of people across the world, and whether such an alternative is a better route to achieving the goal of cheap, plentiful and clean energy for the future. (Producer: Jonathan Brunert)
A promising experiment that encloses hot, magnetically confined plasma in a full wall of liquid lithium is undergoing a $2 million upgrade at the US Department of Energy's (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL). Engineers are installing a powerful neutral beam injector in the laboratory's Lithium Tokamak Experiment (LTX), an innovative device used to test the liquid metal as a first wall that enhances plasma performance. The first wall material faces the plasma.
"This will bring us one step closer to demonstrating this particular approach to fusion," said Dick Majeski, principal investigator of the LTX. The experiment is a collaborative effort that includes researchers from Oak Ridge National Laboratory, UCLA, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and Princeton University, as well as PPPL. Funding comes from the DOE Office of Science.
The neutral beam injector, a Russian-built device on loan from the Tri Alpha fusion firm in California, will shoot energetic beams into the small spherical tokamak to fuel the core of the plasma and increase its temperature and density—key factors in fusion reactions. "The beams will maintain the density and raise the temperature to a more fusion-relevant level," said Philip Efthimion, PPPL head of the Plasma Science and Technology Department that includes the LTX.
The experiment recently became the first device in the world to produce flat temperatures in a magnetically confined plasma. Such flatness reduces the loss of heat from the plasma that can halt fusion reactions. The LTX also has provided the first experimental evidence that coating a large area of walls with liquid lithium can produce high-performance plasmas.
However, without fuelling from the neutral beam the density of an LTX plasma tends to drop off fast. The beam upgrade will keep the density from dropping, and test whether the liquid lithium coating can continue to maintain flat temperatures in much hotter plasmas.
Watch humans and robots work together inside the JET mockup at the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE) in the UK.
Video via Tom Scott/CCFE
Improving predictions of the "bootstrap current"
09 May 2016
Researchers at the US Department of Energy's (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have challenged the understanding of a key element in fusion plasmas. At issue has been an accurate prediction of the size of the "bootstrap current"—a self-generating electric current—and an understanding of what carries the current at the edge of plasmas in doughnut-shaped facilities called tokamaks. This bootstrap-generated current combines with the current in the core of the plasma to produce a magnetic field to hold the hot gas together during experiments, and can produce stability at the edge of the plasma.
The recent work, published in the April issue of the journal Physics of Plasmas, focuses on the region at the edge in which the temperature and density drop off sharply. In this steep gradient region—or pedestal—the bootstrap current is large, enhancing the confining magnetic field but also triggering instability in some conditions.
The bootstrap current appears in a plasma when the pressure is raised. [...] Physics understanding and accurate prediction of the size of the current at the edge of the plasma is essential for predicting its effect on instabilities that can diminish the performance of fusion reactors.
--Illustration: Simulation shows trapped electrons at left and passing electron at right that are carried in the bootstrap current of a tokamak. Credit: Kwan Liu-Ma, University of California, Davis.
Another shipment of in-kind components from India has arrived at the PRIMA neutral beam test facility in Padua, Italy. At PRIMA, ITER's most powerful heating system—neutral beam injection—will be tested in advance of operation.
The SPIDER test bed is a 1:1-scale ion source that will be used to develop the technology for the production of negative ions. India already delivered the beam dump in late 2014; this time, 13 trucks carried the components of the 100 kV power supply.
Journal "Nature Physics" produces an Insight on nuclear fusion
09 May 2016
In its May 2016 issue, Nature Physics has produced an Insight on Nuclear Fusion that features an interview with ITER Director-General Bernard Bigot, a commentary by Steven Cowley (current Chief Executive Officer of the UK Atomic Energy Agency and Head of the EURATOM/CCFE Fusion Association), and a review of the fascinating physics that lies at the heart of nuclear fusion.
A full list of content is available at this link. (Content may be accessed through a subscription to Nature Physics or rental/purchase.)
Using fusion gyrotrons to drill rock?
02 May 2016
A senior researcher at MIT's Plasma Science and Fusion Center (PSFC) in the US is using a gyrotron, a specialized radio-frequency (RF) wave generator developed for fusion research, to explore how millimetre RF waves can open holes through hard rock by melting or vaporizing it.
Penetrating deep into rock is necessary to access virtually limitless geothermal energy resources, to mine precious metals or explore new options for nuclear waste storage. But it is a difficult and expensive process, and today's mechanical drilling technology has limitations. Woskov believes that powerful millimetre-wave sources could increase deep hard rock penetration rates by more than ten times at lower cost over current mechanical drilling systems, while providing other practical benefits.
"There is plenty of heat beneath our feet," he says, "something like 20 billion times the energy the world uses in one year." But, Woskov notes, most studies of the accessibility of geothermal energy are based on current mechanical technology and its limitations. They do not consider that a breakthrough advance in drilling technology could make possible deeper, less expensive penetration, opening into what Woskov calls "an enormous reserve of energy, second only to fusion: base energy, available 24/7."
Current rotary technology is a mechanical grinding process, limited by rock hardness, deep pressures, and high temperatures. Specially designed "drilling mud," pumped through the hollow drill pipe interior, is used to enable deep drilling and to remove the excess cuttings, returning them to the surface via the ring-shaped space between the drill pipe and borehole wall. The pressure of the mud also keeps the hole from collapsing, sealing and strengthening the hole in the process. But there is a limit to the pressures such a borehole can withstand, and typically holes cannot be drilled beyond 30,000 feet (9km).
Woskov asks, "What if you could drill beyond this limit? What if you could drill over ten kilometers into the earth's crust?" With his proposed gyrotron technology this is theoretically possible.
The ASDEX-Upgrade team at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP) in Garching, Germany is experimenting with a new mode of tokamak operation.
In recent experimental results, an operational mode described as offering "stable plasma, high plasma pressure and good confinement properties in a parameter range in which future power plants are to be working" has been achieved almost without the transformer, or solenoid, that is typically used to induce the strong current in the plasma that contributes to creating the magnetic cage of tokamaks like ITER and ASDEX-Upgrade.
In its place, microwaves and particle beams injected close to the plasma core were used to prolong the plasma pulse.
This type of "advanced tokamak operation" was the object of investigation for IPP scientist Alexander Bock, who details the advantages that continuous operation would have over pulsed operation as part of his PhD thesis. Advantages included better control of the plasma current profile in the plasma, longer pulses, and decreased turbulence.
On April 6, 2016, the largest-scale nuclear industry exhibition in China opened its doors and the ITER Project was there.
For four days, the actors of the global nuclear industry gathered in the National Convention Center in Beijing for the 14th China International Nuclear Industry Exhibition. One of the themes of the conference was "Fusion & Plasma Technology Applications."
The Chinese Domestic Agency for ITER (ITER China) was invited to participate by one of the sponsors of the event, the Chinese Nuclear Society. At its 36 m² stand, complete with graphic display boards, model exhibits and promotional videos, the public was given a comprehensive introduction to the ITER Project, the status of domestic fusion research and development, and the specific contribution of China to ITER.
The Director-General of the ITER Organization, Bernard Bigot, and the head of the Korean Domestic Agency, Kijung Jung, both visited the ITER stand, as well as representatives from institutes, universities, and suppliers involved with fusion at home and abroad.
Princeton scientists help test innovative device to improve tokamak efficiency
11 Apr 2016
--By Raphael Rosen
Scientists at the US Department of Energy's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have helped design and test a component that could improve the performance of doughnut-shaped fusion facilities known as tokamaks.
Called a "liquid lithium limiter," the device has circulated the protective liquid metal within the walls of China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) and kept the plasma from cooling down and halting fusion reactions. The journal Nuclear Fusion published results of the experiment in March 2016.
This system reduces the production of impurities that typically are created when the plasma reaches other components of the vessel. Moreover, plasmas tolerate higher amounts of lithium impurities, compared with the impurities from other materials, because the low atomic number of lithium produces very low amounts of plasma radiation that typically cools the plasma core.
Serving as the main point of contact with plasma enables the lithium to absorb the hot deuterium ions that drift from the centre of the plasma, and keeps them from striking the interior walls of the tokamak and cooling down. Limiting the amount of cool deuterium at the edge of the plasma reduces the difference in temperature between the hot plasma centre and the cooler edge, and reduces turbulence. As a side note, however, contact with the ions was found to slightly damage the thin stainless steel foil surface of the limiter device, prompting work on an improved design.
Photo of the white-hot limiter glowing in contact with the plasma during an EAST discharge.
First WEST Experiment Planning Meeting
04 Apr 2016
WEST's international call for modelling and experimental proposals was successfully completed on 15 March 2016 with more than 150 proposals received from the ITER Organization, Europe, USA, China, Japan, India, Korea and Russia. All the contributions can be viewed on the WEST wiki pages.
The first WEST Experiment Planning Meeting will be held on 18-20 April 2016 at CEA Cadarache to discuss the prioritization of experimental and modelling proposals and to define a timeline for the 2016-2017 WEST experimental campaigns.
At the first edition of the Security Meetings exhibition in Cannes, France, on 22-24 March 2016, ITER Head of Security, Health & Safety Christophe Ramu was awarded the title of "Security Director of the Year."
A first of its kind, the exhibition brought together more than 120 participants from prestigious organizations such as CEA, Aéroport de Paris, Airbus, Air France, Banque de France, Bolloré, Bouygues, Capgemini, Cartier, City of Marseille, Engie, Gendarmerie Nationale, Hyatt, Intercontinental, Lafarge, Razel-bec, Saint-Gobain, Suez, Orange, DHL and Musée du Louvres.
During the event, four security awards were also attributed to reward outstanding initiatives in security approach.
In the category "Security Director of the Year," Christophe Ramu was recognized for his professionalism and innovation in the exercise of his profession. Christophe, who joined ITER in 2012 after serving for 20 years at Marseille's Marine Fire Battalion, is managing—among many other tasks—the evolution in the implementation of a pre-enrolment system for accessing the ITER site.
This system will enable on-site contracting companies, once they are accredited by the ITER Organization, to manage access requests for their own personnel. The system, which will be fully operational in the second half of 2016, will also improve the monitoring activity of personnel presence and localization on the ITER site.
A view from industry
03 Apr 2016
Cooling 10,000 tons of superconducting magnets that will confine the energy-generating plasma is indispensable to the proper working of the ITER Tokamak. The cryogenic plant, whose design phase began in 2013, has now entered the fabrication phase at the Air Liquide factory near Grenoble, France.
This impressive centralized cryogenic refrigeration system will be composed of helium (He) and nitrogen (N2) refrigeration units and dedicated storage, operating in a closed loop. Helium, at a temperature of close to the absolute zero (-269°C, or 4.5K), will be used to cool magnets, vacuum pumps and certain diagnostic systems.
Nitrogen, whose temperature (-196°C, or 77K) is not quite as low, will contribute among other things to the cooling of the heat shield and to the pre-cooling of the helium refrigeration unit and the helium loops. The site's three helium units (LHe) will occupy 3,000 m2 of the 5,400 m2 set aside for the ITER cryogenic unit. LHe is composed of several compression stations and three large cold boxes, which weigh 135 tons each, measure 21 metres in length, and have a diameter of 4.2 metres.
On average, the helium refrigeration units will provide a global cooling capacity of 75kW to 4.5K, which translates into a maximum liquefaction rate of 12,300 liters/hour. They will be completed by two nitrogen units (LN2). The 11 helium and nitrogen gas storage units—with a total capacity of 3,700 m3 (of which 3,300 m3 for the helium)—will help to optimize the recovery of fluids in the various operational phases of the tokamak.
View the special issue on ITER in Cryoscope, a magazine from Air Liquide.
Highly realistic ITER in Lego form
01 Apr 2016
For Lego enthusiasts the ITER Tokamak is an endless source of inspiration. In June 2012, Newslinereported on Japanese artist Sachiko Akinaga who had created an 8,000-piece tokamak assembly scene using standard Lego bricks.
Two years later an American videogame designer, Andrew Clark, tried to convince the Lego company to bring his model of the ITER Tokamak into commercial production; unfortunately, the proposal never gathered the 10,000 "votes of support" required to turn the project into an official set.
At the University of Kyoto in Japan, another Lego venture is taking shape. A group of students in fusion materials and reactor engineering (Konishi Laboratory, Dr Kasada's group) has built a highly realistic version of the ITER Tokamak with all major components in place—coils, ports, heating systems, and Test Blanket Modules are all identified by a different colour. The students even managed to insert a waveguide into the vacuum vessel wall...
An achievement in terms of both realism and poetry, the ITER-LEGO project will be used for the promotion of fusion energy in exhibitions and conferences.
The world of fusion energy is a world of extremes. For instance, the center of the ultrahot plasma contained within the walls of doughnut-shaped fusion machines known as tokamaks can reach temperatures well above the 15 million degrees Celsius core of the sun. And even though the portion of the plasma closer to the tokamak's inner walls is 10 to 20 times cooler, it still has enough energy to erode the layer of liquid lithium that may be used to coat components that face the plasma in future tokamaks. Scientists thus seek to know how to prevent hot plasma particles from eroding the protective lithium coating.
Physicist Tyler Abrams has led experiments on a facility in the Netherlands called Magnum-PSI that could provide an answer. The research, published in NuclearFusion in December 2015, found that combining lithium with the hydrogen isotope deuterium substantially reduced the erosion. Abrams conducted the research as a doctoral student in the Princeton Program in Plasma Physics substantially based at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL). He currently is a postdoctoral research fellow at General Atomics. The research was funded by the DOE Office of Science.
The European Domestic Agency has developed a new numerical model that represents ITER's 18 toroidal field magnets with remarkable detail. The model will be used to compute the magnetic fields produced by the coils and the resulting electromagnetic forces on the magnet system, which are the result of the interaction between electrical currents and the magnetic field.
"It's the first time we have a complete model of the entire ITER toroidal field system to such a level of detail," says Gabriele D'Amico, the technical support officer responsible for the development of the model. "The level of complexity of the tool is outstanding. For example there are more than 1,500 bolts connecting the different pieces of the toroidal field magnet system, and the model allows us to predict the behaviour of each one during operations."
The model, which took six months to develop, will allow the European Domestic Agency and the ITER Organization to simulate different scenarios using an approach that integrates the 18 coils and all major subsystems. Scientists will be able to study the occurrence of an electrical fault during operation, for example, or the impact of possible misalignment in the assembly of the coils on the behaviour of the whole system.
Read the full article on the European Domestic Agency website.
MAST tokamak on schedule for 2017
20 Mar 2016
Progress on the MAST Upgrade project at the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE) took another step forward from the "page" to completion, as the tokamak's bottom plate was lowered into place in the machine area last week.
Positioning of the 11-tonne bottom plate, which contains intricately-engineered magnetic coils assembled over many months, went smoothly. The team hopes to have the device ready for commissioning at the end of 2016.
European Domestic Agency contractors have made significant progress in the fabrication of the first toroidal field winding pack—the 110-ton inner core of ITER's D-shaped superconducting magnets known as toroidal field coils.
Following sophisticated, multi-stage winding operations, seven layers of coiled superconducting cable (double pancakes) have now been successfully stacked and electrically insulated. After vacuum-pressure insulation and testing, the winding pack will be inserted into a massive stainless steel case to form a final assembly that measures 9 x 17 metres and weighs 310 tons.
Eighteen D-shaped toroidal field coils—each made up of a winding pack and stainless steel coil case—will be responsible for magnetically confining the ITER plasma. Europe has the responsibility for half the coils plus one spare; Japan is producing another 9. The 19 stainless steel coil cases will be procured by Japan.
Beginning with the first manufacturing steps for the niobium-tin (Nb3Sn) superconducting wire in 2008, Europe estimates that over 600 people from at least 26 companies have contributed to this milestone.
Read the full report on the European Domestic Agency website.
--Europe's A. Bonito-Oliva, project manager for magnets, and R. Harrison, technical officer for magnets, stand in front of the first toroidal field coil winding pack at ASG Superconductors (La Spezia, Italy).
Tritium to give cue on Big Bang neutrinos
20 Mar 2016
By John Greenwald
Big Bang neutrinos are believed to be everywhere in the universe but have never been seen. The expansion of the universe has stretched them and they are thought to be billions of times colder than neutrinos that stream from the sun. As the oldest known witnesses or "relics" of the early universe, they could shed new light on the birth of the cosmos if scientists could pin them down. That's a tall order since these ghostly particles can speed through planets as if they were empty space.
Now Princeton University physicist Chris Tully is readying a facility to detect these information-rich relics that appeared one second after the Big Bang, during the onset of the epoch that fused protons and neutrons to create all the light elements in the universe. Tully runs a prototype lab in the US Department of Energy's (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) that draws on the fact that neutrinos can be captured by tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen, and provide a tiny boost of energy to the electrons emitted in tritium decay.
--Princeton physicist Chris Tully in the PTOLEMY laboratory. Behind him are powerful superconducting magnets on either side of the vacuum chamber. Photo Elle Starkman/PPPL
The deadline is fast approaching to submit a proposal to the 2016 SOFT Innovation Prize, launched by the European Commission late last year for award at the 29th SOFT (Symposium on Fusion Technology) international conference in Prague in September.
Proposals are requested for physics or technology innovations related to magnetic confinement fusion research that have a potential for further exploitation.
Three prizes will be awarded: EUR 50,000 (1st prize), EUR 25,000 (2nd prize) and EUR 12,500 (3rd prize). The deadline for submission is 7 April 2016.
For more information on eligibility, exclusion and award criteria please see Europe's Horizon 2020 website.
Cryoplant: inner tank passes leak test
11 Mar 2016
ITER will use extensive cryogenic technology to create and maintain low-temperature conditions for the magnet, thermal shielding and vacuum pumping systems. The ITER cryoplant will be the largest concentrated cryogenic system in the world (one plant location) and second only to CERN in terms of total cooling power.
On the ITER platform, work is progressing on the foundations of the plant building while—following successive design phases—the procurement of cryoplant components is now underway by Europe (liquid nitrogen plant and auxiliary systems), the ITER Organization (helium plant) and India (cryolines and cryodistribution components).
In February, as part of Europe's procurement package, a 23-metre-long storage tank for liquid helium successfully passed leak detection tests. Responsible for keeping liquid helium at a steady -269 °C, the stainless-steel inner tank has multi-layer insulation to minimize thermal losses and will be assembled with exterior thermal shielding. The examination of 500 metres of linear welds was successfully performed by the manufacturer, opening the way to the delivery of the equipment at ITER before the end of the year.
The storage tank was manufactured by CryoAB (Sweden) as part of the contract signed between the European Domestic Agency and Air Liquide Global and EC Solutions and Fusion for Energy.
Read the original news item on the European Domestic Agency website.
-- Part of ITER's cryoplant, the 190 m³ stainless-steel tank will store liquid helium at -269 °C.
On key discoveries in the quest for fusion
11 Mar 2016
The path to creating sustainable fusion energy as a clean, abundant and affordable source of electric energy has been filled with "aha moments" that have led to a point in history when the ITER fusion experiment is poised to produce more fusion energy than it uses when it is completed in 15 to 20 years, said Ed Synakowski, associate director of Science for Fusion Energy Sciences at the US Department of Energy (DOE).
Synakowski spoke as part of the Ronald E. Hatcher "Science on Saturday" lecture series at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL).
-- Ed Synakowski is pictured at the Monaco-ITER International Fusion Energy Days (2013).
In the realm of ultra-hot temperatures
07 Mar 2016
How to sustain and measure temperature in a fusion plasma? This challenging task requires different heating systems and diagnostic tools. Information on the spatial distribution of temperature is one of the key elements for improving and controlling plasma performance.
In a recently published Nature Physics article, Didier Mazon, Christel Fenzi and Roland Sabot, of CEA's Research Institute on Magnetic Fusion (IRFM) explore the fascinating realm of ultra-hot temperatures.
Illustration of a new X2D diagnostic: spectroscopy for ion temperature measurement in the WEST tokamak.
Click here to read the whole article in Nature Physics.
JT-60SA's coil gets a first taste of superconductivity
07 Mar 2016
At the CEA Saclay's Cold Test Facility, near Paris, JT-60SA's first toroidal field coil has completed its round of tests at cryogenic temperature (4.5 K). "The coil became superconductive and reached its full current (25.7kA) without any problem," said Pietro Barabaschi, Home Team Project Manager for Europe's contribution to the Broader Approach project.
A ceremony will be organized at CEA Saclay on 6 April prior to shipping the coil to Japan.
Read the story on the European Domestic Agency's website.
53rd edition of the Culham Summer School
29 Feb 2016
The 53rd edition of the Culham Summer School will take place from 18 to 29 July 2016.
The school provides an introduction to the fundamental principles of plasma physics, together with a broad understanding of its fields of application. Topics cover magnetic and laser confinement fusion, space and astrophysical plasmas and low temperature plasmas. Lecturers are drawn from Culham Centre for Fusion Energy and leading laboratories and university groups from the UK and abroad. All are renowned experts in their fields.
Reduced rate 'early bird' registration is open until 1 May.
For more information and to book your place, follow this link.
JT-60 SA torus complete (for a moment)
22 Feb 2016
Assembly operations are progressing on JT-60 SA. In December 2015, the final 20° Vacuum Vessel sector was inserted into the opening of the 340° torus to measure the gaps between the 340° and 20° sectors for the later welding. The operation provided with a brief vision of the completed donut-shaped 360° Vacuum Vessel.
JT-60SA is a fusion experiment designed to support the operation of ITER and to investigate how best to optimize the operation of fusion power plants that are built after ITER. It is a joint international research and development project involving Japan and Europe, using infrastructure of the existing JT-60 Upgrade experiment. SA stands for "super, advanced", since the experiment will have superconducting coils and study advanced modes of plasma operation.
This satellite tokamak program was established in 1997 as one of three joint projects between Europe and Japan within the Broader Approach Agreement.
First experiments in Culham's new Materials Research Facility
22 Feb 2016
Construction of the Materials Research Facility (MRF) at Culham is complete and the building has already hosted its first experiments.
The MRF has been established to analyse material properties in support of both fission and fusion research. It will benefit university and industry users working on micro-characterisation of nuclear materials. It is part of the National Nuclear User Facility (NNUF) initiative, launched by the Government and funded by EPSRC, to set up a multi-site facility giving UK academia and industry access to internationally-leading experimental equipment
On Friday 12 February, the keys to the building were formally handed over by David Wilde, construction site manager for contractors E G Carter, to Martin O'Brien and James Treadgold of the UK Atomic Energy Authority.
Towards a global network of Industrial Liaison Officers
22 Feb 2016
Interaction with industry is essential to ITER success. In 2008, the European Domestic Agency established a network of Industrial Liaison Officers (ILOs) entrusted with a strategic mission: to raise industry awareness about ITER work packages, needs and tender procedures.
For the past seven years, the 20-person-strong European ILO network has also played a key role in fostering partnerships between industrial companies in order to make strong technical and commercial bids adapted to the project's specific demands.
In 2015, a proposition to extend the ILO concept to the other ITER Members resulted in an invitation to Domestic Agency Heads to nominate an ILO.
Japan was among the first to answer the call. Earlier this month, Yoshihiko Nunoya, an engineer with the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, took up his duties as the first non-European ILO.
It is expected that a global ILO network will be fully established by the end of the year.
From left to right: Setsuko Moriyama, ITER Project Integration and Support Group; Yoshinori Kusama, Head of the Japanese Domestic Agency; Jennifer Hayashi, ITER Project Management Group, JAEA;Takashi Inoue, Deputy Head, ITER Project division, JAEA and Yoshihiko Nunoya, Group leader of JAEA;s ITER Project Management Group and recently appointed Industrial Liaison Officer.
A heart in fusion
12 Feb 2016
This heart-shaped dust particle was captured by ion microbam scan on a divertor tile in the JET tokamak.
A team of researchers from the Croatian Fusion Research Unit—Stjepko Fazinić, Ivan Sudić and Tonči Tadić (Ruđer Bošković Institute)—in cooperation with their colleague Per Petersson from the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden "caught" a fusion heart during an experiment at JET in December 2015.
Measuring 100 by 120 micrometres, the dust particle is made mainly of tungsten, nickel, chromium, molybdenum and iron, with traces of beryllium, aluminium, copper and sodium.
The Joint European Torus is currently the world's largest operational magnetic confinement plasma physics experiment, located at the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy in Oxfordshire, UK. As a joint venture, JET is collectively used by more than 40 European laboratories. The European Consortium for the Development of Fusion Energy EUROfusion provides the work platform to exploit JET in an efficient and focused way. As a consequence more than 350 scientists and engineers from all over Europe currently contribute to the JET program.
Read the original story on the Ruđer Bošković Institute website.
International collaboration on cryoplant manufacturing
12 Feb 2016
As work on the foundations of the ITER cryoplant advances on site, industrial partners around the world are making progress on the different manufactured elements of what will be the largest concentrated cryogenic system in the world.
The ITER cryoplant is composed of helium and nitrogen refrigerators combined with a 80 K helium loop. Three helium refrigerators supply the required cooling power via an interconnection box providing the interface to the cryodistribution system; two nitrogen refrigerators provide cooling power for the thermal shields and the 80 K pre-cooling of the helium refrigerators. The ITER cryogenic system will be capable of providing cooling power at three different temperature levels: 4 K, 50K and 80K.
The cryoplant is also a wide international collaboration, with Europe procuring the Liquid Nitrogen Facility (LN2) and auxiliary systems, India procuring the interconnecting lines and cryodistribution equipment, and the ITER Organization directly procuring the Liquid Helium (LHe) plant.
Under contract to Air Liquide Global E&C Solutions France, chosen by the European Domestic Agency to manufacture the LN2 plant, the Indian company Flowserve has produced six valves that will control the helium flow from the 80K loop boxes to the thermal shields and cryopumps of the ITER machine. These valves are nearly five times bigger than the average cryogenic valve found on a standard helium liquefier, measuring 2.5 metres in height and weighing more than 1.5 metric tons. Maximum flow-through attains 4.4 kg/second, more than twice what is normally released through a helium valve in even the biggest helium liquefiers.
The ITER Organization coordinated the inspection of the valves, which are now on their way to China to be assembled with other equipment.
Read the original story on the European Domestic Agency website.
European Commission reaffirms importance of JET tokamak
12 Feb 2016
The European Commission had established a panel of independent high-level experts to evaluate the Euratom research program comprising fission and fusion research. The findings, which were recently published, are more than a pat on the back for Europe's fusion research activities, especially with regard to EUROfusion's flagship device the Joint European Torus (JET) and the Roadmap to the realisation of fusion energy.
The panel's findings place JET firmly at the heart of Europe's fusion research activities and underline its role as the device that is crucial to the developments at ITER. JET is currently the largest operating tokamak in Europe and also the only machine that is capable of carrying out experiments using the deuterium-tritium (D-T) fuel. And because D-T is the fuel of choice for a fusion reactor, results from the upcoming D-T experiments in JET will provide the know-how pertinent to ITER experiments. In addition, JET's ITER-like plasma-facing wall, its tungsten divertors, and its highly sophisticated remote-handling systems are all features that will lend invaluable knowledge and experience relevant to ITER.
Another facet the panel recognized as important is the European Fusion Roadmap which looks to steer the fusion program from being solely laboratory-based and science-driven to include industry and technology in its fold. The roadmap, which has been put together with inputs from all the EUROfusion consortium members, looks to solidify collaboration with industry in areas ranging from standardization of parts to plant design and integration and materials development. Also featuring prominently in the Fusion Roadmap is the role of JET as the testing ground for ITER operation— an aspect that is completely aligned with the panel's findings.
The independent panel's evaluation strongly backs this endorsement stating that "the decision to extend the use of JET to support the development of ITER was not only correct but essential." It further goes on to say that "high priority should be given to keeping JET operating until the design for ITER has been finalized and ITER has been successfully commissioned."
A new series of five downloadable posters is available in the ITER on-line Publication Centre (/posters). Designed for A1 printing, they are sized for classrooms, offices and labs.
This first series features the ITER machine, several of its principal components (the cryostat and the divertor), assembly tooling and ITER construction. A second series is planned.
ITER aficionados to your printers!
Expert in fusion honoured by China
08 Feb 2016
China has conferred its annual International Scientific and Technological Cooperation Award on a figure closely associated with the ITER Project—Academician Evgeny Velikhov, who helped to initiate the project at the highest political level in the mid-1980s and who served as ITER Council Chair during the technical design phase for ITER and again at the start of ITER construction from 2010-2012.
Currently director of the Kurchatov Institute in Moscow, Academician Velikhov was recognized by the Chinese government for his long-term contribution to Chinese-Russian fusion cooperation. He initiated bilateral cooperation between the Kurchatov and ASIPP (Institute of Plasma Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences), helping China in the successful development of a superconducting tokamak. He has visited China multiple times in recent years as an international advisor and has made valuable suggestions on the conceptual design of China's next-phase device, the China Fusion Engineering Test Reactor (CFETR).
The International Scientific and Technological Cooperation Award is the most prestigious honour in China for foreigners or foreign organizations "who make outstanding contributions to science and technology development in China."
Read the full story in ASIPP's January newsletter, below.
Fusion education network meets on site
08 Feb 2016
During its fifth General Assembly held at ITER on 4 February, the European Fusion Education Network FuseNet approved a work plan for the period 2016-2017.
The FuseNet Association was founded in December 2010 as a platform for stimulating, supporting and coordinating fusion education in Europe, with the aim to the aim of attracting good students and providing them challenging education in fusion science and technology, developing educational tools, encouraging student mobility, and acting as matchmaker between industry and research labs/academia for student internships and vacancies.
FuseNet members are made up of universities with programs in fusion as well as research institutes and industry involved in ITER and/or fusion technology. Membership is not restricted to European organizations.
In the latest issue of NFRI News Korea's National Fusion Research Institute reports the latest KSTAR experimental campaign. Ten overseas research institutes and nine Korean institutes collaborated on this eighth campaign, which ended in December 2015.
The January issue also announces the 2015 NFRI Award was attributed to Hyeongon Lee, the Deputy Director General of ITER Korea. The award recognizes Prof. Lee's leading work on non-destructive testing technology for ITER and the validation of analysis relating to the ITER thermal shield and assembly tooling.
The MAST Upgradevacuum vessel is getting a paint job — and its new look will ensure the experiment produces top-quality plasma physics data when it starts operating next year.
While it's a shame to cover up the gleaming stainless steel surfaces, science must take precedence over aesthetic considerations. A number of key measuring systems — diagnostics — on MAST-U will rely on accurate readings of light from the plasma. With uncovered steel, the light bounces off the vessel surfaces, playing havoc with the measurements. Reflected light also makes it more difficult to examine images of the plasma for physics phenomena such as ELM instabilities. Applying graphite-based paint to the walls greatly reduces these reflections, giving physicists much better results to work with.
The delegation from the Chinese Ministry of Science & Technology (MOST) that was received at ITER on 26 January also paid a visit to the International School in the neighbouring town of Manosque. Headed by Luo Delong, head of the Chinese Domestic Agency for ITER, and Sun Yuming, Deputy Director-General of the Executive Office at MOST, the delegation had a gift for the students in the Chinese section: four boxes of textbooks for primary school classes and picture books for pre-schoolers.
Of the 34 students in the Chinese section 21 are "ITER children"; the others are French nationals learning Chinese as second foreign language.
New finding may explain fusion reactor heat loss
28 Jan 2016
One of the biggest obstacles to making fusion power practical—and realizing its promise of virtually limitless and relatively clean energy—has been that computer models have been unable to predict how the hot, electrically charged gas inside a fusion reactor behaves under the intense heat and pressure required to make atoms stick together.
The key to making fusion work—that is, getting atoms of a heavy form of hydrogen called deuterium to stick together to form helium, releasing a huge amount of energy in the process—is to maintain a sufficiently high temperature and pressure to enable the atoms overcome their resistance to each other. But various kinds of turbulence can stir up this hot soup of particles and dissipate some of the intense heat, and a major problem has been to understand and predict exactly how this turbulence works, and thus how to overcome it.
A long-standing discrepancy between predictions and observed results in test reactors has been called "the great unsolved problem" in understanding the turbulence that leads to a loss of heat in fusion reactors. Solving this discrepancy is critical for predicting the performance of new fusion reactors such as the huge international collaborative project called ITER, under construction in France.
Now, researchers at MIT's Plasma Science and Fusion Center, in collaboration with others at the University of California at San Diego, General Atomics, and the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, say that they have found the key. In a result so surprising that the researchers themselves found it hard to believe their own results at first, it turns out that interactions between turbulence at the tiniest scale, that of electrons, and turbulence at a scale 60 times larger, that of ions, can account for the mysterious mismatch between theory and experimental results.
The new findings are detailed in a pair of papers published in the journals Nuclear Fusion and AIP Physics of Plasmas, by MIT research scientist Nathan Howard, doctoral student Juan Ruiz Ruiz, Cecil and Ida Green Associate Professor in Engineering Anne White, and 12 collaborators.
The Kudowa Summer School "Towards Fusion Energy" takes place every two years in Kudowa Zdrój, Poland.
Organized by the Institute of Plasma Physics and Laser Microfusion (IPPLM) and the International Centre for Dense Magnetised Plasma (ICDMP), the summer program is geared toward a multinational audience, principally PhD students but also Master's students and young scientists from all over Europe.
Courses focus on various aspects of fusion energy, plasma experiments, plasma modelling and technology for young scientists from different countries. The subject of the Kudowa Summer School in 2016 is: Power Exhaust in Fusion Plasmas.
The 2016 Kudowa Summer School will take place from 13 to 17 June 2016 (registration deadline 20 March). For more information, visit the dedicated website.
MIIFED-IBF 2016: Sign up now!
25 Jan 2016
From 8 to 11 February, the Monaco-ITER International Fusion Energy Days (MIIFED) will combine with the ITER Business Forum (IBF) to create a single event dedicated to ITER progress and upcoming business opportunities.
Over 400 participants from 200 companies have already registered for MIIFED-IBF 2016, which will be the sole event dedicated to industrial opportunities at ITER in 2016. The three-day conference will also feature an industrial and R&D exhibition.
It is still possible to schedule one-to-one meetings (B2B and B2C). These networking opportunities facilitate the exploration of partnership opportunities in the context of the technological challenges that lie ahead for ITER. To schedule a one-to-one meeting or to ask for business appointments (based on company profiles), please consult the pages dedicated to registered participants here.
In combining ITER Business Forum with the MIIFED international event, the MIIFED-IBF2016 Conference is specifically designed to support enhanced communication with industry and ensure that ITER procurement practices will be efficient and supportive of its industrial partners. It also aims to facilitate productive interaction between industry and fusion laboratories from the seven ITER Members and to foster collaboration between those actors, especially in technical areas where strong cooperation is required.
See the conference website for more information or to register now.
Mira supercomputer gives new "edge" to fusion research
21 Jan 2016
Using Mira, physicists from Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have uncovered a new understanding about electron behaviour in edge plasma. Based on this discovery, improvements were made to a well-known analytical formula that could enhance predictions of and, ultimately, increase fusion power efficiency.
Principal investigator C.S. Chang, head of the U.S. SciDAC-3 Partnership for Edge Physics Simulation headquartered at PPPL, and co-investigator Robert Hager recently gained new insight into the properties of a self-generating electrical current that boosts power in a tokamak fusion reactor, based on simulations run on the 10-petaflop IBM Blue Gene/Q supercomputer Mira located at the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility in the US.
To develop the best predictive tools for ITER (and, by extension, other experimental fusion reactors), research teams are using high-performance computing to resolve the behaviours of fusion plasma across the many spatial scales that impact reactor efficiency and plasma stability.
Running on more than 260,000 Mira processing cores with excellent scalability, the latest XGCa plasma edge simulations revealed electron behaviours related to edge bootstrap current that are not accurately predicted for present-day tokamak geometry by the well-known Sauter formula, which is used to calculate values for the bootstrap current.
"Mira allows running simulations of larger tokamaks at ITER's scale, and modeling at much higher particle counts more accurately represents the electron populations in the plasma," said Tim Williams, Argonne computational scientist.
Read the full article on the website of the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility.
Image: Based on a series of high-resolution simulations of bootstrap current in present-day tokamak geometries, researchers have modified a well-known formula that calculates the value of bootstrap current in order to improve the prediction of fusion efficiency in tokamak reactors. Credit: Kwan Liu-Ma, University of California, Davis.
African officials get the fusion infusion
18 Jan 2016
What should have been a standard two-hour visit turned out to be a four-hour crash course in fusion. For the first time in the history of the ITER Project, a 29-person delegation from the African continent came to visit ITER this week. Taking part in a conference in Marseille on public-private partnerships in the energy sector, the lawyers, engineers and ministry representatives from Cameroun, Burkina Faso, Congo, Togo, Senegal, Kenya, the Ivory Coast, Maurice, Mali and Uganda seized the opportunity to spend an afternoon at ITER Headquarters, with a visit to the site and presentations on fusion science and technology and the organization of the world's largest International scientific collaboration. "What you are doing here is really amazing," Tarek Toko, from the West African Development Bank, said on the way back to the bus. "You must succeed!"
EU will update roadmap to fusion power
18 Jan 2016
The organization charged with overseeing and coordinating the European Union's quest for fusion power, EUROfusion, plans to update during 2016 the European Union's 2012 strategic plan to put fusion electricity on the grid by 2050, according to Xavier Litaudon speaking at the annual meeting of the Fusion Power Associates on 16-17 December in Washington, DC.
ITER remains "the key facility of the roadmap" but the update will incorporate the impact of slippage in the ITER construction schedule. A new ITER schedule is expected to be approved by the ITER Council by mid-2016 according to ITER Director-General Bernard Bigot, who also spoke at the meeting.
The European Union's strategic plan reflects a collaboration with Japan on the "Broader Approach" to fusion that was a part of the ITER siting decision process. According to EUROfusion, in the course of the roadmap implementation the fusion program will move "from being laboratory-based and science-driven towards an industry- and technology-driven venture."
To ensure minimal delay to DEMO, the next step after ITER, the European Union has initiated a conceptual design system engineering approach that will address such issues as safety, tritium breeding, power exhaust, remote handling, component lifetime and plant availability, according to Litaudon. Experience gained from continued operation and "internationalization" of the JET tokamak and from devices JT-60SA (Japan), WEST (France) and Wendelstein 7-X (Germany) are also important elements of the plan.
Ed Synakowski, head of the US fusion program, told the audience that the US had recently completed the US fusion Strategic Plan requested by Congress in 2014. Permission from Congress was needed before the Plan could be released to the public, he said.
All talks from the Fusion Power Associates annual meeting, Strategies to Fusion Power, are posted at the FIRE website.
Among the most feared events in space physics are solar eruptions, massive explosions that hurl millions of tons of plasma gas and radiation into space. These outbursts can be deadly: if the first moon-landing mission had encountered one, the intense radiation could have been fatal to the astronauts. And when eruptions reach the magnetic field that surrounds the Earth, the contact can create geomagnetic storms that disrupt cell phone service, damage satellites and knock out power grids.
NASA is eager to know when an eruption is coming and when what looks like the start of an outburst is just a false alarm. Knowing the difference could affect the timing of future space missions such as journeys to Mars, and show when steps to protect satellites, power systems and other equipment need to be taken.
MAST tokamak: a year of progress in three minutes (video)
08 Jan 2016
Momentum is building on the MAST Upgrade project at the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE) in the UK.
When completed, the upgrade of the Mega Amp Spherical Tokamak (MAST) will enable scientists to test the spherical tokamak design as a candidate for a Component Test Facility that will trial technology and materials in advance of the next-step machine; add to the knowledge base for ITER on key plasma physics issues; and test a high-power exhaust system known as a Super-X divertor.
The final phase of assembly will take place in 2016.
Scientists at the US Department of Energy's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have produced self-consistent computer simulations that capture the evolution of an electric current inside fusion plasma without using a central electromagnet, or solenoid.
The simulations of the process, known as non-inductive current ramp-up, were performed using TRANSP, the gold-standard code developed at PPPL. The results were published in October 2015 in Nuclear Fusion. The research was supported by the DOE Office of Science.
In traditional donut-shaped tokamaks, a large solenoid runs down the centre of the reactor. By varying the electrical current in the solenoid scientists induce a current in the plasma. This current starts up the plasma and creates a second magnetic field that completes the forces that hold the hot, charged gas together.
But spherical tokamaks, a compact variety of fusion reactor that produces high plasma pressure with relatively low magnetic fields, have little room for solenoids. Spherical tokamaks look like cored apples and have a smaller central hole for the solenoid than conventional tokamaks do. Physicists, therefore, have been trying to find alternative methods for producing the current that starts the plasma and completes the magnetic field in spherical tokamaks.
One such method is known as coaxial helicity injection (CHI). During CHI, researchers switch on an electric coil that runs beneath the tokamak. Above this coil is a gap that opens into the tokamak's vacuum vessel and circles the tokamak's floor. The switched-on electrical current produces a magnetic field that connects metal plates on either side of the gap.
The 2015 roundup of news from the US ITER Project Office is now available online.
US ITER achieved a number of project "firsts" for delivery and fabrication over the last year. Deliveries to the ITER site included the first nuclear grade hardware (drain tanks) and the first highly exceptional load shipment to ITER (a 90-ton electrical transformer). The US also supplied the first plant components installed at the ITER site (a total of four transformers). On the fabrication side, US ITER shipped its first production toroidal field conductor to the coil manufacturer in Europe and has begun fabrication of the first central solenoid module.
Fusion in Europe is a regular magazine on the progress of fusion research published by the EUROfusion consortium. In the December 2015 issue, the magazine takes a look at ongoing preparations for the deuterium-tritium campaign at JET, at the research planned on the upgraded spherical tokamaks MAST (UK) and NSTX (US), and at topical program news from fusion laboratories all over Europe.
For the close of the year, EUROfusion—the European Consortium for the Development of Fusion Energy—is highlighting 24 cutting-edge technologies that have either benefited from, or are the by-products of, fusion research.
Superconducting magnets, low-activation heat-resistant materials, high-tech filters, sophisticated computer codes ... work being carried out around the world on fusion science and technology is pushing known technologies to new levels or breaking new ground for the benefit of many other sectors and, ultimately, society at large.
Follow the Spinoff Advent Calendar on EUROfusion's website.
A new fusion collaboration for MIT
17 Dec 2015
Members of MIT's Plasma Science and Fusion Center (PSFC) community are cheering the start of a long-anticipated physics experiment at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics in Greifswald, Germany. Two teams of PSFC researchers are collaborating on the Wendelstein 7-X device, the world's largest fusion experiment designed in the stellarator line of magnetic confinement fusion devices.
The PSFC has significant experience with a different configuration of magnetic confinement, having spent decades designing and running the Alcator series of high-magnetic-field tokamak experiments — the Alcator C-Mod device, located on campus, is the latest in that series. There are many similarities between the two designs, however.
Both the tokamak and the stellarator seek to harness the energy released from the fusion of hydrogen isotopes to provide clean and safe electrical power. Both use helical (spiraling) magnetic fields to contain the hot plasma fuel in a donut-shaped chamber. In a tokamak, this field is generated both by external electromagnets and a large electrical current that is driven in the plasma itself. Driving and sustaining this plasma current, and its impact on stability and transport of energy and particles, is a major focus of the research at MIT.
The stellarator concept takes a different approach. First invented by the noted astrophysicist and fusion pioneer Lyman Spitzer of Princeton University in 1950, the stellarator provides the entire helical field through external electromagnets formed in highly complex and twisted shapes.
Future experiments at W7-X will address the role that plasma turbulence plays in limiting overall performance, and PSFC researchers are working with the W7-X group to investigate this. One PSFC team — principal research scientist Jim Terry and postdoctoral researcher Seung-Gyou Baek — will develop a fast camera system for viewing light emitted from the plasma, and will make important measurements of turbulence near the edge of the plasma. The other team — physics professor Miklos Porkolab and staff scientist Eric Edlund — will develop a specialized interferometer for imaging density fluctuations deep in the hot plasma core. The issues surrounding turbulence are important in stellarators, as they are in tokamaks, since turbulence moves heat and particles across the confining magnetic field faster than would otherwise occur. Both teams expect to have first measurements during the 2017 experimental campaign.
The Russian Domestic Agency for ITER reports that two shipments recently left factories in Saint Petersburg and Podolsk for the ITER Project.
The first shipment contains correction coil busbars—the components that connect magnet coils to their power sources—as well as flexible links for busbar interconnections. These components were transported by truck (pictured) from the Efremov Institute (NIIEFA) in Saint Petersburg directly to the ITER site. The fabrication and supply of switching equipment, busbars and energy-absorbing resistors for the power supply and the protection of the ITER superconducting magnetic system add up to the most expensive, and one of the most complicated, systems falling within the scope of in-kind procurement from Russia (25 systems in all). In accordance with the busbar Procurement Arrangement, NIIEFA will manufacture and ship approximately 5.4 km of busbars with a total weight exceeding 500 tons.
In the second shipment, four lengths of poloidal field superconductor (two unit lengths of 720 metres and two of 414 metres) were loaded onto trucks at the Cable Institute (JSC VNIIKP) in Podolsk for delivery to the European jacketing line at Criotec (Chivasso, Italy). The conductors are destined for the ITER poloidal field coil magnet system.
-- Alexander Petrov, ITER Russia
EUROfusion Tony Donné advocates prolonged use of JET
14 Dec 2015
On 4 December the Programme Manager of EUROfusion, Tony Donné, visited ITER and spoke to staff in the ITER auditorium.
EUROfusion is a consortium of 29 research organisations and universities from 26 European countries plus Switzerland that is collaborating to achieve Europe's Fusion Roadmap, which outlines the most efficient way to realize fusion electricity by 2050. ITER is the key facility on the road to fusion energy, and Professor Donné stressed in his talk that everything possible must be done to support ITER construction, optimize ITER operation and ensure minimal delay to the next-phase device, DEMO.
Professor Donné also advocated the extension of the European tokamak JET under an international regime in support of ITER. The prolonged use of JET as a risk-mitigation device for ITER and for the training of a generation of scientists, engineers and technicians for ITER could give the world fusion community access to deuterium-tritium plasmas approximately 10 years before ITER.
The aim of the WEST project is to turn the Tore Supra tokamak (France) into a test bed for ITER, with an actively cooled ITER-like tungstendivertor.
Component installation is underway. The latest WEST Newsletter (#11) reports on the most recent milestone: the installation of the divertor coil casings. Two stainless steel rings constituting the housing for the conductor windings are now assembled and positioned inside the vacuum vessel at their nominal position. The building of the coil winding can now begin.
(Photo Christophe Roux CEA-IRFM)
Read all the latest from WEST in Newsletter 11 here.
RACE is on for ITER remote handling work
04 Dec 2015
An 18-month development program to prototype remote handling tooling for the ITER fusion device was demonstrated on 26 and 27 October as part of collaboration between the European Domestic Agency for ITER and the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE) in the UK.
Representatives from the ITER Organization, the European agency, Assystem UK, and AMEC Foster Wheeler were at Culham to see a fully remote deployment of prototype remote pipe cutting and welding tooling developed by Culham's RACE (Remote Applications in Challenging Environments).
Under a grant from the European Domestic Agency, RACE and CCFE's Engineering Implementation Department have produced a set of prototype tools intended for eventual use maintaining the neutral beam heating systems at ITER. Up to now, remote cutting and welding of process piping to the required codes, and under the challenging conditions of the ITER tokamak, had not been demonstrated, and is one of the higher risk areas across the ITER remote maintenance strategy.
ITER will rely on remote handling for maintenance operations where space and/or environmental conditions in the machine do not allow manual intervention. Interconnected components, pipes, cranes and tooling will all need to be routinely repaired and maintained with millimetric accuracy.
At its seventeenth meeting in November 2015, the ITER Council named Won Namkung, from Korea, to succeed Robert Iotti as Chair effective 1 January 2016.
Dr Namkung is a Professor Emeritus of Physics at Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) in southwest Korea and Executive Adviser at the Pohang Accelerator Laboratory.
In the course of his career, he contributed to the construction of KSTAR, Korea's first all-superconducting tokamak. He has also been involved in Korea's contribution to ITER, serving as the project's first Management Assessor.
Dr Namkung received his BS in Physics from Seoul National University and his PhD in Physics from University of Tennessee.
Robert Iotti, from the US, finishes his two-year term as Council Chair on 31 December 2015.
New mechanism for stabilizing tokamak plasmas
30 Nov 2015
--Raphael Rosen, PPPL
A team of physicists led by Stephen Jardin of the US Department of Energy's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) has discovered a mechanism that prevents the electrical current flowing through fusion plasma from repeatedly peaking and crashing.
This behaviour, known as a "sawtooth cycle," can cause instabilities within the plasma's core.
The team, which included scientists from General Atomics (San Diego) and the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (Germany), performed calculations on the Edison computer at the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center, a division of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Using M3D-C1, a program they developed that creates three-dimensional simulations of fusion plasmas, the team found that under certain conditions a helix-shaped whirlpool of plasma forms around the centre of the tokamak. The swirling plasma acts like a dynamo—a moving fluid that creates electric and magnetic fields.
Together these fields prevent the current flowing through plasma from peaking and crashing.
The researchers found two specific conditions under which the plasma behaves like a dynamo. First, the magnetic lines that circle the plasma must rotate exactly once, both the long way and the short way around the doughnut-shaped configuration, so an electron or ion following a magnetic field line would end up exactly where it began. Second, the pressure in the centre of the plasma must be significantly greater than at the edge, creating a gradient between the two sections. This gradient combines with the rotating magnetic field lines to create spinning rolls of plasma that swirl around the tokamak and gives rise to the dynamo that maintains equilibrium and produces stability.
Image: A cross-section of the virtual plasma showing where the magnetic field lines intersect the plane. The central section has field lines that rotate exactly once. (Credit: Stephen Jardin)
One of the most spectacular operations ever performed on the ITER site was the lifting of the Assembly Hall roof structure during the night of 10 to 11 September 2015.
Hoisting the 700-ton structure to a height of 60 metres was a long and delicate operation monitored and controlled by computer.
This video, produced by the companies and organizations involved in the operation, captures the technical achievement as it unfolded.
Vacuum vessel sectors take shape in Italy
20 Nov 2015
The ITER vacuum vessel is composed of nine sectors, two of which are being procured by Korea and seven by Europe.
In Italy, production of a first sector has begun at the AMW consortium (Ansaldo - Mangiarotti - Walter Tosto).
Click here to watch a video of manufacturing progress at AMW.
Rob Goldston wins "Best Paper" award
20 Nov 2015
The editorial board of the journal Nuclear Fusion has selected Rob Goldston, a fusion researcher and Princeton University professor of astrophysical sciences, as winner of the 2015 Nuclear Fusion Award. The award recognizes Goldston's paper describing a new model for estimating the width of the scrape-off layer — the hot plasma that is exhausted in fusion facilities called tokamaks — as the most outstanding paper published by the journal in 2012.
The journal will present the honor, which includes an engraved award, a certificate and $2,500, during the 2016 Fusion Energy Conference in Kyoto, Japan.
On receiving the reward Goldston said, "It is a great pleasure to win this scientific award for a paper written three years after I stepped down from my leadership post at PPPL. It is fun to be back in the fray working with top-quality scientists, helping to make sense of very important, and very carefully measured, data."
ITER launched its new website this week! A techier look to go with our ultra-hi-tech mission. For all those friends who ask you over lunch: "How does magnetic confinement fusion work — really?" You now have a place to point them to. And don't miss the machine pages! If you find yourself swooning over a cryostat or a divertor in 3D, you're not alone ...
FuseNet PhD event: off to an enthusiastic start
16 Nov 2015
The ramp-up time for achieving a fusion reaction inside a tokamak machine varies, depending on a certain number of boundary conditions such as volume, temperature and density and, of course, the fuels injected.
In the auditorium of the Faculty of Nuclear Sciences and Physical Engineering, at Prague's Czech Technical University, all the variables were in place on Sunday night—drink, food, room temperature and body density—and so it took less than two minutes after the official opening of this year's FuseNet PhD event before the room started to buzz and the volume tripled. The only thing missing to make the molecules fuse on the dance floor was the music, which soon set in very vibrantly in form of the Apples, a local female rock band.
With a record participation of 130 students, the fifth edition of the FuseNet PhD event is off to an enthusiastic start. Physicist Richard Pitts, from the ITER Organization, opened the scientific part of the program on Monday 16 November with an overview of the ITER Project, assuring those assembled in the auditorium that they were entering the discipline at exactly the right time. "You are at the golden age of fusion."
The event, organized each year under the umbrella of the FuseNet association with the financial support of EUROfusion, brings together a large fraction of the PhD students in Europe that work in the fields of fusion science and engineering. Young researchers get the opportunity to share their ideas, learn from each other's experiences and develop a network of contacts.
"We are seeing some very high quality research," said Jean-Marie Noterdaeme from the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics in Garching and Head of the Advisory Board of the European Erasmus Mundus program.
Follow the three-day event through the dedicated FuseNet website.
-- Sabina Griffith
MIIFED - IBF 2016: registration has started!
16 Nov 2015
The Monaco ITER International Fusion Energy Days (MIIFED) and the ITER Business Forum (IBF) 2016 will take place in Monaco from 8 to 11 February 2016. It will be the sole event dedicated to industrial opportunities at ITER in 2016. Over three days, participants will have the opportunity to learn about progress achieved so far, the current status of ITER construction and manufacturing, and upcoming business opportunities. Through B2B and B2C meetings, the event will also facilitate networking between companies and the exploration of partnership opportunities in the context of the technological challenges of ITER. An industrial and R&D exhibition will also be staged. On 11 February, delegates will have the option to visit the ITER worksite as well as two industrial sites where ITER component manufacturing is in progress (Simic S.p.A and Cnim).
For the first time, this international event will combine an ITER Business Forum with the MIIFED international event. The rationale is to facilitate productive interaction between industry and fusion laboratories from the seven ITER Members and to foster collaboration between those actors, especially in technical areas where strong cooperation is required such as heating systems, diagnostics or remote handling systems.
Registration has started! Come and join us! This international conference offers an excellent opportunity for exchanging views and experiences and forming valuable international business relationships for the ITER program and beyond. From 8 to 11 February, we will bring you into contact with high-level decision makers, international industrialists, experienced researchers and ITER staff, giving you plenty of opportunity to meet reliable partners for your core business. Join us at MIIFED-IBF 2016 in Monaco, under the High Patronage of H.S.H. Prince Albert II.
Former German chancellor Helmut Schmidt, who died on 10 November at age 96, played an essential but little-known role in the decision to site the large European tokamak JET in Culham, UK.
In the mid-1970s, the parties involved in the project were facing the difficult task of deciding where to build the ground-breaking machine. Four sites were volunteering: Culham in the UK; Garching in Germany; Cadarache in France and Ispra in Italy.
As neither Ispra, nor at the time Cadarache, hosted a fusion research infrastructure that could support the new project, the choice soon narrowed to Culham and Garching.
Political discussions to decide between the two had been dragging on for almost two years when, on 17 October 1977, the conclusion of a tragic event contributed to breaking the deadlock.
Five days earlier, terrorists had hijacked a Frankfurt-bound Lufthansa airliner to eventually land it in Mogadishu, Somalia. Eighty-six passengers were held hostage; one crew member had been killed.
The German chancellor decided to have the airliner stormed by special troops. The successful operation, with no passengers injured, was a political triumph for Schmidt. The German special troops had benefitted from key intelligence and special equipment from the British Special Air Service, who had sent observers to Mogadishu.
The following day, a meeting was scheduled in Bonn between Schmidt and the British Prime Minister James Callaghan. The atmosphere was one of relief and gratefulness. In an obliging gesture, Schmidt accepted to be more accommodating on the JET siting issue.
One week later, the European partners all agreed on building JET at Culham.
Testing the thermal tolerance of the fusion reactors of the future
09 Nov 2015
Nuclear fusion is an attractive option for creating sustainable energy, in principle using the same reactions found at the centre of stars to generate large quantities of power without carbon emissions.
But creating those conditions on Earth is difficult, and part of the problem is finding the correct materials to contain the fierce reactions.
The most common approach is to magnetically contain the high-energy particles, known as a plasma, in a tight circle running through the centre of a giant metal torus. This set-up is employed at the JET facility in Culham, just outside Oxford, as well as in the forthcoming ITER experiment in the south of France.
But even constrained by large magnetic fields, the plasma still subjects the walls of the vessel, likely to be made of tungsten, to extreme conditions.
Oxford University researchers, along with researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy, have been carrying out experiments to investigate the effect of radiation on the properties of the material used in the walls and on the materials' thermal conductivity.
Adam Cohen succeeds Michael Knotek as Deputy Under Secretary for Science and Energy (US)
09 Nov 2015
After nearly seven years as deputy director for operations at the US Department of Energy's (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), Adam Cohen has been named Deputy Under Secretary for Science and Energy in Washington D.C. He succeeds Michael Knotek, who retired 30 September.
"I am very excited and humbled by the opportunity to take on this role," Cohen said. "I look forward to working with Secretary [Ernest] Moniz, Under Secretary [Lynn] Orr and all within the department, as well as across the complex, in supporting the research mission of the department and helping to ensure the vitality of the national laboratories."
Cohen's contributions to the Laboratory have been invaluable, said A.J. Stewart Smith, Princeton University vice-president for PPPL. "He evolved the management structure that we all enjoy today," Smith said. "He has been a superb colleague and will be sorely missed."
At PPPL, which recently completed construction of the $94 million National Spherical Torus Experiment-Upgrade, the Laboratory's major fusion experiment, Cohen has played many critical roles. As deputy director for operations, he was in charge of the upgrade and ran the indirect — or non-research — side of the Laboratory, whose departments range from engineering and infrastructure to information technology. He recently headed preparation of the Campus Plan, a 10-year program for modernizing the Laboratory whose first steps are under way, and set the Lab on its current path to a business system upgrade that will replace all financial software by 2018.
Cohen will make use of his fusion experience by heading the U.S. delegation to ITER, the international fusion experiment that is under construction in France. His contact with ITER will be at the international level; he will not be directly involved in the US ITER Project Office at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
New clip revisits installation of the on-site transformers
09 Nov 2015
A new video clip produced by the European Domestic Agency revisits the installation of first four on-site transformers.
A total power of 1200 MVA will be made available to the ITER installation through two networks—the pulsed power electrical network (PPEN) that services the AC/DC converters, the heating and current drive systems, and the system for reactive power compensation, and the steady state electrical network (SSEN) which will provide power to the cryogenic and cooling water systems, the tritium plant and general infrastructure.
Four of seven transformers have been installed on the ITER site.
Watch the clip on the European Domestic agency website.
A precious contribution to MIT's proposed tokamak
02 Nov 2015
Mechanical Engineer Jeff Doody from MIT's Plasma Science and Fusion Center (PSFC) received a "Best Paper Award" on 9 October at the COMSOL Conference 2015. The paper, "Structural Analysis of the Advanced Divertor eXperiment's Proposed Vacuum Vessel," describes how Doody used COMSOL Multiphysics modeling software to predict loads and stresses on the vacuum vessel in the initial design for the Advanced Divertor eXperiment (ADX), a proposed high field, high-power-density fusion tokamak.
Collaborating with him at the PSFC were Chief Mechanical Engineer Rui Viera, Senior Research Scientist Brian LaBombard, Principal Research Scientist Bob Granetz, Mechanical Design and Fabrication Specialist Rick Leccacorvi, and Principal Research Engineer Jim Irby.
Photo: Mechanical Engineer Jeff Doody of MIT Plasma Science and Fusion Center.
Read the whole article on the PSFC website.
Plasma heating puzzle comes together
02 Nov 2015
The complex puzzle that makes up MAST Upgrade's main plasma heating system is well on the way to completion at the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE) in the UK.
The neutral beam injection system will provide most of the heating power for MAST Upgrade (around 5 megawatts). It works by firing fast-moving neutral particles into the plasma, where their motion is transferred into heat.
Recent work has focused on the system's bend magnets and ion dump assemblies. These components steer stray charged particles away from the heating beam and absorb their energy, which can be as much as 12 megawatts per square metre — much more than the loads on spacecraft re-entering the atmosphere.
The bend magnets were delivered to site during the summer and passed acceptance testing before undergoing a trial fit in the neutral beam injection tanks to check their alignment. Meanwhile, the build of the welded ion dump assemblies has proceeded well throughout the year.
By the end of 2015, the pre-assembly of these components will be complete, leaving them ready for installation into the tanks. The re-build of the neutral beam injection system will take place in 2016.
In recognition of his outstanding contributions in physics, Professor Dr Thomas Sunn Pedersen from the Max Planck Institute of Plasma Physics, IPP, has been elected Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS).
With this distinction his colleagues in the Plasma Physics Section of APS are honouring in particular "his seminal studies of pure electron plasmas in a stellarators," according to the Fellowship Certificate, and for "active stabilization of resistive wall modes"—a special kind of plasma instability in a tokamak.
The objective of the American Physical Society is to extend physical knowledge, support physicists worldwide, and promote international cooperation. The venerable society, based in Maryland, US, was established in 1899 and has a present membership of 40,000. No more than half a percent of the members may be elected Fellow.
The European Domestic Agency for ITER, Fusion for Energy, announced on 21 October that Johannes Schwemmer, from Germany, has been appointed as its new Executive Director.
Fusion for Energy is the European Union's Joint Undertaking for ITER and the Development of Fusion Energy. The organization was created under the Euratom Treaty by a decision of the Council of the European Union in order to provide Europe's contribution to ITER, to support fusion research and development initiatives through the Broader Approach (signed with Japan), and to contribute down the road to the construction of demonstration fusion reactors.
Johannes Schwemmer was selected by the Fusion for Energy Governing Board from a list of candidates proposed by the European Commission after an open competition, following a publication in the Official Journal of the European Communities.
Read the full announcement on the European Domestic Agency's website.
Korea celebrates ten years of fusion research at NFRI
19 Oct 2015
Korea's National Fusion Research Institute (NFRI) celebrated its tenth anniversary on 1 October in the presence of distinguished guests Chairman Sangchun Lee of the National Research Council of Science and Technology and Deputy Minister Jaemun Park of the Ministry of Science ICT and Future Planning (MSIP).
Since NFRI's inception in 2005, the institute has successfully brought the KSTAR tokamak to the level of a world-class superconducting fusion device (2007), celebrated its first plasma (2008) and surpassed the 10,000th plasma experiment mark (2014), testifying to the stability of the device. KSTAR is now playing an important role by running experiments in support of ITER.
During the ceremony, participants from industry, academia and national research institutes reflected on the 20-year effort in Korea toward the development of fusion energy. Awards of recognition were granted to distinguished contributors and a certification plaque was awarded to KSTAR, selected as one of the Top 70 scientific and technological achievements in the country.
"With the passion and confidence that has brought us so far during the past decade," said NFRI Director-General Keeman Kim, "we will continue to strive forward to bring Korea to the top when it comes to fusion energy commercialization."
Russian TV explores ITER complexity
19 Oct 2015
A 14-minute documentary on ITER aired on Russia's TV Channel 24 on Saturday 17 October.
The documentary brings the viewer into the heart of ITER construction for an update of work underway on the lower levels of the Tokamak Complex, future home to the 23,000-ton ITER machine. The team of journalists also travels to the European winding facility in La Spezia, Italy (ASG Superconductors) to investigate the complexities of ITER engineering and manufacturing.
At La Spezia, Russian-produced niobium-tin superconductor is integrated through a complex series of steps into ITER's giant toroidal field magnets.
Princeton Lab honours engineer Neumeyer and physicist Maingi
15 Oct 2015
PPPL presented its 2015 outstanding research awards to engineer Charles Neumeyer and physicist Rajesh Maingi on 5 October.
Neumeyer received the Kaul Foundation Prize for "the design analysis and overall management of the US contributions to the steady state electric network that will supply power to ITER. This culminated in the successful delivery of the first major plant components to ITER, establishing procedures for all future shipments of ITER components."
This accomplishment was made possible in part by the strong and trusting relationship that was established years ago between Neumeyer and the present members of the ITER "electricians".
"In this long venture, the human dimension was essential", says Joël Hourtoule, ITER Electrical Power Distribution section leader.
Maingi received the Distinguished Research Fellow award for "seminal research and program leadership in tokamak boundary and divertor physics."
Demonstration of high conductor performance in Japan
12 Oct 2015
In a press release issued on 6 October, the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) announced the successful testing of the ITER central solenoid conductor under conditions comparable to ITER operation.
The tests, which were carried out at a JAEA test facility in Naka, Japan, by an international team, measured the performance of the central solenoid conductor under the same magnetic field and strain that it will face in the ITER machine. Results showed high performance.
According to Procurement Arrangements signed with the ITER Organization, the central solenoid will be wound in the US from niobium-tin conductor produced in Japan.
The positive test results are a significant milestone on the road to producing the 1,000-metric-ton electromagnet that will allow a powerful current to be induced in the ITER plasma and maintained during long plasma pulses.
The JAEA press release is available here (in Japanese).
Europe reports on a year of progress for ITER
12 Oct 2015
The European Domestic Agency for ITER has published a highlights document that retraces one year of activity and progress. Contract signatures, industrial achievements, events, construction milestones and fusion R&D activities are gathered in an illustrated 50-page brochure that is downloadable here.
Visit the European Domestic Agency website for more information.
"Is nuclear fusion about to change our world?" asks CNN
09 Oct 2015
Imagine a world powered by a cheap, safe, clean, virtually limitless, sustainable fuel source such as water. If fuel and energy are cheap and available to all nations, that reduces global political tensions. If our energy comes from a clean-burning fuel source, that reduces air pollution. All that would be good, right?
Billionaires such as Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen apparently think so.
They've each thrown their money into a different fusion development company, each with its own idea how to solve the fusion puzzle, according to Forbes.
"What we're really doing here is trying to build a star on Earth," said Laban Coblentz at the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), a massive fusion reactor being built by 35 countries in southern France.
When Coblentz said "star," he meant that quite literally. Fusion is what keeps stars, including our own sun, burning bright.
Photo: "When we succeed, it will be for the benefit of the whole world," says ITER Engineer Anna Encheva in the CNN program.
China and Korea work together for the future of fusion
08 Oct 2015
The 3rd Joint Coordination Meeting (JCM-3) in fusion R&D and related areas took place between China and Korea in Xi'an, China from 13 to 14 August.
Gathering government officials, scientists and engineers from national research institutes, industries participating in ITER and the Chinese and Korean Domestic Agencies, the meeting was hosted by the Department of International Cooperation of the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology MOST and ITER China, with support from Western Superconducting Technologies—a supplier of ITER China located in Xián.
At the meeting, the current status of the Chinese and Korean fusion programs was passed in review as well as reports from bilateral working groups on the collaborative activities of the previous year. In 2014, China and Korea collaborated in the areas of tungsten wall/divertor and plasma-wall interaction; DEMO reactor design; lower hybrid current drive (LHCD) physics and technology; and ITER procurements including blanket shield blocks, AC/DC convertors and Test Blanket Modules.
The next bilateral meeting will take place in August 2016 in Korea.
Public gets rare glimpse of General Atomics' giant magnets
05 Oct 2015
General Atomics (San Diego) opened a facility making the world's largest magnets for rare public tours on 2 October in honour of the nationwide Manufacturing Day in the US.
The factory in Poway, California, is making seven giant magnet modules, each weighing approximately 110 metric tons, for the $20 billion International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, or ITER, being built in France.
Each magnet is made of 560 turns of superconducting cables made from stands of a rare niobium-tin alloy wound around a tube that will carry liquid helium. In operation, the magnets will be cooled to -269°C while 50,000 amps of power are applied.
Their role in the ITER Project is to contain a fusion reaction — literally trapping the sun in a bottle.
Russia ships last batch of toroidal field conductor
02 Oct 2015
On 28 September, the last lengths of Russian-procured conductor for ITER's toroidal field magnets were loaded onto trailers at the Kurchatov Institute in Moscow for shipment to the European winding facility in La Spezia, Italy.
Through a Procurement Arrangement signed in February 2008 with the ITER Organization, the Russian Domestic Agency took on the responsibility of procuring 20 percent of toroidal field conductor lengths (28 lengths, including two dummies), plus testing and transport to the European winding facility.
The building blocks of the ITER magnets are high-performance, internally cooled superconductors called CICC (cable-in-conduit) conductors, made up of bundled superconducting and copper strands that are cabled together and contained in a structural steel jacket. For the toroidal field magnets, the completed conductor will be wound into D-shaped "double pancakes," inserted into the grooves of a radial plate to hold it in place, stacked to form winding "packs," and finally contained in steel cases to form the completed coil.
The shipment of three final lengths procured in Russia (pictured) completes Russia's longest-lead procurement campaign for ITER.
-- Alex Petrov, ITER Russia
In close contact about intellectual property
28 Sep 2015
On 17-18 September, the ITER Organization hosted the annual meeting on intellectual property issues that brings together contact persons and specialists from the ITER Central Team and the seven Domestic Agencies
Chaired by the ITER Organization Legal Adviser, the Intellectual Property Contact Persons meeting is the forum for discussions on intellectual property-related issues encountered with suppliers, legal issues related to non-disclosure agreements, the use of the ITER logo, and the utilization of the intellectual property database.
The fundamental principles of intellectual property management within the ITER Project are set out in Article 10 of the ITER Agreement: The ITER Organization and the Members shall support the widest appropriate dissemination of information and intellectual property they generate in the ITER Project. The ITER Members benefit from accessing the intellectual property that results from the project through intellectual property provisions included in each contract, in compliance with the ITER Agreement and fully detailed in its annex on information and intellectual property (IIP Annex).
The network of Central Team-Domestic Agency contact persons plays a significant role in the implementation of intellectual property provisions in the framework of the project, confirming progress, sharing best practice, and furthering the management of intellectual property issues.
-- Akiko Takano, Legal Affairs
Nuclear fusion could work — but only if we cough up some money
21 Sep 2015
By Steven Cowley
Chief Executive Officer of the UKAEA
Head of the EURATOM/CCFE Fusion Association
This December, world leaders will gather in Paris for the United Nations Climate Change Conference, where they will attempt — yet again — to hammer out a global agreement to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. Despite the inevitable sense of déjà vu that will arise as negotiators struggle to reach a compromise, they must not give up. Whatever the political or economic considerations, the fact remains: if global temperatures rise more than 2˚C from pre-industrial levels, the consequences for the planet will be catastrophic.
But the challenge does not end with reducing emissions. Indeed, even if we make the transition to a cleaner world by 2050, we will need to determine how to meet a booming global population's insatiable appetite for energy in the longer term — an imperative that renewables alone cannot meet. That is why we need to invest now in other technologies that can complement renewables, and provide reliable electricity for many centuries to come. And one of the most promising options is nuclear fusion — the process that powers the sun and all stars.
Assembly phase activities progress at ITER satellite
02 Sep 2015
The Satellite Tokamak Program, JT-60SA, is a major modification of the existing JT-60U tokamak at the Naka Fusion Institute in Japan. Part of the Broader Approach Agreement signed between Japan and Euratom (and implemented by the Japan Atomic Energy Agency and the European Domestic Agency for ITER), it is designed to support the operation of ITER and to investigate how best to optimize the design and operation of fusion power plants built after ITER.
Recent progress has been reported in the fabrication of equilibrium field coils and the vacuum vessel thermal shield, as well as the procurement of the quench detection system.
Mega-science projects are the focus of training program in China
02 Sep 2015
To encourage the participation of Chinese professionals in international organizations and international mega-science projects such as ITER, a week-long training program was held at Zhejiang University, Hangzhou from 16 to 21 August.
Cao Jianlin, Vice Minister of the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) and head of the Chinese delegation to the ITER Council participated, along with other 13 distinguished scholars, high-level officials from international organizations, representatives of government, and the heads of the Chinese and Korean Domestic Agencies for ITER.
Through expert lectures, case studies and seminars, participants were updated on progress in research and technology at home as well as the status of international mega-projects in science and participation opportunities.
Video record of first European component delivery
02 Sep 2015
The European Domestic Agency has produced a five-minute video on the delivery of its first manufactured components to the ITER site in southern France—six drain tanks for the ITER Tritium Plant.
Proyecto Huemul: from fusion fraud to physics fortune
31 Aug 2015
It was arguably the scientific fraud of the century, but a hugely expensive failed project to create energy from nuclear fusion laid the foundation for Argentina's success in physic.
The ruins are ghostly, silent. The crumbling buildings and labs — hidden on an island that's drowning in a dense, green forest — look as if they are an abandoned villain's lair from an early James Bond movie. And in a way, they are a villain's making — they're all that remains of a top-secret project, 'Proyecto Huemul', which turned out to be one of the biggest and most expensive frauds in scientific history — and ironically also became the foundation of a scientific success story.
Tiny Isle Huemul, with an area of just two square kilometres, is covered in alerce trees; it resembles the head of a giant crocodile taking a snooze on a sunny August afternoon, poking out of the mesmerising deep blue waters of Lake Nahuel Huapi in Patagonia, amid the snow-capped mountains of the Argentinian Andes.
The ITER International School (IIS) is an annual event jointly organized by the French Aix-Marseille University and the ITER Organization. The 2015 edition will take place from 14 to 18 December at the University of Science and Technology (USTC) in Hefei, China, hosted by USTC and the Academy of Sciences Institute of Plasma Physics, ASIPP.
The primary objective of the IIS is to provide a regular forum for conducting a post-graduate training school in the area of fusion science for young researchers with a view to attracting them to participate in the scientific exploitation of ITER. The IIS will present the current and future scientific and technical challenges facing fusion science. The academic program of the IIS will be focused on a chosen scientific theme relevant to ITER and which may change from year to year.
The theme chosen for 2015 is: Transport and pedestal physics in tokamaks
Previous editions have taken place in Aix-en-Provence, France; Gandhinagar, India; and Austin, TX, USA. For more on the ITER International School, or to enroll, please visit the IIS 2015 website.
FuseNet PhD event in November
24 Aug 2015
Registration is open through 1 October 2015 for the fifth FuseNet PhD event, which will take in Prague, Czech Republic from 15 to 18 November.
The aim of the event is to enable students to disseminate their research, develop a network of contacts and learn from each other's experiences.
Organized by the Faculty of Nuclear Sciences and Physical Engineering of the Czech Technical University under the umbrella of the FuseNet Association and with financial support by EUROfusion, the PhD Event 2015 brings together PhD students working in the field of fusion science and engineering.
The PhD Event is open to all PhD students whose topic is associated with nuclear fusion research and registered at a European university, or at a FuseNet member university. Financial support for attending students is available, granted by EUROfusion through FuseNet, at the FuseNet website. More details will be posted on the registration form.
Registration is open online through 1 October 2015.
Europe concludes last Procurement Arrangement for remote handling
24 Aug 2015
The European Domestic Agency for ITER is responsible for delivering four remote handling systems to ITER: the divertor remote handling system, the neutral beam remote handling system, the in-vessel viewing and metrology system, and the cask transfer system for activated components—in all, about EUR 250 million of investment.
In July, the European agency announced that it had signed the fourth and final Procurement Arrangement for remote handling systems with the ITER Organization—the Cask and Plug Remote Handling System. Responsible for confining and transporting the machine's activated in-vessel components, this complex system will interface with more than 50 different ITER systems and comply with the strictest nuclear safety requirements.
The casks, which are automated, mobile containers weighing approximately 50 tons, will move equipment such as divertor cassettes and heating plugs between the Tokamak Building and the Hot Cell Building in order for them to be repaired, tested or disposed of. These transfer devices will need to be able to lift components weighing up to 45 tons and operate with high accuracy within a tightly confined space within the buildings.
The procurement contract for a fleet of 14 units is expected to be awarded in 2016.
Read the full article on the European Domestic Agency website.
ITER hosts Project Management Conference
28 Jul 2015
"Fusing the Project World" is the title of a Project Management Conference organized by "eVa in the UK" in collaboration with the ITER Organization. The event will take place at the ITER Headquarters on 4 September 2015.
This one-day conference offers first-hand opportunity to exchange ideas and experiences with world leading project managers. The list of speakers lined up includes CERN's leading engineer Roberto Saban, Didi Hopkins from the National Theatre of Great Britain and Harvey Maylor from the Said Business School. The fusion part of the conference will be covered by ITER Director-General Bernard Bigot and Steven Cowley, the CEO of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority. For more information please click here.
10th Asia Plasma & Fusion Association Conference
22 Jul 2015
The 10th Asia Plasma & Fusion Association Conference (APFA) will be held in Gandhinagar, India from 14 to 18 December 2015.
The purpose of the APFA is to organize Asian scientists and engineers working in plasma and fusion science and engineering fields, to exchange information on mutual interests, to strengthen friendships, to promote education of young scientists and engineers, and to contribute to the development of plasma science and fusion engineering.
Abstract submission closes on 1 August. For more information, visit the APFA website.
Chuck Kessel (PPPL) wins the 2015 Fusion Technology award
13 Jul 2015
Chuck Kessel, a principal engineer at the US Department of Energy's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), has won the 2015 Fusion Technology Award. The honour, from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers' (IEEE) Nuclear and Plasma Sciences Society, recognizes outstanding contributions to fusion engineering and technology.
"Chuck has long been a widely recognized pioneer in developing advanced tokamak operating scenarios that have served as the basis for several machine design concepts," said Michael Williams, associate director for engineering and infrastructure at PPPL and a past recipient of the honour. "Receiving the 2015 Fusion Technology Award duly recognizes Chuck's outstanding contributions to the development of fusion technology."
Presentation of the award came during the 2015 Symposium on Fusion Engineering (SOFE) that was held in June in Austin, Texas. The annual event focuses on the latest developments in the quest for fusion energy. While at the conference Kessel gave a plenary talk about the Fusion Nuclear Science Facility (FNSF), a proposed next step in the US fusion program. Kessel heads a nationwide study that will detail options for the FNSF and consider its role in relation to ITER.
(Photo by Elle Starkman/ PPPL Office of Communications)
The first edition of the new Summer School "PhDiaFusion" for students and postdocs was successfully realized last week (16-20 June 2015) in Poland.
The aim of this initiative (cooperation between CEA Cadarache, Institute of Nuclear Physics PAN and Rzeszow Technical University in Poland) is to establish a thematic school, i.e. Summer School of Plasma Diagnostics, with a strictly defined topic: the first edition was devoted to 'Soft X-ray diagnostics for Fusion Plasma'.
The choice of the School's venue, in the south-eastern part of Poland, was not accidental. In this region the 'green field' for DONES is proposed under the auspices of local government and Consortium IFMIF/ELAMAT. This region has a heavy concentration of aerospace industry, scientific research centers, as well as educational and training facilities.
The next edition of the School in 2017 will be devoted to neutron and gamma for fusion plasma diagnostics. Book your time in the summer of 2017 for PhDiaFusion !
Photo: Chairman of the School Didier Mazon (CEA) has invited the eminent scientists who led lectures and tutorials for young students. Among them they were: Luigi Alloca, Robin Barnsley, Dimitri Batani, Andreas Dinklage, Tony Donne, Christian Ingesson, Hans-Joachim Kunze, Martin O'Mullane, Jef Ongena, Marek Rubel, Marek Sadowski, Jan Stockel and Tom Todd.
Russian suppliers pass ITER quality audit
11 Jul 2015
For one week at the end of June, a representative of the ITER quality assurance team inspected a number of Russian industries for compliance with the quality system requirements of the ITER Organization.
These companies are producing hardware in the framework of Russia's commitments to ITER's in-kind procurement program, which distributes the manufacturing of ITER components and systems among the seven ITER Members.
The industries inspected—the Dollezhal Institute (Moscow), the Efremov Institute (St. Petersburg), JSC Energopul (Moscow), Fusion Centre (Moscow), and CJSC RTSoft (Moscow)—are responsible for the development and procurement of switching networks and fast distribution units, DC busbars and instrumentation; the blanket first wall; the electron cyclotron radio frequency gyrotrons; blanket module connections; and diagnostic systems and port plug integration. The Russian Domestic Agency was also inspected for its compliance to quality systems requirements.
The final report highlighted compliance with ITER Organization requirements and identified a number of "good practices" at the industries inspected.
Alexander Petrov, ITER Russia
European Domestic Agency for ITER seeks interns
06 Jul 2015
Do you want to gain professional experience and contribute to the work of the European agency for ITER, Fusion for Energy? Are you curious about the ITER Project and what it's like to work in an international environment? A Fusion for Energy (F4E) traineeship could be the perfect opportunity for you!
F4E´s traineeships program aims to promote awareness, knowledge and understanding of F4E's role in the ITER Project and within the European context, as well as to provide training to university graduates in the fusion field. The traineeship is paid and lasts from four to nine months with F4E in any of the three sites: Barcelona (Spain), ITER site (France), or Garching (Germany), starting on either 1 March or 1 October.
Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have developed a detailed model of the source of a puzzling limitation on fusion reactions. The findings, published in June in Physics of Plasmas, complete and confirm previous PPPL research and could lead to steps to overcome the barrier if the model proves consistent with experimental data. "We used to have correlation," said physicist David Gates, first author of the paper. "Now we believe we have causation." This work was supported by the DOE Office of Science.
At issue is a problem known as the "density limit" that keeps donut-shaped fusion facilities called tokamaks from operating at peak efficiency. This limit occurs when the superhot, charged plasma gas that fuels fusion reactions reaches a certain density and spirals apart in a flash of light, shutting down the reaction. Overcoming the limit could facilitate the development of fusion as a safe, clean and abundant source of energy for generating electricity.
Image: Magnetic island geometry showing the asymmetry effect that is crucial in determining the mechanism for the density limit. Reprinted with permission from Phys. Plasmas 22, 022514 (2015). Copyright 2015 AIP Publishing LLC.
FuseCOM team meets in Finland
06 Jul 2015
In June, a group of Communications Officers from fusion laboratories across Europe met in Finland for two days of exchange.
Representing the 29 research organizations and universities from 26 European countries plus Switzerland, the communicators from FuseCOM met for the first time on behalf of the newly built EUROfusion consortium to discuss European fusion communication.
EUROfusion, the European Consortium for the Development of Fusion Energy, manages and funds European fusion research activities on behalf of Euratom, in accordance with the Roadmap to the realisation of fusion energy, which outlines the most efficient way to realize fusion electricity by 2050. It is the result of an analysis of the European Fusion Programme undertaken in 2012 by the Research laboratories within EUROfusion's predecessor agreement, the European Fusion Development Agreement, EFDA.
The FuseCOM members met in Finland, where they were hosted by Finland's Research Unit VTT. Through presentations and working groups, participants shared news from the research units across Europe, practical examples of communication work, and strategies for the future. Meeting organizer and head of EUROfusion's Communications Office, Petra Nieckchen, commented: "We have established a trusting network that is the very basis needed to reach our long-term goal: creating, with the network, a coherent European voice for fusion."
"Festival de Théorie" begins in Aix-en-Provence, France
03 Jul 2015
The 8th edition of the Festival de Théorie opens on Monday 6 July in Aix-en-Provence, France.
Held every two years, the Festival organizes theory working groups on well-focused subjects in magnetized plasma physics and aims to foster interdisciplinary links between magnetic fusion, astrophysics, plasma physics and related fields.
The international meetings usually bring together 25 to 35 experts and about 80 younger researchers, including PhD students and post-docs. The Director Committee for this year's edition is chaired by ITER Organization Director-General Bernard Bigot. The scientific committee is chaired by Prof. P.H. Diamond (UCSD and NFRI) and co-chaired by Dr. X. Garbet (CEA).
The 2015 Festival de Théorie will run from 6 to 24 July 2015. The main topic is "Pathways to Relaxation." This includes — but is not limited to — reconnection events such as solar flares and general impulsive relaxation in astrophysics, sawteeth, Edge Localized Modes and edge relaxation phenomena in confined plasmas, Taylor relaxation, Potential Vorticity mixing dynamics and homogenization in fluids, and general aspects of constrained relaxation.
Rotation is key to the performance of salad spinners, toy tops, and centrifuges, but recent research suggests a way to harness rotation for the future of mankind's energy supply. In papers published in Physics of Plasmas in May and Physical Review Letters this month, Timothy Stoltzfus-Dueck, a physicist at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), demonstrated a novel method that scientists can use to manipulate the intrinsic — or self-generated — rotation of hot, charged plasma gas within fusion facilities called tokamaks.
Such a method could prove important for future facilities like ITER, the huge international tokamak under construction in France that will demonstrate the feasibility of fusion as a source of energy for generating electricity. ITER's massive size will make it difficult for the facility to provide sufficient rotation through external means.
Rotation is essential to the performance of all tokamaks. Rotation can stabilize instabilities in plasma, and sheared rotation — the difference in velocities between two bands of rotating plasma — can suppress plasma turbulence, making it possible to maintain the gas's high temperature with less power and reduced operating costs.
Today's tokamaks produce rotation mainly by heating the plasma with neutral beams, which cause it to spin. In intrinsic rotation, however, rotating particles that leak from the edge of the plasma accelerate the plasma in the opposite direction, just as the expulsion of propellant drives a rocket forward.
On the Tokamak à Configuration Variable (TCV) in Lausanne, Switzerland, Stoltzfus-Dueck and the TCV team influenced intrinsic rotation by moving the so-called X-point — the dividing point between magnetically confined plasma and plasma that has leaked from confinement.
Since 2011, JET has been using beryllium and tungsten as plasma-facing materials in the vessel. As the name suggests JET's ITER-like wall is constructed using the same materials that will be used in ITER, the next generation fusion experiment which is currently being built in France.
So far, experiments with the new wall have been fuelled by hydrogen and deuterium. Since the most economic fuel for future fusion power plants is a mix of deuterium and tritium, this mixture needs to be put to the test.
As part of the preparations for this extraordinary event, the first delivery of tritium has arrived at the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE), the home of JET. Tim Jones, project sponsor from CCFE explains: 'For licensing reasons, only a limited amount of tritium may be transferred over the JET tritium storage facility in an individual batch quantity. Additional batches will later be delivered in order to collect together a total amount of 55 grams that will be needed for the scheduled campaign."
Dedicated sets of experiments using deuterium and tritium are necessary to promote understanding of the influence of the fuel isotope on plasma performance and on interactions between the plasma and the new wall.
Similar experiments to those planned with tritium are being prepared with hydrogen and deuterium, so far the results show that ITER operating regimes are compatible with the new wall materials.
A round-up of the latest news articles, videos and images from the European Domestic Agency for ITER can be found in the June edition of the F4E News, accessible by clicking on this link.
Hot forming the vacuum vessel
29 Jun 2015
The European consortium responsible for manufacturing seven of the nine ITER vacuum vessel sectors has begun hot forming activities on sector #5.
In this video filmed by Patrick Vertongen (ITER Quality Assurance & Assessment Division) at Walter Tosto SpA in Chieti, Italy (part of the AMW consortium, with Ansaldo Nucleare S.p.A and Mangiarotti S.p.A) a stainless steel plate is pressed into the required shape through an open die hot forming process.
First, the 60 millimetre-thick plates are heated to 930 °C in a gas-fired furnace and maintained at this temperature for 30 minutes. Then, the plate is removed from the furnace and positioned in a die to be pressed. After two hours in the die, the plate is removed and cooled for the next manufacturing operation.
Each of the nine vacuum vessel sectors will be 13 metres high, 6.5 metres wide, 6.3 metres deep and will weigh approximately 500 tons; all of the sectors are double-walled, containing thermal shielding in the interstice to protect the super conducting coils. The other two sections of the ITER vacuum vessel are being supplied by Korea.
What would it mean to have an essentially limitless amount of energy? If we can harness fusion power, we can have energy that is clean, safe, sustainable, and secure. It will be the power of a sun on earth. The dream of fusion energy has been a scientific goal for decades, but it has remained elusive.
On Tuesday, June 16, 2015, Dennis Whyte, the Director of the MIT Plasma Science and Fusion Center showed that a series of scientific and engineering breakthroughs could enable fusion to become a feasible a power source faster and cheaper than anyone had thought possible. These technological breakthroughs—High Temperature Superconducting magnets, 3D printing techniques, and a new liquid salt material that could be used as a liquid blanket—were not originally developed for fusion, but they could revolutionize the development of fusion energy.
As a part of New York Energy Week, Whyte presented the recent and ongoing technological breakthroughs to a group of professionals from energy, finance, and media at FTI Strategic Communications' Wall Street office. This event was sponsored by the American Security Project as part of their program on Next Generation Energy.
See the original article and slide show presentation here.
The ITER godfather on site
22 Jun 2015
If only it were possible to read minds. It would have been interesting to know what that particular visitor was thinking as he leaned over the fence to stare down into the busy Tokamak Complex construction area, with its massive rebar and concrete structures. Perhaps how ITER is taking shape, after all these years...
Academician Evgeny Velikhov, current President of the Kurchatov Institute in Moscow, is one of the masterminds behind the ITER Project. He helped to initiate the project at the highest political level by persuading Secretary-General Mikhail Gorbachev that the next generation of fusion device needed to be a joint international effort. He was ITER Council Chair during the technical design phase for ITER and again at the start of ITER construction from 2010-2012.
Academician Velikhov was on-site to attend the sixteenth ITER Council meeting held at Headquarters from 17 to 18 June, but for now it was time to see how construction was progressing. Escorted by the acting head of the ITER Tokamak Engineering Department, Alexander Alekseev, as well Section Leader Igor Sekachev, Velikhov—now in his eighties—was able to take full measure of the road travelled as he looked over the 42 hectare construction site spread out before him.
Back at Headquarters, he quickly removed the obligatory safety shoes and safety equipment to meet some of the Russian staff members at ITER before returning later that day to Moscow.
High-tech remote handling for the ITER divertor
19 Jun 2015
In this five-minute video produced by the European Domestic Agency for ITER, the type of specialized robotics, networks and virtual reality techniques used in deep sea or space operations find their application for ITER, where remote handling will be used to perform maintenance, inspection and repair tasks.
The European agency is responsible for delivering four remote handling systems to ITER: the divertor remote handling system, the neutral beam remote handling system, the cask transfer system for activated components, and the in-vessel viewing and metrology system—in all, about EUR 250 million of investment.
Recently, conclusive tests were carried out at the VTT Technical Research Centre in Tampere, Finland for the remote handling of ITER divertor cassettes—10-ton components that must be installed and/or exchanged through high-tech robotics.
Princeton's upgraded NSTX to be largest of its kind
15 Jun 2015
The signature nuclear fusion experiment at the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab is expected to relaunch this summer after being shuttered for upgrades for about three years.
When it reopens, the reactor there will be the most powerful of its kind in the world, lab directors say.
"We expect to start up probably toward the end of June. We'll do the initial tests that will get us toward research operations, and (research) will start later in the summer, let's say August time frame, maybe mid-September," said Adam Cohen, chief operating officer for the lab.
The National Spherical Torus Experiment, also known as NSTX, is a plasma in the shape of a cored apple heated to between 50 million and 100 million degrees.
The experiment's $94 million upgrade bought a stronger magnet for the plasma's nuclear reactor and a second neutral beam accelerator to heat plasma even further.
The project, led by Brian Wirth, a researcher with the University of Tennessee and DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, brings researchers from various organizations together to work on different aspects of the ITER experimental fusion reactor.
Wirth and his collaborators are using Titan, a Cray XK7 supercomputer capable of 27 petaflops, or 27 quadrillion calculations per second, to shed light on how fusion plasma interacts with the materials used to build the reactor. Specifically, they're investigating how tungsten—one of the toughest materials known—will be affected by the plasma over time.
As helium particles bombard the tungsten wall, they begin to form clusters within the material. Once a helium atom is embedded in the wall, it attracts other helium particles. When enough helium is bunched together, it can "knock out" a tungsten atom from its normal position within the material, forming a nanoscale cavity, or hole, within the tungsten.
Read the full report published on the Oak Ridge National Laboratory's website here.
ITER Director-General speaks out
12 Jun 2015
Ten years ago this month, a group of industrial nations agreed on the location for the world's largest nuclear-fusion experiment: ITER, the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, which they had decided to build jointly.
Today, roughly €4 billion worth of construction contracts and €3 billion in manufacturing contracts worldwide are underway and the first large components are being delivered to the site at St-Paul-lez-Durance in southern France.
Faced with slippage in the schedule—despite the best efforts of the more than 2,000 dedicated people working on ITER—in March 2015 the ITER Council moved to appoint Bernard Bigot, from France, to the top management position of the project.
In this Comment in Nature, published on 11 June, the new ITER Director-General explains how he will strengthen leadership and management to refocus the project's aim of harnessing nuclear fusion.
"Plasmoids" could simplify the design of future tokamaks
08 Jun 2015
Researchers at the US Department of Energy's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have for the first time simulated the formation of structures called "plasmoids" during Coaxial Helicity Injection (CHI), a process that could simplify the design of fusion facilities known as tokamaks.
The findings, reported in the journal Physical Review Letters, involve the formation of plasmoids in the hot, charged plasma gas that fuels fusion reactions. These round structures carry current that could eliminate the need for solenoids — large magnetic coils that wind down the centre of today's tokamaks — to initiate the plasma and complete the magnetic field that confines the hot gas.
"Understanding this behavior will help us produce plasmas that undergo fusion reactions indefinitely," said Fatima Ebrahimi, a physicist at both Princeton University and PPPL, and the paper's lead author.
Left: Plasmoid formation in simulation of NSTX plasma during CHI / Right: Fast-camera image of NSTX plasma shows two discrete plasmoid-like bubble structures.(Photo by Left: Fatima Ebrahimi, PPPL / Right: Nishino-san, Hiroshima University)
Facilitating the encounter between job opportunities and local jobseekers was the objective of the third "L'Energie pour l'Emploi" (Energy for Employment) job fair held last Thursday 4 June at the Château de Cadarache near ITER.
This year's fair, organized by Saint-Paul Emplois (the municipal employment association of Saint-Paul-lez-Durance, France) in collaboration with a number of neighbouring municipalities and the national employment agency Pôle Emploi, had broadened its outreach beyond the ITER construction site and the CEA research centre.
To make the fair even more attractive to the 500 job seekers that had come from all over the region, 40 local companies were present as well as the French Army and the Gendarmerie.
Long queues formed at each of the stands as jobseekers waited for their turn in this professional speed-dating exercise with human resource specialists from each organization.
In total more than 350 jobs were on offer, in a variety of fields such as construction, engineering, nuclear industry, army and services. "Every day, more than 8 000 people come to work in Saint-Paul-lez-Durance at one of the worksites or organizations based on its territory," says Roger Pizot, Mayor of Saint Paul, "and this also creates considerable indirect employment. This Forum helps to ensure that the first ones to benefit from these job creations are the local jobseekers."
The ITER stand. From left to right, Sophie Gourod, Sophie Flechel and Emilia Fullmer-Bourree from the Human Resources Department.
Like a beast, with its horns...
08 Jun 2015
Before it can become operational, the main body of an electrical transformer must be equipped with several additional elements such as oil radiators, an oil conservator, and insulators called "bushings" — long ceramic devices that deliver the current to the transformer and stick out like horns on the head of a beast.
In order to prevent electrical discharge in the air, the length of the bushings must be proportional to the voltage: at 400 kV, no less than 6 metres of conductor, filled with oil and encased in a ceramic structure, are necessary.
Installing each one-ton component is a long and delicate operation that must be replicated three times for each transformer (one per electrical phase).
When all accessories are installed, the transformer will be filled with oil (an operation that will take three days straight). More than 60,000 litres of oil are necessary per transformer.
MAST-Upgrade fusion device advances ahead of schedule
01 Jun 2015
Another key step in the building of the MAST-Upgrade fusion device was taken last week with the joining of the first two main segments of the new machine.
MAST-Upgrade was designed to be divided into seven modules to maximize the amount of assembly work that could be carried out at the same time. On Thursday 28 May, a day ahead of schedule, two modules were brought together for the first time. The 30-tonne MAST-Upgrade vacuum vessel (known as the outer cylinder module) was lifted onto the lower cassette module, a key part of the Super-X divertor — the innovative plasma exhaust system that is a key feature of the new device.
This was the culmination of a huge amount of design, procurement and assembly effort by the MAST-Upgrade team over the past 12 months. It means the project remains on track to hit its major build milestones over the coming months and deliver a machine ready for pump-down by October 2016.
Read the full story on the website of the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE).
Chinese ambassador tours site
31 May 2015
On Wednesday 27 May, ITER received the Chinese ambassador to France, Mr Zhai Jun, who visited the project with a delegation of 12 as part of a diplomatic tour of southern France.
Ambassador Zhai met with ITER Director-General Bernard Bigot, toured the construction site, and met Chinese staff members. To all, he expressed his interest in the project that "may change the future course for all humanity."
Ambassador Zhai was accompanied by his wife, Mme Wang Xinxia (second from left); the Chinese Consul-General in Marseille, Mme Yu Jinsong (second from right); and members of the embassy and consular staff. Also pictured: Management Advisory Committee member Peng Yiqi (far right) and head of the Chinese Domestic Agency Luo Delong (far right).
US participation in Wendelstein 7-X stellarator renewed
30 May 2015
The Wendelstein 7-X fusion project at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP) in Greifswald, Germany is slated to begin operation later this year. The US, through the Department of Energy, contributed financing to the construction of the device; now, US scientists will have the opportunity to be involved in the research conducted on the machine from 2015 to 2017 with a contribution of about $4 million annually.
The renewed funding enables US universities to take an active role in the research program during the next three years. Scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) will measure the turbulence in the plasma by various methods; scientists from the universities at Wisconsin and Auburn will be concerned with the properties of the plasma edge. Finally, studies on a probe for measuring electric fields in the plasma will be conducted by a private research company, Xantho Technologies, in Madison, Wisconsin.
Three national research centres (Princeton, Oak Ridge and Los Alamos) will also be involved in projects on Wendelstein 7-X, including the construction and operation of an X-ray spectrometer, development of a pellet injector that injects tiny frozen hydrogen pellets to refuel the plasma, and operation of the five large auxiliary coils supplied by the US.
Since February 2012, and the signature of a major framework contract with the ITER Organization, the group DAHER is the Logistics Service Provider for the project's global transport, logistics and insurance needs.
Through implementation agreements concluded with each ITER Domestic Agency, DAHER (or DAHER partners nominated locally) will manage the complex logistics related to the transport of ITER components from suppliers all over the globe to the ITER site.
In May 2015, as part of a three-day training session held by DAHER for its logistics partners from China (Sinotrans) and India (Deugro India), a site visited was organized at ITER.
"Our main objective is to offer an equal level of services to all the Members of the global ITER Project," said François Genevey, Daher director for ITER logistics. "Our partners located in each Member are recognized specialists who offer a regional point of contact and expertise. DAHER ensures that each partner is provided with all IT tools and processes that allow for the delivery of the best services to the Domestic Agencies."
In addition to the site visit, the training program also included a visit of facilities at the Mediterranean arrival point for all ITER components arriving by sea (Fos-sur-Mer); the discovery of the 104-kilometre itinerary to ITER; an introduction to DAHER logistics tools for ITER; and a session on the management of Protection Important Components (PIC) and, more generally, on the specific demands of a basic nuclear installation like ITER in France.
A similar kick-off meeting was held in September 2014 for DAHER partners from Japan, Korea and the US.
Daherpartners for ITER are : Cosco and Sinotrans (China), Deugro (India), Hitachi (Japan),Shin Jo (Korea), and Transproject (US).
KIT International School on Fusion Technologies
26 May 2015
Applications are now open for the 2015 edition of the International School on Fusion Technologies that will be held at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT, Germany) from 31 August 2015 to 11 September 2015.
The twelve-day program focuses on the current status of key fusion technologies and on long-term R&D—particularly in view of the next step beyond ITER, the demonstration power station DEMO.
The deadline for applications is 15 July. More information can be found on the KIT website.
Tiny grains of lithium to improve fusion plasmas
25 May 2015
By Raphael Rosen
Scientists from General Atomics and the US Department of Energy's (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have discovered a phenomenon that helps them to improve fusion plasmas, a finding that may quicken the development of fusion energy.
Together with a team of researchers from across the United States, the scientists found that when they injected tiny grains of lithium into a plasma undergoing a particular kind of turbulence then, under the right conditions, the temperature and pressure rose dramatically. High heat and pressure are crucial to fusion, a process in which atomic nuclei — or ions — smash together and release energy — making even a brief rise in pressure of great importance for the development of fusion energy.
"These findings might be a step towards creating our ultimate goal of steady-state fusion, which would last not just for milliseconds, but indefinitely," said Tom Osborne, a physicist at General Atomics and lead author of the paper. This work was supported by the DOE Office of Science.
Left: DIII-D tokamak. Right: Cross-section of plasma in which lithium has turned the emitted light green. (Credits: Left, General Atomics / Right, Steve Allen, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory)
Director-General Bigot presents Action Plan to citizen's watchdog group
20 May 2015
The ITER Commission locale d'information (the citizen watchdog group that monitors ITER activities in accordance with the French 2006 Transparency and Nuclear Safety Act) held its plenary session in the ITER Council chamber on 18 May.
The session provided ITER Director-General Bernard Bigot with an opportunity to present his Action Plan and develop his vision for the future of the project.
"You are a very important body because you are conveying to us the preoccupations of the local populations regarding the ITER Project," he said to the assembled CLI members. "We need to have a confident relationship and I am open to any question and debate."
Grant awarded to Princeton physicist for work on plasma impurities
15 May 2015
Physicist Luis Delgado-Aparicio, of the US Department of Energy's (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), has won a highly competitive Early Career Research award sponsored by the DOE's Office of Science. The five-year grant of some $2.6 million will fund Delgado-Aparicio's research aimed at eliminating a key barrier to developing fusion power as a safe, clean and abundant source of electric energy.
Delgado-Aparicio's research focuses on the impurities that migrate from the interior walls and plasma-facing components of a fusion facility—or tokamak—into the plasma. These impurities are tiny particles that can cool the plasma and halt or slow the fusion reaction. Delgado-Aparicio is developing a process to enable researchers to pinpoint and analyze the impurities and quickly flush them out of the plasma.
Ridding plasmas of these impurities is becoming increasingly vital as experiments utilize longer pulses to produce more sustained fusion energy.
Applications for the 3rd edition of the doctoral program in plasma science and engineering APPLAuSE (Portugal) are now open for the course starting in February 2016.
The aim of the four-year program is to provide each student with broad knowledge in the field of plasma science and engineering by promoting close interaction with renowned specialists. It consists in a student-centred and highly modular PhD program designed to enhance each student's capabilities and maximize his/her potential in a chosen area of specialization.
The course language is English. Find out more on the host institution website: IPFN (Instituto de Plasmas e Fusão Nuclear) or at APPLAuSE.
Applications close on Sunday 7 June.
Transformers loaded for delivery
15 May 2015
Three high voltage transformers for ITER's steady state electrical system have been loaded onto transport trailers in the Mediterranean port of Fos-sur-Mer and are ready for delivery to ITER.
Procured by the US Domestic Agency for ITER, the 87-ton transformers and their transport vehicles will cross the inland sea Etang de Berre by barge before travelling the 104 kilometres of the ITER Itinerary in one night, for arrival on 21 May.
Four identical transformer units (one was delivered to ITER in January) will serve to connect the ITER site's 400kV Prionnet substation, operated by the French operator RTE, to the ITER steady state electrical system AC distribution system.
Before the end of the month, two of the four units will be installed in their definitive location on the ITER construction site.
New head of 'Conseil départemental' reaffirms committment
07 May 2015
The Conseil général, the executive body of the French départements recently had their name changes to Conseil départemental. In Bouches-du-Rhône, the département that is home to ITER, this change in name was accompanied by a change in president.
Since 2 April and for the first time in 225 years, a woman, Martine Vassal from Marseille, sits in the presidential seat. On 6 May, she paid an official visit to ITER in order to reaffirm the département's support to the project (Bouches-du-Rhône contributes 152 million EUR to ITER).
"We are committed to ITER and determined to stand along with you in this great venture", she said to ITER Director-General Bernard Bigot before taking a tour of the construction site.
President Vassal with Vice-President Gazay (centre) and DG Bigot on the ITER site.
The ITER site from a drone's point of view
04 May 2015
View this spectacular video of the ITER site seen from a drone's point of view. (Produced in April by the European Domestic Agency.)
Construction: what to expect in 2015?
27 Apr 2015
In this new video the European agency for ITER Fusion for Energy recaps the main progress achieved in ITER construction in 2014 and presents the activities for the year ahead.
"2015 is the year of construction," says Romaric Darbour, F4E's Deputy Project Manager. "The works for ten new buildings or facilities will start, including the cryoplant, buildings for magnet power conversion and radio frequency heating, the cooling towers; cleaning facilities and the control building. The construction of the second floor of the Tokamak Building is also expected to begin this summer."
What's new at WEST?
27 Apr 2015
The April issue of the WEST Newsletter is out.
The 2nd WEST Governing Board took place on March 5, 2015. WEST international partners have come from China, Europe, India, Japan, Korea and USA to share the progress on the project, joining efforts to achieve the common objective : first plasma in 2016.
Series production launched for complementary divertor components. In addition to the ITER-like prototypes to be tested in WEST, the divertor is constituted of complementary elements based on alternative technologies. The series production of these key plasma-facing components has been launched.
New European partners for WEST. On March 4, 2015, two European laboratories, KIT (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany) and IPP.CR (Institute of Plasma Physics, Czech Republic) signed a Letter Of Intent to join the collaboration on the WEST project.
Engineering professor undertakes innovative research in reactor design
27 Apr 2015
Anne White has always relished challenges. As an undergraduate, she was fascinated by fluid dynamics, and the prospect of nuclear fusion as a game-changing energy source. She followed those passions to her current position as the Cecil and Ida Green Associate Professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering at MIT, where she spends much of her time studying plasma turbulence — which is a challenge unto itself.
"I like it because it's really difficult," she says. "You take fluid turbulence and add electrical and magnetic fields, which make it even harder to understand. Then you heat it to 100 million degrees and have to figure out ways to measure it and see what it's doing. That's why I'm at home here at MIT — everyone's really excited about tough things."
Same component, same origin, same route: the second of four high voltage transformers procured by the US and manufactured in Korea reached Marseille's industrial port (Fos-sur-Mer) on Sunday 19 April.
The 87-ton component was unloaded the following morning and placed in storage, where it will remain until the last two transformers reach Fos (delivery expected around 10 May).
On the ITER platform, near the 400 kV switchyard, workers are putting the finishing touches to the large concrete pit that will host the first transformer, which should be operational in the early months of 2016.
Connected to the switchyard, it will bring down the voltage to 22 kV and dispatch power to the various plant systems of the installation.
MAST-Upgrade coil installation completed
20 Apr 2015
An important milestone has been reached on the MAST-Upgrade project, with the re-installation of four of the largest magnetic coils inside the machine.
Many of the internal poloidal field magnetic coils are new, especially around the upper and lower parts of the device. Only four coils in MAST-Upgrade remain from the original MAST experiment — the large mid-plane P4 and P5 (upper and lower) coils.
But it was not as simple as just leaving them in the vessel — they were removed with all the other internal equipment to enable the interior to be fully stripped down and cleaned. The coils were also comprehensively cleaned, including a hydroblast pressure wash. The P5 coils were then fitted with new flux loops.
Prior to re-installation, a full spatial survey of the vessel and coil supports and indeed of the shape of the coils themselves was undertaken. All four cleaned and surveyed coils were re-installed a few weeks ahead of schedule, on new strengthened coil supports inside the MAST-U vessel. A final survey indicated they were within 0.5mm of their optimum position — minimizing any stray fields when operations commence.
Coil re-installation is an important step, marking in many ways the beginning of the rebuild of the tokamak.
Studying plasma physics online
15 Apr 2015
The Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) is presenting the first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on plasma physics and its applications, including fusion energy, astrophysical and space plasmas, societal and industrial applications. Enroll now !
A team including Prof. A. Fasoli, Prof. P. Ricci and colleagues at the Plasma Physics Research Center (CRPP) of EPFL, recorded the first MOOC on the basics of plasma physics and its main applications.
Current titles include: • Basics of plasma physics • Basics of space plasmas in astrophysics • Industrial and medical applications of plasmas • Basics of fusion as a sustainable energy • Advanced concepts in fusion such as magnetic confinement, plasma heating and energy extraction.
Classes start on 1 May 2015. The course is given in English and will last nine weeks.
The mission of the JT-60SA tokamak (based in Naka, Japan, and financed jointly by Europe and Japan) is to contribute to the early realization of fusion energy by addressing key physics issues for ITER and DEMO. It is a fully superconducting tokamak capable of confining high-temperature (100 million degree) deuterium plasmas, equivalent to achieving plasma energy balance if 50/50 deuterium/tritium were used. It is designed to help optimise the plasma configurations for ITER and DEMO, and has a large amount of power available for plasma heating and current drive, from both positive and negative ion neutral beams, as well as electron cyclotron resonance radio-frequency heating. The machine will be able to explore full non-inductive steady-state operation.
More news in the March issue of the JT-60 SA newsletter.
"Father of the modern flywheel" dies at 96
11 Apr 2015
Lawrence Livermore Lab physicist Richard "Dick" Post, the "father of the modern flywheel" who worked at the lab for 63 years, died Tuesday night following a short illness, lab officials said. He was 96.
Post joined the Livermore lab in 1952, just months after it opened. He researched magnetic fusion energy alongside luminaries such as physicists Herb York, the lab's first director, and Edward Teller, "the father of the hydrogen bomb."
Post retired in 1994, but continued to work, driving himself to the lab four days a week to research various projects, including his flywheel battery. He worked until the last week of his life.
In its April issue, the newsletter from the Institute of Plasma Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences (ASIPP) focuses on KTX, the reverse pinch machine that came into existence on 30 March. The mission of KTX is to explore the plasma profiles of future commercial fusion reactors. "KTX will produce its first plasma in June," says Pr. Liu Wandong, chief engineering director and dean of the Modern Physics Department at University of Science and Technology of China.
12th International Workshop on Beryllium Technology
08 Apr 2015
The 12th Workshop on Beryllium Technology will be held from 10 to 12 September 2015 on Jeju Island, South Korea. The objective of this workshop is to disseminate results of research and technology development in areas relevant to beryllium utilization in nuclear power systems, both fission and fusion.
Proton beams are back in CERN's Large Hadron Collider
06 Apr 2015
After two years of intense maintenance and consolidation, and several months of preparation for restart, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the most powerful particle accelerator in the world, is back in operation. On 5 April at 10:41 a.m., a proton beam was back in the 27-kilometre ring, followed at 12:27 p.m. by a second beam rotating in the opposite direction. These beams circulated at their injection energy of 450 GeV. Over the coming days, operators will check all systems before increasing energy of the beams.
"Operating accelerators for the benefit of the physics community is what CERN's here for," said CERN Director-General Rolf Heuer. "Today, CERN's heart beats once more to the rhythm of the LHC."
"The return of beams to the LHC rewards a lot of intense, hard work from many teams of people," said the head of CERN's Beam Department, Paul Collier. "It's very satisfying for our operators to be back in the driver's seat, with what's effectively a new accelerator to bring on-stream, carefully, step by step."
The technical stop of the LHC was a Herculean task. Some 10,000 electrical interconnections between the magnets were consolidated. Magnet protection systems were added, while cryogenic, vacuum and electronics were improved and strengthened. Furthermore, the beams will be set up in such a way that they will produce more collisions by bunching protons closer together, with the time separating bunches being reduced from 50 nanoseconds to 25 nanoseconds.
By Raphael Rosen, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory
NASA's Magnetospheric Multiscale mission (MMS), a set of four spacecraft that will study the magnetic fields surrounding Earth, may employ data provided by Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), which operates the Magnetic Reconnection Experiment (MRX)—the world's leading laboratory facility for studying reconnection. Results of the MRX research could elucidate the space probes' findings, said Masaaki Yamada, principal investigator of the MRX project.
Reconnection takes place when the magnetic field lines in plasma merge and snap apart with violent force. But NASA is flying blind in a sense when seeking such events, since mission operators don't know precisely where reconnection will occur in space or what the data it produces will look like. And since the explosive events occur in milliseconds, the MMS craft, orbiting in tight formation at an average speed of some 20,000 miles per hour, will have only fleeting moments to detect and measure the phenomena.
The MRX data could facilitate such detection. Comparing the data with signals from space will enable instruments aboard the craft to spot actual instances of reconnection taking place.
10 years old and counting on its 50,000 processors
04 Apr 2015
When ITER scientists needed to simulate how particles travel and transport radiation in the ITER machine, they bought time in one of the most powerful supercomputers in Europe: Mare Nostrum, the flagship machine of the Barcelona Supercomputing Centre (BSC).
The collaboration with the Spanish public institution, whose 10th anniversary was celebrated on 1 April, has now shifted to simulation studies of ELM control techniques — another field of study that requires crunching huge quantities of numbers.
High performance computing has become essential to the progress of science and technology. With close to 50,000 processors and a computing power of one thousand billion operations per second, Mare Nostrum has contributed to establishing three-dimensional maps of the galaxy, mathematical models of the expansion rate of the Universe, the sequencing of the human genome...
In a video address to the participants of the 10th anniversary ceremony, ITER Director-General Bernard Bigot stressed the importance of BSC's contribution to ITER.
ITER and the Spanish institution have crossed ways many times: former ITER Deputy-Director Carlos Alejaldre was part of BSC's executive board in the mid-2000s and, more recently, one of the ITER Monaco Postdoctoral Fellows joined BSC's computational physics group, bringing with him the valuable experience he gained while at ITER.
The stellarator as an alternative concept
02 Apr 2015
Collaboration in European fusion research has a long history. In 1961, the Max Plank Institute of Plasma Physics became an associate of the European Fusion Programme, which comprised the fusion laboratories of the European Union and Switzerland. In the 1970s, the European fusion laboratories decided to build and operate the Joint European Torus (JET). In 2014, the program was restructured and EUROfusion formed as a consortium of 29 national fusion laboratories (Research Units).
A goal of this reorganization is to efficiently implement a roadmap to the realization of fusion energy. The roadmap has been developed within a goal-oriented approach articulated in eight different missions (#8 focuses on the stellarator). It also prioritizes the financing of the fusion program.
In mission 8, the stellarator is being developed as an alternative concept for fusion electricity. The program concentrates on optimized stellarators based on the HELIAS principle—a stellarator line which was invented and developed at IPP. Wendelstein 7-X is a cornerstone of this line which is decisive for mission 8 and which will give answers to fundamental questions in plasma physics.
Read more in the Wendelstein 7-X March newsletter.
Industry Information Day for Assembly & Installation
30 Mar 2015
The ITER Organization is hosting an Industrial Information Day on 21 May 2015 to present the scope and the procurement program of the ITER assembly and installation phase.
The full-day event will include overview presentations on the management of the planned work scope, tender rules and regulations, and presentations on specific work contracts.
Follow the link to register on line before 8 May 2015.
2015 Alfvén Prize in plasma physics awarded
27 Mar 2015
The European Physical Society (EPS) has named Princeton physicist Nat Fisch winner of the 2015 Hannes Alfvén Prize, awarded for outstanding contributions to plasma physics.
Director of the Princeton Program in Plasma Physics and professor and associate chair of astrophysical sciences at Princeton University, Fisch received the prize for fundamental studies of wave-particle interactions and for predicting new plasma phenomena, including new ways of creating electrical currents using radio-frequency waves.
Fisch has been studying waves in plasmas for years and in many different contexts. "the problem of using waves to transform energy in plasma from one form to another is one I returned to again and again during my career," he said. In addition to pursuing how wave effects might make fusion energy practical, he is currently researching how to use plasma to reach the next generation of laser beam intensities.
One of the biggest challenges facing fusion physicists is controlling the plasma inside a tokamak reactor.
Plasma — a gas of the fuels that are heated to start the fusion process — is difficult to keep stable, and seeks to escape the magnetic field that confines it within the machine. This results in 'instabilities' which make the plasma wobble and fluctuate, taking energy away from it and affecting the tokamak's performance.
Decades of research on tokamak experiments worldwide has led to a deep understanding of a myriad of different plasma instabilities with exotic names (from Edge Localised Modes to Tearing Modes, Kink instabilities and Sawteeth). Just as importantly, researchers are developing methods to stop them occurring, reduce their effect or stabilise them altogether.
Amongst all these challenges has been the fact that most of these instabilities, certainly those deep inside the plasma, are invisible to high-speed camera videos — until now, that is. University of York PhD student David Ryan is currently working at Culham Centre for Fusion Energy and he applied cutting-edge video magnification techniques to footage of plasmas in the MAST tokamak to see what would emerge.
Think science and art are poles apart? Think again. Three artists who have been inspired by nuclear fusion will display their work at the "Making a Sun on Earth"' exhibition, which runs at the Cornerstone Arts Centre in Didcot, UK from 10 March to 26 April. And they hope their collaboration with Culham Centre for Fusion Energy will challenge people's ideas about science.
IPP Summer University for Plasma Physics and Fusion Research
16 Mar 2015
The next Fusion Summer University at the Max-Planck-Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP)will be held in Garching (near Munich) from 14 to 18 September 2015. The course covers the main aspects of plasma physics with emphasis on nuclear fusion.
The application deadline 31 May 2015. For more information please click here.
European-made pressure vessels ready for JT-60SA tokamak
02 Mar 2015
A few years before ITER is due to come into operation, the advanced superconducting "satellite" tokamak JT-60SA, conducted under the Broader Approach Agreement between Japan and Europe, will begin operation.
Another milestone on the road to JT-60SA assembly was achieved in February, as six European-built helium pressure vessels—destined for JT-60SA's cryogenic system—successfully passed final works acceptance tests and can now be readied for shipment to Japan.
The acceptance tests, which consisted of verifications to ensure that the components conform to international standards and to ensure that there are no defects, was carried out during a period of seven days each.
In total, the six pressure vessels will store 3.6 tons of gaseous helium. Each 22-metre pressure vessel weighs about 73 tons, and has a diameter of 4 metres and a volume of 250 m3. As the vessels will store pure helium, the tightness and cleanliness requirements are demanding. If a fast discharge of the current in the superconducting coils is necessary, one of the vessels is also designed to receive cold helium (-254 degrees C) discharged from the coils through the cryogenic system quench line.
The contract for the supply and transport to Japan of the pressure vessels and their equipment was awarded by the European Domestic Agency to A. Silva Matos Metalomecanica SA (ASMM, Portugal).
Read the full article on the European Domestic Agency website.
Big Science: What's it worth?
02 Mar 2015
Knowledge is not cheap. The world spends more than $1 trillion a year on research and development, including basic research. The biggest projects—"research infrastructures" like particle accelerators and DNA databases—carry correspondingly big price tags.
ITER, the experimental, international fusion reactor in the south of France, is taking years and more than EUR 13 billion to build. The Square Kilometre Array, the world's biggest radio telescope now under development in South Africa and other southern countries, will cost well more than EUR 1.5 billion
It's all great science, no doubt. But is it a great investment?
Read the full report from Science|Business, prefaced by Rolf Heuer, Director-General, CERN.
Size matters in European materials project
26 Feb 2015
Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE) is one of the partners in a materials research project that has recently been awarded significant European funding.
The project will explore techniques that can accurately examine engineering components at a range of sizes and scales — right down to the nanoscale analysis carried out in Culham's Materials Research Laboratory (MRL).
To get a consistent picture of the properties of a material, researchers need to examine it at different length scales. This new study will look at how changing the specimen size or the size of the probe used for testing affects the measured engineering properties. Test methods or design rules can then be developed that compensate for such 'size effects.'
It is hoped that European companies can use the results to design and manufacture better components with longer life and lower energy use. The work will also benefit the fusion and fission research sectors, where smaller samples represent less of a safety risk when examining the condition of components.
Led by the National Physical Laboratory,the project consortium brings together major industry players such as EDF, AMEC, AWE and Tata Steel with universities and research institutes around Europe. The grant of ~EUR 1.8 million has been made by European Association of National Metrology Institutes (EURAMET).
The February issue of Fusion for Energy newsletter is now online. Find out how contractors feel about ITER's business potential, read about top management changes in Barcelona, catch up on design reviews and more.
EAST auxiliary heating system passes review
20 Feb 2015
Operators at EAST, the Chinese superconducting tokamak, announced in the February issue of the EAST Newsletter that the auxiliary heating system has passed a national acceptance review and is officially stamped "well qualified" to enter operation.
Construction on the auxiliary heating system, which consists of 4 MW neutral beam injectors and 6 MW lower hybrid current drives, began in November 2011. The additional heating power on EAST will enable high-level plasma physics research including testing for ITER.
The acceptance panel commended the construction, complete "with high quality, within budget and one year ahead of schedule."
Aiming at long-pulse plasma discharges, a series of experimental techniques has been developed on EAST in recent years. Tremendous efforts have been made during past two years to enhance EAST's capabilities—nearly every sub-system except superconducting magnets has been upgraded or modified to enable higher performance and truly steady state operation.
Read the full article in the February issue of the EAST Newsletter, attached.
European fusion and fission education networks enter cooperation
20 Feb 2015
On 3 February 2015, FuseNet (the European Fusion Education Network) and ENEN (the European Nuclear Education Network) signed a Memorandum of Understanding at the General Assembly meeting of FuseNet that was held at the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy. It marked the start for further cooperation between the European fusion and fission education networks.
ENEN is older than FuseNet, but similar in many ways. As the nuclear aspects of fusion energy become more prominent -- ITER is truly a nuclear device -- the need to provide fusion students and engineers with proper education and training in this field becomes ever larger. Likewise, nuclear engineers are in high demand in the fusion enterprises now, and they may benefit from a fusion training.
Prof. Walter Ambrosini (president of ENEN, left) and Prof. Niek Lopes Cardozo (president of FuseNet, right) sign the Memorandum of Understanding between the two networks.
February 11, 2015 marks five years in space for NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), which provides incredibly detailed images of the whole sun 24 hours a day. Capturing an image more than once per second, SDO has provided an unprecedentedly clear picture of how massive explosions on the sun grow and erupt ever since its launch on Feb. 11, 2010. The imagery is also captivating, allowing one to watch the constant ballet of solar material through the sun's atmosphere, the corona.
In honor of SDO's fifth anniversary, NASA has released a video showcasing highlights from the last five years of sun watching. Watch the movie to see giant clouds of solar material hurled out into space, the dance of giant loops hovering in the corona, and huge sunspots growing and shrinking on the sun's surface.
The imagery is an example of the kind of data that SDO provides to scientists. By watching the sun in different wavelengths — and therefore different temperatures — scientists can watch how material courses through the corona, which holds clues to what causes eruptions on the sun, what heats the sun's atmosphere up to 1,000 times hotter than its surface, and why the sun's magnetic fields are constantly on the move.
The ITER Business Forum 2015 (IBF/15) will take place in Marseille, France from 25 to 27 March 2015.
Already, close to 400 participants from 200 companies have registered to participate. (A real-time update is available here.)
The agenda is now finalized and includes 14 theme workshops bringing together more than one hundred speakers from the ITER Organization, the procurement agencies for ITER—the Domestic Agencies—and key suppliers.
Registration for one-to-one meetings, either "business to business" or "business to customers," will open in a few days.
IBF/15 is a unique occasion for companies to approach the ITER Project and to investigate possibilities for involvement or partnership around upcoming tender offers.
The 42nd International Zvenigorod Conference for plasma physics and thermonuclear fusion was held on 9-13 February, near Moscow, Russia.
At this annual event, experts from inside Russia and from abroad gather to discuss recent achievements in the areas of high and low temperature plasma research, controlled fusion, and developments in plasma and beam technologies.
Part of the conference is traditionally devoted to progress in ITER. In the presence of Anatoly Krasilnikov, head of the Russian Domestic Agency, representatives from ITER Russia and from the research centres and industries involved in the project gave more than 50 oral presentations and reports on the first day of the conference on the progress in ITER procurement and manufacturing. Topics included the magnet system, in-vessel plasma-facing components, and diagnostic instruments.
The presentations generated wide interest among the members of the expert community, including representatives of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the State Corporation Rosatom and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
-- Alexander Petrov, ITER Russia
Inspiring the ITER generation - Culham's Fusion Workshop
11 Feb 2015
The following was posted recently on "Tokamak Tales," a blog run by fusion engineers and physicists at the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy in the UK.
By Sarah Medley
It's a really exciting time for fusion research right now — we're building the next-generation tokamak ITER and we're working towards a demonstration power station (known as DEMO), to put fusion electricity on the grid before 2050. However, the dream of fusion as the ultimate energy source will never become reality without one essential ingredient: people! We need people to continue the research, to operate ITER and design DEMO! So it is essential that the fusion community considers how to inspire this next generation of fusion scientists and engineers - often referred to as "the ITER generation."
Fortunately, the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE) already has a strong outreach program dedicated to this goal. We give tours of our JET and MAST fusion experiments to A-level and university students, and we take the Sun Dome science roadshow into primary schools. However, the graduates realized that there was a "gap in the market" when it comes to secondary school students, so we decided to develop something specifically aimed at inspiring this age group to pursue science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) to A-level and beyond!
And behold, the CCFE Fusion Workshop was born. Developed entirely by CCFE graduates, the Fusion Workshop is an interactive activity session that uses hands-on science and engineering demonstrations to bring the real-world applications of STEM subjects to life in the context of fusion research. What exactly does that mean, you ask? Well basically, we assemble a crack team of graduates, pile them into a van with a load of demonstration kits and send them off to a local secondary school to invade a physics lesson.
You can read more about the Fusion Workshop initiative at "Tokamak Tales."
How viable is nuclear fusion as an energy source?
11 Feb 2015
Professor Steve Cowley, director of the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy, and Dr Michael Dittmar, a researcher with the Institute of Particle Physics at ETH Zurich, debate in a 37-min podcast that aired on The Guardian's ''Science Weekly'' program on 26 January.
The discussion ranged from reactor design challenges to the politics and finances of ITER.
Nuclear fusion is the dream of energy scientists the world over, because it promises limitless, clean electricity. Most efforts to kickstart the process use high-intensity lasers, insane magnetic field and super-hot hydrogen plasmas. But there may be a more humble alternative. It's called sonofusion, and it involves bubbles...
When liquid undergoes rapid changes in pressure, cavities can form — seemingly from nowhere, but usually around some kind of impurity or imperfection in the fluid. The changing pressure causes this cavity to expand and contract: this is a bubble, and its method of creation is known as cavitation. In particularly violent pressure fields, the bubble can contract so quickly and with so much force that it collapses entirely, producing a shock wave. This phenomenon's what causes the dramatic pitting on boat propellor and water pumps, where high fluctuating pressures causes bubbles to form and collapse.
But in the controlled environment of a laboratory, the bubbles can do more than cause damage. Way back in 1934, at the University of Cologne, H. Frenzel and H. Schultes turned of the lights in their laboratory, put an ultrasound transducer in a tank of photographic developer fluid, and turned it on. They were hoping to speed up the development process of photographic film — but instead, they noticed dots of light that appeared for a split-second at a time This was the first evidence of a process called sonoluminescene, where the large quantities of energy generated by a collapsing bubble cause light to be emitted. And where there's light, there's energy.
On an icy and sunny morning, a delegation of engineers, designers and design office coordinators from the seven Domestic Agencies went down into the Tokamak foundations for a technical visit.
Part of the CAD (Computer Aided Design) Working Group, the 15 members of the delegation were on site for the 13th CAD Working Group Workshop that took place at ITER Headquarters from 27 to 29 January.
The group was warmly welcomed by Laurent Patisson, Section Leader for Nuclear Buildings, who took them for a one-hour tour to the heart of the ITER platform: the foundations of the Tokamak Complex.
After a first glance from the belvedere—the viewpoint from the northern corner of the Tokamak Complex worksite where visitors are usually taken—the group went onto the Tokamak Complex floor (the B2 slab), which was icy in some places due to a recent cold snap.
Although the delegation was more than familiar with the design and the drawings of the ITER facilities, for many it was the first time on site. Philippe Le-Minh, Design Office coordination officer, was particularly thrilled to "feel all the activity going on," while Pierre-Yves Chaffard, head of Technical Support Services for the European Domestic Agency, remarked that it is "always interesting to see with our eyes, what we are used to seeing through our computers."
As the group returned to ITER Headquarters for the rest of their meetings, Geun Hong Kim, Design Office team leader for the Korean Domestic Agency, summed up the general feeling: "Now I can believe that ITER will be successful."
-- Julie Marcillat
WEST Newsletter #8 available
04 Feb 2015
The Institute for Magnetic Fusion Research, ITER's neighbour in Saint Paul-lez-Durance, has published issue #8 of the WEST newsletter.
The issue features a report about the integration of WEST into the EUROfusion ITER Physics Programme, progress on the calibration of diagnostics in the machine, and the test deployment of a WEST inspection robot inside of the EAST tokamak.
WEST stands for (W Environment in Steady-state Tokamak), where "W" is the chemical symbol of tungsten. The Institute for Magnetic Fusion Research is modifying the Tore Supra plasma facility to become a test platform open to all ITER partners.
Read the eighth issue of the WEST Newsletter here.
New year, new upgrades for JET tokamak
30 Jan 2015
The JET machine area is a hive of activity as the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE) prepares the facility on behalf of EUROfusion for its next run of experiments later in 2015.
The shutdown period is an opportunity for engineers to tune up key systems on JET and to install new components to improve the tokamak's performance. This time round, the focus is on plasma fuelling and heating systems. The high frequency pellet injector, which propels frozen deuterium fuel into the JET plasma, is being optimized and repositioned to achieve more reliable operation. A refurbished antenna—the ion cyclotron resonance heating system, which produces radiowaves that resonate with the plasma particles and heat them up—will also be plugged in. JET's antenna is similar to the one that the next-step ITER Tokamak will use. Bringing it back online will mean that experiments can simulate ITER conditions more accurately, and has the added advantage of helping to flush out impurities from the core of the plasma.
European fusion researchers are keen to see how the 2014 JET tests have left their mark on the machine. The shutdown is enabling CCFE's team of remote handling engineers to remove sample tiles from the interior of JET so their condition can be analyzed. Inspecting the tiles will yield valuable information about how the beryllium and tungsten wall lining is being affected by its close proximity to the plasma (another hot topic for ITER). And a remote-controlled vacuum cleaner has been inside JET collecting dust which can also give pointers on the interaction between the plasma and the wall materials.
In a similar vein, a new high-resolution camera has just been taken into the JET chamber to photograph the tiles in the divertor region. In this area, as the name suggests, impurities and waste material are diverted out of the plasma, and the tungsten surfaces of the divertor are exposed to intense heat as a result. The photographic survey is giving scientists the most detailed pictures yet of the condition of this area of the machine.
The ITER Business Forum 2015 (IBF/15) will take place in Marseille, France from 25 to 27 March 2015.
Already, 256 participants from 135 companies have registered to participate.
IBF/15 is a unique occasion for companies to approach the ITER Project and to investigate possibilities for involvement or partnership around upcoming tender offers.
Key project actors will present the status of systems. Twelve thematic workshops with presentations will be given by the ITER Organization, the procurement agencies for ITER—the Domestic Agencies—and key suppliers.
Visit the IBF/15 website for registration information.
EUROfusion actors meet in Switzerland
28 Jan 2015
The JET and Medium-Size Tokamaks General Planning Meeting was held in January in Lausanne at the Olympic Museum. The conference was a major step towards the internationalization of the TCV tokamak at EPFL (the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne).
The EUROfusion Consortium is the umbrella organization of all fusion research laboratories in Europe including Switzerland. Tasked with building the roadmap to ITER and DEMO, the prototype of a fusion commercial reactor, it provides the work platform for exploiting the Joint European Torus (JET) in the UK, sometimes referred to as "little ITER." EPFL's TCV tokamak carries out important experimental work in fusion, focusing on different plasma confinements and shapes.
The Planning Meeting, organized by the Center for Research in Plasma Physics (CRPP), which runs the TCV, focused on proposals for experiments aligned with the EUROfusion roadmap and that could be performed in 2015 on the roadmap's dedicated devices: JET, ASDEX Upgrade and EPFL's TCV. Scientists presented their views of a comprehensive experimental strategy, which was discussed by the almost 150 senior scientists attending the conference.
The selected experiments will be performed on EUROfusion's different devices by international groups of physicists. The plan calls for the TCV to be used for almost two months in 2015 and early 2016, while it will also continue to operate for EPFL's own research goals, which are generally also aligned with the ITER roadmap.
The conference included a visit of the TCV, followed by a reception at the CRPP's site.
Greg Clark MP, UK Minister of State for Universities, Science & Cities, visited JET on Friday 23 January to find out how researchers and engineers are bringing fusion power closer to reality.
Mr Clark met staff from EUROfusion—the European consortium that coordinates the research on JET—and CCFE, which operates the experiment on their behalf.
He heard about how JET, as the world's largest magnetic fusion device, has a unique role in preparing for the ITER international research project, which when constructed will aim to prove that fusion can be a viable commercial-scale energy source.
During his tour he met CCFE engineer Chris Fowler (pictured) in the JET Remote Handling Unit. Chris gave the Minister a demonstration of the advanced remote handling technology that allows operators to maintain and upgrade JET without the need to send people into the device.
Remote handling and robotics was the main theme of the day, as Mr Clark officially started construction of Culham's new RACE centre with a groundbreaking ceremony.
Like a new passenger jet or power plant, the National Spherical Torus Upgrade (NSTX-U) must be certified safe to operate. At the US Department of Energy's (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, the task of evaluating the safety of the $94 million upgrade belongs to the Activity Certification Committee (ACC), whose work remains ongoing. "This is a critical group," said Adam Cohen, deputy director for operations at the Laboratory. "When you have a complex activity like the upgrade you need a standing committee to guarantee that it will run safely."
For nearly two years the ACC has reviewed key components of the upgrade, which is scheduled for completion in March and will make the NSTX-U the most powerful spherical fusion facility on Earth. The group conducts hands-on inspections — or "walkdowns" — of all systems and subsystems and reviews training and pre-operational test procedures. "It's very vital and reassuring when the ACC says we're ready to go," said Mike Williams, director of engineering and infrastructure and associate director of the Laboratory.
Take one stainless steel tokamak component, bake in the oven for seven hours at 980 degrees C till it's just right...et voilà — it's ready to go into the fusion device.
Not quite that simple, but this is the procedure to eliminate unwanted magnetism from materials that will be installed in the vessel of MAST-Upgrade, the new UK fusion experiment that is being built at the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE, UK).
Stainless steel is used because it is strong, cheap and can be non-magnetic. For MAST-Upgrade, the latter property is particularly important. In a tokamak, hot plasma fuel is confined using strong magnetic coils. So machine components with low magnetism are necessary to avoid perturbing the magnetic configurations and to achieve accurate measurement of the tokamak's magnetic field. However, stainless steel as supplied can be slightly magnetic. If left untreated this would cause stray magnetic fields when MAST-Upgrade is operated and also make magnetic measurements less accurate.
Baking the steel reorders its crystal structure to reduce the extent to which it becomes magnetised without significantly affecting its other properties. Over the past nine months, various parts have been heat-treated in ovens at the Special Techniques Group workshop at the Culham site.
"It's an effective method and although it might seem low-tech, there's a hi-tech reason behind it," explains CCFE Work Package Manager James Foster. "There isn't one 'recipe' that fits everything, so each component has a different formula — just like in baking at home."
Register now for the ITER Business Forum 2015 in Marseille
09 Jan 2015
The ITER Business Forum 2015 (IBF/15) will take place in Marseille, France, from 25 to 27 March 2015 with the participation and support of the ITER Organization and the ITER Domestic Agencies (in particular the European Domestic Agency, Fusion for Energy), the Industrial Liaison Officers (ILO) network, Agence ITER France, and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Marseille-Provence.
Just like the events held in 2007, 2011 and 2013, the fourth ITER Business Forum will provide industry with updated information on the ITER Project and on procurement procedures and forthcoming calls for tenders (2015-2016). It also aims to facilitate industrial partnerships—around the ITER project and beyond—inside of Europe and internationally (for example: consortia to answer calls for tender, industrial partnerships, subcontracting, local support).
IBF/15 will include:
- an industrial conference with presentations given by the ITER Organization, Domestic Agencies and their main suppliers;
- one-to-one meetings on 26 and 27 March 2015;
- an optional program of technical tours on 25 March, including a visit of the ITER worksite;
- a welcome reception on 25 March in the evening and a gala dinner on 26 March at the venue.
Registration for participation in IBF/15 is now open here.
Collaboration with the Host Organization CEA
05 Jan 2015
Since the early days of project implementation in Saint-Paul-lez-Durance, France, ITER's closest neighbour and host—the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission, CEA (Cadarache site)—has provided a number of services to the ITER Organization.
These services are provided within the framework of the Site Support Agreement, which was signed in 2009 by the two entities as foreseen in the ITER Agreement and its Annex on Site Support. Regular meetings of the Site Liaison Committee, bringing together representatives from both organizations, are the occasion to discuss pending issues, exchange information and review actions underway.
On 10 December 2014, during the 10th Site Liaison Committee meeting, the ITER Organization and the CEA signed two agreements.
1. Agreement on organizational modalities in the event of emergency situations
Agreement which defines the information, support and response modalities between the CEA/Cadarache and the ITER Organization in the event of any emergency liable to trigger, or not, emergency action plans.
2. Agreement related to the management of environmental aspects on the ITER site
Agreement which defines the relations between the ITER Organization and Agence Iter France (the CEA agency created to manage the French contribution to the project) related to the environmental commitments undertaken by Agence Iter France, such as the definition of an environmental management plan for the 1,200 hectares on and around the ITER site.
This agreement entered into force on 10 December 2014 and is concluded for the duration of implementation of the environmental management plan (31 December 2032).
An aerial view of the CEA-Cadarache site.
Korea awards contract for vacuum vessel gravity supports
05 Jan 2015
The Korean Domestic Agency signed an important contract with Korean supplier Wonil Corp. for the ITER vacuum vessel gravity supports on 11 December 2014. Nine sets of gravity supports will be assembled under the lower ports to allow for the vacuum vessel's thermal expansion and to sustain loads in the radial, toroidal and vertical directions.
The supplier Wonil Corp. is a leading company in the heavy machining industry and has good experience with the ITER quality system through its participation in the procurement of the ITER blanket shield blocks and the assembly tooling. During the signing ceremony, the company strongly expressed its enthusiasm to carry out the mission and meet the demands of the vacuum vessel schedule and quality requirements for ITER.
- Ji-Min Song, ITER Korea
Now on show: the ITER absolute valve
05 Jan 2015
Visitors coming to the ITER site will from now on have one more attraction to discover: The mock-up of an ITER absolute valve seal and test rig, used to demonstrate the feasibility of the largest high pressure, all-metal valve, ever to be manufactured.
ITER will rely on two very powerful neutral beam injectors to heat the plasma to fusion temperatures. A third injector will also be installed—the diagnostic neutral beam injector—which is used as a diagnostic for the plasma.
Each injector contains a vacuum vessel which needs to be vented to atmospheric pressure independently from the torus vacuum vessel in case of an incident. An absolute valve has thus been developed by the Swiss company VAT to "absolutely" isolate the vacuum in the torus from the neutral beam vacuum systems.
The valve uses seals made of stainless steel with silver coating to ensure high vacuum tightness up to a pressure differential of 0.1 MPa across the plate while maintaining a leak rate of less than 1·10-8 Pa·m3/s 1, but can withstand up to 0.2 MPa without incurring damage. With a nominal bore dimension of 1600 mm this absolute valve will be the largest ever manufactured, approximately five times bigger than existing products.
December 2014 issue of Fusion in Europe
05 Jan 2015
The December 2014 issue of Fusion in Europe focuses on work underway—including novel types of simulations and materials research—to support the early design of DEMO, the machine that will come after ITER. The issue also covers the reorganization of fusion research in Europe under the banner of EUROfusion and brings news from some of the experiments planned in European fusion facilities in support of ITER.
Assystem releases three videos on its participation in ITER
05 Jan 2015
Assystem, a leading international group in the fields of engineering and innovation consultancy, is part of the ENGAGE consortium (Assystem, France; Atkins, UK; Empresados Agrupados, Spain; and Iosis, France) that was chosen in 2010 as architect/engineer for ITER site construction by the European Domestic Agency, Fusion for Energy (F4E).
The company is also contributing to the project by providing expertise in such domains as design, construction, machine assembly, and the manufacturing of high technology remote handling systems for the ITER divertor.
In December, Assystem released a series of three corporate videos highlighting its contributions to ITER. About 100 people attended a showing organized near the ITER site, including Assystem executives Stéphane Aubarbier (Executive Vice-President), Christian Jeanneau (Engineering and Operation Services Director General) and Bernard Blanc (Nuclear Business Development Manager); the mayor of Vinon-sur-Verdon, Claude Cheilan; Site, Buildings and Power Supplies Project Manager for the European Domestic Agency, Laurent Schmieder; and Michel Claessens, Head of Communication at the ITER Organization.
The next two years in MIT's Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering (NSE) may see fusion research embark on a landmark period of innovation. In his address to the NSE community in the inaugural Del Favero Doctoral Thesis Prize Lecture, Zach Hartwig PhD '14 not only described his group's research achievements but also explained why, in his view, fusion research should now be at the top of the department's agenda. Hartwig argued that U.S. fusion research, which has been focused on physics for the past two decades, now needs to incorporate more attention to engineering, utility integration, and economics as it transitions to building devices that will produce energy — and that this can be achieved by leveraging the tremendous engineering and systems expertise of NSE.
ITER hosts an international workshop on remuneration
15 Dec 2014
On 5 December 2014, Osamu Motojima, Director-General of the ITER Organization, opened a day-long international workshop on remuneration. Organized by ITER's Human Resources Division, the workshop gathered over 40 participants from international organizations.
The ITER Organization has been part of a coordinated system network of international organizations since 2008 and was pleased to act as host on this important occasion.
The network organizes regular workshops for human resource professionals and legal specialists in the fields of remuneration and pension, enabling international organizations to share their experience and forge valuable contacts.
Turning out one radial plate per month
15 Dec 2014
Inside of ITER's large D-shaped toroidal field coils, the stacked layers of conductor will be held in place by radial plates—large steel structures with grooves machined on either side.
In 2012, the European Domestic Agency awarded a EUR 160 million contract for the fabrication of 70 radial plates to a French-Italian consortium, CNIM (France)-SIMIC (Italy) and manufacturing is currently underway.
In this promotional video produced by CNIM, the camera takes us inside the 3,000 m2 factory in Toulon, France that was specially constructed for CNIM's share of the radial plate contract. One radial plate comes off of the manufacturing line per month, thanks to a team of 50 skilled employees organized in three shifts.
Three years of investment in R&D and industrial processes and the construction of a 9 x 36 metre machining centre were necessary to perfect the highly technological machining and welding of the ITER radial plates.
In November, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) announced a new director for its Plasma Science and Fusion Center, home to the Alcator C-Mod tokamak.
As of 1 January 2015, Dennis Whyte, professor of nuclear science and engineering, will replace Miklos Porkolab, who returns to teaching and research after nearly 20 years as head of the research centre.
In the announcement, Maria Zuber, MIT's vice president for research, thanked Porkolab "for almost 20 years of distinguished leadership and contributions to MIT and the fusion energy community worldwide."
Whyte is a recognized leader in the field of nuclear fusion, with his research addressing the boundary plasma-material interfaces in magnetic fusion.
He received his PhD from the University of Québec's National Institute of Scientific Research in 1993 and joined the MIT faculty in 2006. His recent research has focused on the novel application of high-energy ion beams for real-time material interrogation in fusion environments, and the use of new high magnetic field superconductor materials for compact, robust fusion pilot plants for electricity production. He was recently recognized with the International Atomic Energy Agency's 2013 Nuclear Fusion Journal Prize, which was presented at the 25th biennial IAEA Fusion Energy Conference last month, for research carried out on Alcator C-Mod.
The Mega Amp Spherical Tokamak (MAST) facility at Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE) is undergoing a major £30 million upgrade that will enhance the UK's role in international fusion research.
When completed in 2015, MAST-Upgrade will enable scientists to:
Make the case for a fusion Component Test Facility (CTF). A CTF would test reactor systems for the DEMO prototype fusion power plant, and a spherical tokamak is seen as an ideal design for the facility;
Add to the knowledge base for ITER and help resolve key plasma physics issues to ensure its success;
Test reactor systems. MAST-Upgrade will be the first tokamak to trial the innovative Super-X divertor — a high-power exhaust system that reduces power loads from particles leaving the plasma. If successful, Super-X could be used in DEMO and other future fusion devices.
In December, the second of four poloidal field coils was installed as planned. All four coils should be in place early in the New Year.
The Governing Board of the European Domestic Agency for ITER Fusion for Energy (F4E) has decided to appoint Dr Pietro Barabaschi as Acting Director of F4E with effect from 1 March 2015 until a new Director takes up duties. The Governing Board has also agreed to initiate the process to recruit a new Director.
Dr Barabaschi will replace the outgoing Director, Professor Henrik Bindslev, who will leave F4E on 28 February 2015. Professor Bindslev has been appointed Dean of the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Southern Denmark.
The Chair of the Governing Board, Mr Stuart Ward, expressed, on behalf of its members, his gratitude to Professor Henrik Bindslev for the vision and leadership that he has demonstrated as the Director of F4E, which manages Europe's contribution to ITER and the Broader Approach projects with Japan.
Dr Barabaschi has been head of F4E's Broader Fusion Development Department at Garching, Germany, since 2008. An electrical engineer, he started his career in the JET project. In 1992 he joined the ITER Joint Central Team in San Diego and by 2006 he was the deputy to the Project Leader as well as head of the Design Integration Division of the ITER International Team at Garching.
With a lecture on the subject of "The Fusion Roadmap and the challenges of the ITER era," Francesco Romanelli completed his tenure as EFDA Leader and EFDA Associate Leader for JET on 28 November.
As EFDA and JET Leader and interim Programme Manager during the first months of EUROfusion, Francesco Romanelli was the driving force behind the European Fusion Roadmap and had played a key role in re-definition of the fusion research programme in the European Commission research and innovation program Horizon 2020.
In his talk, he briefly reviewed the history of fusion research since the 1960s. Looking back on his time at JET, he made the audience smile when he pointed out that "the average life-time of a JET director was either seven months or seven years. I can claim to have stayed the longest—seven years AND seven months."
He finished by thanking the many individuals and groups who made the roadmap and the successes in JET happen. Steve Cowley, Director of CCFE, reminded the audience of Francesco Romanelli's scientific career in theoretical fusion science and his papers which are still highly important. "I have an enormous respect for Francesco, he said". "Fusion owes him a great deal."
EUROfusion Programme Manager Tony Donné, paid respect to the tremendous amount of work which had been done under Francesco's leadership.
-- Francesco Romanelli poses with family members at the farewell event.
ITER Russia opens its doors to young researchers
03 Dec 2014
For the third consecutive year, young scientists involved with ITER Project implementation from Russia's major research centres were invited to the Russian Domestic Agency in the framework of the 57th Scientific Conference of the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT).
Academician Evgeny Velikhov, ITER Council member and president of the Kurchatov Institute, gave the opening, stressing that "ITER is not only a scientific facility; it is also a technological platform that will provide the basis for fusion energy in the future."
Participants heard reports on R&D and manufacturing progress for ITER key components, including diagnostic systems (Budker Institute, Novosibirsk; MIPT, Dolgoprudnyj; TRINITI, Troitsk; Kurchatov Institute, Moscow), blanket modules (Efremov Institute, Saint Petersburg; Dollezhal Institute, Moscow), and high-temperature testing of in-vessel components (Efremov Institute, Saint Petersburg; MEPhI, Moscow).
Evgeny Velikhov concluded the conference by expressing confidence that "sooner or later humanity will certainly come to fusion."
Daniel Clery on "A Piece of the Sun"
28 Nov 2014
Science writer Daniel Clery visited the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE) recently to talk about his book on the history of fusion, A Piece of the Sun.
The book tells the story of the quest for fusion energy, from the discovery of nuclear fusion as the Sun's power source in the early 20th century through to the latest advances in magnetic and laser fusion research as the glittering prize of near-endless energy gets closer. It is a compelling account of the ups and downs of the research, the events and personalities involved, and the science of fusion.
Daniel gave a lecture at CCFE on the "Many Faces of Fusion," based on the book.
View the conference and interview on the CCFE website.
Rob Goldston among Foreign Policy magazine's 100 top global thinkers
26 Nov 2014
Editors of Foreign Policy magazine have named fusion physicist Rob Goldston, a Princeton University professor of astrophysical sciences and former director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), to its list of "100 Leading Global Thinkers of 2014." The recognition, made 17 November at a celebration in Washington, D.C., honoured Goldston for his contributions to the field of nuclear arms control.
Founded in 1970, Foreign Policy focuses on global affairs, current events and domestic and international affairs. It produces daily content on its website, ForeignPolicy.com and publishes six print issues annually.
Named with Goldston were Princeton physicist Alex Glaser and Boaz Barak of Microsoft Research New England. The researchers have designed a novel process called a "zero-knowledge protocol" for verifying that nuclear weapons to be dismantled or removed from deployment contain true warheads. Goldston and Glaser are developing a prototype system at PPPL that will test the idea by beaming neutrons at a non-nuclear test object.
Photo: Alex Glaser, left, and Rob Goldston, seen here with a non-nuclear test object.
Studying the intricacies and mysteries of the sun is physicist Wendell Horton life's work. A widely known authority on plasma physics, his study of the high temperature gases on the sun, or plasma, consistently leads him around the world to work on a diverse range of projects that have great impact.
Fusion energy is one such key scientific issue that Horton is investigating and one that has intrigued researchers for decades.
Through the Institute for Fusion Studies at The University of Texas at Austin, Horton collaborates with researchers at ITER, a fusion lab in France and the National Institute for Fusion Science in Japan to address these challenges. At ITER, Horton is working with researchers to build the world's largest tokamak—the device that is leading the way to produce fusion energy in the laboratory.
Perfecting the design of the tokamak is essential to producing fusion energy, and since it is not fully developed, Horton performs supercomputer simulations on the Stampede supercomputer at the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) to model plasma flow and turbulence inside the device.
"Simulations give us information about plasma in three dimensions and in time, so that we are able to see details beyond what we would get with analytic theory and probes and high-tech diagnostic measurements," Horton said.
The simulations also give researchers a more holistic picture of what is needed to improve the tokamak design. Comparing simulations with fusion experiments in nuclear labs around the world helps Horton and other researchers move even closer to this breakthrough energy source.
The November issue of the US ITER News Update is available on line.
It includes a full review of the status of US procurement for ITER and excerpts from the July 2014 Statement of Ned Sauthoff, director of the US ITER Project Office, before the Subcommittee on Energy, Committee on Science, Space and Technology at the US House of Representatives.
FuseNet launches new education support schemes
17 Nov 2014
FuseNet, the European platform to coordinate and improve fusion education, has launched a new student support scheme in cooperation with and funded by the EUROfusion consortium:
- Support for Master students to go abroad for an internship in a fusion group or at a research institute.
- Support for Master and PhD students to follow educational training activities external to their own organisation (such as summer schools, master classes and workshops with a dominant educational character).
- Support for PhD students to take part in research at another universities' fusion group or at a research laboratory for shorter periods than a full internship.
Being a member of FuseNet, the ITER Organization is entitled to make use of this very attractive scheme by offering internships at ITER or research trips for PhD students.
For more information please check the FuseNet website.
First Highly Exceptional Load sails to ITER
17 Nov 2014
On Friday 14 November, the first Highly Exceptional Load (HEL) destined to the ITER site was loaded onto the container ship CMA-Ivanhoe in the port of Busan, South Korea, to begin its five-week journey to France.
On board is the 87-ton main body of one high voltage substation transformer unit (part of the ITER steady state electrical network) as well as 39 wooden crates packed with the transformer's auxiliary components. The equipment was procured by the US and manufactured by Hyundai Heavy Industry in Ulsan, South Korea. Three identical transformers will be shipped to ITER in the coming months.
Ivanhoe should reach the Mediterranean harbour of Fos-sur-Mer on 19 December. There, the transformer main body will be unloaded and staged until 9 January 2015, when it will be transferred to a trailer.
The trailer will be loaded onto a barge to cross the inland sea Étang-de-Berre before travelling 104 kilometres along the ITER Itinerary, for delivery to the ITER site in the early hours of 14 January.
Some 135 researchers, graduate students, and staff members from the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL, US)) joined 1,500 research scientists from around the world at the 56th annual meeting of the American Physical Society Division of Plasma Physics Conference from 27 to 31 October in New Orleans.
Topics in the sessions ranged from waves in plasma to the physics of ITER and women in plasma physics. Dozens of PPPL scientists presented the results of their cutting-edge research in magnetic fusion and plasma science. There were about 100 invited speakers at the conference, more than a dozen of whom were from PPPL.
Read the full article and access the topical press releases on the PPPL website.
Hole in one: Centre stack smoothly installed in NSTX-U
13 Nov 2014
With near-surgical precision, technicians at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL, US) hoisted the 29,000-pound (13,000-kilo) centre stack for the National Spherical Torus Experiment-Upgrade, NSTX-U, over a 20-foot (6-metre) wall and lowered it into the vacuum vessel of the fusion facility. The smooth operation on 24 October capped more than two years of construction of the centre stack, which houses the bundle of magnetic coils that form the heart of the $94 million (EUR 19 million) upgrade.
"This was really a watershed moment," said Mike Williams, the head of engineering and infrastructure at PPPL and associate director of the Laboratory. "The critical path [or key sequence of steps for the upgrade] was fabrication of the magnets, and that has now been done."
The lift team conducted the final steps largely in silence, attaching the bundled coils in their casing to an overhead crane and guiding the 21 foot-long (6.4-metre) centre stack into place. The clearances were tiny: the bottom of the casing passed just inches over the shielding wall and the top of the vacuum vessel. Inserting the centre stack into the vessel was like threading a needle, since the clearance at the opening was only about an inch. Guidance came chiefly from hand signals, with some radio communication at the end.
Wildlife is thriving on the ITER site. Wild boars, mouflon goats and deer freely roam the vast expanses of forest that surround the installation.
This picture of two young does was taken last week by APAVE's Health and Safety Coordinator Laurent Feron, as he drove along the track leading to the Logistics Platform located behind the hill on the east side of the worksite.
These does are no ordinary animals — they are descendants of the two pairs of Sikka deer that were offered to French President Sadi Carnot by the Emperor of Japan Mutsuhito, the "Meiji Emperor", in 1890.
The two couples were originally hosted in the Presidential Hunting Reserve near Paris. By 1928, the original four had become a small herd, and a few individuals were entrusted to various national parks and wildlife reservations.
The National Forest in Cadarache was one of them. Eighty-six years later, the Emperor's deer are still here, scattered between the CEA-Cadarache enclosure, the National Forestry Commission reserve and the outskirts of the ITER site.
Call for abstracts: EST-Energy Conference 2015
07 Nov 2014
From 20-22 May 2015 the ENERGY, SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY Conference and Exhibition (EST-Energy) will be taking place at the Karlsruhe Convention Center in Germany.
The conference will focus on all energy-related topics with an emphasis on renewable and CO2-free forms of energy.
The establishment of a sustainable, reliable and achievable energy system needs a worldwide cross-linked effort. Research, development and implementation of innovations by both the scientific community as well as industry is necessary. EST-Energy 2015 aims to provide a platform for the most recent research findings and allow participants to network with other researchers and engineers from all over the world.
Fusion is one of the themes of the conference. A call for abstracts has been launched for topics that fall in the following categories: ITER- and DEMO-related issues, the development strategies of new fusion devices (W7-X, JT-60 SA... ), and technical issues that may be of interest to others.
The deadline for paper abstracts is 15 December 2014. All information can be found on the conference website.
Lab develops infrared camera system to view tokamak from the inside
05 Nov 2014
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) researchers, in collaboration with General Atomics and the University of Arizona, have developed an infrared and visible camera viewing system that's able to produce wide-angle, tangential views of full poloidal (north-south direction of the magnetic field) cross-sections inside the tokamak. The camera's images provide researchers with data about the interior conditions of the DIII-D, which was built under contract for the US Department of Energy.
"We wanted to look inside the tokamak's chamber to see where things were heating up on the walls," said Kevin Morris, a designer with LLNL's National Security Engineer Division, who was part of the research team that developed the camera system. "There are a lot of critical areas that are heated by the plasma, and researchers want to understand them better."
The camera system consists of a commercially available infrared camera, a fast visible camera and an optical system designed by a collaboration of physicists, engineers, optical designers and mechanical designers.
Their design will be used as a prototype for a set of larger cameras that will be built for ITER.
43-minute program on nuclear fusion: BBC Radio 4 "In Our Time"
31 Oct 2014
Melvyn Bragg from "In Our Time" and his guests discuss nuclear fusion, the process that powers stars. In the 1920s physicists predicted that it might be possible to generate huge amounts of energy by fusing atomic nuclei together, a reaction requiring enormous temperatures and pressures. Today we know that this complex reaction is what keeps the Sun shining. Scientists have achieved fusion in the laboratory and in nuclear weapons; today it is seen as a likely future source of limitless and clean energy.
Philippa Browning, Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Manchester
Steve Cowley, Chief Executive of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority
Justin Wark, Professor of Physics and fellow of Trinity College at the University of Oxford
Producer: Thomas Morris.
Listen to the 43-minute program that aired on 30 October 2014 (9:30 p.m.) here.
University of Rome offers Fusion Master's courses
31 Oct 2014
Where else would you like to study fusion science and engineering but in the heart of the Eternal City?
The second oldest public university in Rome, the University of Rome "Tor Vergata," has offered a Second Level Master course in Fusion Energy Science and Engineering since 2012. Open to postgraduates with a Master's degree or equivalent title, the course aims to train experts in the areas of machine operation, experimental practice both in magnetic confinement and inertial fusion, and fusion technology and engineering.
The next course starts on 2 February 2015. The duration of the course is one academic year but it can be extended to two academic years according to individual study plans.
Enrolment is open now. For more information, see the dedicated website, or contact:
The latest issue of the European Domestic Agency's newsletter, F4ENews, has just been released. You can consult it here.
Scientists use plasma shaping to control turbulence in stellarators
29 Oct 2014
Researchers at the US Department of Energy's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) and the Max Planck Institute of Plasma Physics in Germany have devised a new method for minimizing turbulence in bumpy donut-shaped experimental fusion facilities called stellarators. This month in a paper published in Physical Review Letters, these authors describe an advanced application of the method that could help physicists overcome a major barrier to the production of fusion energy in such devices, and could also apply to their more widely used symmetrical donut-shaped cousins called tokamaks. This work was supported by the DOE Office of Science.
Turbulence allows the hot, charged plasma gas that fuels fusion reactions to escape from the magnetic fields that confine the gas in stellarators and tokamaks. This turbulent transport occurs at comparable levels in both devices, and has long been recognized as a challenge for both in producing fusion power economically.
"Confinement bears directly on the cost of fusion energy," said physicist Harry Mynick, a PPPL coauthor of the paper, "and we're finding how to reshape the plasma to enhance confinement."
The new method uses two types of advanced computer codes that have only recently become available. The authors modified these codes to address turbulent transport, evolving the starting design of a fusion device into one with reduced levels of turbulence. The current paper applies the new method to the Wendelstein 7-X stellarator, soon to be the world's largest when construction is completed in Greifswald, Germany.
Results of the new method, which has also been successfully applied to the design of smaller stellarators and tokamaks, suggest how reshaping the plasma in a fusion device could produce much better confinement. Equivalently, improved plasma shaping could produce comparable confinement with reduced magnetic field strength or reduced facility size, with corresponding reductions in the cost of construction and operation.
-- Magnetic field strength in a turbulence-optimized stellarator design. Regions with the highest strength are shown in yellow.
Using radio waves to control the density in a fusion plasma
29 Oct 2014
Recent fusion experiments on the DIII-D tokamak at General Atomics (California, US) and the Alcator C-Mod tokamak at MIT (Massachusetts, US), show that beaming microwaves into the centre of the plasma can be used to control the density in the centre of the plasma, where a fusion reactor would produce most of its power. Several megawatts of microwaves mimic the way fusion reactions would supply heat to plasma electrons to keep the "fusion burn" going.
The new experiments reveal that turbulent density fluctuations in the inner core intensify when most of the heat goes to electrons instead of plasma ions, as would happen in the center of a self-sustaining fusion reaction. Supercomputer simulations closely reproduce the experiments, showing that the electrons become more turbulent as they are more strongly heated, and this transports both particles and heat out of the plasma.
"We are beginning to uncover the fundamental mechanisms that control the density, under conditions relevant to a real fusion reactor," says Dr. Darin Ernst, a physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who led the experiments and simulations, together with co-leaders Dr. Keith Burrell (General Atomics), Dr. Walter Guttenfelder (Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory), and Dr. Terry Rhodes (UCLA).
New Advisory Board to promote project and safety culture at ITER
27 Oct 2014
In order to improve project performance and in light of the ITER Project's specific managerial and cultural complexities, an External Management Advisory Board (EMAB) was established earlier this year. This week, the members of the EMAB convened for their first meeting at ITER Headquarters.
The objective of the EMAB is to advise the ITER Organization's senior managers and the Director-General on enhancing project and safety culture, a challenging activity in the context of a mega international project with seven Members. Also, the Board is charged with assessing the practical implementation of the set of actions that was decided in response to the Management Assessment carried out in 2013.
The Chair of this new entity is Jean Jacquinot, who also serves as scientific advisor to the Chairman of the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), Bernard Bigot.
Other Board members are Michael Tendler, professor at Sweden's Alfvén Laboratory (Royal Institute of Technology); Richard Hawryluk, head of the department of ITER and Tokamaks at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (US); Dhiraj Bora, director of the Institute for Plasma Research, IPR (India); and Yuanxi Wan, Academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and former Chairman of the ITER Science and Technology Advisory Committee (STAC). ITER's Colette Ricketts, of the System Management Section, is in charge of the secretariat.
"During our first meeting held on 20-21 October, we had a very fruitful discussion," the Board members reported after the first meeting. "We openly addressed issues such as the project's nuclear and safety culture, options for improved alignment between the ITER Organization and the Domestic Agencies, and last but not least the creation of the ITER Chief Executive Team, (ICET), formed to improve collaboration between all actors of the ITER Project."
The Board will continue to address key ITER management issues at its next meeting, scheduled for 11-12 December 2014.
Puzzling new behavior found in high-temperature superconductors
23 Oct 2014
Research by an international team led by SLAC and Stanford scientists has uncovered a new, unpredicted behavior in a copper oxide material that becomes superconducting — conducting electricity without any loss — at relatively high temperatures.
This new phenomenon — an unforeseen collective motion of electric charges coursing through the material — presents a challenge to scientists seeking to understand its origin and connection with high-temperature superconductivity. Their ultimate goal is to design a superconducting material that works at room temperature.
"Making a room-temperature superconductor would save the world enormous amounts of energy," said Thomas Devereaux, leader of the research team and director of the Stanford Institute for Materials and Energy Sciences (SIMES), which is jointly run with SLAC. "But to do that we must understand what's happening inside the materials as they become superconducting. This result adds a new piece to this long-standing puzzle."
The results were published 19 October in Nature Physics.
In the latest newsletter published by Korea's National Fusion Research Institute (NFRI), read how the KSTAR tokamak has topped 10,000 plasma generation experiments since 2009 and how tokamak technologies have found their way into applications in the food and defence industries.
Russia is developing a hybrid nuclear reactor that uses both nuclear fusion and fission, said head of leading nuclear research facility. The project is open for international collaboration, particularly from Chinese scientists.
A hybrid nuclear reactor is a sort of stepping stone to building a true nuclear fusion reactor. It uses a fusion reaction as a source of neutrons to initiate a fission reaction in a 'blanket' of traditional nuclear fuel.
The approach has a number of potential benefits in terms of safety, non-proliferation and cost of generated energy, and Russia is developing such a hybrid reactor, according to Mikhail Kovalchuk, director of the Kurchatov Research Center.
"Today we have started the realization of a distinctively new project. We are trying to combine a schematically operational nuclear plant reactor with a 'tokamak' to create a hybrid reactor," he told RIA Novosti, referring to a type of fusion reactor design.
Photo: Director of the Kurchatov Research Center Mikhail Kovalchuk
Manufacturing for acceleration grid power supplies has started in India
17 Oct 2014
Manufacturing is underway in India for the acceleration grid power supplies that will be supplied to the SPIDER test bed in Italy as well as to ITER's diagnostic neutral beam.
The technical specifications for both acceleration grid power supplies are similar (system rated for 96 kVDC, 75 A). The SPIDER test bed is designed to finalize the development of the ion sources required for the ITER neutral beam injectors and to test all essential aspects of the diagnostic neutral beam accelerator.
Following the Final Design Review held in August 2013 for the acceleration grid power supplies, a Manufacturing Readiness Review was conducted early this year at the Indian Domestic Agency with the participation of the ITER Organization and ECIL, the Indian manufacturer responsible for the fabrication of the system and its installation at the SPIDER test bed in Padua, Italy.
Major components of the acceleration grid power supplies—60 kW water-cooled switched power supply modules and 2.8 MVA oil-cooled multi-secondary transformers—are presently being inspected at intermediate stages and the factory acceptance test for the first batch is scheduled for the end of November 2014.
Discussions are also being held with local support agencies for SPIDER site works with coordination assistance from the Consorzio RFX team in Padua.
Dilshad Sulaiman, ITER India
Three hours with an ITER physicist on web radio
15 Oct 2014
The German science and engineering website Tau Omega recently featured a three-hour audio interview of ITER physicist Richard Pitts. The program focuses on the physics and the engineering challenges of ITER, but also addresses some of the unique organizational aspects of the project.
General Atomics physicist gets top fusion award
15 Oct 2014
A General Atomics physicist has won one of the most prestigious awards in fusion energy research, it was announced this week at a major international scientific conference in Russia.
Dr. Philip Snyder, who works in General Atomics' San Diego headquarters, received the 2014 International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Nuclear Fusion Prize. The award was announced at the biennial conference during the opening ceremony of the 25th IAEA Fusion Energy Conference being held 13-18 October in St. Petersburg.
Dr. Snyder won the prize for his published scientific paper judged to provide the most impact in nuclear fusion over the last two years. Dr. Snyder has spent the last 15 years working in fusion research at General Atomics, where he serves as Director of Theory and Computational Science for the Energy and Advanced Concepts Group.
World's largest fusion conference opens in St. Petersburg
13 Oct 2014
The 25th IAEA Fusion Energy Conference (FEC 2014) will be held from 13 to 18 October 2014 in Saint Petersburg, the Russian Federation.
The event, hosted by the Government of the Russian Federation through the Rosatom Nuclear Energy State Corporation, provides a forum for the discussion of key physics and technology issues as well as innovative concepts of direct relevance to fusion as a source of nuclear energy. The Conference is the world's largest conference in the field of nuclear fusion.
Thematic sessions on topics such as fusion engineering, fusion nuclear physics and technology, innovative confinement concepts and more will be held as part of the Conference, which also includes the awarding of a Nuclear Fusion Prize for outstanding achievements in nuclear fusion.
The IAEA hosts an International Conference on Nuclear Fusion Energy every second year. More information is available at the conference website.
Sandia's Z machine makes progress toward nuclear fusion
13 Oct 2014
Scientists are reporting a significant advance in the quest to develop an alternative approach to nuclear fusion. Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico, using the lab's Z machine, a colossal electric pulse generator capable of producing currents of tens of millions of amperes, say they have detected significant numbers of neutrons—byproducts of fusion reactions—coming from the experiment. This, they say, demonstrates the viability of their approach and marks progress toward the ultimate goal of producing more energy than the fusion device takes in.
The autumn issue of Fusion in Europe is available for download at this link.
The 20-page issue covers the recent launch of EUROfusion (the European Consortium for the Development of Fusion Energy), preparations for the initial plasma experiments on the Wendelstein 7-X stellarator (scheduled next year), and news from the control rooms of the JET and ASDEX Upgrade tokamaks.
Fusion in Europe is published three times per year.
EFDA becomes EUROfusion
10 Oct 2014
On 9 October 2014 the European Commission officially launched the European Consortium for the Development of Fusion Energy, EUROfusion for short. EUROfusion manages the European fusion research activities on behalf of Euratom, which awards the appropriate grant to the consortium.
The new consortium agreement will substitute the fourteen year-old European Fusion Development Agreement (EFDA), as well as 29 bilateral Association agreements between the Commission and research institutions in 27 countries. The Grant Agreement (contract) provides EUR 424 million in funding from the Euratom Horizon 2020 programme 2014-18 and the same amount from Member States, adding up to an overall budget of EUR 850 million for 5 years.
The launch of EUROfusion was celebrated with Europe's fusion research community in the heart of the European Quarter, the Solvay Library.
Read the full report on the new EUROfusion website here.
Divertor cassette replaced by remote control at VTT Finland
07 Oct 2014
VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has reached an important objective in the development of ITER fusion reactor remote control, when the divertor cassette was replaced for the first time using remote control in the research facility for remote controlled maintenance. This operation is one of the most demanding measures in the forthcoming ITER fusion reactor, the construction of which is proceeding rapidly in Cadarache, Southern France.
The requirements for the technologies used in ITER, are high, since they are used to control the fusion plasma burning at a temperature of hundred million degrees centigrade. Once the ITER comes into use, its core is activated when bombed by neutrons. Therefore, all maintenance, inspection and repair measures are performed using remote operation.
Located in the lower part of the ITER reactor chamber, the 54 cassettes of the reactor component, or the divertor, measuring 3.4 m x 2.3 m x 0.6 m and weighing approximately 10 tonnes each, need to be handled at tolerances of a few millimetres. The divertor cassette is like a giant ashtray, into which the hot ashes and impurities settle.
The European Domestic Agency for ITER, Fusion for Energy (F4E), is organizing a major business event from 10 to 12 June 2015.
The Fusion for Energy Forum is designed as a networking event, aiming to bring together industry representatives, SMEs, European fusion laboratories and policy makers around ITER business opportunities.
Participants will have access to the latest information regarding Europe's procurement strategies, the opportunity to meet with F4E procurement staff and the possiblity of creating ties through business to business (B2B) sessions.
All information on the Fusion for Energy Forum is centralized on the event website.
WEST Newsletter #6 is out
06 Oct 2014
The Institute for Magnetic Fusion Research, ITER's neighbour in Saint Paul-lez-Durance, has published issue #6 of the WEST newsletter.
The issue features a report on the 1st international WEST workshop held in Aix-en-Provence on 30 June-2 July and several articles documenting the project's progress.
WEST stands for (W Environment in Steady-state Tokamak), where "W" is the chemical symbol of tungsten.
New European innovation award goes to KIT researchers
03 Oct 2014
German researchers Christian Day and Thomas Giegerich from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) are the first recipients of the European Prize for Innovation in Fusion Research launched by the European Commission. The prize—a new funding instrument introduced by the Horizon 2020 Program—rewards excellence in innovation in the fusion research program as well as the quality of the researchers and industries involved.
The winners were announced on Tuesday 30 September during the 28th Symposium on Fusion Technology (SOFT) in San Sebastian, Spain. The winning innovation—called KALPUREX (short for: Karlsruhe liquid metal based pumping process for fusion reactor exhaust gases)—is a novel fuel cycle concept for DEMO and future fusion power plants.
While ITER will rely on a cryogenic pumping and gas separation system, the gas throughput within a fusion power plant is expected to be many factors higher. Increasing the cryogenic pumping and separating capacities would require even larger and more expensive cryogenic facilities, clearly impacting plant investment and operational costs.
The KALPUREX design concept proposes non-cryogenic vacuum pumping, based on continuous operation (important to limiting fuel build-up in the machine) and gas separation close to the torus vessel (allowing a direct shortcut between the pumping and the fuelling systems). Tests have been performed at KIT on vacuum pumps capable of performing continually and three technologies were identified—a metal foil pump, a vapor diffusion pump and a modified liquid ring pump (much used in the chemical industry).
A patent has been filed for the KALPUREX process, which is expected to be of high interest to European industry. For more information on the KALPUREX design, please contact Christian Day directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
--Pictured: Christian Day and Thomas Giegerich from KIT
European Commission launches EUROfusion
01 Oct 2014
On 9 October 2014 the European Commission invites the fusion community into the heart of the European Quarter, the Solvay Library, to officially launch the European Consortium for the Development of Fusion Energy, EUROfusion for short. The new consortium agreement will substitute the fourteen year-old European Fusion Development Agreement (EFDA), as well as 29 bilateral Association agreements between the Commission and research institutions in 27 countries.
The formation of EUROfusion marks a big step forward for Europe's quest to develop fusion power as a climate-friendly energy source that will contribute to meet a growing global energy demand. The EUROfusion Consortium enables Europe's national laboratories to pool their resources even more efficiently — a measure which became necessary to meet the challenge of increasingly complex and large-scale projects such as ITER and DEMO.
The preparation for such a joint fusion programme started in 2012. All EU research laboratories jointly drafted a detailed goal-oriented programme to realise fusion energy by 2050. This programme, known as the 'Roadmap to the Realisation of Fusion Electricity' outlines the most efficient path to fusion power. By the end of that year it was endorsed by all parties.
The roadmap has two main aims: Preparing for ITER experiments in order to ensure that Europe makes best possible use of ITER and to develop concepts for a fusion power demonstration plant DEMO. The necessary research towards reaching these aims is carried out by universities and research centres within the current European Framework Programme Horizon 2020. More than before does the programme involve industries in the process of designing components and finding technical solutions.
Through EUROfusion, the European fusion research programme will have direct access to various European experiments that are relevant to fulfil roadmap missions. The world's largest magnetic fusion experiment, the Joint European Torus (JET) in Culham, UK, will continue to be exploited by EUROfusion until 2018. JET, often nicknamed "Little ITER", has already been paving the way for ITER and continues to align its scientific programme to ITER needs.
The Solvay library is the ideal venue for the launch of EUROfusion: inaugurated in 1902 its architecture accommodated new ways of academic teaching. The new architecture of EUROfusion strengthens Europe's leading position in fusion research by integrating a strong central programming.
The extension to the ITER Headquarters to the ITER Organization was handed over on 30 September in a ceremony during which Tim Watson, head of the Buildings and Site Infrastructure Directorate, accepted the building from the contractor Travaux du Midi.
The 3,500-square-metre extension (5 storeys high, 35 metres long) will share the same architectural features as the existing building. It will accomodate some 350 ITER staff and contractors presently hosted in buildings one kilometre away.
Moving will be organized in stages from October to December 2014.
From left to right: Tim Watson, head of the ITER Buildings & Site Directorate; architect Tillman Reichert (Ricciotti Architects); and Pierre Bisagno of Les Travaux du Midi.
Physicists use supercomputer to gain insight into plasma dynamics
01 Oct 2014
Studying the intricacies and mysteries of the sun is physicist Wendell Horton life's work. A widely known authority on plasma physics, his study of the high temperature gases on the sun, or plasma, consistently leads him around the world to work on a diverse range of projects that have great impact.
Fusion energy is one such key scientific issue that Horton is investigating and one that has intrigued researchers for decades.
It's no secret that the demand for energy around the world is outpacing the supply. Fusion energy has tremendous potential, however, harnessing the power of the sun for this burgeoning energy source requires extensive work.
Through the Institute for Fusion Studies at The University of Texas at Austin, Horton collaborates with researchers at ITER, a fusion lab in France and the National Institute for Fusion Science in Japan to address these challenges. At ITER, Horton is working with researchers to build the world's largest tokamak—the device that is leading the way to produce fusion energy in the laboratory.
Perfecting the design of the tokamak is essential to producing fusion energy and since it is not fully developed, Horton performs supercomputer simulations on the Stampede supercomputer at the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) to model plasma flow and turbulence inside the device.
"Simulations give us information about plasma in three dimensions and in time, so that we are able to see details beyond what we would get with analytic theory and probes and high-tech diagnostic measurements," Horton said
28th Symposium on Fusion Technology (SOFT 2014) opens
30 Sep 2014
The leading event worldwide for the exchange information on the design, construction and operation of fusion experiments—and on the technology for present fusion machines and future power plants—got off to a start on Monday 29 September in San Sebastián, Spain.
In front of the 800 scientists, engineers, developers, manufacturers and students taking part in the week-long event, ITER Director-General Osamu Motojima presented the "Progress and planning of ITER" in one of the first introductory sessions.
The symposium, organized by the Spanish Research Centre for Energy, Environment and Technology (CIEMAT), continues through Friday 3 October with oral and poster presentations, industrial and R&D exhibitions, and an ITER Industrial Infoday on Tuesday 30 September.
CERN: 60 years of peaceful collaboration for science
30 Sep 2014
On Monday 29 September, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, CERN, celebrated its 60th anniversary with an event attended by delegations from 35 countries.
Founded in 1954, CERN's origins can be traced back to the aftermath of the Second World War, when a small group of visionary scientists and public administrators on both sides of the Atlantic identified fundamental research as a potential vehicle to rebuild the continent and to foster peace in a troubled region.
Today, CERN is the largest particle physics laboratory in the world and a prime example of international collaboration, bringing together scientists representing almost 100 nationalities.
A full report and videos are available on the CERN website.
The CERN-ITER collaboration
29 Sep 2014
In November 2006, the last LHC dipole and quadrupole cold masses arrived at CERN, signalling the end of the industrial construction of the major components of the new 27-km particle collider (CERN CourierOctober 2006 p28 and January/February 2007 p25).
The LHC then entered the installation and the commissioning phases. In the same month, at the Elysée Palace in Paris, the ITER Agreement was signed by seven parties: China, the EU, India, Japan, Korea, Russia and the US. The Agreement's ratification in October of the following year marked the start of a new mega-science project — ITER ... that in many respects is the heir of the LHC.
Both machines are based on, for example, a huge superconducting magnet system, large cryogenic plants of unmatched power, a large volume of ultra-high vacuum, a complex electrical powering system, sophisticated interlock and protection systems, high-technology devices and work in highly radioactive environments.
The University of Wisconsin Fusion Technology Institute, founded in 1971, has been a leader in fusion and plasma physics research, with a broad range of basic science, engineering, and applications programs.
The Institute has done pioneering experimental work using advanced helium-3 fuel to produce fusion energy. Dr. Kulcinski is the Director of the Institute, Associate Dean for Research in the College of Engineering, and Grainger Professor of Nuclear Engineering. He has led a scientific team which has doggedly pursued, and tirelessly promoted, research into the advanced fusion fuels, such as helium-3, which will create the energy for the future.
For its fourth edition, the Low Carbon Earth Summit confirmed its role as a major annual event attracting an international audience concerned by—and involved in—the issue of sustainable development. About 1,000 participants from all over the world, two Nobel Laureates, and a hundred of presenters were present from 21 to 23 September in Qingdao, China; from a quantitative point of view the event was clearly successful.
And from a qualitative point of view as well, as the conference convincingly showed that we have entered a new age. Many examples of technological developments were presented that result or will result in a net decrease in carbon emissions.
The diversity of low-carbon initiatives around the world is absolutely impressive. Adaptation and mitigation of climate change are now embedded at all levels at the society (technology, law, education) and in all countries. In Australia, for example, the government has begun approaching groups that will be affected by the rise in ocean level to explore the possible actions. In China, Oxfam is conducting pilot projects in rural areas in order to evaluate the resilience of the food system and the vulnerability of the poorest to climate change. Legislation and law also need to be adapted. Studies conducted in several countries by the Swedish lawyer Peter Lohmander show that forests can be exploited in a sustainable way provided that regulations are modified. Many initiatives have been taken across all countries in educating people and raising public awareness. Hence the diversity of the participant's profiles: there are not many conferences today where you can find at the same table a lawyer, an economist, a farmer, a physicist and an entrepreneur.
Against this backdrop, I presented ITER as a genuine disruptive and innovative technology that is likely to change the course of our civilization.
As the world's most populated country and a key economic actor, China was obviously the focus of many discussions. During the opening session two Nobel Prize winners in economics, Edward Prescott (2004) and Sir Christopher Pissarides (2010), showed that the future of the Chinese "economic miracle" will depend on the government's capacity of reforming the country's economic institutions and significantly deregulating its services industry.
In this respect, said Sir Christopher, China has a historical opportunity "not make the same mistake as many European countries." The 2010 Nobel Prize winner added that he saw "China's opportunities in the globalized world as high technology manufacturing. Its research system is now mature enough to really start innovating."
-Michel Claessens, head of ITER Communication & External Relations
Second delivery of components to ITER
24 Sep 2014
On 18 September, three trucks arrived from Italy loaded with equipment for ITER's Steady State Electrical Network (SSEN). The high voltage disconnectors and earthing switches were procured by the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), which serves as the SSEN engineering support subcontractor to the US Domestic Agency, and manufactured by the Italian branch of Alstom.
US plans for future of fusion research
23 Sep 2014
As the international ITER project to develop an experimental nuclear fusion reactor eats into research budgets around the world, an advisory panel to the US Department of Energy recommends mothballing at least one of three major experiments and focusing on research necessary to bring ITER online.
The Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee (FESAC) released its report on 22 September at a meeting in Gaithersburg, Maryland. The document outlines a 10-year plan for US nuclear fusion research for various budget scenarios, the most optimistic of which calls for "modest growth".
Nuclear fusion offers the potential for producing practically limitless energy by smashing heavy atoms of hydrogen into helium inside a burning 100-million-kelvin plasma and capturing the energy released by the reaction — but scientific and engineering challenges remain.
The report says the US should focus research initiatives on the biggest impediments to ITER's donut-like design, called a tokamak — how to control the writhing plasma at the reactor's core, and understanding how it interacts with surrounding material in order to engineer walls that can maintain the reaction.
Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories' Z machine have produced a significant output of fusion neutrons, using a method fully functioning for only little more than a year. [...]
The experimental work is described in a paper to be published in the Sept. 24 Physical Review Letters online. A theoretical PRL paper to be published on the same date helps explain why the experimental method worked. The combined work demonstrates the viability of the novel approach.
"We are committed to shaking this [fusion] tree until either we get some good apples or a branch falls down and hits us on the head," said Sandia senior manager Dan Sinars. He expects the project, dubbed MagLIF for magnetized liner inertial fusion, will be "a key piece of Sandia's submission for a July 2015 National Nuclear Security Administration review of the national Inertial Confinement Fusion Program."
Inertial confinement fusion creates nanosecond bursts of neutrons, ideal for creating data to plug into supercomputer codes that test the safety, security and effectiveness of the U.S. nuclear stockpile. The method could be useful as an energy source down the road if the individual fusion pulses can be sequenced like an automobile's cylinders firing.
On 8-9 September the final acceptance meeting was held for the Cryostat Workshop. This 5,500-square-metre building will be the theatre for the assembly of the four main cryostat sections from 54 smaller segments manufactured in India.
As the contractor chosen by the Indian Domestic Agency for the construction and assembly of the ITER cryostat, Larsen & Toubro Limited is also in charge of the on-site cryostat worksite. The company awarded the construction contract to the French company SPIE Batignolles TPCI, who began work just over a year ago, in June 2013.
"Larsen & Toubro (L&T) takes pride in having completed the temporary workshop before the contractual delivery date," a company statement read. "This was possible due to the positive and collaborative efforts by all of the teams involved: SPIE Batignolles TPCI, Danieli (crane contractor), Currie & Brown (engineering), Apave (health and safety protection), ITER India and the ITER Organization. Larsen & Toubro is thankful to all of these teams for their role in achieving this feat."
PPPL provides insight to how magnetic reconnection energizes plasma particles
18 Sep 2014
The process of magnetic field line reconnection, in which the magnetic field lines in a plasma snap apart and violently reconnect, transforms magnetic field energy into particle energy. Little was known about this phenomenon that is known most prominently in the form of solar flares on the surface of the sun. The subsequent geomagnetic storms on earth have demonstrated how much energy can be released by magnetic reconnection.
In the research conducted on the Magnetic Reconnection Experiment (MRX) at PPPL, scientists measured experimentally the amount of magnetic energy that turns into particle energy. They showed that reconnection converts about 50 percent of the magnetic energy in the plasma, with one-third of the conversion heating the electrons and two-thirds accelerating the ions.
The findings also suggested the process by which the energy conversion occurs. According to the researchers, reconnection first propels and energizes the electrons, which creates an electrically charged field that becomes the primary energy source for the ions.
A weird type of 'hybrid' star has been discovered nearly 40 years since it was first theorized — but until now has been curiously difficult to find.
In 1975, renowned astrophysicists Kip Thorne, of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena, Calif., and Anna Żytkow, of the University of Cambridge, UK, assembled a theory on how a large dying star could swallow its neutron star binary partner, thus becoming a very rare type of stellar hybrid, nicknamed a Thorne-Żytkow object (or TŻO). The neutron star — a dense husk of degenerate matter that was once a massive star long since gone supernova — would spiral into the red supergiant's core, interrupting normal fusion processes.
Read more here. Access the scientific article here
Wendelstein 7-X on track for first plasma in 2015
16 Sep 2014
After a decade of construction, the Wendelstein 7-X experiment (W7-X) is now its commissioning phase. Work is underway to install plasma-facing components and some of the in-components of the diagnostics.
A first, three-month operation period is planned in 2015.
Find out all the detail of the first plasmas planned in the latest issue of the Wendelstein 7-X newsletter here.
ITER's Arnaud Devred receives IEEE award
15 Sep 2014
On 11 August, during the opening session of this year's Applied Superconductivity Conference in Charlotte, North Carolina (US), ITER's Arnaud Devred received the IEEE award "for continuing and significant contributions in the field of applied superconductivity."
"I am indebted to many people, who have inspired me and made me the person I am today," said the head of the ITER Superconductor Systems & Auxiliaries Section in his acceptance speech. "One of my greatest privileges—and rewards—is that throughout my carrier I have been able to meet and work with great people. First in Europe, then in the US and Japan, and now from all around the world. Therefore, I would like to share this award with my numerous collaborators in China, Europe, Japan, Korea, Russia and the United States, and, in these times of heightened political tensions, it is my wish that we can keep working together in the same open and peaceful manner—our little contribution to making the world a better place to be."
Latest ITER Games draw close to 250 competitors
15 Sep 2014
Last Saturday 13 September, the fourth edition of the ITER Games attracted a crowd of close to 250 competitors and their supporters for an all-day sports event including football and tennis competitions, a cross-country run, a kayak race and a petanque tournament. For the participants—people working for the ITER Project, club members from the local sports associations, and their families—this was another opportunity to meet, compete and share ... all ways to strengthen ties between ITER and its environment. (Photo AIF-AP)
FuseNet PhD Event in November
15 Sep 2014
This year's FuseNet PhD Event will take place on 18—20 November in Lisbon, Portugal.
Organized by the University of Lisbon under the umbrella of the FuseNet Association and with the financial support of EUROfusion, the PhD Event brings together PhD students working in the field of fusion science and engineering. The aim of the event is to enable students to disseminate their research, develop a network of contacts and learn from each other's experiences.
The Event is open to all PhD students involved with research in nuclear fusion research and who are registered at a European university or a FuseNet member university.
The deadline for applications is 15 October 2014 (financial support is available). More information on the event and the application procedure can be found on the FuseNet website.
Read the latest news from the IPFN fusion institute in Portugal
11 Sep 2014
The latest newsletter from the IPFN Institute in Portugal (Instituto de Plasmas e Fusão Nuclear) is available here.
World's largest metals research consortium to be established with EUR 1bn funding
11 Sep 2014
The world's largest research consortium in the field of metals research and manufacturing is to be created by European industry in the form of Metallurgy Europe. The R&D program has recently been selected as a new Eureka Cluster and will bring together over 170 companies and laboratories from across 20 countries. Funding for the project has been stated as EUR 1 billion over seven years.
The European Powder Metallurgy Association and a number of other European organizations such as the European Space Agency (ESA), European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, the Institut Laue-Langevin and the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy are reported to be providing their expertise and innovation to this initiative.
Hutch Neilson in Germany to pave way for US participation in Wendelstein 7-X
10 Sep 2014
Hutch Neilson, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory's (PPPL's) head of Advanced Projects, is saying "auf wiedersehen" to the lab for the next nine months as he travels to Greifswald, Germany, where he will be paving the way for future US researchers to participate on the Wendelstein 7-X (W7-X) program as the experiment begins preparing for operations next year.
David Gates, a principal research physicist and the stellarator physics leader at PPPL, will be serving as Interim Head of Advanced Projects in Neilson's absence.
Neilson's new position comes after the US Department of Energy and the European Atomic Energy Commission signed an agreement in June establishing a long-term partnership with the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP) and PPPL, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Los Alamos National Laboratory. The agreement names PPPL as the lead institute for the US collaboration on the W7-X.
Monster Machines: What the future of nuclear fusion research looked like in 1962
09 Sep 2014
At the onset of the atomic age, governments on both sides of the iron curtain sought to harness the power of nuclear fusion. Researchers at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory in New Jersey stood at the forefront of the American effort when, in 1953, they began using Stellarators — one of the earliest controlled fusion systems.
Early fusion research in the western world nearly immediately split into two halves after the end of WWII, with one subset of researchers observing super-compressed fusion materials at very short timescales, the others — including Dr. Lyman Spitzer, chair of the Department of Astronomy at Princeton University — observing these materials at a lower compression for longer times. Spitzer's invention served this purpose wonderfully. The Stellarator that Spitzer invented in 1950 is designed to hold superheated, electrically-charged plasma — a most vital and basic component of nuclear fusion research — within a designated field using electromagnetic currents.
Ed Moses appointed president of the Giant Magellan Telescope Organization
04 Sep 2014
Ed Moses, a longtime scientific leader at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, has been appointed by the Giant Magellan Telescope Organization (GMTO) as president of their organization, effective 2 October 2014.
"Ed is ideally positioned and qualified for this scientific leadership role," Goldstein said. "He is an expert in laser science, optical systems, technology development, systems engineering and project leadership and management. Ed has played key roles in major LLNL programs over the last 35 years including Atomic Vapor Laser Isotope Separation, Peregrine, the National Ignition Facility and the National Ignition Campaign."
"He also was responsible for building several major science and DOD work-for-other programs," Goldstein said. "Ed is an international leader in fusion energy science and applications. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and member of many other professional societies, and a winner of a broad spectrum of prestigious awards."
Underground experiment confirms what powers the sun
03 Sep 2014
Scientists have long believed that the power of the sun comes largely from the fusion of protons into helium, but now they can finally prove it. An international team of researchers using a detector buried deep below the mountains of central Italy has detected neutrinos—ghostly particles that interact only very reluctantly with matter—streaming from the heart of the sun. Other solar neutrinos have been detected before, but these particular ones come from the key proton-proton fusion reaction that is the first part of a chain of reactions that provides 99% of the sun's power.
The results also show that the sun is a remarkably steady power source. Neutrinos take only 8 minutes to get from the sun's core to Earth, so the rate of neutrino production that the team detected reflects the amount of heat the sun is producing today. It just so happens that this is the same as the amount of energy now being radiated from the sun's surface, even though those photons have taken 100,000 years to work their way from the core to the surface. Hence, the sun's energy production hasn't changed in 100 millennia. "This is direct proof of the stability of the sun over the past 100,000 years or so," says team member Andrea Pocar of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
NSTX fusion reactor at Princeton will be operational again after $94 M upgrade
03 Sep 2014
Tucked away from major roadways and nestled amid more than 80 acres of forest sits a massive warehouse-like building where inside, a device that can produce temperatures hotter than the sun has sat cold and quiet for more than two years.
But the wait is almost over for the nuclear fusion reactor to get back up and running at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory.
"We're very excited and we're all anxious to turn that machine back on," said Adam Cohen, deputy director for operations at PPPL.
The National Spherical Torus Experiment (NSTX) has been shut down since 2012 as it underwent a $94 million upgrade that will make it what officials say will be the most powerful fusion facility of its kind in the world. It is expected to be ready for operations in late winter or early spring, Cohen said.
The upgrade (NSTX-U) will essentially double the power of the reactor by increasing the heat, electrical current and magnetic field. A second [device] that helps heat the plasma was added, and the center magnet, which resembles the core of an apple, was rebuilt to create a stronger magnetic field.
"We may reach several hundred million degrees Celsius in the new machine," said Masa Ono, a research physicist and head of the NSTX department.
Access the full story, image gallery and video interview at nj.com.
ITER Director-General gets update on Broader Approach
31 Aug 2014
In Rokkasho, on the eastern coastline of Japan, Europe and Japan are jointly carrying out advanced R&D activities in support of ITER and for successful development of the phases after ITER. Termed the "Broader Approach," these efforts have been underway since 2007.
In early August, the Director-General of the ITER Organization, Osamu Motojima, and ITER Council Secretary, Sachiko Ishizaka, visited Rokkasho for an update on Broader Approach activities and to share information about progress at ITER.
The activities of the Broader Approach are essential for the phases after ITER in the world fusion program. One project, IFMIF/EVEDA, is validating the concept for a fusion-relevant neutron source based on Li(d,xn) reactions and will permit the rapid construction of such a facility within cost and schedule less than a decade from the time that a decision is taken. Another—IFERC—not only holds a supercomputer that dedicated to plasma simulations for the world fusion community (Helios), but is also implementing research efforts towards a (post-ITER) DEMO reactor.
After visiting the facilities—including the injector of LIPAc, the Linear IFMIF Prototype Accelerator (LIPAc) that is presently under installation and commissioning—the visitors from ITER were able to appreciate the sound advancements and robust health of the Broader Approach projects.
Photo caption: After meeting the management of the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, ITER Director-General Motojima (second from left) gave a seminar to Broader Approach staff on the evolution of ITER. Juan Knaster, Project Leader of IFMIF/EVEDA (far left) and Noriyoshi Nakajima (not pictured), Project Leader of IFERC, explained the status of their respective projects and plans for the future. Council Secretary Sachiko Ishizaka is pictured fifth from right. Kenkichi Ushigusa, Director-General of Rokkasho Fusion Institute (JAEA) is pictured third from right.
Fusion reactor at the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab will be operational again after $94 M upgrade
29 Aug 2014
Princeton - Tucked away from major roadways and nestled amid more than 80 acres of forest sits a massive warehouse-like building where inside, a device that can produce temperatures hotter than the sun has sat cold and quiet for more than two years.
But the wait is almost over for the nuclear fusion reactor to get back up and running at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory.
"We're very excited and we're all anxious to turn that machine back on," said Adam Cohen, deputy director for operations at PPPL.
The National Spherical Torus Experiment (NSTX) has been shut down since 2012 as it underwent a $94 million upgrade that will make it what officials say will be the most powerful fusion facility of its kind in the world. It is expected to be ready for operations in late winter or early spring, Cohen said.
Four crates containing parts of an ITER electrical transformer (high voltage surge arresters) left the port of New York on 5 August; delivery to the ITER site in France is expected late September. The components were manufactured by ABB in Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania.
Figuring out the way to make really clean energy
24 Aug 2014
FOR years, scientists just down the road from Oxford have been quietly working at the forefront of a project that could change the world.
But fusion power is the best invention you have probably never heard of.
That may sound like a bold claim, but Prof Steve Cowley, chief executive officer of the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy, is convinced that it is the only solution to a fast-approacing world energy crisis.
He has been working at the science centre since 2008, but the project — the Joint European Torus (JET) — has been under way since 1982. Its aim: to create the conditions of a star on the Earth, producing clean, cheap energy for us to power our televisions, kettles and lightbulbs.
Culham Center for Fusion Energy, in a consortium with UK universities and Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, is developing a concept for a large neutron source to test materials for future fusion power plants including the proposed prototype, DEMO, that will follow the ITER project.
If approved, the FAFNIR project would give the designers of DEMO crucial data on materials with which to build the machine. It would also serve as a bridge to the planned International Fusion Materials Irradiation Facility (IFMIF), which is expected to play a similar role for the first generation of commercial fusion reactors.
Fusion scientists and engineers are increasingly focusing on materials research as attention turns to designs for reactors that will put power on the electricity grid. The extremely fast neutrons produced by fusion reactions in tokamaks carry an energy of 14 million electron volts (MeV) — about 70 times more than photons in hospital x-ray equipment — and pose a threat to the tokamak's structures. The neutrons cause damage within the structure of the material which leads to swelling through the creation of voids. Effects such as embrittlement and hardening of the metal caused by accumulation of helium and hydrogen gases produced by transmutation (transformation of one element into another) mean that special materials must be developed that can stay the course throughout the reactor's lifespan. As a result of transmutations caused by the neutrons, radioactive elements are produced within the tokamak components, so choosing materials that will shed their radioactivity quickly is another priority for safe decommissioning.
Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX)'s opening statement at the Subcommittee on Energy
21 Jul 2014
Last week the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology's Subcommittee on Energy held a hearing to discuss the progress and future of the ITER international fusion project.
When Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) delivered her opening statement, she affirmed her confidence in Nuclear Fusion. "Nuclear Fusion has the potential to provide the world with clean safe and practically inexhaustible source of energy. Producing reliable electric power from fusion would undoubtedly serve as one of the biggest and most important scientific achievements on the history of mankind''.
She also confirmed her support in the ITER Project: ''That is why I am so supportive of a strong research program that can help us overcome the remaining scientific and engineering challenges for this potential to become a reality. The ITER project is the next and largest step towards this goal''.
Scientists recreate core conditions on Jupiter, Saturn using lasers
21 Jul 2014
Scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) found a way to compress a diamond, mimicking conditions in the cores of planets like Jupiter and Saturn.
Working alongside researchers from the Princeton University and University of California, Berkeley, LLNL scientists used the world's largest laser known as the U.S. National Ignition Facility (NIF) to achieve what they set out to do. Actually, it was 176 lasers coming together as one to compress a diamond to 50 million times the atmospheric pressure of the Earth or 14 times of the planet's core. The air above you is equivalent to one atmosphere. The NIF has a total of 192 lasers.
Diamonds are chosen for the experiment because these are made from carbon and carbon is the fourth most abundant of the elements in the universe. They are the hardest material known to man but it took no more than 10 billionths of a second to vaporize a piece with the help of the NIF. Despite the lack of an end-product that can be further observed, the experiment is helpful because it has shown that it is possible to study the behavior of planets rich in carbon, as well as stars and exoplanets beyond the Milky Way.
"The experimental techniques developed here provide a new capability to experimentally reproduce pressure-temperature conditions deep in planetary interiors," said LLNL physicist and lead author for the study, Ray Smith.
There is a mantra in the fund-raising world: big donors like to support big ideas. And ideas do not come much larger than at CERN, Europe's particle-physics laboratory near Geneva in Switzerland. Now the organization — which uses its particle smasher to probe the fundamental structure of the Universe — has registered a charitable foundation to raise funds for its educational, technology-transfer and arts activities.
CERN is not the only big institution to go after donations to fund projects that fall outside the core research remit. The trend is on the rise among large European research organizations. The European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, Germany, is shifting its fund-raising focus from industry sponsorship to private donations. And ITER, the international nuclear-fusion experiment being built in Cadarache, France, is devising a way to deal with the offers of donations that it already receives. What nobody yet knows is the fruit these efforts will bear — whether individuals really want to donate heftily to scientific charities that are not focused on medical solutions.
For CERN, there is no better time to form a charitable foundation, says Matteo Castoldi, head of its development office. CERN's Large Hadron Collider, and the discovery of the Higgs boson, has "captured the public imagination" as much as the Apollo missions did in the 1960s, he says. The organization is already taking advantage of this, "but there is much more we could do, and that's where the foundation comes in". (...)
CERN director-general Rolf-Dieter Heuer stresses that such funding will not replace the institute's core budget, paid for by member states. Instead, the proceeds are aimed at activities that this funding cannot stretch to: school projects, the development of medical spin-offs such as proton therapy (the use of proton beams to kill cancer cells), and meeting the huge demand for general-interest and science-related visits. But if a donor has an explicit desire for their gift to go towards research, CERN would consider this, adds Heuer.
The National Fusion Research Institute of Korea has just published the latest issue of their magazine Fusion Now, with a long article on the ITER International Business Forum that brought together 220 industrial participants in Seoul on 2-4 July.
New video on toroidal field coil manufacturing
16 Jul 2014
A new video released this month by the European Domestic Agency takes us to the heart of the toroidal field coil manufacturing process. At the ASG Superconductor facility in La Spezia, Italy, a prototype double pancake—the building block of the seven-layer toroidal field coils—has now been through all of the stages of manufacturing, from winding to laser welding. The camera guides us all along the process, from station to station, with close up shots of the technologies involved.
You can view the video here or visit the European Domestic Agency website for more information.
Change at the helm of the JT-60 Super Advanced tokamak project
14 Jul 2014
On 1 July 2014 Hiroshi Shirai took over from Shinichi Ishida as project leader of the Satellite Tokamak Programme project in Japan—JT-60SA.
As a project conducted under the Broader Approach Agreement between Europe and Japan, the Satellite Tokamak Programme is upgrading the JT-60U tokamak in Naka, Japan to the advanced superconducting tokamak JT-60SA, re-employing the site buildings, auxiliaries, neutral beams, and some power supplies to support the exploitation of ITER and to promote research and development towards the next-stage device, DEMO.
Hiroshi Shirai was the group leader of the ITER Project Promotion Group in the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) Tokyo office from 2007 to March 2014. In 2012 and 2013 he was the chairman of the ITER Council Preparatory Working Group (CPWG) and also took on the role of Broader Approach Steering Committee Secretariat from June 2007 to October 2011.
Trained as a theoretical plasma physicist, he has been away from Naka for more than ten years. "Some aspects of R&D activities have changed significantly during this period: JT-60 was shut down and dismantled, and then the JT-60SA project started up quickly and is now in the assembly phase. I will have to catch up with the ongoing activities here in a short time. Thanks to the assistance of the Project Team members I am accommodating myself to the new work environment. Coordinating to keep the schedule of this project is quite a demanding task, but the Project Team and I are dedicated to fulfilling our responsibilities."
Shinichi Ishida, JT-60SA project leader since 2007, recalled on his departure the problems of the early years "The project had developed significant problems in terms of cost, schedule, performance and management due to very limited human resources. But we achieved a consensus that only a clear and common mission could hold an organization together as a single team and enable it to produce results." During his time in office the project placed almost all the procurement arrangements of JT-60SA. Mr Ishida will continue to support the project from his new role at the JAEA Naka site in coordination for the management of fusion R&D, including the ITER Project and Broader Approach activities.
For more information, please see the JT-60SA newsletter.
ITER discussed at US House of Representatives subcommitee
14 Jul 2014
On Friday 11 July, the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology's Subcommittee on Energy held a hearing to discuss the progress and future of the ITER international fusion project. The US joined the European Union (EU), India, Japan, China, Korea, and Russia to form the ITER Organization, with each country providing resources, personnel, and expertise to move the project forward.
Ranking Member Eric Swalwell (D-CA) of the Energy Subcommittee said in his opening statement, "Given the critical importance of ITER to determining the viability of fusion as a clean energy source, and the major contributions of US researchers to advancing the science and engineering of the field to this point, I maintain strong support for this project along with the other key components of the broader US-based fusion research program. However, this does not mean we can support an unconditional blank check. The US must maintain vigorous oversight and use every means available with our international partners to contain cost and schedule, all while keeping an unwavering focus on achieving the project's incredibly important goals for our and the world's energy future."
Australian Plasma Fusion Research Facility launched
14 Jul 2014
The search for star power — fusion — has received a major boost with the launch of the Australian Plasma Fusion Research Facility (APFRF) at The Australian National University.
The facility includes Australia's largest fusion experiment, the newly upgraded H1, which will now be able to heat fusion experiments to temperatures hotter than the core of the sun.
The facility also includes a new machine, MagPIE, which will accelerate research into extreme materials to be used in future experiments involving even higher temperatures and radiation levels.
Senator Zed Seselja pressed the button to initiate a 30,000 degrees Celsius fusion experiment in H1 to conclude the launch. "This facility and its fine team have a reputation for world-class innovation and research excellence," Senator Seselja said.
"ITER's design hinges on experiments being carried out in experiments around the world, such as the Plasma Fusion Research Facility at ANU," said the Director General of ITER, Osamu Motojima.
Dr Adi Paterson, CEO of ANSTO, said the choice of materials for use in ITER is an active research area, to which MagPIE is already contributing, in collaboration with ANSTO (Australia's national nuclear research and development organisation), which part funded the project.
"Power plant fusion plasmas present an extreme materials challenge. This facility helps us to test whether prototype new materials can withstand the heat flux damage inflicted by a fusion plasma," Dr Paterson said.
At the same event a five-year plan for fusion research was launched laying out pathways to Australian ITER involvement and enhancements to national experimental fusion science capabilities.
The upgrade to H1 was made possible through a Commonwealth investment of $7.9 million from the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Scheme (NCRIS) and associated programs.
Read more about ANU and its Plasma Fusion Research Facility here.
Russia concludes signatures on two ITER diagnostics
14 Jul 2014
Two additional Complementary Diagnostic Procurement Arrangements were concluded in Russia on 10 July for the delivery of diagnostic systems to ITER. Russian Domestic Agency head Anatoly Krasilnikov signed the documents in the presence of ITER Diagnostics Division head Michael Walsh, who told the Russian staff members and supplier representatives present that "without diagnostics we won't see anything in ITER. Diagnostics are the machine's eyes and ears."
In the scope of its commitments to ITER, Russia will manufacture 9 out of the 45 planned diagnostic systems. The latest signatures covered Edge Charge Exchange Recombination Spectroscopy and the H-Alpha diagnostic—both highly sophisticated technical devices designed for the measurement of various plasma parameters.
--Alex Petrov, ITER Russia
EUR 283 million contract to operate JET
09 Jul 2014
A major EUR 283 million contract has been signed between the European Commission and the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE) that enables CCFE to continue to operate JET—for use by the EUROfusion consortium of European fusion research laboratories—until the end of 2018.
CCFE has been operating JET, Europe's largest fusion energy experiment, for fusion scientists around the continent since 2000. But the new agreement represents the largest-ever single contract to be awarded to CCFE and gives Culham and the European fusion program unprecedented security of funding for five years. This enables future experimental programs and further upgrades to JET to be planned with confidence and secures its position as a science and engineering test bed for its international successor ITER, under construction in France.
CCFE Director Steve Cowley is delighted with the agreement on the contract: "This is great news for the highly-skilled CCFE staff who work on JET and for the European fusion program. We are determined to make the most of this investment and push JET towards ever-improving performance in the years to come."
See also "JET operation secured until 2018" on the EFDA/JET website.
ITER Progress in Pictures
09 Jul 2014
Aerial views of the ITER platform, close-ups of the steel reinforcement in the Tokamak Seismic Pit, reportage-like images of pouring operations and component manufacturing... nothing illustrates the progress of the ITER Project better than photographs.
These pictures—some which have appeared in the publications ITERNewsline and ITER Mag and others that you'll be discovering for the first time—have been assembled in a 45-page photo book titled ITER, Progress in Pictures.
This new ITER communication tool will be updated at least once a year. A pdf version is available here or in the Miscellaneous section of the ITER website's Publication Centre.
Russian toroidal field conductor deliveries reach half-way point
07 Jul 2014
Three toroidal field conductor lengths left the Kurchatov Institute near Moscow, Russia for the ASG Superconductor plant in La Spezia, Italy on Friday 4 July. This delivery marks the halfway point in the shipment of Russian toroidal field conductor production lengths to the European winding facility.
Following this latest shipment (two 760-metre unit lengths and one 415-metre unit length), 14 unit lengths of toroidal field conductor remain to be delivered under the terms of the Procurement Arrangement signed between the ITER Organization and ITER Russia.
July issue of F4E news
04 Jul 2014
The latest issue of the European Domestic Agency's newsletter, F4ENews, has just been released. You can consult it here.
ITER Business Forum opens in Seoul
03 Jul 2014
The ITER Business Forum opened on 2 July in Seoul attended by 220 representatives of 122 companies from the seven member states of the ITER project.
In his video address (pictured) ITER Director-General Osamu Motojima stressed the "essential part" that industry plays in the ITER Project. "And by 'industry' I mean all industry," he said, "not only the large international companies that are familiar with big projects, but also the small and medium-sized firms that drive economic growth and technological innovation in most countries today."
The ITER Business Forum continues until 4 July, with thematic sessions on the different ITER components and plant systems and presentations from industry.
ITER worksite: 2014 milestones
02 Jul 2014
A number of building projects will be kicking off on the ITER site in the months to come.
In this video, Laurent Schmieder, Site, Buildings and Power Supplies Project Manager for the European Domestic Agency, explains the different types of works that are planned, and how the construction of the Tokamak Complex and a number of surrounding buildings will get underway simultaneously, and the challenge of organizing such a busy worksite.
After 60 years of fusion research, are we any closer?
This was the question asked during a 90-minute episode of the US science series "NEXT: People | Science | Tomorrow" (KPCC Southern California Public Radio) that aired on 30 June.
Guests William W. Heidbrink, professor of physics and astronomy in the School of Physical Sciences at the University of California, Irvine; John Parmentola, senior vice president of General Atomics' Energy and Advanced Concepts Group; and Ned R. Sauthoff, director of the US ITER Project Office, Oak Ridge National Laboratory joined host Mat Kaplan for a tour of fusion science, the ITER Project and the outlook for fusion energy.
The clouds cleared up in time to welcome three distinguished members of the South Korea's National Assembly on 25 June 2014. Hae Ja Park, Sye-kyun Chung, and Young Kyo Seo were accompanied by the head of the Korean Domestic Agency for ITER, Kijung Jung. They were warmly welcomed by ITER Director-General Motojima who presented the current status of the ITER Project before they headed out onto the construction site for a visit.
At the end of the visit, Sye-kyun Chung remarked how impressive the project is and how, "in the long term, this project will be very helpful for all of humanity."
Report urges Alberta to prepare for fusion energy
26 Jun 2014
Learning to harness fusion in a controlled way — recreating the sun on earth, as a clean source of energy — is the objective of national programs in Asia, Europe and the USA. And the race is heating up, with several quite promising options.
According to Professor Allan Offenberger "A sustained fusion burn is no longer an academic dream but will be realized in the near future."
Dr. Offenberger, on behalf of the Alberta Council of Technologies Society (ABCtech), led an assessment team on visits to the major programs around the world last year. As part of the assessment, the Society also entertained Alberta energy leaders in workshops in Calgary and Edmonton and invited international fusion researchers to report on progress at a Forum co-hosted with Alberta Energy at Alberta Innovates last fall.
Included in the Report — and found favourable — was an assessment of the merit of employing fusion energy in oil sands extraction. "Fusion ignition generates heat that would reduce the need for vast quantities of natural gas in oil sands extraction," notes Dr. Robert Fedosejevs, from the Engineering Faculty at the University of Alberta, who also participated on the assessment team.
V. Putin talks with Kurchatov's director M. Kovalchuk
25 Jun 2014
Russia's President Vladimir Putin met with Director of the National Research Centre Kurchatov Institute Mikhail Kovalchuk.
Mr Kovalchuk briefed the President about the results of implementing a state program for developing the Kurchatov Institute.
PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA VLADIMIR PUTIN: Mr Kovalchuk, four years ago, you proposed a development program for the Kurchatov Institute. The Kurchatov Institute is one of the leading research institutions working in nuclear physics, if not the leading institution. And you have received six billion each year with the goal of development?
DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL RESEARCH CENTRE KURCHATOV INSTITUTE MIKHAIL KOVALCHUK: Yes, that was the amount.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I know that the program is about to conclude, and I would like to hear about the results we have reached. Moreover, I know you are currently working on the next program.
MIKHAIL KOVALCHUK: Mr President, I would like to report to you about the most significant results reached while implementing the program launched on your initiative and the most important results that are significant for our nation's economy.
Ever been curious about how a Tokamak works? Or how it creates energy? Thanks to the new app Operation Tokamak from EFDA (available in IOS and Android), you can operate a Tokamak from the comfort of your own couch. Chose your level, slowly heat the plasma, and create energy—shooting all the while at magnetic islands in order to keep the plasma going. Though the app has been simplified from a working Tokamak, you can still get a good sense of the magnitiude of a real fusion reactor.
Oxford Innovation is pleased to announce a new team at Culham Innovation Centre with the appointment of Sandie Alcock as centre manager and David Roberts as assistant centre manager.
Following the announcement of the City Deal earlier this year which will see significant investment in Culham and the surrounding area, the team have been tasked with increasing the centre's occupancy levels by providing science and technology start-ups and SMEs with flexible office solutions to help them grow.
Centre manager, Sandie Alcock, joins Oxford Innovation from Oxford Community School with a strong background in operations management gained in a range of public sector roles working closely with schools, local councils and the community.
Since being in her role, Ms Alcock has already made her first appointment with David Roberts as assistant centre manager. Mr Roberts was previously Duty Manager at Eynsham Hall and is due to graduate from Cardiff University with a law degree later this year.
Culham Innovation Centre is already home to a number of high profile and interesting organisations including Reaction Engines Ltd who has made a major breakthrough in aerospace energy that is now allowing the development of engines that will propel aircrafts of up to five times the speed of sound.
Read the Culham Innovation Centre's press release here.
Europe's E-ELT blast marks first step in new science mega-project
23 Jun 2014
Construction of the European Extremely Large Telescope has officially begun in the Atacama desert in Chile, marking the first step in a true mega-project that could offer us answers to some of the most profound questions in science.
The event this week, the blasting of the top of Cerro Armazones — 3,000 metres high until Thursday, a few less now — was far less dramatic than many of the onlookers at the European Southern Observatory's Paranal facility 25 kilometres away had hoped for, but it was a significant first step in taking the E-ELT from the drawing board to reality.
The function of the blast was to loosen many thousands of tons of rock from the summit in order for the earth movers to begin clearing a flat, circular area for the foundations of the telescope. This really is just the first small step in a massively ambitious project to build the E-ELT that will take at least a decade to finish.
The science case for the E-ELT is quite easy to make, even to non-astronomers. While some of the great telescopes now in space and on the ground are designed to observe technical subjects such as the geometry of galaxies or the formation of stars, the E-ELT pitches itself as the telescope that will allow us to directly look at other planets around other stars.
The E-ELT science team reckon they have a good chance of being the first to directly observe little blue dots like Earth, if they exist.
The World Cup is an opportunity to take a look at how popular football games affect JET's experimental schedule: JET's peak power demand is over one percent of the UK supply — albeit for very short periods — so the supply from the grid is limited to 575 megawatts, and JET's two flywheels are used to top up if necessary. But at some times, JET is not allowed to take any power from the grid at all.
This happens when there are other major energy consuming events — such as halftime in a major football final, or in the ad-breaks in a popular TV show — times at which millions of people will switch on the kettle or go to the toilet, which creates an electrical load on the water pumping system. In fact JET power supply engineers are in regular contact with the grid, who advise every day the times at which pulses should be avoided — for example the fifteen to twenty minutes around sunset when lots of people turn on their lights.
The engineers also monitor the frequency of the electricity supplied by the grid throughout the day: if the frequency falls much below the regulation 50 Hz they know the grid is under load and so they will recommend to the Engineer In Charge that pulses not be run.
Nine years into one: the time-lapse video of Wendelstein 7-X assembly
19 Jun 2014
In this three-minute time-lapse video, nine years of Wendelstein 7-X assembly (2005 to 2014) are condensed into three-minutes. The fusion device at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics, in Germany, comprises five large and almost identical modules that were pre-installed and then assembled in a circle in the experimentation hall. Pump-down of the machine began in May.
Read more about Wendelstein 7-X on the IPP website.
Important progress for JT-60SA
19 Jun 2014
See the progress of the JT-60SA project — one of the three projects being developed under the Broader Approach Agreement — in this new clip filmed on-site in Naka, Japan. The clip shows that the six year assembly of JT-60SA is moving forward: the heart of the machine, the vacuum vessel, is now being built.
Implemented by the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) and the European Domestic Agency for ITER, F4E, the advanced superconducting JT-60SA (super advanced) tokamak will be used to quickly identify how to optimize plasma performance for ITER and will study advanced modes of plasma operation suitable for DEMO. A first plasma is foreseen for March 2019.
ITER catalyzes the development of superconducting technology in Russia
12 Jun 2014
The ITER Project was represented at a recent roundtable in Russia that reunited the State Duma (the lower chamber of the Russian Parliament), the Public Chamber, the state corporation Rosatom, the Kurchatov Institute, the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Federal Energy Service Company FSUE, and leading specialists from the fields of superconductivity and energy.
Organized on 6 June 2014 to address the current status and development prospects of applied heavy-current superconductivity in Russia, the forum aimed to create a common understanding of the potential and the challenges of the field.
The ITER Project was represented by the director of ITER Russia, Anatoly Krasilnikov, who stressed that participation in the project has catalyzed the development of superconducting technology in Russia. A superconducting strand production line was created from scratch at the Chepetsky Mechanical Plant (Glazov, Udmurt Republic) and - thanks to the cooperation between some of the country's leading industries - Russian superconductor for ITER matches the highest world standards.
The following Russian institutes and industries are collaborating to fulfil Russia's procurement to ITER: the Chepetsky Mechanical Plant (strand manufacturing); the Bochvar Institute (strand verification); JSC VNIIKP (cabling); Institute for High Energy Physics (jacketing); and the Kurchatov Institute (global leak test and the mechanical testing of jacketing material). All deliveries of Russian conductor lengths for ITER's toroidal field and poloidal field magnet systems should be completed in 2015.
- Alex Petrov, ITER Russia
Russian documentary on ITER wins prize
10 Jun 2014
A 25-minute documentary in English on the ITER Project produced by Technology Update (Russia Today) won the bronze world medal at an international film festival in New York City this spring.
Produced back in October 2013, "Way to New Energy" traces the origins of ITER, fusion and the tokamak, taking the viewer to Moscow, Marseille, and Saint Paul-lez-Durance, France as the story unfolds.
Vitali Dmitrievich Shafranov passed away on 9 June 2014 in Moscow.
V.D. Shafranov was an outstanding physicist, world-recognized leader in the theory of confinement, equilibrium and stability of toroidal magnetic systems, and one of the principal founders of modern plasma physics and magnetic fusion research.
During the Second World War he worked with his father on road construction and received his first government award in 1943 at the age of 14. He graduated school with a gold medal in 1946. After graduation from Moscow state university in 1951 he started his scientific career at LIPAN (part of the future Kurchatov Institute) in the department of Academician Mikhail Leontovich. He published his first paper on the stability of soft wire in parallel magnetic field together with M. Leontovich in 1952.
Three of his most important pioneering results are:
1) An equation describing plasma equilibrium in axisymmetric magnetic field (Shafranov-Grad, 1956)
2) An equation for the Shafranov shift of magnetic surfaces with respect to tokamak magnetic axis
3) Shafranov-Kruscal criterium of plasma stability with respect to helical kink modes (1953)
Beginning 1981 he was the member-correspondent of the USSR Academy of Science and in 1997 he became an Academician of the Russian Academy of Science.
Academician V. D. Shafranov is the author of more than 200 scientific publications. For over 20 years he was the head of the Plasma Theory Department at the Kurchatov Institute. He was also chief editor of Plasma Physics Reports and editor of the Review of Plasma Physics for over 25 years.
His colleagues remember his modesty to colleagues and the great attention he paid to their every concern.
Vitali Dmitrievich Shafranov
01.12.1929 — 09.06.2014
Fusion energy explained
10 Jun 2014
Fusion energy could change the planet. But what is it and why don't we have it?
Physicists Andrew Zwicker, Arturo Dominguez and Stefan Gerhardt explain how fusion energy could be a gamechanger for the world's energy problems.
You can either play the video to learn about fusion, or play with the simulations to make fusion!
Click here to watch this eight-minute video produced in partnership with the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory.
MIT at center of political power play
09 Jun 2014
CAMBRIDGE — Senator Elizabeth Warren placed her hand atop a large red button and pressed firmly, restarting a nuclear experiment that MIT believes could help save the planet — but which the Obama administration considered superfluous and tried to kill year after year.
More than 100 scientists, engineers, and technicians — most of whom had, until recently, been under layoff notices — had gathered on campus that cold February day, their eyes glued to the three projection screens hanging from the front of the control room.
Then as superhot plasma inside the fusion reactor next door reached its metal walls, a flash of light appeared on one of the screens. The grand energy experiment had throbbed back to life.
Selecting material and technology for the port plug gaskets
04 Jun 2014
On the way to designing and constructing the ITER Port Plug Test Facility, the ongoing gasket test campaign at the Russian company Cryogenmash marks an important milestone.
Click here to view the video produced by ITER Russia.
Register now for the J-PARC Science Symposium in Japan
03 Jun 2014
The 2nd International Symposium on Science at J-PARC will be held from 12 to 15 July 2014 in Tsukuba (Ibaraki) Japan.
Hosted by the J-PARC Center (High Energy Accelerator Research Organization, KEK, and the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, JAEA), the symposium will cover the wide range of science programs at J-PARC including accelerator physics, particle and nuclear physics, and materials and life sciences.
Early bird registration is open through 16 June on the J-PARC 2014 website.
BBC World Service Discovery broadcasts a documentary on ITER
02 Jun 2014
ITER is the most complex experiment ever attempted on this planet. Its aim, to demonstrate that nuclear fusion, the power of the Sun, can give us pollution free energy that we can use for millions of years. But at the moment, it's still largely a vast building site in the Haut Provence of southern France ...
Roland Pease has been to Cadarache to see how work is progressing, and to hear of the hopes of the scientists who have dedicated their working lives to the dream.
Listen to the 30-minute documentary from the BBC World Service program Discoveryhere.
A shorter version of the documentary was also broadcast on the BBC World Service program The Science Hour (listen here at 36:20).
Sustainable nuclear energy for a new generation
02 Jun 2014
Scientist puts forward a sustainable energy plan where nuclear fuel is created using magnetic or laser fusion.
News accounts are coming in daily confirming that the reliance on fossil fuels for energy is adversely affecting the world we live in: the National Climate Assessment detailed how climate change is creating havoc with our planet today and lists the burning of fossil fuels as the predominate cause; two teams of scientists just reported the irreversible glacial collapse of an Antarctic ice sheet as a result of warming ocean temperatures; and California's record drought and heat are producing wildfires and driving up food prices. It is evident that we must invest in alternative methods of energy production as soon as possible.
Nuclear energy produces carbon free energy, and is responsible for 13% of the world's electricity today, but fission-based reactors present environmental hazards and utilize less than 1% of the fuel. Nuclear fusion has held promise that the process will provide clean energy with a limitless supply of fuel. However, decades of research have not produced a viable nuclear fusion power plant. Is there another path forward?
In the June issue of the Journal of Fusion Energy, Dr. Wallace Manheimer has laid out a plan that would enable Fusion Breeding as a means to meet mid-century energy needs, based on the scientific underpinnings of current fusion technology and on current nuclear infrastructure. In this approach, a Fusion Reactor is designed to not only produce electricity, but also to create nuclear fuel that can run thermal nuclear reactors. A fusion breeder is about ten times as a prolific a fuel producer as a fission breeder, i.e. a fast neutron fission reactor such as the Integral Fast Reactor.
At Cadarache (south of France), the Institute for Magnetic Fusion Research (CEA/DSM/IRFM) is modifying the Tore Supra plasma facility to become a test platform open to all ITER partners : the WEST project (acronym derived from W Environment in Steady-state Tokamak, where W is the chemical symbol for tungsten).
The goal is to equip the tokamak with an actively cooled tungsten divertor, benefitting from its unique long pulse capabilities, its high level of additional power and the unique experience of operation with actively cooled components.
Read the latest news from the WEST project in the attached document.
ITER Day in Moscow: attracting the best minds
26 May 2014
On 21 May, directly after the regular class schedule, students, graduates and young scientists of the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology had the chance to meet representatives of the Russian Domestic Agency. The exchange was organized as part of ITER Day to inform Russia's future physicists about the international collaboration for fusion, progress in its implementation, and the ongoing activities in Russia carried out within its framework.
The head of the Russian Domestic Agency, Anatoly Krasilnikov, stressed that attraction of young scientists for fusion is based not only on the potential of the ITER Project, but also the national development program for the construction of a domestic fusion facility. "This is the decades-long project and we need highly qualified personnel to work for it!" ITER Russia is intensifying its activities to inform and attract the best minds.
During ITER Day, students heard about development work on a number of diagnostic systems for ITER (reflectometry, neutron diagnostics, optical systems) underway in Russian institutes where, the speakers stressed, employments opportunities exist.
Convoy passing through the Caronte Canal
23 May 2014
A six-kilometre-long channel, the Canal de Caronte, leads from the Mediterranean Gulf of Fos into the inland sea Étang de Berre. At its narrowest along the south shore of the island that encloses the old town of Martigues, its width does not exceed 25 metres.
On Monday 31 March, the barge carrying the 800-ton ITER test convoy deftly negotiated the canal and passed under the Martigues drawbridge, a spectacular sight that marks the entrance into the Étang de Berre.
Click here to watch a video of the passage produced by Agence Iter France.
Pulsing power into the machine
22 May 2014
ITER's Pulsed Power Electrical Network (PPEN) will supply alternating current (AC) power to the machine's superconducting coils and heating and current drive systems. The Chinese Domestic Agency has full responsibility for the procurement of this powerful system; recently Manufacturing Readiness Reviews held at three industrial suppliers proved the high standards of design carried out so far and the readiness of the detailed work plans and execution processes.
In the presence of a large number of Chinese experts as well as representatives from the ITER Organization, reviews were held on six system sub-packages in April. For the technical issues identified, a work schedule has been established. A major step forward toward manufacturing has been achieved for the PPEN, which will distribute up to 500 MW of continuous power during operational pulses.
European labs to design the fast-ion diagnostic for ITER
21 May 2014
The European Domestic Agency for ITER, Fusion for Energy, has signed a four-year Framework Partnership Agreement with a consortium formed by European research centres—DTU Denmark and IST-IPFN Portugal—for the development and design of the Collective Thompson Scattering diagnostic for ITER.
The primary objective of the Collective Thomson Scattering (CTS) diagnostic is to monitor fast ion behaviour across the plasma radius in seven locations. Fast ions are elusive particles that are a natural consequence of the fusion process and plasma heating techniques. Although they represent less than five percent of plasma density, fast ions carry up to one-third of the plasma's kinetic energy. Optimizing their confinement within the plasma is important as they play a major part in sustaining the high plasma temperatures required for fusion by colliding with—and transferring their energy to—the 'bulk' particles in the plasma.
However, fast ions behave unpredictably; while some remain within the magnetic field, others escape the plasma and reduce confinement, or 'cause mischief' by contributing their energy to and amplifying plasma disturbances.
The CTS diagnostic system will consist of mirrors and antennas integrated into one of the equatorial ports of the ITER machine. The upper antenna and mirrors will launch a powerful, single and high frequency microwave beam (1 MW at 60 GHz, equivalent to 1,000 microwave ovens at full power) into the plasma and record the scattered electromagnetic waves through the lower mirrors and receiver antennas. These measurements will allow scientists to establish the dynamics and distribution of the ions in the plasma—in particular the fast ions.
Every other year, Turkey organizes the International Conference on Superconductivity and Magnetism (ICSM). On 27 April-2 May, the fourth edition of the conference was held in Antalya, on the southwestern coast of the country, gathering more than 1,000 scientists from all over the world.
At the special opening plenary session on 27 April, after a welcome speech by Annette Bussmann-Holder from the Max Planck Institute for Solid State, the next speaker gave a recollection of his long experience researching oxides: Alexander Müller, who earned the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1987 with Georg Bednorz, had just celebrated his 87th birthday and recalled having participated in the 1958 Geneva conference where the concept of tokamak was first discussed outside Russia. He is also the co-author of a patent on spherical plasma confinement.
Arnaud Devred, ITER Superconductor Section Leader, had the privilege of speaking just after Alexander Müller. His general presentation on the ITER Project focused on the magnet systems and detailed the present status of manufacturing. "I sensed a real interest in ITER," he says, "particularly from Prof. Ali Gencer, who chaired the conference and is a strong promoter of the project in government circles."
UK discovery 'starts race' to turn light into matter
20 May 2014
Physicists have uncovered a surprisingly straightforward strategy for turning light into matter.
Visit the EFDA website to read the May issue of Fusion in Europe on line.
Article highlights include the latest news on the establishment of EUROfusion—the umbrella organization of European fusion research that will succeed EFDA; upgrade work on the Mega Amp Spherical Tokamak (MAST); this year's work program for JET, currently the largest functioning tokamak in the world; and news from some of the younger faces of fusion.
In this video, Prof. Predhiman Krishan Kaw, the former Director of the Institute for Plasma Research (IPR) in Gandhinagar, India, speaks about his life, research in plasma physics and ... ITER.
India and the historic global effort to find new energy
16 May 2014
The energy source for the future is being incubated in Gandhinagar. Scientists of the city-based Institute of Plasma Research (IPR) are contributing to the heart of the world's biggest tokamak fusion reactor, ITER.
India is contributing to building the cryostat and vacuum vessel, which is the heaviest and the largest part of the ITER reactor where the fusion will take place. This is the biggest scientific collaboration known to humankind and will produce unlimited supplies of cheap, clean, and safe energy from atomic fusion.
Preparations for the operation of Wendelstein 7-X starting at IPP Greifswald
16 May 2014
After years of calculation, planning, component production and installation, the Wendelstein 7-X project is now entering a new phase: in May the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP) in Greifswald, Germany began preparing for operation. Wendelstein 7-X will be the world's largest stellarator fusion device.
5 years, $2.5 million to explore hot edge of fusion plasmas
16 May 2014
Physicist Brian Grierson of the US Department of Energy's (DOE's) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) has won a highly competitive Early Career Research Program award sponsored by the DOE's Office of Science. The five-year grant will total some $2.5 million and fund exploration of the mechanisms that govern the formation and maintenance of the hot edge of fusion plasmas — the electrically charged gas that results in fusion reactions in facilities called tokamaks. The work will be carried out on the DIII-D National Fusion Facility in San Diego.
To most people, the outlook for nuclear power wouldn't seem bright. The Fukushima disaster in Japan three years ago increased public resistance to the industry. Cheap natural gas is undercutting its competitiveness. Aging nuclear plants around the country, including Vermont Yankee in Vernon, Vt., are shutting down.
But into this bleak environment come two startups with roots at MIT hoping to revive an industry that has long struggled to make a comeback. Their technologies aim to solve issues that have bedeviled nuclear power for decades: safety, cost, and radioactive waste.
Transatomic Power, a three-person firm sharing incubator space at the Cambridge Innovation Center, is designing a reactor that would be cheaper than coal and generate electricity from spent fuel rods — aka radioactive waste — piling up in the nation's nuclear plants. UPower Technologies is developing a miniature atomic power plant that would be cheaper and cleaner than diesel generators used in remote locations.
A letter from the ITER Director-General on the meeting of the Fourteenth ITER Council
14 May 2014
The ITER Project is a global project that brings together seven Members: China, the European Union, India, Japan, Korea, Russia and the United States. It aims to contribute a viable solution to the energy and environmental challenges facing humankind. By producing 500 MW of thermal power, ITER will demonstrate the availability and integration of the science, the technology, and the safety features of a fusion reactor.
Since 1985, when the ITER Project was given a decisive political push, the world has experienced many crises. In 2007, at the Elysée Palace in Paris, the seven Members signed the Joint Implementation Agreement that formally established the ITER Organization. As a long-term international project, aimed at providing mankind with a safe and unlimited energy source, ITER has made it a rule to keep away from the world's political and diplomatic discussions.
It is ITER's philosophy that the project should not be impacted by situations or events developing outside its direct area of competence. ITER Organization Director-General Osamu Motojima has sent the attached letter to the Heads of Delegations of the seven ITER Members to voice his concern about the current international situation "and its possible political impact on the ITER Project." The ITER Director-General strongly encourages the seven ITER Members, together with the ITER Organization, to proactively work at solving any issue.
Thanks to great effort of the ITER Council Chair, all Members have been working very harmoniously to ensure that world situations do not affect the progress of the project. We are very glad to know that if some Members have issues, the rest will work with them to find a solution that is acceptable to all. Fifty percent of the world population and 80 percent of GDP are represented by the seven Members of ITER. The ITER Project creates a new collaborative culture and standard aimed at solving energy and environmental problems and contributing to world peace.
Back to the future: are we about to crack fusion energy?
08 May 2014
Can we harness the energy of an earth-bound sun? It's a question that has obsessed and perplexed scientists for more than half a century. According to Professor Steve Cowley, director of the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE) and chief executive of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority, it remains one of the "great quests" in science.
For the uninitiated, it's the kind of big idea that makes your head spin: we're talking about mimicking the process that powers the stars, heating hydrogen atoms to temperatures in excess of 100 million degrees celsius — the point at which they fuse into heavier helium atoms — and releasing energy in the process.
The creation of a self-sustaining reaction here on Earth would be a revolutionary moment for humanity. It would mean we'd have a near-limitless source of energy that is clean, safe and cheap. The fuel used for fusion (two isotopes of hydrogen, deuterium and tritium) is so abundant it will effectively never run out; one kilogram of it provides the same amount of energy as 10 million kilograms of fossil fuel.
And while some fusion reactor components would become mildly radioactive over time, they should be safe to recycle or dispose of conventionally within 100 years, according to fusion experts.
Tokamak tales from the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy
07 May 2014
Want to know what it's like to work in fusion? In a new blog from the Culhan Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE), graduate physicists and engineers lift the lid on life at Culham.
Tokamak Tales aims to show the world what the graduates get up to. What they do day-to-day, what exciting projects they are working on, and their experiences as a CCFE graduate.
Editor Ailsa Sparkes says: "The aim is to have an informal platform which is interesting to read for the public and for our staff. We are going to show you what it's like to work at a major lab and what progress we're making with fusion energy — we hope to both amuse and enlighten you! We're looking forward to getting comments and questions, and we'd also welcome contributions from other fusion researchers."
Northern lights' physics could aid in nuclear fusion
07 May 2014
The aurora is more than just a breathtaking display of light. It may also hold the secret of a magnetic phenomenon related to the nuclear fusion powering the sun. This secret could even help create nuclear fusion in the lab, says a team of researchers.
[...] Now a team of researchers from the University of Michigan and Princeton University hopes that the performance of fusion experiments can be improved by investigating of the dynamics of magnetic fields observed during the aurora.
Pushing negative ion beam technology to the extreme
06 May 2014
The newly commissioned ELISE test facility has begun operation at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Science (IPP) in Garching, Germany. Funded by the European Domestic Agency as a voluntary European contribution to the neutral beam program, ELISE (Extraction from a Large Ion Source Experiment) is the first large radio-frequency-driven negative ion source in the world, approximately half the size of the source that will be installed at ITER for the neutral beam injectors.
In this latest video from the European Domestic Agency, the scientists and engineers responsible for operating ELISE talk about plans for the test bed, the challenges of achieving ITER performance parameters, and the importance of research carried out within the frame of the experiment for the ITER neutral beam development program.
Visit the European Domestic Agency website to watch the video.
Wendelstein 7-X ready to switch on
06 May 2014
On 20 May, the world will witness a welcome staging post in the quest to develop nuclear fusion, when Germany's Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics switches on the Wendelstein 7-X, an earth-bound machine built to mimic the way in which stars generate energy.
The project is part of the German national fusion research program but has received significant support at nearly 30 percent of the total cost from the EU's Euratom program.
Despite its schedule slipping eight years, from 2006 to 2014, and the cost doubling from an original EUR 500 million to more than EUR 1 billion, the anticipation among fusion scientists is palpable.
Eventually, it is hoped, the Wendelstein 7-X will provide a baseline for a future commercial power plant that like the sun and the stars derives energy from the fusion of atomic nuclei.
The European Commission has appointed Maria de Aires Soares as the Head of its Representation in Portugal. She will take up office on 16 May 2014.
Mrs Soares brings to her new role proven leadership and management skills, an extensive knowledge and experience of the European institutions, a track-record of working with a variety of stakeholders and a strong background in political analysis and communicating policy.
Since November 2011 Mrs Soares has (as a Commission official seconded in the interest of the service) been the Head of the Finance and Budget Division at the ITER Organization in Saint Paul-lez-Durance, France.
Prior to this appointment she served as Minister-Counselor, Head of the Research, Technology, Innovation and Education Section at the Delegation of the European Union to the United States in Washington DC.
Mrs Soares joined the European Commission in 1989 in the Directorate General for Research and Innovation, holding different management positions in areas ranging from administration and finance to researchers' mobility and energy.
In particular she promoted and developed an energy cooperation strategy between the European Union and Brazil, China, India, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the US.
She was admitted to the Lisbon Bar in 1980 and started her professional career at a law firm in Lisbon. Immediately before joining the European Commission she held a senior position in the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva.
She is a Law graduate from the University of Lisbon and holds a Ph. D. in Law from the University of Montpellier.
Sun's fractal surprise could help fusion on Earth
05 May 2014
THE sun has thrown us a fractal surprise. An unexpected pattern has been glimpsed in the solar wind, the turbulent plasma of charged particles that streams from the sun. It offers clues for handling plasmas that roil inside nuclear fusion reactors on Earth.
Composed of charged particles such as protons and electrons, the solar wind streams from the sun and pervades the solar system. Its flow is turbulent, containing eddies and moving at different speeds in different directions. It was thought that this turbulence was similar to that in a fluid, behaving like mixing ocean currents or the air flows that make aeroplane flights bumpy.
Read the whole article on the New Scientist website.
Top Ten Reasons for ITER
29 Apr 2014
As climate change becomes a serious national security threat, we must look to the future for a clean, safe and sustainable source of energy for our future. The ITER experiment will be the largest ITERexperimental tokamak nuclear fusion reactor, located at Cadarache, France. Through ITER, we can find solutions to control fusion energy, so that it can be commercialized to provide the world with a sustainable energy source. This project was born in 1985 in hopes of peace through energy cooperation between the superpowers of the Soviet Union and the U.S.
Today, its members include China, the European Union, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea and the United States of America. With recent controversy over the mismanagement of the ITER structure, the U.S. has reevaluated its position in funding the ITER project. If the U.S. withdraws from the project, we will fall behind in energy research and will not be able to reap theITER numerous benefits that ITER offers. Below I state the top ten reasons why ITER is beneficial for the United States.
- By Kathy Duong, Research Assistant at the American Security Project
Spaghetti-thin shoelaces, sturdy hawsers, silk cravats — all are routinely tied in knots. So too, physicists believe, are water, air and the liquid iron churning in Earth's outer core. Knots twist and turn in the particle pathways of turbulent fluids, as stable in some cases as a sailor's handiwork. For decades, scientists have suspected the rules governing these knots could offer clues for untangling turbulence — one of the last great unknowns of classical physics — but any order exhibited by the knots was lost in the surrounding chaos.
Now, with deft new tools at their fingertips, physicists are beginning to master the art of tying knots in fluids and other flowable entities, such as electromagnetic fields, enabling controlled study of their behavior. "Now that we have these knots, we can measure the shape of them in 3-D; we can look at the flow field around them," said William Irvine, a physicist at the University of Chicago. "We can really figure out what the rules of the game are."
On April 23 the General Assembly of European Fusion Research Units appointed Tony Donné as Programme Manager for the consortium EUROfusion, which is currently being set up. EUROfusion is to succeed the European Fusion Development Agreement (EFDA) as the umbrella organization of Europe's fusion research laboratories. At the moment, Tony Donné is head of the fusion physics theme at the Dutch Institute for Fundamental Energy Research (DIFFER). Starting 2 June, he will manage EUROfusion's execution of the European Fusion Roadmap, which aims to realize commercial energy from fusion.
For decades, controlled nuclear fusion has held the promise of a safe, clean, sustainable energy source that could help wean the world from fossil fuels. But the challenges of harnessing the power of the sun in an Earth-based nuclear fusion reactor have been many, with much of the progress over the last several years coming in incremental advances.
One of the key technical issues that has puzzled physicists is actually a common occurrence in fusion reactions: plasma turbulence. Turbulence inside a reactor can increase the rate of plasma heat loss, significantly impacting the resulting energy output. So researchers have been working to pinpoint both what causes this turbulence and how to control or even eliminate it.
Now simulations run at the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) have shed light on a central piece of the puzzle: the relationship between fast ion particles in the plasma and plasma microturbulence.
The 7th ITER International School will be held on 25-29 August 2014 at ITER on the first day and downtown Aix-en-Provence on the second. The focus this year will be on "Highly parallel computing in modelling magnetically confined plasmas for nuclear fusion."
This subject has an interdisciplinary character: high-performance computing is a key-tool for facing problems in different fields of magnetically confined fusion. It is one of the main subjects for achieving the expected results in the future ITER reactor.
The ITER International school aims to prepare young scientists for working in the field of nuclear fusion and in research applications associated with the ITER Project.
The first ITER school was organized during July 2007 in Aix-en-Provence, and was focused on turbulent transport in fusion plasmas. Five different editions have followed: 2008 in Fukuoka, Japan (magnetic confinement); 2009 in Aix-en-Provence (plasma-surface interaction); 2010 in Austin, Texas (Magneto-Hydro-Dynamics); 2011 in Aix-en-Provence (energetic particles); and finally 2012 in Ahmedabad, India (on radio-frequency heating).
In theory, it's possible to shoot some energy at hydrogen and get even more energy back. The process is called thermonuclear fusion, and if we could ever get fusion power to work — a big if — we'd never have to worry about our energy problems again. It's not a completely crazy notion. Nuclear fusion already takes place in the sun's core, after all. And the promise of fusion power has led researchers to try their best for decades upon decades. Occasionally, they even make some advances — as happened this past winter, when scientists got closer to fusion power than ever.
Trouble is, the scientific and technical hurdles ahead are still enormous — in fact, we still don't have a full grasp on what all the hurdles might be. Still, the potential pay-off is so massive that countries have sunk billions and billions of dollars into fusion research.
So here's a guide to how far humanity has come on thermonuclear fusion — and how far we still have to go.
On this day in 1984, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II offically inaugurated the JET installation at Culham Center for Fusion Energy. EFDA, the European Fusion Development Agreement, has just posted a video of the opening, featuring the Queen's address to the guests, among whom French President François Mitterrand and Gaston Thorn, president of the European Commission.
Applications open for F4E summer internships
09 Apr 2014
Interested in a career in fusion? Want to gain practical experience in a European working environment?
The European Domestic Agency for ITER, Fusion for Energy (F4E), is offering two-to-three month summer internships at its offices in Barcelona, Spain for EU or Swiss nationals aged 18-25 who are following university studies.
German Physical Society announces "The Physics of ITER"
09 Apr 2014
From 22-26 September, a Physics School will be organized by the Germany Physical Society DPG at the Physikzentrum in Bad Honnef, Germany with the theme "The Physics of ITER." The invited speakers and range of subjects will represent the wide range of expertise from the EU Fusion Programme. The Physics School targets young physicists at the early stage of their career but will also attract physicists from all fields and fusion scientists.
The Physics School, strongly supported by the Heraeus Foundation, provides an affordable opportunity to deepen knowledge in fusion-oriented physics with a special concentration on ITER.
More information can be found at the dedicated website.
How a new star will be born
07 Apr 2014
The ITER project is truly at the frontier of knowledge, a collective effort to explore the tantalizing future of free, clean and inexhaustible energy offered by nuclear fusion. Where the Large Hadron Collider at CERN pushes the boundaries of physics to find the origins of matter, the ITER Project seeks to give humans an endless stream of power which could have potentially game-changing consequences for the entire planet.
Agence Iter France director to co-preside Eurofusion
02 Apr 2014
Director of Agence Iter France, former director of JET (2000-2006) and former head of the European Fusion Development Agreement EFDA (2006-2009), Jérôme Pamela was recently appointed co-president of Eurofusion.
The new consortium, which succeeds EFDA, is the answer of the European fusion community to the new challenges of the "ITER era." It aims at streamlining the fusion programs of the European laboratories and installations in order to contribute to ITER with maximum efficiency.
"We also have to prepare for DEMO, the 'demonstration installation' that will come after ITER," explains Jérôme Pamela, "and to train a new generation of physicists who will operate ITER and build DEMO."
Jérôme will be co-presiding Eurofusion alongside Sybille Günter, director of the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics, IPP Garching.
Questions and answers with Stephen Dean and Daniel Clery
02 Apr 2014
Two recently published books describe the history of nuclear fusion research. Search for the Ultimate Energy Source: A history of the US Fusion Energy Program (Springer, 2013) is written by Stephen Dean, president of Fusion Power Associates, a nonprofit advocacy organization. Dean is also a former administrator of the US Department of Energy's fusion research program. Science magazine deputy news editor Daniel Clery's A Piece of the Sun: The Quest for Fusion Energy (Overlook Press, 2013), provides a more global perspective on the same subject.
Physics Today reviewed both books together in March and recently caught up with the authors to discuss their respective works.
The European Domestic Agency, with responsibility for the construction of the 39 buildings of the ITER installation, launched its first video on YouTube four years ago. Since then, over 100,000 viewers have followed its regular postings on site progress, industry collaboration and manufacturing.
An exposition on ITER is running from now until 8 June at the Cité des Sciences (Parc de la Villette, Paris). Combining different media—display panels, videos, interviews—the exposition is designed to interest a wide public, including a younger audience.
See the Cité des Sciences website for more information (in French).
ITER represented at NewGen future energy forum in Moscow
27 Mar 2014
The ITER Project is present at this week's NewGen—Future Energy forum in Moscow, where industry and political actors from Russia and abroad debate innovation in energy.
Anatoly Krasilnikov, head of ITER Russia, led a round table on 26 March titled "Innovative Discussions in the ITER Project" with participation from the Troitsk Institute for Innovation and Fusion Research (TRINITI) and the Tokamak Physics Institute at the Kurchatov Institute.
One topic of discussion was the readiness to begin designing "fusion-fission" hybrid energetics in Russia. "Today we've got everything to start designing," said the deputy director of the Tokamak Physics Institute, Boris Kuteev. "Together with the ITER Project, the implementation of a hybrid project would significantly contribute to creation of a fusion power plant in future."
Puffing hydrogen for self-protection
25 Mar 2014
Researchers of the FOM Institute DIFFER have discovered that the wall material of a fusion reactor can shield itself from high energy plasma bursts. The wall material tungsten seems to expel a cloud of cooling hydrogen particles that serves as a protective layer. The research team publishes their results on 24 March 2014 in the journal Applied Physics Letters.
[...] The heart of a fusion reactor like ITER contains an extremely hot plasma, from which short, intense energy bursts rain down on the reactor wall. In ITER, the tungsten wall will face powerful discharges of several gigawatts per square meter, several times per second. However, researchers at FOM Institute DIFFER discovered that under some conditions less than half of that incoming energy actually hits the surface.
The physicists used their linear plasma experiment Pilot-PSI to show that the tungsten surface shields itself from the blast by expelling a cloud of cooling hydrogen particles. This is the first time that fusion researchers see the energy pulses and the wall react to each other at this level of detail.
Caption: Hydrogen plasma in DIFFER's linear plasma generator Pilot-PSI. Credit: Fundamental Research on Matter (FOM)
With a combined morning and evening circulation of more than 14 million, the Japanese daily Yomiuri Shimbun is number one among the world's biggest selling newspapers.
Last Friday 21 March the Yomiuri dispatched one of its science reporters, Kyoichi Sasazawa, to the ITER site. The reporter met with ITER Director-General Osamu Motojima and ITER DDG Carlos Alejaldre and visited the ITER construction site. "In Japan, knowledge of fusion needs to be improved," he observed.
The article he's preparing will be published in Japan in late April and will also appear in the English edition of the Yomiuri.
Caption: DG Motojima and Yomiuri science writer Kyoichi Sasazawa take in the Tokamak Pit view from the Assembly Hall slab.
25 years ago: "The scientific fiasco of the century"
25 Mar 2014
Twenty five years ago, University of Utah scientists announced a discovery that touched off a worldwide sensation.
"Basically, we've established a sustained nuclear fusion reaction by means which are considerably simpler than conventional techniques," said Professor Stanley Pons on 23 March 1989. He was describing an experiment on the Utah campus that sent waves of optimism around the globe.
Some thought so-called "cold fusion" would solve the world's energy problems and lead to widespread peace and prosperity. But it wasn't long before those hopes crumbled. At least one prominent scientist later denounced it as "the scientific fiasco of the century."
Lawrence Livermore scientists have modeled actinide-based alloys, such as spent nuclear fuel, in an effort to predict the impact of evolving fuel chemistry on material performance.
This work, funded by a Laboratory Directed Research and Development Program on "Scientific Basis for Ultra-high Burn-up Nuclear Fuels," could have direct implications for the use of spent nuclear fuel as another source of energy.
Despite the limited availability of experimental thermodynamic data, this new approach can predict important features contained in phase diagrams, namely phases and their stability in composition-temperature domains and microstructures, and more importantly, guide and motivate further experiments for validating the methodology and the data for subsequent modeling of materials performance at higher scale, according to Patrice Turchi, lead author of a review paper appearing in the March issue of the Journal of the Minerals, Metals & Materials Society (JOM).
Making synthetic diamond crystals in a plasma reactor
21 Mar 2014
Diamonds are highly sought after as jewelry and as a form of capital investment. They are also prized by the research community, but not because of their brilliance or symbolic significance — it is their physical properties that make these gems precious to scientists.
Diamonds are extremely hard, have unrivaled thermal conductivity and have a broadband spectral transparency that stretches from ultraviolet to far infrared, making them the ideal material for a host of different applications. Consequently, there is a large market for synthetic diamonds: they can cut through steel as if it were paper, dig their way through the earth on the tips of drilling heads, are used as scalpels in operations and can act as bio-electrochemical sensors for detecting substances such as DNA.
Holi, the Indian festival of colours (also known as the festival of love), is a celebration of the arrival of Spring. The festival symbolizes happiness and brings together families and friends for delicious food and lots of fun.
On Sunday, 16 March near Manosque, nearly 50 people—ITER staff from India, friends and families—gathered to celebrate this most colourful holiday.
Busy days in China
14 Mar 2014
During a recent visit to China, ITER Director-General Osamu Motojima met with high-level representatives of government and had the opportunity to visit some of the factories where fabrication is underway on components within the Chinese scope.
On March 5, 2014, Vice Minister Jianlin Cao of MOST, head of the Chinese delegation to the ITER Council, received the Director-General and colleagues Ju Jin, ITER Deputy Director-General, Sachiko Ishizaka, Secretary to the ITER Council, and members of the Project Control Division for an exchange of views on recent developments in the ITER Project. The following day, the ITER Director-General visited the headquarters of China National Nuclear Corporation in Beijing, meeting with Chief Engineer Zengguang Lei and ITER Management Advisory Committee (MAC) Chair Jiashu Tian.
During his three-day stay he was also able to pay visits to Western Superconducting Technologies in Xi'an City, the company responsible for the manufacturing of ITER superconducting strand, and Nantong Shenhai Science and Industrial Technology, responsible for the surface-plating of ITER niobium-tin and niobium-titanium superconducting strands.
More than a year in Provence
13 Mar 2014
In the Spring issue of InFusion, a publication from the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE), Mike Walsh, head of the ITER Diagnostic Division and Neill Taylor, former Division head of Nuclear Safety and Analysis, reflect on their experiences at ITER.
World's largest energy initiative comes to Wollongong
11 Mar 2014
One of the people responsible for the manufacture of the magnet system at the heart of ITER presented a special guest seminar recently to staff and students at the Australian Institute for Innovative Materials.
Arnaud Devred, Superconductor Systems and Auxiliaries Section leader at ITER, is responsible for the in-kind procurement of the superconducting cable-in-conduit conductors which are expected to cost around $US1 billion, about half of the whole cost of the ITER magnet system.
Without the moon, we probably wouldn't exist. In that sense, the moon's value is infinite -- but what if you wanted to put a dollar amount on that rock? Most scientists think the rock is made up of elements like iron and magnesium, but the most valuable part of its structure may be Helium-3. Hard to find on Earth, the isotope can power nuclear fusion reactors, a potentially mammoth answer to future energy needs.
Dhiraj Bora, present Director of the Institute for Plasma Research, Gujarat and former ITER Deputy-Director General, explains what a fusion reaction is, what conditions it requires, and what hurdles scientists face in achieving it.
When a science-mad artificial intelligence system (voiced by GLaDOS actress Ellen McLain) is installed at NASA, two hapless computer technicians learn the process behind nuclear fusion in the Sun, and how it differs from fission.
New research has provided a comprehensive overview of new small-scale nuclear reactors, which could be suitable candidates to cope with the world's ever-growing demand for energy. According to official estimates, world energy consumption in 2035 will be more than double that of 1995. A substantial challenge for engineers and scientists over the coming decades is to develop and deploy power plants with sufficient capacity and flexibility to meet this increasing need while simultaneously reducing emissions. The new article aims to show to what extent a new type of nuclear reactor, termed the 'Small Modular Reactor' (SMR), might provide a solution to fulfil these energy needs.
The 17 Countries Generating The Most Nuclear Power
07 Mar 2014
While the popularity of nuclear power worldwide took a major hit in the aftermath of the Fukushima-Daiichi Nuclear Disaster in 2011, it remains one of the cheapest, most efficient, and carbon-friendly forms of energy generation that we currently have.
Energy superpowers like the United States, Russia, and Canada have made nuclear power lucrative, not just through cheap energy, but through licensing their technology to developing countries looking for a new energy source. For that reason, nuclear power has remained a viable and important form of energy, one which will be integral to the world over the next fifty years.
Once again there are winners and losers in the proposed budget for 2015 the Department of Energy's (DOE's) Office of Science, the single largest funder of the physical sciences in the United States. Overall, the Office of Science budget would creep up by just 0.9% from its current level to $5.111 billion. But whereas some research programs, such as advance computing, would see double-digit increases, others, such as fusion, would take deep cuts. (...)
In contrast, the fusion program would take a 17.6% cut to $416 million—$88 million less than it's getting this year. Although far from final, the numbers suggest another big dip for a program that has enjoyed a roller coaster ride in recent years. In its proposed 2013 budget, DOE called for slashing spending on domestic fusion research to help pay for the increasing U.S. contribution to the international fusion experiment, ITER, in Cadarache, France. That budget also called for closing one of three smaller fusion experiments, or tokamaks, in the United States, the Alcator C-Mod at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. But that budget never passed and last December, when Congress finally agreed to a budget for this year, it restored funding for C-Mod and gave the fusion program a handsome boost of nearly $200 million. The new budget request would give some of that increase back and suggests DOE officials see bigger priorities elsewhere.
Physicists start thinking beyond the LHC, consider reviving the SSC
03 Mar 2014
Will particle physicists ever have a new toy that will take them to energies beyond those accessible through the Large Hadron Collider? History suggests it's unlikely. To save costs, the LHC was built in an existing tunnel that had hosted an earlier, less powerful accelerator. The US cancelled the construction of hardware that would have outperformed the LHC (the Superconducting Super Collider, or SSC) due to cost overruns, and it shut down its Tevatron once the LHC started up. Now, decisions on the linear collider that will be used to study the Higgs in detail are being made based on which country is likely to come up with the most money.
But physicists are apparently an optimistic bunch. Earlier this year, CERN announced that it was beginning to evaluate an LHC replacement that would require a tunnel so large—100km in circumference—that it would have to pass under Lake Geneva itself. Potentially in response, a team of US-based physicists have come up with an even more audacious plan: don't build the linear collider, resurrect the SSC's now abandoned tunnels, and use them to both host a Higgs factory and as a booster for a truly massive, 270km collider.
In Cadarache, France, the CEA-Euratom tokamak Tore Supra is undergoing a major transformation to be used as a test bench for ITER. This is the WEST project (W - for tungsten - Environment in Steady-state Tokamak).
Registration is open now for the Superconductivity for Energy 2014 conference that will be held in Paestum, Italy on 15-19 May 2014.
Conference topics include high power superconductor applications (materials, cables, magnets); frontiers in high field magnet technology; superconductors for energy; power devices; high current superconductivity; and superconducting properties and functionalities for new applications.
The event is organized in the framework of the PON Project "NAFASSY" (NAtional FAcility for Superconducting SYstems) by the Physics Department of the University of Salerno in collaboration with the Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (ENEA), the National Research Council (CNR), and the Center for New Technologies (CRdC).
All information can be found on the conference website.
News update from US ITER
27 Feb 2014
The February 2014 issue of the US ITER News Update is now available online. The newsletter highlights the recent progress in the ITER systems under US responsibility (pellet injection system,tokamak cooling water system, central solenoid magnet, etc.) and relates the very solid budget situation for fiscal year 2014.
On a warm sunny afternoon last week, ITER welcomed its very own telecommunication pylon which proudly stands 35 metres high beside the Visitors Centre. It's been equipped with 2G and 3G technologies with scope for 4G technology in the near future. SFR antennas at the top of this pylon cover the whole ITER site. Negotiations to bring in another carrier will take place at the end of this year and if everything falls into place, Orange soon will be seen sharing this telecommunication pylon along with SFR.
Fusion Academy dates announced
20 Feb 2014
Back by popular demand! The Fusion Academy is offering two 3-day sessions of its professional crash course in nuclear fusion in the Netherlands in 2014. Registration is now open for the 15-17 April session (deadline 23 March) and 29-31 October session (deadline 7 October).
The Fusion Academy course is open to professionals from the field of fusion research and development (engineers, managers, science journalists ...). Further information can be found at this link.
SOFT 2014: Registration now open
20 Feb 2014
The 28th Symposium on Fusion Technology (SOFT) will take place from 29 September to 3 October in San Sebastian, Spain, organized by CIEMAT, the Spanish Research Centre for Energy, Environment and Technology.
Considered the top event for the exchange of information on the design, construction and operation of fusion experiments and on the technology for present fusion machines and future power plants, over 800 scientists and engineers working in the field are expected.
The deadline for abstract submission is 18 March. Registration is currently open for industrial exhibitors.
More information on the 2014 SOFT conference can be found at this link.
February F4E News published
20 Feb 2014
The latest news from the European Domestic Agency for ITER has been published in the February issue of F4E News, which can be consulted here.
Dr Ravi B. Grover receives civilian award in India
20 Feb 2014
Ravi B. Grover, head of the Indian delegation to the ITER Council, was honoured by the Government of India on the occasion of Republic Day (26 January 2014) with the fourth-highest civilian award, the Padma Shri.
Dr Grover is the principal adviser of the Department of Atomic Energy in India, a member of the Atomic Energy Commission, and director of the Homi Bhabha National Institute (HBNI).
He played a pivotal role during negotiations with various governments and the IAEA towards opening international civil nuclear trade between India and other countries. He also played a key role in the negotiations leading up to India joining the ITER Project as a full partner in 2005. He conceptualized and set up the HBNI as a university-level institution.
The ITER community congratulates Dr Grover on his distinguished award.
Physics: A fundamental force for future security
13 Feb 2014
What is matter? What is energy? What holds matter together? How do the various constituents of the universe interact at the most basic level? Where does the Earth sit in relation to the rest of the universe? Can we predict the movements of the stars?
Physics gives us the knowledge to address remarkable questions like these. But knowledge is also power: a better understanding of these laws, allows us to improve the ways we interact with, and harness our environment. And if you look at the rapid development in human technology over the past two centuries, it is amazing just how much technological change has been derived from advances in physics.
Perhaps the most clear-cut example in this respect is the dramatic transformation that electricity has brought about in all modern societies. Our whole way of living now is completely dependent upon being able to generate, transmit, and harness electric power in a safe and efficient manner — all of which is ultimately underpinned by our understanding of physics.
Keeping up with the ever growing demand for generating electricity with minimal environmental impact will be a significant challenge in the years to come.
Read the full article by the Australian political journalist at PhysOrg.
New videos highlight the Russian contribution to ITER
12 Feb 2014
Two new videos produced by the Russian Domestic Agency for ITER highlight the contributions of the Kurchatov Institute (Moscow) and the Ioffe Institute (St Petersburg) to the Project.
Both Institutes are responsible for supplying high performance diagnostic systems to the ITER machine. Follow the work-in-progress at the following links:
The EAST Tokamak team at the Institute of Plasma Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences (ASIPP), has won the 2013 National Science and Technology Progress Award for its years of unremitting innovation and teamwork. This comes after winning a prize in 2008 for the successful construction and commissioning of EAST.
This top annual Chinese award recognizes advancements in the natural sciences, technological innovation and science and technology. Jiangang Li, ASIPP director, accepted the award on behalf of the EAST team in a ceremony on 10 January.
The EAST Tokamak team is one of the three recipients of the Innovation Team prize among the 188 laureates of the 2013 Science and Technology Progress Award.
European Prize for Innovation in fusion research: applications accepted
10 Feb 2014
The European Commission has launched a prize to reward excellence in innovation in the fusion research program as well as the quality of the researchers and industries involved.
Participants are free to submit an application for any physics or technological innovation developed within the European Fusion research program that has demonstrated market potential.
An independent jury appointed by the European Commission will evaluate the proposals and rank the first, second and third place winners who will receive EUR 15,000, 10,000 and 5,000 respectively. Winners will be announced at the SOFT conference in September 2014.
For more detailed information on general conditions and eligibility, click here.