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Also in this issue

  • In the heart of the Korean tokamak KSTAR, in operation since 2008, a plasma pulse burns brightly.  But don't be fooled—the brightest areas of the photo are in fact the coolest. At 150 million °C (the temperature in the centre), the plasma doesn't emit in the spectrum of visible light. © National Fusion Research Institute, Korea

    Hotter than the Sun

    The ITER plasma will be ten times hotter than the centre of the Sun. How will the machine's operators produce such a blistering environment? And what physical enclosure can contain it? [...]

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  • The number of visitors has been steadily increasing since 2007, with over 67,000 cumulative visitors to the site.

    Visits on the rise: 15,000 in 2013

    More than 15,000 visitors have been welcomed to the ITER site in 2013. Visits are organized by both the ITER Organization Visit Team (general public) and Agence Iter France (students). [...]

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  • For approximately ten hours a continuous flow of concrete poured from two long pumps—800 cubic metres in all for a corner of the basemat that measures 21 x 26 metres.

    Warm concrete in the chilly dawn

    Well before dawn on 11 December 2013, the first cubic metres of concrete were poured for the Tokamak Complex basemat (the 'B2 slab'). [...]

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  • English—the official working language of the ITER Organization—is the native language of just 15 % of staff. But to truly understand one another, a common language is not sufficient.

    35 nations, 40 languages ... which culture?

    On the banks of the Durance River, halfway between Aix-en-Provence and Manosque, a unique community has taken root—some 500 people from 35 countries who have arrived with their languages, cultural references, traditions and work habits. [...]

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Mag Archives

Pulling together for ITER

-R.A.

The Tore Supra tokamak, at the French research centre CEA Cadarache, is undergoing a profound transformation to become a test bed for the ITER tungsten divertor. (Click to view larger version...)
The Tore Supra tokamak, at the French research centre CEA Cadarache, is undergoing a profound transformation to become a test bed for the ITER tungsten divertor.
In its quest for fusion energy, ITER is not striving alone. Tokamaks in Europe, the United States, Korea and Japan have been the front-runners, exploring the road that ITER will begin to experiment in less than ten years.

Although each experimental machine is unique in its conception and its size, all of these machines have oriented their scientific programs or modified their technical characteristics in the last years to reinvent themselves—either partially or totally—as test beds for ITER.

Next door, at the French research centre CEA Cadarache, the Tore Supra tokamak is undergoing a profound transformation. In operation since 1988, the CEA-Euratom machine will be altered (1) to test the ITER tungsten divertor—one of the critical ITER components that will be exposed to some of the highest thermal and neutron loads during operation.

The inner wall of the European tokamak JET has been fitted with new beryllium and tungsten tiles—the same material that will be used for ITER's plasma-facing elements. © EFDA (Click to view larger version...)
The inner wall of the European tokamak JET has been fitted with new beryllium and tungsten tiles—the same material that will be used for ITER's plasma-facing elements. © EFDA
Started just a few weeks ago, the "stripping down" of the vacuum vessel is now complete. From the huge heating antennas to the smallest elements of piping, some 1,500 elements—65 tons in total—were dismounted, carefully indexed, and stored.

In the newly liberated space, the physicists at Tore Supra plan to recreate part of the ITER environment on a smaller scale. Supplementary magnetic coils will allow operators to create a D-shaped, ITER-like plasma. And thermal load studies will be run on the new ITER-like tungsten divertor—a strategic component facing loads as high as those of a (hypothetical) spaceship near the surface of the Sun.

The world's tokamaks are not all undergoing such radical transformation. But all have been mobilized to anticipate, and help resolve, the scientific and technological challenges that the ITER Tokamak will face.

(1) The alterations are part of the WEST program, for W Environment in Steady-state Tokamak (W is the chemical symbol for tungsten.)