This week, it was MAC week again. For the sixth time since the formal inauguration of the ITER Organization, the Management Advisory Committee convened in Cadarache. During the three-day meeting the MAC discussed many topics, but in particular it reviewed the findings and recommendations reported by two subgroups: the Briscoe Panel and the subgroup on Technical Integration. The MAC was pleased to see the considerable progress that has been made since the last MAC meeting, and in particular in finalizing and implementing a cost methodology and tools, and the implementation of systems engineering and integration. "We were very pleased with these findings," Bob Iotti, the Chairman of the MAC said.
The MAC also reviewed what the Council had asked the ITER Organization to prepare, namely a realistic schedule to produce First Plasma in 2018, but MAC could not come to a definite conclusion. MAC will thus recommended to the ITER Council that the ITER Organization together with the Domestic Agencies revisit the schedule work performed to date, and jointly determine an aggressive early-finish date, relying on possible risk mitigation approaches, as well as what would be a late finish date, if risk mitigation is not successful. In this work, appropriate consideration must be given to the risks that both the ITER Organization and the Domestic Agencies have identified in the timely delivery of the facilities and components of ITER, particularly those which are on or near the project's critical path.
After chairing the MAC since the implementation of the ITER Organization, Bob Iotti will step down as Chairman as agreed by the ITER Members. The next Chairman, coming from Korea, will be appointed by the Council in its next meeting on 18-19 November this year.
For those who keep track, the score is up to 28. On Monday night, at the end of a long and intense first day of the ITER Management Advisory Committee meeting, Director-General Kaname Ikeda and Didier Gambier, the Head of the European Domestic Agency, signed the Procurement Arrangement for engineering detailed design of the ITER steady state electrical network (SSEN) and the pulsed power electrical network (PPEN).
In summary, the SSEN and the PPEN consist of 75 power transformers, 250 high and medium voltage switch rooms, 750 low voltage distribution networks and 100 km of medium and low voltage cables.
The SSEN and PPEN are supplied via the French National Grid at 400kV. The current is then transformed to appropriate voltage levels and distributed to all the ITER electrical components. In the event of loss of power supply from the National Grid, the SSEN will continue to serve the important electrical components via a system of standby supplies that incorporates on-site high voltage diesel generators, low voltage uninterruptible power supplies and DC batteries.
In terms of size and complexity, the SSEN distributes 120 MW, which is approximately twice the power of an equivalent system utilized on a large nuclear power plant. The PPEN is designed to distribute up to 500 MW continuous power.
This Procurement Arrangement covers the engineering detailed design of the SSEN and PPEN and it is worth about EUR 11 million. The contracts for the procurement and the installation of the SSEN and PPEN materials are planned to be signed in 2010 and 2011. "It's a major achievement for the Electrical Engineering Division, and I would like to thank all people involved in this effort," Joel Hourtoule, SSEN Section Leader and Responsible Officer in charge of this part of the project, said after the signing ceremony.
Microwaves are used to excite the electrons in a fusion plasma and, by this, raise its temperature. They also drive the plasma current. In ITER, of course, these microwaves are not produced by the standard microwave oven that we all use to heat up chicken soup at night.
The device that will be used to send microwaves into the plasma of the biggest fusion furnace ever built is called the electron cyclotron heating and current drive system (ECRH). It is one of the three radiofrequency (RF) heating systems that will be used in ITER. The ECRH heats the electrons in the plasma with a high-intensity beam of electromagnetic radiation at a frequency of 170 GHz; the resonant frequency of electrons. The electrons, in turn, transfer the absorbed energy to the ions by collision and thus generate heat.
For the ECRH system, a major component is being developed called a gyrotron, a powerful microwave generator. The gyrotron is capable of producing 1MW of output power—equivalent to 20,000 microwave ovens—at the frequency of 170 GHz. In total, 26 gyrotrons will be installed in ITER. They will be procured by four different Members—Europe, India, Japan and the Russian Federation—with at least three different designs. Currently, the various prototypes are under development.
At present, the Japanese gyrotron has already reached 1 MW for 800 s (0.8 MW for 1 h) and undergone preliminary modulation tests at full power. The Russian gyrotron, after modification of its test-bed and improvement of the high voltage power supply, has performed at 1 MW during 200 s (0.8 MW during 800 s). Europe is developing a new technology, aiming to manufacture gyrotrons capable of producing 2 MW. The technology was first implemented on a prototype capable of producing the power during a short pulse (tens of ms); good preliminary results on another pre-prototype (2.2 MW for 1 ms) give confidence in the future performance of the next prototype which is currently being refurbished with improvements to the mode converter system, the beam tunnel and the electron gun.
Between 1964 and 2004, 350 tonnes of plutonium-based nuclear fuel were manufactured in Cadarache's plutonium facility, the Atelier de Technologie du Plutonium (ATPu). The process was performed using a cascade of 450 sealed containers—so-called "glove boxes"—and consisted in mixing, compressing and "sintering" powders of plutonium and uranium oxide into small cylindrical pellets.
Due to the nature of the fabrication process, plutonium and uranium powder accumulated over the years in areas of the glove boxes that were not accessible to routine cleaning operations. Early in 2008, when it was decided to dismantle the installation, experts at CEA-Cadarache estimated at eight kilos the amount of plutonium powder that had been "retained" in the installation.
Measurements that were performed on some of the boxes during dismantlement showed that the retention was more substantial than expected. In June, CEA-Cadarache expected the total retention to reach 22 kgs of plutonium powder and in September, after still more boxes had been dismantled, nearly 39 kgs—an average of 86.6 grams per glove box over a period of 40 years.
These figures were communicated to the Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) verbally on 11 June during a visit of ASN inspectors to Cadarache, by telephone eight days later, and again verbally on 23 June. On 6 October, after dismantling several more boxes, CEA considered their figures to be accurate enough to formally declare an "evaluation discrepancy" to the ASN by way of an official letter. The press release CEA issued the following day stated that "the discrepancy that was observed did not exceed safety thresholds" and that "no consequence ensued for personnel or the environment."
Despite a suggestion from CEA-Cadarache to rate the incident at Level 1 on the seven-level International Nuclear Event Scale (INES), ASN considered that "the non-detection of this underestimation during the facility operation, as well as the late declaration of the event to ASN, point to a significant lack in safety culture from the facility licensee and operator."
Consequently, ASN decided to rate the incident at Level 2 on the INES scale and, after a comprehensive inspection at the ATPu facility on 9 October 2009, to suspend the facility dismantling operations.
"I know quite clearly what I want out of my life," Homi Bhabha once said. Today, 30 October, is the 100th anniversary of the famous scientist, visionary and dreamer's birth. Bhabha was an early prophet of the peaceful uses of the atom, and he presided the First UN Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy. Bhabha died in the Mont Blanc plane crash on 24 January, 1966, the day Indira Gandhi was sworn in as Prime Minister.
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Has anybody ever asked you whether you were worried about working at ITER?
On Thursday 5 November, Michael Loughlin, responsible for Nuclear/Shielding Analysis and Coordination within the Office for Central Integration & Engineering, will explain to us why the ITER machine is so safe. Please come and attend his seminar on Thursday from 11.00 to 12.00 in the Salle René Gravier.
In 1985, when President Reagan and Secretary Gorbatchev were planning their first meeting in Geneva, Charles Newstead was an assistant to John Negroponte, then the Assistant Secretary of State for International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.
In this position, he played a key role in the genesis of ITER. As a physicist, Newstead was able to convince the most reluctant members in the Reagan administration that accepting Gorbatchev's proposal of an international collaboration in fusion was not, as they feared, "giving the Russians the secret of Star Wars."
A quarter of a century later, ITER is a reality that one can touch—a reality that made Charles Newstead "feel marvellous" when he stood by the platform last Wednesday on his visit to Cadarache.
Before coming to ITER, Dr Newstead, who now serves as Senior Scientific Adviser to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, was invited to tour the Laser Mégajoule (LMJ), France's inertial fusion facility located near Bordeaux. At Cadarache, he also visited Tore Supra, the Euratom-CEA tokamak that recently resumed operations.
Over lunch, he assured his ITER hosts that he would "work as hard as [he] can to get President Obama's support for the program."
We will publish an interview with Dr Newstead in one of the next issues of Newsline.
Saroj Das, the new ITER Librarian, earned his degree in Library Science in 1995, just as the internet was beginning to revolutionize the field. His interest in the new technology was immediate. "I made it my specialty, in order to keep abreast of this rapidly changing technology," remembers Saroj.
Originally from the northeastern Indian state of Assam, Saroj completed undergraduate studies in Science and a degree in Library Science at the Osmania University Hyderabad in the south. He put both of his degrees to good use at the Institute for Plasma Research (IPR) in Gandhinagar, western India, where he went to work in 1996. While employed full time in the library, he completed a Master's in Library Science and a post-graduate diploma in Library Automation and Networking. Living in different parts of India made Saroj proficient in languages as well—in addition to his mother tongue Bengali, he speaks Hindi, English, Assamese, Telugu and Gujarati.
At IPR, where Saroj worked for thirteen years, he designed the IPR library website, managed the IT library server and created the first on-line library services. "I worked with the IPR scientists to bring them resources from the World Wide Web—databases, articles, scientific papers and magazines. It's one thing to search the web with Google, and another to have a specialist help you with your query," says Saroj.
Saroj joined ITER on 5 October, and is already in the process of reorganizing the library. "My challenge is to bring users to the library," he says. "I'll be rearranging the collection, creating an automated classification system, and establishing a helpdesk for research requests. The library will always be open!" Saroj is also overseeing renovations to make the space more user-friendly. He hopes to use the future ITER Intranet, Buzz, to keep users regularly informed of new services, for example book databases, on-line journals and interesting links.
For Saroj, his wife, and their five year old daughter, the move to France is their first trip outside of India. "It has been a big change for us, but everyone is adapting well ... my daughter is even more enthusiastic about school than she was in India!" relates Saroj. "Also, we have many friends to thank in Manosque for helping to make our transition a smooth one."
In 2008, the "European PhD Network in Fusion Science and Engineering" was established between the Universities of Lisbon, Munich and Padova, backed up by the European fusion labs IST in Portugal, IPP in Germany and Consorzio RFX in Italy. The Network aims at educating PhD students in fusion science and engineering on a broad level to make them fit for a future job in fusion.
"We are trying to fill a gap between traditional University courses in plasma physics and what is needed on a job in fusion. These students could be part of the generation that runs ITER," explains Hartmut Zohm, Member of the Board of Scientific Directors at IPP Garching and Member of the Network's Academic Council.
From 28 September to 9 October, 15 students from the three Universities joined the first "Advanced Course" in IPP Garching that focused on fusion plasma physics. In the course of their curriculum, the students will follow two more advanced courses in Lisbon (diagnostics and CODAC) and Padova (fusion technology).
The network is open to other universities and fusion labs to join and this process is currently going on in the framework of the EU fusion program.
These are masterpieces that we will never see with our own eyes—paintings, engravings, and hand stencils dating from 27,000 years ago when a sparse population occupied the cold and barren Mediterranean seaside. These works of art are so fragile and precious that the underwater passage leading to them has been sealed off by the authorities.
Only a few people have actually seen the marvels of the Cosquer Cave: the professional diver from Cassis who discovered it in 1985 and gave it his name, and a handful of divers-archaeologists who were commissioned to perform a thorough survey once the discovery was officially declared to the authorities in 1991.
Some 27,000 years ago, when the Cosquer artists were at work on the walls of the cave, sea level was about a hundred meters lower than it is today. The coastline was located 10 kilometres further to the south and the landscape was reminiscent of present-day Norway. Men were few; but antelopes, giant stags, horses, small penguins called auks, bison and aurochs abounded.
Today, the entrance to the Grotte Cosquer is 37 metres below sea level in one of the Calanques, the small Mediterranean fjords that dent the coastline between Marseille and Cassis.
Like Lascaux in southwestern France, or Altamira in nearby Spain, the cave was a place of magic and worship. Rock, or "parietal," art is the prehistoric equivalent to statues, paintings and stained glass windows in present-day cathedrals. "The Cosquer Cave," say archaeologists Jean Courtin and Jean Clottes, "was probably one of the most important sanctuaries of the Upper Palaeolithic." Some 27,000 years ago in what is now Provence, men gathered there, in the entrails of the Earth, to communicate with the spirits and forces of Nature.
Over the past millennia, nearly four-fifths of the sanctuary were submerged, and the artwork erased through corrosion or algae growth. What remains, though, is enough to make us marvel at the talent of these Palaeolithic artists.
Close to 180 animals, belonging to 11 different species, are represented on the cave walls—considerably more than in Lascaux or Altamira. The Cosquer engravings that depict marine animals like the little "auk" penguin have no known equivalent in the world of parietal art.
Click here to view the Cosquer website...
In case of a fire, people often underestimate the danger and are uncertain how and if a fire extinguisher should be used. The ITER SAS Department is offering regular training sessions on the FLS training ground providing advice on how to utilize a fire extinguisher properly.
Please contact the Safety & Security Department if you want to participate in one of the training sessions. More information on the proper use of fire extinguishers can be found by following the link below.