In the last couple of months, all ITER Organization technical departments were fully engaged in preparing Baseline documents and presentations for the various advisory boards and the fifth ITER Council which will be held next week, 18-19 November.
In parallel, the Central Engineering & Plant Support (CEP) Department made considerable efforts in establishing the work plan for 2010. This year, we successfully concluded three Procurement Arrangements for ITER's electrical power distribution and the cooling water system. The year 2010 will again be very busy as we will have to prepare the Procurement Arrangements for the AC/DC converter, the cryoline and cryodistribution, for fuelling, the tritium plant individual systems, etc.
We have also put high priority on cable management, which is still in an early stage and which needs a lot of support from the Domestic Agencies and the responsible officers. Taking this as an opportunity, I would like to introduce the scope of work, status and work plan for cable management which will be one of the CEP Department's main responsibilities from 2010 on.
ITER, being a large research facility, will be made of a combination of large conventional industrial equipments, such as the cooling water system, and challenging new high-tech components such as diagnostics, superconductive magnets, etc. To ensure the future operation of all ITER subsystems, a large amount of power and control cables will have to be identified, designed, routed and installed.
The expected total amount of cables to be managed is on the order of 100,000, which is about twice the number required for a 1.4 GW nuclear power plant. The manpower required for this task is on the order of 120 PPY (professional persons per year) over a period of approximately eight years.
The responsibility for the management of all ITER power and control cables has been assigned to the Electrical Engineering Division, which is currently setting up the database—a necessary tool to efficiently execute cable management. The tool will be based on IGE-XAO software package, which has also been adopted in other large projects and which is already being used by the ITER Design Office for the production of circuit diagrams. A pilot case has already been successfully performed to verify the capacity of the selected tool; final customization will be completed during 2010. In parallel with this activity, the upload of cable data into the central database is already in progress.
ITER cable management task is expected to be more complex and challenging than in large power plants or large research facilities. To get the necessary expertise and manpower, a specific support contract will be placed in 2010.
Following the conceptual design review of all ITER buildings and site infrastructure which took place in February 2009, the CCS Office has been busy preparing updated final functional requirements, ready for the European Domestic Agency to pass onto its selected architect engineering contractor. The European agency has been busy with the procurement not only of its architect engineer, but also of ancillary services such as owner support and the independent health and safety coordinator that is required under French law.
The final functional requirements consist of system requirements documents, system description documents, and interface control documents as well as the detailed and the configuration models for the buildings. In all, more than 350 documents are now being made available to the European Domestic Agency and its contractors.
Once the architect engineering contract is in place, the European agency will be able to move forward with the detailed design of all the buildings and site infrastructure. Tenders are currently being analyzed, and it is hoped that this can be completed quickly in order for the selected company to begin work early in 2010.
The first building to be completed on site will be the winding facility for ITER's poloidal field coils. The Procurement Arrangement for this building was signed with Europe in November 2008, and construction is planned to start mid-2010. Excavation of the Tokamak Pit is also planned to begin around this same date, if the excavation procurement process is completed on schedule in early 2010.
Adjacent to the main platform, the annex buildings—including the future ITER offices—are in the process of being rationalized with French and European commitments being merged together to ensure ITER minimum requirements are met. The welcome and communication services that were originally planned as independent buildings will be incorporated into the main office building, allowing closer integration of the overall ITER team. The tendering process for the annex buildings has been launched and it is expected that the two-year construction works will commence in the middle of 2010—good news for us all!
Visible progress is being made just outside of Headquarters as the preparatory works for the twin temporary office building JWS 3 move ahead. This building will be home to 200 staff from the European Domestic Agency and 100 staff from ITER. It is expected that the building will be completed in June 2010.
While the period of low visible activity on the ITER construction site is likely to continue through the initial months in 2010, it is anticipated that if Europe can maintain the momentum of its current procurement activities, then by the middle of next year, building works will have begun in earnest. From this point forward, building will be a daily physical reminder of the progress being made on the ITER Project.
Where do you go if you need a hi-res photo of KSTAR? Is there a scientifically-accurate animation of plasma in ITER? Does anyone have a model of the most recent ITER design? Which Russian science magazines should we be targeting? How can we keep our staff informed? These were some of the questions at a two-day meeting held in the US Domestic Agency in Oak Ridge, Tennessee this week. But the underlying question was: how can communicators in the ITER Domestic Agencies help each other?
Many people are communicating about ITER and the aim of the ITER Communication Group is to make this activity as efficient and cost effective as possible by avoiding parallel activities and sharing best practice. Great progress is being made and the Domestic Agency communicators are determined to work as one team rather than eight different entities. Many thanks to US/ITER for the impeccable organization and southern hospitality.
Preparations at Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP) in Garching near Munich for the system that is to heat the plasma of the ITER international fusion test reactor to many million degrees have entered a new round. The agreement on a EUR 4 million research contract between IPP and the European Domestic Agency for ITER, Fusion for Energy, has now been signed: After successful development of smaller prototypes IPP's new high-frequency ion source will advance to half ITER size. It is now being adapted to ITER's high requirements on the new ELISE (Extraction from a Large Ion Source Experiment) test rig.
The two particle beams that are to heat the 800 cubic metres ITER plasma to many million degrees each have a door-size cross-section. Each of them is to pump a heating power of 16.5 megawatts into the plasma. It is a "huge step" to be taken from today's plate-size cross-sections to attain this order of magnitude, states Dr. Peter Franzen, who is working at IPP on the development of the heating system for ITER. Like the sun, a future fusion power plant is to derive energy from fusion of atomic nuclei. For this purpose the fuel, a hydrogen plasma, has to be confined in a magnetic field cage without touching the vessel wall and be heated to the ignition temperature of over 100 million degrees. The ITER (Latin for "the way") test device being built at Cadarache in France as an international cooperation is to show that an energy-yielding fusion fire is possible. It is to generate a fusion power of 500 megawatts, this being ten times as much as will be needed to heat the plasma beforehand.
About half of this plasma heating will be provided by the so-called "neutral particle heating": fast hydrogen atoms injected into the plasma collide with the plasma particles and transfer their energy to them. Today's devices thus attain several times the sun's temperature at the press of a button. The ITER large-scale device, however, imposes new requirements on the proven method. For example, the particles have to be three to four times faster than hitherto, so that they can penetrate deep enough into the voluminous plasma. A particle source developed at IPP was incorporated in the ITER design in 2007. After successful prototype development, the European agency has now also awarded IPP the contract for adapting the heating system to ITER's requirements.
IPP at Garching is therefore now building a new test rig for investigating a source half the size needed for ITER instead of the previous smaller prototypes. The increasing size accordingly calls for revision of the previous technical solutions for the elements of the ion source. After two years of construction ELISE will spend two years testing whether the newly designed large ion source can produce a particle beam approaching ITER's requirements. The system in its original size will then be investigated by Italy's ENEA fusion institute in Padua. ELISE and its Italian successor are firmly integrated in ITER's time schedule: The neutral particle heating will have to function from the test reactor's first day of scientific operation.
On Monday, the world's eyes were on Berlin. "Gänsehaut-Tag" ("Goose-bump Day") was how one TV commentator described the anniversary of the day on which, 20 years ago, the Berlin Wall collapsed. And indeed, to watch the crowds that night gather in front of the Brandenburger Tor, peacefully commemorating the events that led to the reunification of Germany after 28 years of East-West separation, was a deeply emotional moment.
A few kilometers east of the gate that has become a beacon for freedom, in a pumping station-turned-theatre situated on the former "death strip," another event commemorating the fall of the Wall took place. "Which are the next walls to fall?" the Einstein Foundation Berlin had asked leading scientists from various disciplines—inviting them to present their answers at a conference the newspapers had labelled "speed dating with science."
Each of the 22 invited speakers had precisely 15 minutes to embark on a voyage to the hidden universe (Rolf Heuer, CERN), to present cheap new vaccines against malaria (Peter Seeberger, University Berlin) or to introduce new technology for reading neurological signals (Miguel Nicolelis, Duke University). Representing the ITER Organization, Principal Deputy Director-General Norbert Holtkamp invited the audience to learn more about the quest for fusion energy.
In addition to this round-trip to the frontiers of science, a further highlight of the "Falling Walls Conference" was the speech by the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Despite a very busy agenda, this former physicist who grew up in East Germany had set aside one hour to address the scientific community and to talk about 9 November 1989—a date that changed the life of a nation and her own. "That night, the impossible became possible," Merkel said. "This peaceful revolution would not have been possible without the courage of the people. Both in politics and in science ... no one can make it on his own any more." Addressing the illustrious science community before her, she invited the audience to be good examples to politicians by thinking first and then acting.
In her forty-minute speech that was rewarded by a standing ovation, Merkel did not forget to remind the audience that—despite all the euphoria about the collapse of the Berlin Wall—9 November was also a very black day in the history of Germany. During the night of 9-10 November, 1938, the Nazis ran a coordinated attack on Jewish people and their property. One hundred Jews were killed, and many thousands put into concentration camps. Because the raging crowd also destroyed most Jewish shops and 267 synagoges, the night is remembered as "Kristallnacht" or 'The night of broken glass."
Work is currently ongoing at ITER to refine the layout of the Hot Cell Building—the building located adjacent to the ITER Tokamak that will provide shielded areas for the manipulation of "hot," or radioactive, components during the assembly, commissioning, de-activation and dismantling phases of ITER.
Once operation at ITER begins, in-vessel components and remote handling equipment will be transported to the Hot Cell Facility to be cleaned, refurbished, maintained or stored. Most of these operations within the Hot Cell Facility will be carried out remotely by operators working from the Control Room.
What volume needs to be reserved for the cranes and remote handling tools capable of manipulating components weighing up to 100 tonnes? What is the best trajectory for the sealed transfer casks that will run between the Tokamak and Hot Cell Facility Buildings?
Twelve members from the multi-departmental team involved in Hot Cell layout at ITER were invited last week to visit CEA Marcoule and the ISAI decommissioning facilities. There, they witnessed new-generation remote handling tools in operation, and had hands-on experience of handling and lifting in a nuclear environment.
ITER delegates visited CEA's virtual reality room where, equipped with 3D glasses and captors, participants tested telemanipulation. At the robotics platform, they saw cutting performed in a nuclear environment at the laser cutting station. Experiencing these recent tools in action will serve as a reference to the ITER team as it continues to conduct design studies. Possibilities for cooperation were discussed, including test cutting at Marcoule using ITER materials like tungsten.
At the ISAI (Installation de Surveillance des Assemblages Irradiés) facility, the delegation viewed examples of handling and lifting in a nuclear environment. The ISAI facility is currently undergoing assessment by the French nuclear regulators. Sharing in the feedback from this experience will be useful for ITER planners.
Some cars are more than cars—they're an expression of personal values and aesthetics. Take the French "Deux-Chevaux" (2 CV) for instance. 2 CV means that the car falls into the fiscal category of "two horsepower" vehicles, the lowest on the French tax scale. For almost half a century, the 2 CV was a car for the thrifty: whether parish priest, student, social worker, farmer, nun or the Postal Administration. "Deux-Chevaux" were cheap to buy, cheap to fuel and cheap to maintain.
The last 2CV that went off the production line in 1990 wasn't much different from the original 1949 model: it featured a slightly more powerful engine, a larger choice of colours, a four-speed clutch, and that was about it. 2CVs never really made it outside of Europe. Because of safety regulations, they were banned from the US—although one of them appears in the cult movie "American Graffiti." Quite surprisingly, however, a couple of hundred of them were exported to Japan.
And so it happened that, in 1989 in Mito, a town near Tokyo, a young Japanese student of elementary particle theory saw one them in a showroom for foreign cars. "My intention was to buy an Autobianchi Abarth," says Atsumi Terasawa, now an engineer with the ITER Tokamak Department. "But when I saw the 2CV, I instantly changed my mind. It had something 'eternal' about it, as if it had always existed..."
That day marked the beginning of a passionate relationship. Twenty years and 150,000 kilometres later, Atsumi and his 2CV are still "like one." "I have travelled everywhere with it," says Atsumi. "At one point to meet my girlfriend—who is now my wife—I would drive back and forth twice a week between Tokyo and Kyoto. That amounted to about 2,000 kilometres per week!"
To celebrate the birth of his daughter ten years ago, Atsumi decided he would design a new colour pattern for his beloved 2CV: the car was born grey and black ... it is now a unique shining blue and diamond black.
Of course, when Atsumi moved to France in order to work at ITER, the 2CV went with him —a rare and maybe unique case of a 2CV travelling back from Japan to its birthplace. "Now I drive it everyday to work. I love everything about it and I will never sell it!"
Does having a background in quantum physics make dealing with the unpredictable 2CV easier? Atsumi is not sure. But it certainly is easier, and cheaper, to maintain a 2CV in France than it was in Japan. Atsumi doesn't need to worry about the next 20 years or 150,000 kilometres: he's found "a very good repair shop" in Forcalquier, and in case his 2CV definitely breaks down (close to impossible), he left a second car in Japan—a 40-year-old Fiat Abarth.
It is with great sadness that we have to announce that RJ (Roy) Bickerton died suddenly at the age of 82 at his home in Cumnor on Friday 6 November.
After a D Phil at the Clarendon Laboratory, Roy joined the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority at Harwell Laboratory, where he worked with the ZETA team. In 1962 he made the move to the new Culham Laboratory, where in 1968 he was appointed Head of Experimental Division A and a member of the Culham Laboratory Management Committee. After the inauguration of JET in 1979 Roy was appointed its Scientific Director in 1980 and then Deputy Director in 1985, a post he held until his retirement in November 1988.
A few years were then spent at the Fusion Centre in Austin, Texas. Roy was a regular visitor to Culham seminars in his retirement. He will be missed not only by his friends but by the international fusion community.
The funeral will be on Monday 23 November at 2:15 at the Oxford Crematorium. Further details will be announced nearer the date.