Controlling plasmas and preventing them from losing their energy is one of the most difficult tasks in fusion physics. "Instabilities," here, are the enemy. They come in all kinds of shapes and sizes: ELMs (Edge Localized Modes) can jut out like small solar flares, or magnetic surfaces can be torn apart and create "islands" where plasma current is lost and energy content degraded.
Tools and techniques have been developed to fight instabilities and reduce their impact on the performance of the plasma. ELMs, for instance, can be controlled by shooting frozen deuterium pellets into the plasma or by altering the magnetic field at the edge; the development of "islands" can be countered by using microwave beams at high frequency that drive current and energy into them.
In the ITER Tokamak, this task is assigned to the "electron cyclotron upper launchers." There are four of them in the machine and each is equipped with two rows of four beam lines and a set of "steering mirrors." They aim and shoot, in real time, as islands develop.
The electron cyclotron upper launcher, whose design work was performed by the European Domestic Agency and European associations through voluntary Task Agreements, is presently in the preliminary design review phase. Several details and potential modifications have to be addressed before the Procurement Arrangement can be drafted.
In this perspective, representatives from the various European associations involved in the launcher's design met last week at ITER. For three days, they presented a review of their design and calculations to ITER and to a review panel that included external experts. The preliminary design review was an opportunity to confront perspectives and address such issues as additional tests or analysis procedure, documentation, etc.
During the process, "chits" are issued that suggest actions and sometimes require them. At the outcome of last week's meeting, no category 1 (urgent) chit linked to technical problem was issued—a sure sign that the design process of the electron cyclotron upper launcher is progressing in the best possible manner.
The long awaited conceptual design review of the ITER cryostat was held last week at Cadarache, on Friday 20 November. This design review is an important step forward toward accomplishing the Procurement Arrangement next year.
The conceptual design of the cryostat was reviewed by an international review panel comprising members from CERN (Switzerland), IGCAR (India) and the ITER Organization. It was a long and busy day, and the design review was successfully completed with very few category-1 chits according to the Chairman of the design review panel.
"The Cryostat & Vacuum Vessel Pressure Suppression System Section has had a hectic time preparing for this milestone," commented review participants Bharat Doshi and Ioki Kimihiro, "and the Section is looking forward to the resolution of the chits and preparation for the next phase of the review process—the preliminary design review."
What were the best European environmental TV documentaries, TV dramas, and web-based films last year? The answer came at the Environment in Television and New Media Awards Evening held in London on 23 November.
A short list was drawn up from hundreds of applicants from all over Europe and the winners were announced in true Oscar "ripping open the envelope" style. There were three categories: TV General Programming, TV Documentary & Drama, and New Media.
The EFDA* produced film "Fusion 2100" won the best New Media prize! Warmest congratulations to everybody who contributed to making this exceptional film with a special mention for Isabella Milch, MPP Garching, and Örs Bendekfi from EFDA. Watch the movie here:
Lord David Puttnam, Oscar-winning film producer, politician, and advocate for environmentally-responsible energy, gave the keynote address underlining the role of the media in explaining the truth about climate charge. Two other fusion films were shortlisted for the prizes: "ITER Bien Sûr," produced by Télévision Locale Provence, and "From Here to Eternity," by ITER Communication, edited by Myriam Jacobs. Watch the shortlisted movies here:
ITER Bien Sûr
From here to eternity
At the end of the ceremony, there was a vote on what should be done right now to confront environmental damage. "A crash program of carbon-friendly energy provision" was overwhelmingly elected.
A good night for fusion.
* EFDA = European Fusion Development Agreement
The 4th Steering Committee of the CERN/ITER Collaboration Agreement was held on 19 November at CERN. It marked the end of a second year of successful collaboration between the ITER Organization and CERN on superconducting magnets and associated technologies, and the establishment of CERN as the ITER reference laboratory for superconducting strand testing for the oncoming five years.
The implementation agreement for 2009 encompassed a wide range of topics ranging from expertise in stainless steel and welding, high voltage engineering, high temperature superconductor (HTS) current lead design, and testing and consultancy in cryogenics and vacuum.
The main role of CERN as the ITER reference laboratory will be to carry out yearly benchmarking of the acceptance test facilities at the six Domestic Agencies involved in superconducting strand production; to help in the training of the personnel involved in these tests around the world; and to carry out third-party inspection and expertise in case of problems during production.
At its "AREVA Campus" in Aix, the French nuclear conglomerate hosts training sessions and seminars. Last week, the annual meeting of AREVA's Mining Projects Division included a visit to ITER.
Before visiting the platform, the party of 47 AREVA employees—some from Nigeria, Namibia, Kazakhstan and Canada—was given a presentation of the ITER Project by David Campbell, the Assistant Deputy Director-General for Fusion Science & Technology.
Most participants reacted like Carla Ramage-Robert, from AREVA's Human Resource Division: "We didn't know much about ITER and fusion, but now we measure just how revolutionary this project is. We are used to rather large projects ... but this is something else!"
|The National Order of Merit was established in 1963 by General de Gaulle to reward citizens who have distinguished themselves through service to the Nation.
Second in prestige only to the Legion of Honour, the "Blue Ribbon," as the decoration is called, was recently awarded to Françoise Cazenave-Pendariès, the Head of the Human Resources Division at ITER.
The decoration—awarded upon recommendation from the French Minister of Higher Education and Research—recognizes Françoise's "exemplary career in public research institutions" and her "dedication to public service" through the various positions she has held in the field of human resources.
Françoise began her career in the mid-1980s, at a time when the expression "human resources" did not exist. "The term in use at the time was 'personnel,' which is slightly derogatory in French, and that bothered me," says Françoise. "I'm glad we're not using it any more."
In human resources, Françoise believes human "values" are paramount. "I've always felt a passion for 'the Other'... I've always tried to understand people's behaviour and convictions," she says. "I'm convinced that there will always be something to do to make a better place for man in his economic environment." And for women too: Françoise has been involved for many years in promoting gender parity—an issue that, she says, "ITER will have to address at some point."
The daughter of a CEA engineer, Françoise spent most of her youth in French Polynesia. At age 20, she joined CEA and worked for two years in Contracts and Procurement while pursuing a Master's Degree in human sciences and occupational psychology. Once obtained, the degree opened the door to a position in the CEA's "personnel" department—a trade and a "home" that were to be hers for the following years.
Still "in its infancy," the ITER Project offers Françoise a different challenge from the positions that she held as Head of Human Resources at the CEA/DAM Île de France Research Center and at the National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control (INRIA) between 2002 and 2007.
"In my previous jobs, the structures had been established for a long time. The challenge was to fit initiatives into them—like promoting gender parity in science, implementing the European Charter for researcher, establishing a policy for handicapped personnel or creating a Human Resources Department from scratch at INRIA. Here at ITER, there's room, and need, for invention and innovative tools "that take into account the best practices to serve an international project."
During operation, the ITER Tokamak will generate considerable quantities of heat. If ITER were a power plant, this heat would be used to produce steam that would be supplied to a turbine generator to produce electricity.
In ITER—which is a scientific experiment—the heat produced during pulses will be transferred through two successive "closed" cooling water loops and then, finally, through a third "open" loop in which the heat will be evaporated to the ambient atmosphere by way of cooling towers.
Water in the first closed loop—the tokamak cooling water system (TCWS)—will be activated by the neutron and radiation flux from the plasma, as well as by tritium permeating through the plasma-facing components. The TCWS piping is a primary confinement barrier designed to minimize any potential release of radioactive water into the Tokamak Building.
In designing ITER's piping network, several parameters have to be taken into consideration. "We need to have a precise knowledge of all the forces acting on the piping system during operation," explains Warren Curd, ITER's Cooling Water System Section Leader. "And, we need to ensure that the pipe stresses are well below the allowable stress levels during all modes of operation. The way to do this is to perform what we call a 'piping stress analysis.'"
In October of this year, Warren and colleagues from the cooling water team in Cadarache, plus members of the US ITER team, travelled to Korea to meet with some of the world's specialists in the field of piping stress analysis at the Korean Power Engineering Company (KOPEC).
KOPEC has significant experience in piping design of nuclear power plants in Korea, and the piping stress analysis methodology they use has direct applicability to ITER. KOPEC is a potential contractor to ITER and discussions were opened in this perspective.
Being in Korea, the mission delegation also visited K-STAR, the superconducting tokamak that the National Fusion Research Institute operates in Daejon. The KSTAR cooling water system is different from ITER's, but the lessons learned and the knowledge gained from operating the Korean tokamak will direct benefit ITER via a collaboration agreement between the two projects.
On the last day of their visit to Korea, the mission delegation was offered an extensive walk-down of the Shin-Gori nuclear power plant which is in the last stages of construction. "It was a rare opportunity to see first hand the complex configuration and construction of a nuclear power plant," says Warren. "Most everything we viewed, whether it be the cooling water systems or equipment maintenance spaces, methods of radwaste handling, electrical layout, or controls and control room layout has direct applicability to the ITER design, fabrication and construction."
Work on the ITER Itinerary, which began in February 2008, is now coming to an end. Last September in Jouques, the construction of a brand new bridge over the EDF canal was completed. That left the old bridge, of course, which had to be dismantled.
The operation required the coordinated action of two heavy cranes. The five concrete beams of the 40-year-old bridge—each 66 metres long and weighing 150 tonnes—were reinforced and stabilized, and then one-by-one delicately detached from their support, lifted, and placed on a trailer. The operation started Friday 20 November and was over by the following Monday.
Work is ongoing in Lambesc, where a bridge is being reconstructed, and in Berre Harbour at the other end of the ITER Itinerary, where an unloading platform will be delivered in the early months of 2010. All Itinerary works will be complete early 2010. The first test convoys are scheduled to travel along the ITER Itinerary in 2011.
"Training, context, language, culture, general environment and welcoming activities are part of all the parameters and challenges to be taken care of carefully on a daily basis in an international organization," explained Françoise Cazenave-Pendariès, Head of the Human Resources at ITER on 25 November, during a visit organized by Agence Iter France.
For this occasion, human resources managers from local companies (CEA, ST Microelectronics, Avenir Télécom, Eurocopter, Gemalto) listened to a general overview of managing human resources in a multicultural environment.
Francoise was accompanied by Sophie Gourod, Responsible Officer for recruitment and training programs at ITER, who also gave tips on organizing recruitment in an international organization by describing the policies used to recruit the 422 ITER directly-employed staff of the ITER Organization to date.