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Significant progress in critical areas

Gary Johnson, Deputy Director-General, Tokamak Department

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During the ITER Council meeting last week, the schedules for the vacuum vessel and the superconducting coils (particularly toroidal field coils) were discussed; these are among the most critical for the achievement of First Plasma. The importance of these activities is not new and has been the focus of ITER Organization activities for years. Recent developments indicate that we are making significant progress in these critical areas.

In the area of the vacuum vessel, there are two noteworthy developments. The first was the preliminary approval of the vacuum vessel design at the end of phase 1 by the Approved Notified Body (ANB) in France in October. This is a critical milestone for the project and clearly shows that we are on the right track! Since this approval is for the Baseline Design, we still have a lot to do to get approval for the Modified Reference Design, however this is a very big step along the way.

The second was the signing of the Vacuum Vessel Procurement Arrangement with the European Domestic Agency on 19 November. This Procurement Arrangement covers seven of the nine vacuum vessel sectors—the largest and final part of the vacuum vessel procurement. Procurement Arrangements have already been signed with Korea for two sectors and port structures; Russia for upper ports; and India for in-wall shielding. From a schedule standpoint, the vacuum vessel is one of the most critical components for ITER, and these developments have high importance. The vacuum vessel is at the centre of the machine and interfaces with many key systems; it is also a major safety component for ITER.

In the area of toroidal field coils, strand continues to be produced at three Domestic Agencies. I was able to see this first hand during a recent visit to Russia where tonnes of strands are being produced, and cabling and jacketing preparation is in full swing. This is also the case in Japan and Korea. Other Domestic Agencies are not far behind and moving forward rapidly. For toroidal field coils and structures, contracts have been placed in both Japan and Europe and the ITER Organization is working together with the Domestic Agencies and manufacturers to make manufacturing-driven adjustments which are important for cost minimization. This will be done for other systems in the future.

In addition to the toroidal field systems, other magnet systems are also close to the critical path and continue to move forward rapidly. Final design reviews were held this week on magnet supports, on correction coils, and on magnet feeder/correction coil conductors. These systems will all be provided by China, and Procurement Arrangements will follow soon. Final preparations are being made for the Central Solenoid Conductor Procurement Arrangement which is expected to be signed in December with Japan. This is a large procurement, and will be the tenth conductor Procurement Arrangement.

These activities and others clearly show widespread progress in these critical areas. Much more has been done than mentioned here and progress is accelerating. Momentum is increasing every day both at the ITER Organization and at the Domestic Agencies!

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