As this year draws to an end, it is time to recall the events that have happened over the last twelve months.
The year 2009 started with a record. This past January was the coldest in a 20-year history of recorded meteorological data. I am sure that most of you remember the pictures showing people skiing down the streets in Marseille, and showing ITER staff making snowmen in front of the Headquarters Building.
In February, the first five postdoctoral fellows sponsored by His Serene Highness Prince Albert of Monaco arrived on site, and since then they have all made extremely valuable contributions to the project. The Prince is expected to come and visit ITER early in January 2010. March followed with its own lot of good news, as the US Congress agreed to grant $124 million to US ITER out of President Obama's stimulus package, allowing our colleagues across the Atlantic to proceed with their work and to deliver their contributions to the ITER Project.
Thanks to the steady management of Agence Iter France, the levelling works for the 42-hectare platform that will hold the tokamak and its technical infrastructure were completed this summer and we expect the first buildings to emerge out of the ground this coming spring. The European Domestic Agency "Fusion for Energy," which is responsible for the buildings, opened a first outpost in the ITER Headquarters with five permanent staff, who will be joined by four others early 2010. The construction of Joint Work Site III that will house about 200 more staff coming from Barcelona is progressing well, as you will see in this week's article and video Construction—fast forward."
In other construction news, the 106-kilometre itinerary leading from Fos-sur-Mer, where the heavy components will arrive from overseas to Cadarache, is also almost finished. By mid-2010, we will be able to witness the first test convoys passing the reinforced or newly-built roads and bridges thanks to the contributions from the the Regional Council of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur (PACA).
In September, the building housing the elementary classes of the International School in Manosque opened its doors; 281 children attend the school that has been operational for three years now. The masterminds behind the school's new face are the architects Rudy Ricciotti and Jean-Michel Battesti. Their revolutionary idea of "bringing nature into the school" was realized—again—thanks to an investment of EUR 55 million from the PACA region.
Only this month, the ITER CLI (Commission Locale d'Information) was established, an independent body serving as an interface between the ITER Organization as nuclear operator and the local population. This is another major step in our licensing process, which will be followed by a public enquiry next year.
So far, so good. In my New Year's address one year ago, I said that 2009 would be a decisive year for ITER—a year full of great expectation. And I presume that you will all agree that my prediction proved to be right. This year was extremely challenging for all of us, especially in preparation of the draft Baseline for the ITER Council in November. We achieved a lot in this process but did not quite succeed in finalizing it. Based on what we hold in hand, we will continue to work on an updated schedule that is acceptable to all Members, leading to the establishment of the ITER Baseline by June next year.
This discussion over the ITER Project's schedule and cost issues is certainly essential, but it tends to make us overlook progress made in other areas, and the fact that, indeed, we are performing well. The ITER family has grown impressively—we are now 430 permanent staff and many more subcontractors—and we now need to hold two sessions in the CEA's largest auditorium in order to be able to address all staff members.
Also, this year we placed almost 600 contracts with industry and contractors this year worth EUR 156.4 million. And we signed 18 Procurement Arrangements with the Domestic Agencies for many of the long-leading items such as the vacuum vessel and the upper ports, the conductors, the cooling water system and the power supplies for ITER's powerful neutral beams. In total, we have now signed 30 Procurement Arrangements for a total of EUR 1.77 billion committed to date representing 40 percent of the total investment.
The news reaching us from the European fusion labs and overseas documenting the progress that is being made keep reminding us that ITER is a truly multi-national endeavour. It is encouraging to see the enthusiasm with which the international fusion community responds to ITER's needs, and to witness the progress made in our Member states helping ITER to take shape and finally evolve from paper to steel and concrete.
The path forward is exciting and it will certainly require all our strength and endurance to face the challenges ahead. But before we do so, let's take some time off to relax and enjoy our friends and family. I wish you all a peaceful and restful holiday, see you back in the New Year.
This week, signatures on the ITER Organization's 30th Procurement Arrangement were completed in Barcelona. Following signature by the Japanese Domestic Agency and the ITER Organization, the Procurement Arrangement for the central solenoid conductor was endorsed at the European Domestic Agency, Fusion for Energy.
With the completion of this Procurement Arrangement, the Japanese Domestic Agency will begin procurement activities with industry for the supply of 122 tonnes—some 42 kilometres stretched end-to-end—of central solenoid conductor. The conductors will be produced in unit lengths of either 605 or 905 metres; a 1 km-long facility has been constructed in Japan at Nippon Steel in Kyushu for the jacketing of the central solenoid cable and for the Japanese share of the ITER toroidal field cable.
The central solenoid is the 1,000-tonne central pillar of the ITER device. Thirteen metres tall, it will be supported at its bottom by the 18 toroidal field magnets that frame the vacuum vessel. The torus shape of the ITER Tokamak is frequently compared to a donut; the central solenoid will completely occupy the central "donut hole."
Inside the central solenoid modules, the conductor will be coiled tightly into flat layers called pancakes, each layer having 14 turns. One conductor unit length of 905 metres will be used to wind six layers of pancake (a hexapancake); a shorter unit length of 605 metres will form four layers (a quadpancake). A central solenoid module will be composed of both hexas (6) and one quad for a total of 40 pancakes. Six central solenoid modules will make up the central solenoid column.
As in all tokamaks, the ITER central solenoid will fulfil the major role of inducing the current in the plasma. In ITER, it has been designed to provide the maximum possible magnetic flux to allow 1,000 second-long plasma pulses. Like in induction cooking—where varied current in the embedded solenoid in the stove induces current directly into the cooking pot—the large flux variation across the six central solenoid modules will induce 15 MA of current in the plasma. Each of the modules will be fed with different currents; variations in current will allow the central solenoid to assist in the shaping of the plasma for better confinement, in conjunction with the poloidal field coils.
During the Winter Meeting of the American Nuclear Society (ANS) in Washington, D.C., in November this year, ITER's Blanket Section Leader René Raffray was recognized as a Fellow. The election to the rank of Fellow within the ANS recognizes the contributions that individuals have made to the advancement of nuclear science and technology through the years.
René Raffray earned the highest grade of ANS membership "for his pioneering computational modelling research which provided solutions to several issues for fusion chambers including opening the inertial fusion energy dry wall design window through inclusion of ion time of flight effects and use of nano-structured tungsten armor; and understanding the tritium behavior in ceramic breeder blankets."
René Raffray was a Research Scientist in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department and Center for Energy Research, University of California in San Diego. On 1 September 2009 he joined the ITER Organization as the Blanket Section Leader.
Born on the beautiful Island of Mauritius and trained as a Mechanical Engineer at Loughborough University in Leicestershire, England, René made first contact with the fusion world at the University of California, Davis working with his doctoral advisor, Prof. M. Hoffman, on a grant from the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory in California. "My advisor introduced me to blankets in fusion devices. That is how it all started, and I never left," René says.
This said, René is not a newcomer to the ITER community. In fact he was already part of the family during the Conceptual Design Phase of the project in the late 1980s, as a member of the US effort on the ITER breeding blanket. During the following Engineering Design Activity Phase in the 1990s, René worked in Garching in the Blanket Group together with several current ITER colleagues including Kimihiro Ioki, now the Vacuum Vessel Division Head, and Gary Johnson now the Deputy Director-General in charge of the Tokamak Department. He left Garching in 1998 when the US pulled out of the project. Back in the US he worked on the ARIES program, which performs advanced integrated design studies of the long-term fusion energy embodiments to identify key R&D directions and to provide visions for the fusion program. Recent ARIES studies covered tokamaks, stellarators and also inertial fusion devices.
He also worked for the High Average Power Laser (HAPL) Program focused on developing laser fusion with direct drive targets and dry wall chambers.
René is glad to be back in the ITER fold and, after all these years, looking forward to contribute to the realization of this unique and exciting endeavour. "After waiting so long along the bumpy ITER ride through the various design phases, it is exciting to finally be part of the team building ITER."
Many of us may remember how we got recruited at ITER: the forms that had to be filled in ... the emails that had to be sent. Well, that has all changed since the Human Resources Division launched on 8 December a new on-line recruitment tool that makes applying for a job at ITER much faster and more user-friendly.
Candidates can now apply online—instead of sending their applications by email—and most of the tasks in the system are fully automated. At least one month can now be saved between the posting of a position and the selection of the right candidate.
The new system will ensure transparency of information through the sharing of real-time and updated data between the Domestic Agencies and Human Resources. The Domestic Agencies can view and nominate their candidates directly online and can follow if they are shortlisted, selected or not.
Potential candidates will also find much more comprehensive information on ITER's employment and benefit schemes and a new section with ITER staff video testimonials will give them a foretaste of what it is to work at ITER. This will help to enhance ITER's corporate image and further position it as a place of choice to work.
It took a lot of hard work since April to get this project off the ground. It also involved intense collaboration with the US and the European Domestic Agencies, IT, Communications and managers from several departments ... but the result is impressive. So do check it out and spread the word to all those who might be interested in working for ITER.
Starting 1 January 2010, Jérôme Paméla, the former leader of the European Fusion Development Agreement (EFDA), will take on a new role as Director of Agence Iter France. Paméla succeeds Francois Gauché, who is moving on will take over a new responsibility leading the French Generation IV (Gen IV) reactor program.
Jérôme Paméla was born in France, in 1955. He graduated from the "Ecole Polytechnique" in Paris in 1977, and in 1978 he obtained a diploma in nuclear and particle physics at Orsay University. In 1984, Jérôme Paméla finished his PhD on CELLO, a high energy physics experiment run on the Petra e+/e- Collider located at the DESY Laboratory in Hamburg. Between 1983 and 1984, Dr. Paméla was also involved in the DELPHI Project at the LEP/CERN, Geneva. After his PhD, he changed his field of research from high energy physics to thermonuclear fusion.
In 1984 Paméla joined the French Atomic Energy Agency (CEA) Controlled Thermonuclear Fusion Department in Fontenay-aux-Roses near Paris, and then moved to Cadarache in southern France in 1986. Jérôme Paméla was involved in the development of negative ion-based neutral beam heating, first as a physicist, and then as Group and European Task Area Leader. During several years he was responsible for collaboration with Japan in that field. In 1995-1996, he was involved in and ultimately led a first phase of studies preparing Cadarache to bid for siting ITER.
In 1996, Jérôme Paméla was appointed head of the Controlled Thermonuclear Fusion Department of the CEA and Head of the Euratom-CEA Association. In September 1999 he was seconded to Culham, UK, as EFDA Associate Leader, in charge of the Joint European Torus (JET).
Paméla is married and has four children.
An interview with Jérôme Paméla looking back on his time with EFDA and reflecting on his new assignment was published in the December 2009 issue of the EFDA Newsletter.
When travelling in Provence one walks in the footsteps of the Romans. Their presence can be felt everywhere, in the roads they built, the cities they founded and the monuments they erected.
In this former Provincia Romana, one city is more Roman than all others: it is the city of Arles, one of the residences of Emperor Constantine I the Great in the 4th century, and later the "praetorian prefecture" of the Gauls.
Arles, "the Little Rome of the Gauls," has preserved most of its Roman monuments: its Theatre and Amphitheatre, the Baths of Constantine, remnants of its Forum and traces of its Circus.
Another part of the city's Roman legacy had remained hidden for the past two millennia. Buried deep into the silt of the Rhône River, statues, artefacts, elements of architecture, and ornaments of all kinds were awaiting discovery—these are the treasures that the Departement of Underwater Archaeology has patiently brought to light over the past twenty years and that are presently on exhibition at the Musée Départemental de l'Arles Antique.
Among these precious relics of Roman splendour, one is familiar to Newsline readers: it is the marble bust of Julius Caesar that, along with other sculptures, was brought to CEA-Cadarache's Laboratoire de Mesures Nucléaires in July 2008 to be submitted to gamma ray tomography.
Caesar's bust is the centrepiece of the exhibition at the Musée Départemental. It is the only one of two surviving representations of the dictator made while he was still alive. The work of art is strikingly realistic—expression, wrinkles, prominent Adam's apple and receding hairline are similar to those that appear in coins minted in the years just before his assassination, in 52 BC.
Entitled "Caesar, Memory of the Rhône River," the exhibition presents some 700 statues and artefacts, most of them salvaged from long-sunken ships, some that were just dumped into the river—waste and litter that 2,000 years of oblivion have turned into historical treasures.
The exhibition opened on 24 October 2009 and will run to 19 September 2010. The Museum is open every day except Tuesday from 10:00 a.m. to 18:00 p.m. It will be closed on 25 December and 1 January.
For Dan Stout, Warren Curd, and Steve Ployhar—members of the Central Engineering & Plant Support (CEP) Department—and for Ken Blackler and Robert Shaw of the Assembly and Operation (AOP) Division, preparing for preliminary design for portions of the cooling water system meant taking an extensive trip to India.
The aim of this mission, which lasted the entire week of 30 November, was to gauge the interest of Indian engineering and construction companies in bidding on ITER assembly and commissioning work, and to become familiar with their experience and capabilities.
The first stop on this journey was Mumbai. The team met with representatives of the India Domestic Agency responsible for manufacturing cooling water system components, and with members of the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL). The meetings focused on technical and scope issues related to an upcoming Procurement Arrangement, due to be signed in April 2010.
In Mumbai, they also visited the engineering offices of IOT Infrastructure & Energy Services Ltd. and toured an oil terminal facility that they designed located at Navghar, a one-hour ride north.
At Yamuna, near Pune (some 150 kilometres south-east of Mumbai) the team visited the new headquarters of Kirloskar Brothers Ltd, which has received a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building certification at the highest level (Platinum). The team met with representatives of Kirloskar as well as suppliers and consultants, including Paharpur (a maker of cooling towers) and Tranter (which designs and manufactures heat exchangers.) A tour of the Kirloskar Chillers manufacturing facility followed the meeting.
The team flew on to Chennai on the eastern coast of the country to visit the offices of the Engineering Construction & Contracts Division of Larsen & Toubro Limited, the largest engineering and construction firm in India. L&T has built many of the nation's landmark projects, including Units 1 & 2 of the Kaiga Nuclear Power Station and the Baha'i Lotus Temple in New Delhi.
The mission ended 2,000 kilometres north of Chennai in New Delhi, where ITER personnel met with representatives of PL Engineering, part of another large engineering and construction company, the Punj Lloyd Group. PL Engineering has expertise in many different industries, including petrochemical, automotive and aerospace. It also built cooling water systems for the Rajasthan Atomic Power Station Units 3 and 4.
In addition to being considerate and generous hosts, all the companies visited on this mission expressed interest in ITER and a willingness to support the project and ensure its success.
Prominent personalities gathered in Copenhagen on 15 December and conducted a lively discussion on research performed within Europe on low-carbon technologies during the United Nations Climate Change Conference. The event was jointly organized by three Research Directorates of the European Commission: Environment, Energy and Energy-Euratom (which manages the European fusion program including ITER). The objective of the meeting was to inform policy makers, stakeholders, NGOs and media of research advancement in Europe.
The event was introduced by the Director General of DG Research, José Manuel Silva Rodríguez, who provided an introduction and overview of the broad portfolio of European research on climate change including Euratom (fusion/fission) research. The ITER Project and fusion were presented in the context of the combat against climate change by Professor Sir David King (Director, Smith School of Enterprise, former Science adviser to UK Government). Professor Ottmar Edenhofer (Co-Chair of Working Group III of the IPCC), Jørgen Kjems (Senior Consultant, and former Director of Risø National Laboratory) completed the distinguished panel which was moderated by Roger Highfield, New Scientist editor who also handled one hour of audience question and answer time. As Silva Rodríguez highlighted, "... the low carbon future requires the development of a broad portfolio of new energy technologies."
Fusion and ITER were presented by Professor Sir David King as part of the sustainable energy mix for the longer term that could benefit humanity. Quintana Trias, Director of the Euratom Programme who initiated the whole event, commented that ITER is already part of the European Strategic Technology Plan and its success will place it on the road map for a low-carbon society.
The podium discussion was attended by approximately 100 people, and received a few minutes of live satellite coverage. A full recording of the two-hour event will be soon be available in the Euratom website of the European Commission.
The day Paul-Henri Rebut joined the recently-created Fusion Department at CEA, most offices and labs were deserted. It was September 1958, and everyone was in Geneva attending the second Atoms for Peace Conference where, among other momentous decisions, fusion research was to be declassified.
This was the last time an important chapter of fusion history was being written without Rebut having a hand in it. The young graduate of the prestigious École Polytechnique would soon be making pioneering contributions to plasma physics, and, for the 40 years to follow, to the design and engineering of ever-more-powerful fusion machines. TFR, the French tokamak that dominated magnetic fusion in the mid-1970s; JET, the first machine to achieve deuterium-tritium fusion in 1991; the early ITER design ... all bear witness to his vision and creativity.
"Paul-Henri Rebut," read his commendation at the award of the European Physical Society prize in 2006, "is one of the most successful physicists, engineers, machine-builders and managers in the history of magnetic conﬁnement fusion."
"When I began my career," says the 73 year old physicist, now a regular consultant for the ITER Organization, "discharges in our rudimentary fusion machines lasted at best one millisecond, and plasma temperatures were in the 100,000 °C range. Still, I was certain that, one day, fusion's contribution to our energy needs would be essential."
The JET experiments from 1991 to 1997, during which 16 MW of peak fusion power was released, had convinced Rebut that the "next machine" should aim for ignition—the self-burning of the plasma without auxiliary heating systems. Under his direction from 1992 to 1994, ITER aimed at just that. But gathering political support for a project of that scope and ambition proved impossible.
ITER had to settle for less, which, in Rebut's opinion "was a mistake of historical dimension. We lost 30 years in our quest for fusion."
Fifteen years have passed since Paul-Henri Rebut left the ITER Project, but he is still a familiar figure at ITER Headquarters and the other buildings of the Organization. "Rebut's experience is unique," says the ITER Principal Deputy Director-General Norbert Holtkamp. "As a consultant, his contribution has been exceptionally creative."
The former director of TFR, JET and ITER has some very personal ideas on the future of fusion—ideas, he warns with a mischievous smile, "that are not what one would consider as politically correct."
Rebut's main objective has not changed: "We have to make ITER work, that's the absolute priority." In his view however, the project could open a whole new perspective for fusion. "With ITER, we will have proved that we can harness a plasma and produce a steady stream of highly energetic neutrons. Now, the interesting question is: Can we find a better use for these neutrons?"
"In a pure fusion reactor," he explains, "the 14 MeV neutrons are slowed down in the blanket to produce heat, but they are not used to their full potential. Another solution is to take advantage of their considerable energy to induce fission reactions in a blanket that would include some fission fuel, like natural uranium (U 238) or thorium. By doing this, the energy produced could be multiplied by a factor 10 ... This is what the 'hybrid reactor' is about."
But whatever the future of fusion, be it "pure" or "hybrid," it relies on the success of ITER—a possible hybrid reactor will depend on a fusion furnace to produce the fission-inducing neutrons.
At 73, the legendary builder of TFR and JET, the designer of the original "Big ITER" acknowledges he has "always been at odds with the trends of the time." And he is always ready to lend a hand in writing yet another chapter in the long history of fusion.
Today's snowfall forced the works on the new ITER building Joint Worksite III (JWSIII) to come to a full stop. But until then, the construction of the new office building that will be almost identical to Headquarters has made visible progress. We have prepared a short movie showing you the progress made so far. When in France, do like the French—well, at least speak like the French ...
With this aim in mind, Agence Iter France entered a partnership with Université Paul-Cézanne to provide French classes to ITER staff and spouses.
The agreement was signed on Tuesday 15 December in Aix by François Gauché, Director of Agence Iter France and Marc Pena, President of Université Paul-Cézanne, in the presence of Kaname Ikeda, ITER Director-General.
The partnership will enable staff and spouses to attend French classes taught by University professors, either on site at ITER or at Paul-Cézanne's campus in Aix.
"Twenty hours of class per week, that's quite intense," said Maiyee, one of the ITER spouses quoted by Marseille's daily La Provence. "But it is a wonderful opportunity for us!"