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Gary Johnson, ITER Deputy Director-General, Tokamak Department.
During the last few weeks, there have been several important developments for the ITER Project. Two related to the tokamak are: the vacuum vessel schedule forum held on 20 January as part of the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) meeting; and the blanket conceptual design review (CDR) which was completed this week. Both of these were part of important steps to move the project forward.

The main objective of the vacuum vessel schedule forum was to assess industrial capability to deliver the vacuum vessel sectors at minimum time and cost. Past experience was reviewed, including R&D from the ITER Engineering Design Activities to the present. Current plans for the Korean sectors were examined, and European companies discussed their ideas on how the schedule could be compressed. The meeting was very constructive and will help finalize assessments on the technical feasibility of an earlier date for First Plasma. Following this meeting and other intense discussions, the vacuum vessel schedule has been brought in line with the requirements regarding this improved schedule.

The blanket conceptual design review was the first formal review of the ITER blanket and had been eagerly awaited by many around the world. Over 80 people attended—an understandable number since six of the seven ITER Members are involved with the procurement of this critical plasma-facing system. The review was very thorough and covered the blanket and first wall requirements, designs, analyses, fabrication, assembly, remote handling, shielding, interfaces, etc.

The design review Committee and Chair were favourably impressed by the quality of the work accomplished, and specifically noted that it was clear this had been a team effort involving both the ITER Organization and the Domestic Agencies working together within the Blanket Integrated Project Team. The Committee found that the current design is sound and headed in the correct direction. There were no surprises during the review (i.e., unknown issues) but the comments made by the committee will help us focus our efforts as we move forward with the design. The results of this review confirm that there is a sound basis for this complex design to move forward.

The Head of the Indian Domestic Agency, Shishir Deshpande (left) and Kaname Ikeda signing Procurement Arrangement 31. Also in the picture: Aparajita Mukherjee, ion cyclotron project manager at ITER India, and ITER Deputy Director-General Dhiraj Bora.
Today, Friday 5 February, ITER Director-General Kaname Ikeda and the Head of the Indian Domestic Agency, Shishir Deshpande, signed a Procurement Arrangement for the supply of the radio-frequency power sources for the ITER ion cyclotron heating and current drive system.

The ion cyclotron heating and current drive system will provide radio-frequency (RF) heating and current drive to the ITER plasma. A total of 20 MW of RF power will be initially avail¬able from the system. The system is composed of the antenna port plugs plus matching systems, the transmission lines, the RF power sources, and auxiliary sub-systems, and services such as decoupling units, control systems and test facilities (see picture).

The Procurement Arrangement signed today has a value of approximately EUR 27.8 million. And, for the record, it is Procurement Arrangement number 31.

The blanket technology is one of the most challenging issues for the success of the ITER Project. That is why its review drew much attention this week.
What an impressive meeting this was! More than 80 participants involving experts from the ITER Organization and six ITER Members attended this week's conceptual design review (CDR) of the ITER blanket at the Château de Cadarache. It was the first formal review of the whole system since the design review performed in 2007 and it had been "...eagerly awaited by many around the world," as this is a critical plasma-facing component, explains Deputy Director-General Gary Johnson in this week's Director's Corner.

Following the comprehensive review of the 2001 ITER design performed in 2007, some key deficiencies such as the thermal loads on the first wall and remote handling issues had been identified. These issues have since been addressed in a joint effort by the ITER Organization and the Domestic Agencies within the framework of the Blanket Integrated Project Team. One of the outcomes presented at this week's CDR was a complete set of thermal load specifications, "...indeed the most complete I have seen in any tokamak," said Richard Pitts, one of the leading scientists in the ITER Fusion Science & Technology Department. "I am impressed by the amount of work achieved within one year," chairman André Grosman, Deputy Head of Magnetic Confinement Fusion Research Institute (IRFM), said. "Thanks to the dedication and synergy within the team, today we have a comprehensive design for the ITER blanket and the first wall. The design copes with all the major deficiencies of the 2001 design. However some challenges still remain such as the interfaces. These are even more intricate in the updated design than in the old design because of the in-vessel coils."

The panel also pointed out the "excellent preparation of the review and the excellent quality of the talks." The chits which were produced are now being analysed by the panel and will be categorised within the next two weeks.

Professor Jiangang Li with Steve Cowley, Director of the Culham Science Centre.
Professor Jiangang Li revisited old haunts this week at Culham Science Centre. The Deputy Head of the Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute of Plasma Physics in Hefei, who had worked at Culham some twenty years ago, was happy to "come home again" and meet up with former colleagues as he visited JET and the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE).

During his visit he gave a talk on the present state and future plans of the EAST tokamak, the flagship of the Chinese fusion program. He had this clear message for his large audience—China needs fusion more urgently than any other country.

Following construction in just 5 ½ years at a cost of USD 20 million, EAST went into operation in 2006 with 20 diagnostics. By the end of this year that number will have doubled, covering all the key profiles. ITER-relevant work includes plasma control, ramp-up and down optimization and in particular, steady-state issues.

Professor Li described the so-called fast track to fusion power as "not fast enough." It is important to achieve a demonstration fusion plant, even with a reduced scope, as early as possible and China currently has some 50 to 60 staff working on future fusion power plants as part of its dynamic fusion program.

Christophe Guillemaut, 29, and Germain Broydé, 21, are among the three magnetic fusion students who have been accepted for an internship at ITER.
The presence on French soil of two major fusion projects, ITER and the Laser Mégajoule (LMJ), led France's academic authorities to establish a Master's degree program in Fusion Science in 2006.

The two-year program is offered by ten participating higher education institutions in France, but all students have one thing in common: they spend the last quarter of their course either at Cadarache's INSTN, or in Bordeaux, close to the LMJ installation, and do a six months internship in a fusion lab or installation.

To this day, more than one hundred students have earned the Master's degree in Fusion Science.

Last Thursday, 4 February, 23 students gathered in the INSTN amphitheatre near the Château de Cadarache. They were welcomed by Francis Kovacs, Deputy Director of CEA-Cadarache; Guy Bonnaud, in charge of the Fusion Science Master's program at INSTN; Yves Sarazin, of INSTN-Cadarache; and Jean Jacquinot, former Director of JET and Tore Supra, who gave a presentation on "The socio-economic implications of magnetic confinement fusion."

Christophe Guillemaut, 29—who already holds a Master's degree in physics—and Germain Broydé, 21, are among the three students who have been accepted for an internship at ITER. They will both work on divertor-related matters.

"I remember reading about fusion and the JET installation in a science magazine when I was 12 and being totally enthralled with it," says Christophe. "Later on, while studying physics, fusion appeared to me as the perfect mix of theory and engineering."

Alongside Richard Pitts in the FST Department, Christophe will tackle computer modelling of energy loads on the ITER divertor.

Broydé, despite his young age, comes to ITER with rich international experience. A third-year student at the Arts et Métiers Engineering School, he has studied in New Zealand and "discovered the nuclear world" at the Indian Institute of Technology in Kampur. His "passion" is energy: he'll be working with Frédéric Escourbiac on thermomechanical analysis of the ITER divertor.

Of the 23 magnetic fusion students who gathered last Thursday at INSTN-Cadarache, almost half will be doing their internship at Tore Supra. "It will be a great privilege to be working in such environments," Guy Bonnaud told them in his welcoming address.

Bruno Levesy has been awarded the "Achievement Award for Compact Muon Solenoid Construction" by the Compact Muon Solenoid Collaboration Board.
Bruno Levesy, member of the ITER Central Integration & Engineering Office, has been awarded the "Achievement Award for Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) Construction" by the CMS Collaboration Board. (CMS is one of the main particle detectors installed on the Large Hadron Collider at the CERN laboratory outside of Geneva.) After seven years of design and manufacturing follow-up, Bruno was in charge from 2003 until 2005 of coordinating the assembly of the superconducting solenoid and its cryostat.

One of the CMS detector's distinctive features includes a 4-tonne superconducting solenoid with a 6-metre diameter by 12.5-metre-long free bore. "The challenge of its assembly lay in the sheer size of the magnet and the gaps in between coil, thermal shields and cryostat," Bruno recalls. "It is the largest superconducting solenoid every built—so far." And it works perfectly at nominal field. So that is why Bruno will travel to Geneva on 15 March to receive his award. Well done, Bruno!

The "Lehman Review" Team.
A team of project management experts from the US Department of Energy (DOE) visited the US ITER Project Office (USIPO) this week to review plans for all major systems and evaluate the progress of US ITER activities.

The successful two-day review was led by Daniel Lehman, Director of DOE's Office of Project Assessment. He is the developer of this type of long-standing project peer review and evaluation procedure, which has consistently had a profound impact on DOE's large science projects being delivered on time and on budget.

Known as the "Lehman Review," this concept has been promoted by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy as a best practice for all US federal government agencies. These reviews are conducted periodically on Office of Science construction projects and large experimental equipment under fabrication.

Areas examined during the USIPO review included efficient use of resources, strategy for setting performance baselines, procurement plans and consistency with ITER Organization schedule requirements, cost estimates and risk analyses, and effective organization and management.

The review team determined that the Project Office is efficiently using its available resources to make reasonable progress and provide the US in-kind contributions to the ITER Organization in a timely way.

USIPO's procurements for fiscal year 2010 were described as being aimed at achieving "credible and affordable" preliminary engineering designs for 2012. The team termed the plans consistent with ITER Organization schedule requirements that have been determined.

The team found USIPO cost estimates to be near or at the upper limit of the established range, principally due to more risk events, better understanding of uncertainties, improved cost estimates from industry, and changing requirements. Reviewers also cited the strong USIPO leadership team; efficient management of budget constraints; use of a rigorous design review process; effective utilization of Integrated Product Teams; the use of value engineering methodologies to reduce costs; a "commendable" proactive approach in providing assistance to the ITER Organization with system engineering; and an effective strategy of engaging industry to help validate manufacturability, reduce costs, and mitigate risks.

The committee concluded its positive report by congratulating USIPO management and recommending the implementation of a regular schedule of Office of Science technical, cost, schedule, and management reviews, beginning in late fall.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel posing for the cameras with IPP Director Guenther Hasinger in Greifswald on Monday. Photos: Anja Richter Ullmann/IPP
German Chancellor Angela Merkel wants more research into nuclear fusion. "Nuclear fusion is a form of energy that could provide an infinite amount of energy for us," said Merkel in her weekly video message broadcast last Saturday 30 January.

"Nuclear fusion could provide endless energy without producing radioactive waste," Merkel, a former physicist, said in the podcast. "It is worth investing in such a technology of the future, but no one country can do this alone. You need international scientific cooperation."

She said that nuclear fusion, along with renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power, was a "future technology" worth investing in. The Chancellor added that scientific and technological research should be an economic priority as Germany recovers from recession. "Without research, without investment in the future, we will not be able to maintain our prosperity," she said.

Underlining her words, Merkel paid a visit on Monday to the Max-Planck-Institute for Plasma Physics in Greifswald. The Institute is the home of the stellarator project Wendelstein 7-X.

In a press release commenting Merkel's visit to Greifswald, Thomas Bareiss, Member of the German Bundestag, underlined the Chancellor's commitment to fusion research. "To meet our long-term energy needs, we must continue to invest into fusion research. [...] It would be a serious mistake, to deprive ourselves from fusion as a means of safe, economic, environmental and climate-friendly and above all, inexhaustible energy."

Click here to read the full press release:

Pucadyil Ittoop John is one of the four representatives from India on the ITER Council.
He is one of the senior scientists at the Institute for Plasma Research in Bhat, Gandhinagar, where he occupies the Meghnad Saha Chair in Plasma Science and Technology. He has authored and co-authored numerous scientific articles, and he has written a book entitled "Plasma Sciences and the Creation of Wealth."

Pucadyil Ittoop John is also one of the four representatives from India on the ITER Council, the project's governing body. He was also instrumental in India joining the ITER Project: "We felt we should be part of the very project that would make fusion energy become reality," says P.I. John.

It was for a lifetime of contribution to science that on 26 January this year, the day when India celebrates becoming a republic, he was awarded the Padma Shri, one of the most prestigious awards given by the Indian Government to citizens in recognition of their distinguished contribution to society. Talking about Professor P.I. John and his outstanding scientific career would fill many pages. But what makes this physicist with his distinctive look and his distinct affection for the American singer Joan Baez so outstanding is his passion for poetry and painting. Visit one of P.I. John's blogs where he publishes romantic paintings and poems on Minerva's children and Moore's law, on Point Loma and even an Ode to ITER (" the rocky wilderness of Cadarache..."). "Science, like art, is a form of expression," he says. "The attempt in both is to find the truth."

After playing a leading role in building up the organizational structure of ITER India, Dr John has now taken a lead to develop the idea of a national fusion program. "With India's entry into ITER, a human resource base for future requirements of trained manpower in fusion science and technology is needed," he says. "I am currently working on an administrative framework for funding universities and educational institutions in basic research, and human resource development in fusion science and technology."

As if all this was not yet enough to keep an officially retired man busy, perhaps Prof John's most beloved baby is the Facilitation Center for Industrial Plasma Technology. An institution that forms a bridge to industry, as Professor John explains it, something similar to the Culham Innovation Centre. "Industry is not aware of what plasma science can do for them," P.I. John says. So he and his team have engaged themselves into research on plasma nitriding processes to harden steel surfaces, a process that today finds its application in machining and the automobile industry.

Another example of how the abstract world of plasma physics has helped to solve very earthly problems is a project on destruction of medical waste using plasma torches. The treatment of hazardous waste stemming from hospitals or chemical plants is a cause of growing concern in India, Professor John tells us. "Most of this waste cannot just be burned because of its toxic by-products. The solution to the problem is called plasma pyrolysis for waste treatment which, for nonmedical organic waste, not only gets rid of the waste, but produces energy out of it."

Prof. John gave the name of "Shiva's third Eye" to the torch. Shiva is the head of the Hindu pantheon and is depicted with a third eye, capable of destroying anything. Science, remember, like art is a form of expression.

Join Hang Wang and his wife Lina at the Saturday market in Manosque and hear them talk about their experience of living in France.
Meet Hang Wang and his wife Lina. Join them as they walk through the stalls of the Saturday market in Manosque. Visit them in their home and hear them talk about their experience of living in France. And have tea with the Gupta family and their two young children Divyansh and Digant.

Then stay tuned as Shawn Simpson, from Agence Iter France, talks about the French Intercultural program she's responsible for, and share an French lesson on "the subjunctive" with Sashiko Ishizaka.

"The people of ITER" is the sixth episode in the TLP-TV series "ITER, une énergie pour notre avenir." The series began airing in March 2009 and has registered as one of the greatest hits in TLP-TV history.

Each episode airs an average of 36 times over a two-week period and can also be viewed on the TLP-TV website. "When we began filming this series almost a year ago," says Sébastien Galaup, TLP-TV Program Director, "most people in the region had only a very vague idea of what ITER was about. I think we've definitely contributed to a better understanding of the project."

Sébastien thinks it is very important to show the ITER people in their daily life. "It makes the viewers realize they are people, just like us, not some kind of strange species coming from another planet ..."

"The people of ITER" will begin airing on TLP this Friday, 5February, at 6:00 p.m. on the Terrestrial Digital Network (TNT). It will be broadcast on Saturday 6, at 7:30 a.m., 1:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; on Sunday 7, at 2:00 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 8:00 p.m.; and everyday at a different hour over the following two weeks.

Watch this video on one month of construction activity on the JWS3 temporary office building in 55 seconds.
In this video clip, relive one month of construction activity on the JWS3 temporary office building in 55 seconds. From ITER Headquarters it looks complete—three stories of modules have been assembled—but wait ... there's more to come. The last modular office block will be delivered and assembled at the end of February. Power supply, communication infrastructure, water, and furnishings will come next ... if all goes well, the first person will be in his or her office in June.

By the Château de Cadarache, an "orientation table" points out the name and elevation of every mountain within sight.
Driving up the Durance Valley from Cadarache to Manosque, the view extends to the southernmost peaks of the Alpine range, more than 100 kilometres to the north and east.

On a clear winter day, the vast panorama is particularly spectacular. To the left, one can see the 4,100-metre-tall Barre des Écrins, located west of Briançon; to the right, the view reaches as far as the jagged mountains above the Gorges du Verdon. A succession of snow-capped peaks, needles, ridges, domes and high plateaus spans the whole horizon—a heaven for hikers and mountain climbers.

The best place to take in this magnificent vista is an opening in the woods below the Château de Cadarache. There, at the end of a small path, an "orientation table" points out the name and elevation of every mountain in sight.

Partially based on that "orientation table," we have produced these two panoramas: one looking north toward Sisteron, the other looking east toward Vinon and the Gorges du Verdon.

Special thanks for their precious help to Bruno Couturier from Agence Iter France and to Régis Kuntz, Head of Vinon's gliding platform.