When it comes to finding names for new projects, scientists can get quite creative. As we are about to talk about PRIMA (the Padua Research on ITER Megavolt Accelerator) and its two test stands SPIDER (Source for the Production of Ions of Deuterium Extracted from a Radio Frequency plasma) and MITICA (Megavolt ITER Injector and Concept Advancement) we should feel grateful for short and catchy acronyms.
PRIMA is the name of a new test facility for the ITER neutral beams being built at the Consorzio RFX in Padua, Italy. Following the recent endorsement by the ITER Council, the test facility is now entering the construction and procurement phase. The facility requires the construction of new buildings supplied by Italian research institutions covering a surface of two hectares, and the adaptation of the existing 400 kV power substation. The contributing parties are Europe, Japan and India.
Neutral Beam Injection is part of the ITER heating and current drive systems. Its purpose is to deliver a high-energy beam of neutral deuterium atoms that is used for heating the plasma as well as for driving the current and controlling the current profile (read related article in Newsline 21). ITER will be equipped with two neutral beam heating and current drive injectors - each one delivering a deuterium beam of 16.5 MW with particle energies of 1 MeV, and able to operate for long pulses of up to 3600 seconds. A third neutral beam line will inject a 100 keV, 1.5 MW hydrogen beam for diagnostic purposes.
But long before the button is pressed that will turn the heating on, "we have to solve several challenging physics and technology issues," says Piergiorgio Sonato, Project Leader for the team developing the neutral beams test stands. "One crucial issue is the high-voltage gas-insulated transmission lines which connect the power supply to the beam source."
Another equally important aspect is the high voltage holding of up to 1 MV. "Holding a high voltage of 1 MV over a long period of time—and pulses of 3600 seconds as foreseen for the ITER neutral beams are long in this regard—is a challenge in itself," says Senior Technical Officer Beatrix Schunke. "But it also means running the risk of flash-overs, like in lightning."
"Some of the tests run in Padua will be carried out for the first time ever," explains Dhiraj Bora, Deputy Director-General responsible for the heating and current drive in ITER. "These requirements have never been achieved simultaneously," says Sonato, underlining the need of experimental demonstration.
The main mission of the SPIDER test bed at PRIMA is to finalize the development of the ion sources required for the ITER neutral beam injectors, and to test all essential aspects of the diagnostic neutral beam accelerator. SPIDER is therefore designed to test the full-size ITER negative ion source which will be twice as large as the largest existing negative ion source—installed on a test bed at IPP Garching in Germany. SPIDER will be capable of running pulses of up to 3600 seconds at maximum power with hydrogen or deuterium discharges. Thus SPIDER will demonstrate all the critical aspects of the ion sources for ITER's heating and diagnostic neutral beam injectors.
MITICA, on the other hand, is a full-size heating neutral beam injector. MITICA will start operation more than five years before the heating beam will be used on ITER. That will give the team of scientists and engineers at Padua sufficient time to resolve all the problems, expected and unexpected, that might be found when operating this very high power system.
Although PRIMA will concentrate initially on the development of the ITER injectors with a team of scientists and engineers from Europe, Japan and India, and perhaps other ITER Members, it is confidently expected that PRIMA will become a centre of excellence for neutral beam development for the future.
Special thanks to Beatrix Schunke, Ron Hemsworth and Piergiorgio Sonato for their kind cooperation on this article.
Imagine if 25 children were born into your home every year. Imagine that you couldn't just give them regular names like Alexandra, Dimitri, Carmen or Jean-François, but that you had to find names that were unique—names that have not been used within the last 30 years, and that evoke speed, strength and grace.
Imagine this, and you have an idea of the kind of problem regularly faced by a major racehorse breeder. And you can understand why a horse can be named ... Iter.
"I'm an avid newspaper reader," says Jean-Claude Seroul, who lives in Puyricard and owns one of the largest French breeding farms in Normandy. "Seven years ago, the press was full of stories about this great scientific project named ITER that France hoped to host. I liked the name, which is short and elegant, and I liked the concept of developing a safe, clean, unlimited source of energy."
So when in April 2003 a young foal was born to the American stallion Key of Luck and the French mare Princesse Baie, the name came naturally: this would be a horse named Iter.
Iter is a "beautiful horse" with a spotless coal-black coat, "the kind that makes a thoroughbred look especially great," says Jean-Claude Seroul. "He is brave, robust and hardworking—a real tough one!"
The life of a racehorse is shorter than that of a science project and at seven, Iter is now past his prime. Jean-Claude Seroul sold him in 2009, but the black thoroughbred still appears, carrying new colours, in the regional races in Marseille, Cagnes-sur-Mer on the Riviera and at the Oraison racetrack not very far from ITER.
Iter-the-horse lives in Cabriès, some 15 kilometres north of Aix-en-Provence. He is one of the 300-odd boarders at the Centre d'Entraînement des Plaines de l'Arbois. When we visited him last week, he was just back from the races in Cagnes-sur-Mer. "He will run for another year and then retire," says Jean-Marc Capitte, who's trained the horse since he was a yearling. "I guess his present owner will sell it. Iter's got another 15 to 20 years of life ahead of him. He'll still be a great horse to ride around."
If you want to meet Gaston Hanna for a face-to-face interview, you'd better go to bed early the night before. The only time slot he had to offer this week was on Wednesday, 7:30 in the morning—meaning he is a very busy man these days.
Gaston normally works for the European Domestic Agency, Fusion for Energy (F4E), based in Barcelona, but the engineer is one of the dozen F4E staff who recently moved to Cadarache to oversee the preparations for the start of construction. And the preparations are in full swing.
Currently there are five big contracts in the pipeline—for the anti-seismic bearings, the Tokamak excavation, the architect engineering contract for all 32 installations on the platform, for the health and safety protection coordinator, and finally the support-to-owner contract.
This last contract, that will be awarded for a period of six years is to provide support to F4E during the tender process and to supervise the proper execution of the contracts, was the focus of a meeting held at the Château de Cadarache this week. In this meeting, the representatives from the preselected candidates were introduced to the "negotiated procedure" of the ITER tendering process. The four candidates, all European consortia, now have time until the 22 March to submit their offers.
On Friday, 5 March, His Excellency Ranjan Mathai, the Indian Ambassador to France, visited ITER. Norbert Holtkamp gave the Ambassador a briefing on progress at ITER and there was a useful discussion on subjects specific to India's involvement in the project. After a tour of the ITER construction site the Ambassador expressed his thanks and wished the project every success.
If you have problems pronouncing certain French expressions, then you should see the French struggling to pronounce the name of our latest arrival from Bavaria: Helmut-Stefan Hurzlmeier.
Helmut graduated as an Engineer for Computer Aided Design (CAD) in 1996. His first job was at the ITER Joint Work Site in Garching, a science campus only a few miles north of Munich. For the following 14 years, he would continue to be involved in the ITER project, in one way or another.
At Garching, he began as Liaison Designer in the Design Office. At that time, the ITER CATIA database was still in its infancy, and relied on an old-fashioned folder structure. Helmut stayed in Garching for eight years working mainly on managing design data and creating the basic structure for the CAD database we use today.
When the Joint Work Site in Garching was given up in 2007, Helmut went to work for the European Domestic Agency based in Barcelona where he concentrated on studies for the preparation of the ITER platform, including the analysis of how much earth had to be moved in order to create the flat surface we see today. In his own words, "...it was necessary to turn over every single stone in the models in order to achieve the perfect result."
After his stint in Barcelona, Helmut returned to the Garching science campus, this time to work on the design of both JT 60 and DEMO. The task was to simplify the design of the toroidal field coils in order to save on both weight and cost. That done, he moved across the street to Max Plank Institute to improve the design of the half-size ion source for ITER called ELISE.
Never far from the ITER Project, in November last year he decided to move to Cadarache to continue his work on the ITER design. As Design Coordinator for site and buildings, his job is to manage the Computer Aided Design (CAD) for the site and the buildings.
Although he devotes his work life to design and create the technological future, Helmut's hobbies take him back in time: he loves to repair—and drive—old cars and motorbikes. "Actually, any sort of mechanical device that appears to be broken will do," he says. A lover of small things, he owns a Smart Cabrio with its proportionately-small trailer, and a 13.5 horsepower Goggomobil Sportscoupé.
Modern tokamaks are large, heavy and powerful machines that can be brought down by a mere pinhole in their vacuum system or piping networks. Whether microscopic or visible, holes, cracks and faults cause leaks, which in turn allow air, water or helium to diffuse into areas that are forbidden to them. At best, a leak can seriously degrade the machine's performance; at worst it can stop operations.
JET, for instance, while particularly reliable and despite having very few water-cooled components, experienced some 90 operation-stopping leaks between 1983 and 2006. Tore Supra, which is equipped with an actively-cooled first wall, has to manage an average of two in-vessel leaks per year.
Provided that they can be located and accessed, leaks can be fixed. In ITER however, the architecture and scale of the machine, the unique thermodynamics, restricted accessibility, and the progressive activation of the components will make leak localization particularly challenging.
ITER may not be able to operate at full performance if the total leak rate rises above the equivalent of 10 billionth of a drop of water, or a gram of gas, per second. Leak tightness in the torus, cryostat, neutral injection boxes, radiofrequency heating systems, etc., are all critical to optimal operation.
Beginning last year, an intense R&D program was started to develop risk-mitigating concepts linked to leak localization. Tasks have been launched in collaboration with the US and European Domestic Agencies, with Russian facilities, and a first industrial contract for leak localization simulations has recently been awarded to the French-Indian company Fluydin.
Last week, the ITER Vacuum Pumping Section held a kick-off meeting with the Fluidyn specialists. "We've asked them to model leaks from the high pressure water circuits into the vacuum vessel," explains ITER Vacuum Pumping Section Leader Robert Pearce and Leak Technical Engineer Liam Worth. "This is highly complex and has never been done before. Modelling leaks in ITER is a "multiphysics" affair involving different physics models, one of which requires sixty-term equations that have just recently been mastered ..."
While everything is being done to minimize the chance of leaks, "risks cannot be brought down to zero," say Robert and Liam. "We've taken all we could from the other tokamaks' experience. Soon, with models from Fluidyn and results from the work being conducted by the Domestic Agencies, and as part of a larger R&D program, we'll develop effective, new concepts in leak localization such as 'spectroscopic imaging of leak plumes' or 'multi-sensing pressure profiling' ..."
This week, experts from the various teams inside the ITER Organization, its Domestic Agencies in Europe, Korea, Japan, Russia and the US, plus external experts from JET, IPP- Greifswald and RFX Padua assembled in ITER Headquarters in Cadarache to review ITER's in-vessel diagnostic systems.
"The aim of the meeting was not only to inform all the parties involved on the recent design updates - something that has an impact on the integration and design of our diagnostic systems - but also to track the design progress made at the Domestic Agencies," says Anna Encheva, Engineer in the Diagnostics Division, who organized and co-chaired the three-day meeting. The attendees focused particularly on all the diagnostic in-vessel services such as cables, conduits, connectors and feedthroughs with the goal of identifying outstanding issues and reviewing their integration with the vacuum vessel and the blanket instrumentation.
At the end of three days, a list of outstanding issues were identified and grouped into global ITER-related and specific diagnostics-related action items that will be tracked down over the next weeks and months.
Every year since 1987, in schools throughout Europe, thousands of students get involved in the European Youth Parliament (EYP). Regional chapters of EYP organize "model parliament" sessions, where students aged 15-17 get acquainted with committee work, the resolution approval process, General Assembly meetings and the inner workings of the institution.
During the week-end of 26-28 February, the Lycée Militaire in Aix-en-Provence hosted such a session. Like actual European deputés, delegates from nine lycées (secondary schools) of the PACA region competed, discussing such issues as regional development, illegal downloading from the Internet or the standing of the European Union in the concert of nations.
At the end of the three-day session, a winner was proclaimed. And the winner was ... the nine-student delegation from the International School, Manosque!
Accompanied by Katherine Llorca, their Social Science and Economics teacher, Elise, Mallaury, Marion, Emma, Maissane, Stella, Sami, Kevin and Paul will represent the PACA region at the International Youth Forum that is organized from 16-21 May in Istanbul—bridging cultures in the city that bridges two continents.
Several thousand students and teachers, science and technology professionals, and media representatives had the opportunity to learn more about the ITER project when they visited the US ITER exhibit at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science held February 18-22 in San Diego.
The exhibit featured displays on various aspects of the ITER Project, a model and a 3D video depicting the ITER device, a touch-screen fusion quiz, and several colorful plasma devices. Personnel from the US ITER Project Office and Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory staffed the exhibit, greeting visitors and distributing US ITER brochures, questions and answers and a fact sheet about fusion, and flashing "buzz balls" featuring the US ITER website address and logo.
This year's AAAS meeting, which focused on "Bridging Science and Society," featured more than 150 symposia, plenary and topical lectures. A variety of special events included Family Science Days, which were open to the public but organized especially for middle and high school students.
While in San Diego, communicators representing several of the ITER organizations gathered for a meeting of the Fusion Communications Group. The FCG was formed last year to increase awareness of the potential of magnetic fusion energy as one of the important, practical solutions to the world's long-term energy needs. General Atomics hosted the meeting, which included a tour of the DIII-D National Fusion Facility.