It has been a while since we used this forum to report on progress made in Administration. These days we are busy preparing all the necessary papers for the upcoming meetings of the Management Advisory Committee and the ITER Council. Administration is responsible for almost half of the papers submitted. We also contribute to others and review all the papers issued. Facts and figures on budget and budget execution are being collated as we draft the budgets for the coming three years ensuring alignment with the ITER Project Baseline, and implement the 2010 budgets.
Over the last two weeks, the Financial Audit Board was on site. The Board examined the 2009 Financial Statements to ensure that they correctly reflected the financial activities of the ITER Organization and the financial position at the end of the year, and that the Statements were in compliance with ITER management regulations and international standards. In the Board's Management Letter to the ITER Council, it recommends further improvement on IT security, but also identifies a number of areas where good administrative progress has been made. I am very pleased to report that we have received an unqualified Audit Report which constitutes a "clean bill of health" for ITER's third accounting year.
The Human Resources Division recently posted 12 new positions. The e-recruitment tool, which was developed in collaboration with the Domestic Agencies and introduced at the end of 2009, has streamlined and automated the process and is allowing us to get new staff into place more quickly. The e-hiring tool is accessible from the ITER website pages, which have been redesigned for the occasion.
Training programs offered to ITER staff during the year were well received. Last year we had more than 780 participations and nearly 10,000 training hours. Mandatory and corporate training is now available in many different areas including safety and security, engineering, computing and science issues, administration and communication and project management.
In order to come up with a solution to cover all associated risks regarding the insurance during the construction and assembly, the ITER Organization and the European Domestic Agency F4E have launched a joint Call for Tender, according to ITER procedures, for the Global Insurance Contract. All the Domestic Agencies were requested to nominate suitable companies and we received 32 nominations from the Members. The signature of this contract is expected in July.
On the subject of general services, the team has been very busy preparing the move into JWS3, which we will share with F4E. It should be ready for occupation at the beginning of June. We are currently looking at how best to use the 100+ desks that the ITER Organization is going to occupy in that building.
The Administration Department recently started a campaign to drive down the costs of certain commodities and to look for cost-saving measures. We have already focused on mobile phones and managed to reduce overall costs by one-third. Comparable initiatives will be taken for other items such as printing, stationery, etc ...
And, last but not least, we are happy to announce the arrival of Mingqin Ding, the Deputy-Head of ITER China with responsibility for administration and project controls. Mr. Ding will spend some time with us at ITER Headquarters looking at better integrated working between the Chinese Domestic Agency and the ITER Organization. This is also a good opportunity for enhancing effective communication between the two.
|When building a home, it is important to know a little about the person you're building it for. It's the same for an office building: the work habits of those who will be using the office are something an architect must take into consideration.
Take for instance the future ITER Headquarters Building, for which construction should begin in June. There is a direct relation between the conception of the north-west façade and the fact that ITER staff and other employees work relatively late in the afternoon.
"From April to September in this region," says architect Laurent Bonhomme, "the late afternoon sun is very strong and hits almost horizontally from the north-west. For most office buildings, it doesn't matter much because employees leave around 5:30 p.m. For ITER Headquarters, it is something you definitely have to deal with."
In order to protect employees from the glare of the setting sun, the partners Ricciotti & Bonhomme devised an elegant solution, based on very thin vertical blades that undulate like waves. The use of fibre concrete, a highly resistant material with a mineral aspect, will provide structural strength. When seen from afar, the blades will create "a kinetic visual effect" that will enhance the building's integration into the landscape.
The setting sun issue is only a detail in the general design of the building. It is indicative, however, of the care that was taken to provide a quality work environment.
"The creative process in an architectural project is quite different from that of a work of art," says Bonhomme. "It is a compromise and an optimization between the ideal image you have in mind and the constraints that are imposed on you by the client."
Ricciotti & Bonhomme started off with a couple of simple concepts for the Headquarters Building. "We wanted to have as small a footprint as possible on the land in order to protect the vegetation. We also wanted the building to be a sort of 'visual pedestal' for the Tokamak Building that will rise in the background. The visual relationship between the two structures was a way of 'telling the story' of the ITER Project."
A five-storey, 165 metre-long structure offering 19,000 square metres of work space, the future ITER Headquarters will stand on the highest ridge of a wooded six-hectare plot of land. The main access road to the building will run obliquely to the building "in order to provide staff and visitors with a lateral vision" that the "kinetic effect" of the vertical blades will enhance.
As for the inside of the building, Ricciotti & Bonhomme have designed a no-thrills functional organization of space, not very different from the one we presently have at JWS2. "The objective here", says Bonhomme, "was to be as flexible as can be." A spectacular addition will make a difference however: there will be several two to three-storeys interior patios, planted with vegetation to break the linear perspective, generate ventilation and, in some cases, let natural light in.
Facing north-northwest, the view from the top floors will take in the whole of the Pre-Alps range and part of the Durance Valley; to the east, it will be dominated by the looming structure of the 60-metre-high Tokamak Building.
Different in nature, both views will be equally breathtaking.
Taking into account the complexity of the ITER Project and the importance that electrical equipment and devices will have on its success, quality control and quality assurance will be key. Today, the ITER Organization signed a contract with the Italian company CESI for the supply of engineering and consultancy support. CESI will help the ITER Organization to make sure that all the electrical, power conversion and power electronic components to be installed during the construction of ITER conform to the necessary standards and requirements.
"This contract with ITER is a new experience for us," says Domenico Villani, Director of the CESI Energy Division. "Many of the components we will have to deal with are standard, but their applications will be far from standard. Be assured that we will put all of our 50 years of experience into this cooperation."
For one member of the CESI delegation that came to Cadarache today to sign the contract, Marino Valisi, working with the ITER Project will be a "step back to the future." In 1976, the nuclear engineer started his career in the Microwave Measuring Group set up at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics in Garching, Germany. "That was a long time ago," Valisi said, shrugging his shoulders, "almost Jurassic Fusion."
More than 60 representatives of 42 companies attended a pre-solicitation vendor meeting for the ITER central solenoid hosted by the US ITER Project Office. The meeting, held 7 April at the American Museum of Science and Energy in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, featured an overview and "acquisition roadmap" for the central solenoid. It also included presentations on the coil, manufacturing development, structures and assembly tooling, individual procurement plans, and quality assurance. The list of meeting attendees had an international flavour, including representatives of firms from the US, Japan, and Europe. The Hannover Messe, the world's leading showcase for industrial technology, and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) this year proudly present ITER. The ITER Project is part of a joint exhibit called "Visions 2050." Despite considerable obstacles in international aviation, Hannover Messe asserts itself as an economic barometer of the global industry. The title of this year's show is "efficiency, innovation, sustainability." Come and learn about the ITER Project in Hall 13, Stand C51. |
The year is sometime around 2030. The place—the ITER Control Room. All attention is focused on a large screen that displays graphs, figures, colours and a cutaway view of the vacuum vessel with a pulsing "D" shape at its centre.
A full deuterium-tritium (DT) plasma shot is underway. It is not the first one, but a DT shot is never routine. At one point, cheers and applause resound—the present shot is just perfect ... all parameters nominal, the entire control system performing at its best.
Although this scene may belong to the future, the display screen can already be visualized thanks to a CODAC application that was recently developed by the ITER CODAC team and the DIII-D National Fusion Facility in San Diego. A precious tool, the real-time plasma boundary display system (RBDS) allows the presentation of data simulating actual plasma shots, based on different scenarios.
To the lay viewer, the on-screen simulation looks like just another animation. In reality, obtaining this "quick display overview" takes a few days' execution time on the Livermore National Laboratory computer cluster.
"Visualization, even at this early stage of the project, is very important," says CODAC Section Leader Anders Wallander. "It provides indications about what data we'll need and when we'll need it. It also allows us to validate the technologies chosen for CODAC."
RBDS is part of the high performance networking (HPN) project that ITER partly contracted in 2009 to General Atomics, the private company that operates the DIII-D Tokamak. The project investigates and prototypes technologies for data transport architecture—a key issue in tokamak operation.
On the ITER side, working on RBDS has created strong ties between CODAC engineers and Fusion Science & Technology (FST) physicists—something Anders considers essential to the success of the project.
"There are several scientists in the Member countries doing plasma simulation," says Thomas Casper, the FST experimental physicist who participated in the project. "Soon, we'll make our visualization and data system available to them. It's part of the ITER philosophy: this huge project should drag in what was scattered until to now."
The ITER Organization and the Korean National Fusion Research Institute (NFRI) signed a Memorandum of Understanding this week that sets out the terms for the use of the Korean superconducting tokamak KSTAR for vital tests in preparation for ITER operations.
The cooperation will "... provide opportunities to exchange ideas, information, skills and techniques and to collaborate in various research and development areas for ITER construction and commissioning and in various KSTAR experiments and upgrades as ITER pilot operation." Areas of cooperation will include cryoplant and cryo-distribution, superconducting magnet quality control, heat treatment, winding, CODAC, leak detection as well as heating and current drive technologies. The cooperation also encompasses joint research activities in KSTAR on ITER-relevant experiments such as plasma start-up scenarios, plasma modelling and simulation, particle fuelling and exhaust technologies, plasma-wall interactions, and diagnostics. A joint KSTAR-ITER Simulator Center will be established for integrated modelling and analysis of plasma simulations. The exchange of researchers and staff from both institutions is encouraged.
The Memorandum of Understanding was signed at the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology in Seoul on Monday, 19 April 2010, by ITER Director-General Kaname Ikeda and the President of the NFRI, Gyung-Su Lee.
The development of nuclear propulsion reactors for the French Navy was one of the main reasons why CEA-Cadarache was established in 1959. Half a century later, it's the fourth generation of nuclear boilers that is being developed there.
Work on the Nuclear Propulsion Test Reactor (RES) began in the mid-1990s and should be complete by 2012. A research installation more than an actual prototype, RES will act as support for the French nuclear fleet and contribute to the training of their officers. It will also test new fuels and new core architectures, validate computational models and simulations, and qualify new concepts.
In July 2005, the reactor's 820-tonne containment system was assembled on site and moved into the reactor building, using 36-wheel transport platform similar to the ones that will deliver the largest ITER components to the ITER site. Less than two years later, the reactor vessel was inserted into the containment system.
Next to the main building, work is ongoing for the concrete structure that will host the atmospheric cooling system. These "cooling towers" will dissipate the residual energy from the reactor. Last week, as work on the tallest part of the structure was completed, a small tree was placed on the roof and hung with garlands—a construction tradition that originates in Eastern Europe and is called "topping out."
Since the beginning of the year, over 200 ITER staff have participated in intercultural events. From comparative culture workshops on working with the French, the Americans or the Japanese; to intercultural breakfasts and intercultural awareness-raising seminars, the motivation of the ITER Members to learn about each other is growing.
Since 2008, these intercultural moments have provided the opportunity to understand one another better and to compare our ways of working, our traditions and our cultures. Instead of finding only differences, we have found many similarities among our 29 nationalities.
A true feeling of belonging to the ITER community and to the ITER culture is developing. This "cultural fusion" is unique, and the dedication of the ITER Members to fostering an unprecedented interculturally-aware spirit is something to be proud of. The scientific commitment of ITER is only paralleled by its human commitment. This project may well become an international reference in the intercultural world.
Chris Carpenter has retired from being Head of the CCFE Public Relations Group, a position he has held since 1994. Chris' colleagues, family and friends came together on Friday 16 April to celebrate his 32-year-long career in fusion research in an event where there were many jokes and a lot of laughter, tinged with sadness at the departure of a colleague for whom everyone had great affection and respect. Chris had a huge role in promoting fusion over many years and he will be a hard act to follow. Have a great retirement, Chris!