Subscribe options

Select your newsletters:

Please enter your email address:


Your email address will only be used for the purpose of sending you the ITER Organization publication(s) that you have requested. ITER Organization will not transfer your email address or other personal data to any other party or use it for commercial purposes.

If you change your mind, you can easily unsubscribe by clicking the unsubscribe option at the bottom of an email you've received from ITER Organization.

For more information, see our Privacy policy.

News & Media


Of Interest

See archived articles


A room with an exceptional view: Osamu Motojima, Director-General of the ITER Organization.
Six weeks have passed since I was appointed new Director-General of the ITER Organization. With the leadership of this project I have undertaken a huge responsibility, as the role of ITER is crucial in order to show that fusion energy is an achievable goal. And that is why the world is watching us closely as we proceed. And we proceed!

With the approval of the ITER Baseline by the ITER Council at its extraordinary meeting held on 28 July 2010, the ITER Project took a big step forward and I want to take this opportunity to express my genuine gratitude to the Council Members and all the people involved in this terrific effort led by my predecessor Kaname Ikeda. 

The Baseline describes ITER all the way from the beginning of construction, through commissioning, and on to deuterium-tritium operation. The main milestones will be the achievement of First Plasma in November 2019 and the start of deuterium-tritium operation by March 2027 ultimately taking ITER to 500 MW of fusion power.

Achieving these goals will require a strong team spirit and staff motivation. I am well aware of my charge as leader of this project and I know that it will be essential for its success to maintain the enthusiasm of the people that have joined together to build ITER.

Following the Council's approval of a new management structure, this is currently being put in place. In order to best fit to the developments in the project, changes are being made in the main management structure, while maintaining continuity and momentum. "Simplicity" is the key word. Simplicity in the management structure will also contribute towards containing the entire project cost.

In response to the request of the ITER Council, we have launched several initiatives to explore possible measures for cost savings and cost containment throughout the project aiming at a reduction of approximately 10 percent of the total cost. A special task force and a working group have been set up to develop proposals for submission to the ITER Council in autumn.

Talking about simplifying certain processes within our Organization, I am also looking into means to introduce a more efficient way of working together.

Strengthening coordination between the ITER Organization and the Domestic Agencies in the seven ITER Members is another high-priority issue for me. To this end, a new group has been created in the Organization. This group reports directly to me and is responsible for overseeing the implementation of general policies, strategies and procedures affecting both the
ITER Organization and the Domestic Agencies.

One of the issues that we will have to discuss with our Domestic Agencies is the staffing procedure. In order to get the best people on board, we have to improve the selection process and, very importantly, we also have to better balance the distribution of staff coming from the seven Members.

Furthermore it is my wish to intensify the relationship with the governments of the ITER Members and so over the past two weeks I began a series of meetings with visits to Brussels and India. In the second half of September I am going to visit the US Domestic Agency in Oak Ridge and I will meet representatives from the Department of Energy in Washington, before I continue this initiative with visits to Russia, Korea, Japan and China in October.

As I am writing these words, I am very pleased to see from my office window that ITER is physically taking shape. The construction works for the Poloidal Field Coils Winding Facility and the excavation on the platform started last month and the picture is about to change rapidly. Seeing ITER becoming reality, after all these years of planning and designing, is a landmark event in the history of fusion research.

This conference, jointly organized by ITER and the Principality of Monaco in cooperation with the IAEA, will focus on fusion and the broader energy context.
On 23-25 November, the first Monaco-ITER International Fusion Energy Days will take place in Monaco.

The subject of the conference, organized jointly by ITER and the Principality of Monaco and in cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, is fusion and the broader energy context.

The first day of the conference will focus on the global energy context and representatives of the ITER Members will talk about their energy policies and how they see fusion fitting in.

On the second day of the conference, the ITER Baseline and the industrial aspects such as procurement policies and upcoming calls for tender will be dealt with.

The third day, in collaboration with IAEA, will concentrate on the ITER technology and materials.

For more information on this conference please go to

Specialists on integrated modelling are seen here planning ITER's experimental program.
The Integrated Modelling Expert Group (IMEG) met at the Château for three days this week. The objective of this meeting was to review the progress and plans for the development of a suite of computational plasma physics tools to support the planning and execution of the ITER experimental program.

Applications were grouped into two categories—operations support and research support—to facilitate the identification of stakeholders and responsibilities that will be shared between the ITER Organization and the ITER Members. Support of plasma operations places the greatest demands on the modelling elements because of the interfaces with plasma control and other auxiliary systems, systematic execution for every pulse from initiation to termination, and the process of validation of proposed discharges.

These tools will be assembled, documented, and maintained by the ITER Organization and made available to all participants. Their design will involve significant coordination within the ITER Organization, primarily with the plasma control system, CODAC and diagnostics. A plasma simulator for testing the development of the plasma control system was identified as an initial target application that could be extended to support pulse validation.

The modelling elements that come under the category of plasma research support are equally important. These are generally developmental, often requiring extreme computing capabilities, and provide the basis for enhancing the fidelity of the operations support elements over the life of the ITER research program.

The primary responsibility for their development resides with the ITER Members. The research and operation tools must work together to provide a coherent basis for optimizing ITER's performance and setting the stage for a DEMO facility. This requires an infrastructure that is flexible in its hardware and software configuration to accommodate development and use by a widely distributed community. This infrastructure will be developed under a contract that is in the final stages of negotiation. Preliminary plans for tasks under this contract were summarized, and the conceptual design will be reviewed by the IMEG next spring.

It is with our deepest regret that we announce the death of Dr. Toshihide Tsunematsu. He passed away on Saturday, 4 September, following heart surgery. Dr. Tsunematsu was a Member of the Japanese delegation to the ITER Council and its Management Advisory Committee (MAC), and since January this year had also acted as the Council's Vice-Chair.

Dr. Tsunematsu started his scientific career in 1976 at the Japan Atomic Energy Research Institute (JAERI). In 1993, he was appointed Leader of the Home Team Design Group at the ITER Work Site in Naka. In April 2000, he became Director of the Naka Fusion Research Establishment and in April 2006 he was nominated Director-General of the Fusion Directorate at Naka. From October 2007 through March 2009, Dr. Tsunematsu headed the Japanese Domestic Agency (JA-DA).

Astrid will be the first prototype fourth generation (Gen IV) nuclear fission reactor.
Since leaving Agence Iter France, which he headed from October 2006 to 1 January 2010, François Gauché has devoted most of his time to Astrid.

Astrid, the Advanced Sodium Technological Reactor for Industrial Demonstration, will be the first prototype of a new (fourth)generation of fission reactors.

Developed by the Nuclear Energy Division of CEA, in close partnership with French public industrial conglomerate Areva and utility company EDF, Astrid is presently in the conceptual design phase.

Basic design should be completed by 2017 and the installation is expected to be operational some time around 2020.

Marcoule, one of CEA's research centres located some 30 kilometres north of Avignon, is among the potential sites being considered to host the reactor.

A sodium-cooled fast-neutron reactor, Astrid is a decisive step toward the "Advanced Nuclear Energy Systems" that have been devised within the thirteen-nation International Forum Generation IV.

Most of these systems—there are six of them at different stages of "maturation"—share the same objectives: a better utilization of the uranium resource along with plutonium-recycling capability; excellence in safety and reliability; reduction of the volume of long-term nuclear waste and a strong resistance to proliferation and external hazards.

"Fast-neutron reactors offer a spectacular gain in fuel-efficiency," explains François Gauché. "While you need to extract 200 tonnes of natural uranium to produce one GW/year of electrical power with today's thermal-neutrons reactors, one tonne is sufficient for a fast-neutron reactor."

Furthermore, since fast neutrons reactors (FNR) can burn "depleted uranium" as well as the uranium that results from spent-fuel reprocessing, it is not even necessary to extract the ore at least for some years ... "There are about 250,000 tonnes of unused depleted and reprocessed uranium on the shelves in France. At current levels of consumption, that would cover nuclear power production for 5,000 years," says Gauché.

FNRs have other qualities that make them both attractive and necessary. "They have a potential to 'burn' any type of plutonium and the minor actinides like americium, which account for most of the long-term radiotoxicity in spent fuels."

Although Astrid and the Gen IV sodium-cooled FNRs are based on the same concept as the reactors which France developed in the 1970s and 1980s—the Phenix experimental reactor (1973-2009) and the Superphenix prototype (1985-1998)—they will demonstrate considerable improvements in safety requirements, economy, reliability, maintainability and transmutation of minor actinides.

"France has accumulated some 40 years of R&D on this type of reactor. Building upon some very interesting results accumulated in the last years, we now have to assemble that knowledge and experience in a 600 MWe prototype."

When asked why he was chosen for this job, the former Head of Agence Iter France answers that what he is good at is "meeting an objective" and "managing teams."

A graduate of such prestigious institutions as the École Polytechnique and the École des Mines, François Gauché is an engineer cum manager with an appetite for and good understanding of technology. His "special talent" is being able to "come out of meetings with a clear idea of the decisions to be taken."

This talent will be needed: "We have raised the stakes quite high," he says. "The challenge of Astrid is making the right choices to meet our objectives ..."

Artur Golczewski from the Vienna University of Technology mounting the high precision scale. Photo courtesy of the Vienna University of Technology.
One of the world's most accurate scales is currently being used for fusion research at the Institute of Applied Physics at the Vienna University of Technology (VUT). A research group led by Professor Aumayr reproduces the physical conditions on the fusion reactor's walls in its experiments. In the laboratory, the interaction between high-energy ions and solid surfaces can be studied much more precisely than it ever could inside an actual fusion reactor.

A key tool for this research is the quartz crystal microbalance, which was developed by Professor Michael Schmid from VUT. A small piece of the surface material, which is supposed to be used in the fusion reactor, is irradiated with high-energy particle beams, and tiny changes of its weight are measured with great accuracy. This way, one can determine whether the particle bombardment knocks atoms out of the surface, reducing the mass of the specimen, or whether the incident particles are instead implanted into the material, thereby increasing its mass.

The microscale developed at VUT is one of the world's most accurate scales. "Mass changes of as little as one billionth of a gram can be measured," says Katharina Dobes, research assistant at the Institute of Applied Physics. Even if the particle bombardment only removes one single atomic layer from the surface, the resulting change in mass can still be evaluated.

The fundamental idea behind this incredible precision is rather simple: a quartz crystal is vibrated and its resonance frequency is measured. This frequency depends very sensitively on the crystal's mass. If the crystal surface is coated with the material under investigation and then hit by particles, the changing resonance frequency of the crystal can be translated in a mass change of the material on top of it. That way it is possible to determine the effect the particle bombardment has on the surface.

The application of this measuring device is not restricted to fusion research. "In particle-surface interactions, there are many quantum mechanical phenomena which play a crucial role. In this field, many interesting fundamental questions are yet to be answered," Professor Aumayr believes.

An i-Pad to continue reading Newsline anytime anywhere—this is the farewell gift that Director-General Motojima handed to former Director-General Ikeda on behalf of the ITER Organization.
"CEA and ITER have two things in common," pointed out CEA Administrator General Bernard Bigot last Wednesday in Cadarache. "Both institutions," he said "bear the heavy responsibility of preparing the future of the planet," and both share a "brilliant history, written by exceptionally competent individuals."

The "family ceremony" which gathered some 200 guests at La Fenière hall, at the Château de Cadarache, was intended to honour four of these individuals. On the CEA side, Cadarache Director Serge Durand, who was passing the torch to Maurice Mazière; on ITER side, Professor Osamu Motojima who is succeeding Kaname Ikeda as Director-General.

Serge Durand and Kaname Ikeda both arrived at Cadarache at approximately the same time—the end of the year 2005. Five years later, Serge Durand is heading to Grenoble, where he will be in charge of establishing an operation centre for the European Energy Knowledge and Innovation Community; Kaname Ikeda heads back to Japan to hold an important position at the Japanese Atomic Energy Agency.

In his address, the former CEA-Cadarache Director stressed the quality of the relationship that was established between him and his ITER counterpart, as well as the "strong and permanent collaboration" that developed between the two institutions.

Kaname Ikeda, who addressed the guests in French, thanked everyone present for their "warm hospitality" and confided that only "mutual trust" made his job possible. "My time at ITER and in Provence," he said, "was a time of happiness."

The confident—and efficient—relationship between CEA and ITER will no doubt continue. New CEA Director Maurice Mazière emphasized the importance of "CEA-Cadarache's relationships" with its partners.

Professor Motojima, after briefly greeting his audience in French, concluded his address by saying: "Whatever our individual jobs [...] we are all fully committed to a task that is larger than ourselves. [...] Together, we will make sure that fusion energy, that dream of three generations of physicists, becomes a real target of realization. Together, we will work to make Cadarache the place where the energies of the future, and the future of energy, take shape."

The concrete foundation for the Poloidal Field Coil Winding Facility is being put in place. © AIF
This week, the permanent buried cable for communications is being installed between the Technical Building B07 and Contractors Area 1. The rock blasting and excavation is continuing in the area of the future Tokamak Complex. The column footing installation, the concrete column reinforcement, and the cast-in-place concrete placement for the poloidal field coils fabrication building is continuing for the above-ground structure. Preparations for the foundation work are underway for the future permanent ITER Headquarters buildings.

In the coming days, France 2 National network should also air a presentation of ITER in the 8 o'clock news.
French documentary director Jacques Bedel remembers how, as a teenager, an article on fusion in a popular science magazine triggered his curiosity. "It seemed very promising. I was particularly impressed by an image of the giant orange magnets around the tokamak ... probably JET's."

Years later, Bedel was to get much closer to fusion. For nearly two years, between 2008 and 2009, he directed the shooting of a TV documentary that took him from Tore Supra and from ITER, to the Laser Mégajoule (LMJ), an inertial fusion installation located near Bordeaux, and to the Z Machine at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico (US).

"Le Soleil sur Terre" (The Sun on the Earth), which French TV channel Arte will air on Monday 13 September at 4:30 p.m., is the first in a series of four 52-minute programs entitled "Building it Green."

The series presents fusion, geothermal energies in Iceland, and two other "zero carbon projects," one in Abu Dhabi, the other one in China.

Several ITER and Tore Supra staff members appear in Bedel's documentary, which features an interview with Gary Johnson, presently Acting Head of the Department for ITER Project.

"Le Soleil sur Terre" will also be presented at the 6th Pariscience International Film Festival on 7 October, in Paris.

"This experience provided us with a very clear idea of what ITER is about," said MEP Françoise Grossetête (second from right).
You can read about ITER, watch documentaries and sit through presentations, but in order to grasp the full scope and significance of the project, nothing beats a visit to the platform.

"Today was a great touch and feel experience," said Françoise Grossetête, a Member of the European Parliament (also referred to as "Eurodeputies") who, along with four French colleagues and their assistants, visited the ITER site on Friday 10 September.

"This experience provided us with a very clear idea of what ITER is about—this will prove very helpful in our future discussions in Parliament and with the Commission."

The party, which included MEPs Dominique Vlasto, deputy to the Mayor of Marseille, Damien Abad, Michel Dantin and Gaston Franco, was welcomed at the Visitors Centre by Pascale Amenc-Antoni, Senior Adviser to the Director-General and ad interim Head of Communications, and by Sylvie André of Agence Iter France.

"ITER," said Dominique Vlasto, "is the best example of what a worldwide cooperation can achieve. It should be our model for future international ventures, whether global or European."