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The US ITER exhibit — featuring a rotating "galaxy," new video program, hands-on plasma "toys," and interactive fusion quiz—was lauded as one of the meeting's best.
Members of our US ITER team recently returned from Washington, D.C., where we displayed a large exhibit at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

During the meeting, thousands of scientists, media members, and science students and educators learned about exciting research discoveries and projects, including our very own. Our exhibit—featuring a rotating "galaxy," new video program, hands-on plasma "toys," and interactive fusion quiz—again was lauded as one of the meeting's best.

While in our nation's capital, we also met with members of Congress and their staffs at a special information reception. Joining Director-General Osamu Motojima and me as hosts were the directors of Oak Ridge, Princeton, and Savannah River National Laboratories; officials from the US Department of Energy; and executives from US ITER suppliers AREVA Federal Services, Luvata Waterbury, and Oxford Superconducting Technology. We all appreciated the opportunity to discuss the progress, challenges, and importance of our effort to provide the next step toward fusion energy as a power source.

This promises to be a year of significant transition for US ITER, as we move from the research and development/design phase into the fabrication stage. As part of this effort, we are continuing to incorporate critical input from industry into our planning processes as early as possible.

During the first week in April, we will host members of the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science/Office of Project Assessment review team, who will conduct an in-depth evaluation of our plans, processes, and progress. We look forward to this opportunity to interact with our peers as we discuss ways to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of our project activities.

In another important area, our team is on schedule to complete preliminary design packages for our large-value technical subsystems in support of our planned request for Critical Decision-2 (US baseline) by mid-February 2012.

The new Monaco Postdoctoral Fellows at ITER. From left to right: Shimpei Futatani, Debasmita Samaddar, Ian Pong, Sun Hee Kim, and Jing Na.
Shimpei, Sun Hee, Jing, Ian and Debasmita may come from the four corners of the world but they have one thing in common. They are the new Monaco Postdoctoral Fellows at ITER, chosen from a pool of highly qualified applicants to spend two years at ITER within the framework of the ITER-Monaco Partnership Arrangement.

David Campbell, coordinator of the Monaco Postdoctoral Fellowship Program, highlighted the quality of the Fellows who have been attracted to ITER. "The five new Fellows were selected from over 60 applicants representing all of the ITER Members and many areas of science and technology research. We are very pleased to welcome such talented young researchers to the ITER project—we have already seen significant research output benefitting the project from the work of the first group of Fellows, who were appointed in early 2009, and have contributed to R&D activities in plasma diagnostics, plasma-wall interactions, plasma control and superconductors. ITER Organization management has been sufficiently impressed with the quality of their work that two have successfully applied for ITER Organization staff posts, while the fellowship appointments of three others have been extended."

Shimpei Futatani, from Japan, joined ITER as part of the Plasma Confinement Group. Using advanced non-linear simulation codes, he will be working to improve the physics understanding of plasma transport and stability processes in a particularly challenging environment: the plasma edge pedestal. "We need to improve the understanding of the underlying physics of this area of the fusion plasma and, what is more, to find a way to control ELMs (link)," says Shimpei. He is learning a new simulation code JOREK—one that he qualifies as a "super code"—that will allow him to contribute to predictions of ITER plasma performance and edge localized mode (ELM) behaviour.

Shimpei was a researcher at the Université de Provence from 2007-2010, during which time he successfully completed two independent PhDs in the study of turbulent transport of impurities in fusion plasmas (Kyoto University, 2008; University of Provence, 2009). "For researchers interested in fusion," Shimpei exclaims, "being at ITER is a dream!"

Sun Hee Kim, from Korea, concurs. "The Monaco Postdoctoral Fellowship is almost the only way for young researchers to join the ITER Project and to work with experts in the field. I am very proud of being selected as one of the Monaco Fellows." Before joining ITER, Sun Hee earned his PhD from the Ecole Polytechnique de Lausanne, and spent one year as an EFDA postdoctoral researcher at the Magnetic Fusion Research Institute (IRFM) at nearby CEA where he was involved with the development and validation of a new free-boundary plasma evolution code, FREEBIE.

Sun Hee's research focuses on the computational analysis of burning plasma scenarios. At ITER, he will study the feasibility of advanced plasma scenarios such as hybrid mode and steady state, performing analysis with recent data and a greater set of physics and operation constraints than ever before. "The tokamak discharge simulator that we use, CORSICA, will provide useful information for designing tokamak components such as diagnostics and plasma control systems, and for preparing future ITER operations and experimental campaigns," explains Sun Hee.

As part of the Central Engineering & Plant Support Department at ITER, Jing Na from China will focus his work on advanced control techniques for the cryogenic systems. Cryogenic plants and their control are highly complex; ITER cryogenics will have to cope with various normal and abnormal operational phases including superconducting magnet quench recovery; fast energy discharge; and dynamic heat load variations in the magnets. Working with the functional analysis and modeling of the cryogenic processes, Jing will contribute to the establishment of a simulator to test advanced controls with a view to a better understanding and optimization of cryogenic system behavior.

Jing earned a PhD for research into the control of systems with delays and non-linearities from the Bejing Institute of Technology, and taught for one semester at the Kunming University of Science and Technology before accepting the offer to come to ITER. "To be part of a project that aims to develop a new, cleaner form of energy is very motivating," remarks Na. "I am sure that I will evolve here and advance in my field of research."

Ian Pong, from the UK, completed his PhD in applied superconductivity at the University of Cambridge, following a Master's in engineering earned at the Imperial College of London and secondary studies in Hong Kong. His research interests in condensed matter and materials physics led him to a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at CERN, where he worked on the phase and microstructural development of Nb3Sn superconductors that will be used in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), as well as in the ITER superconducting magnets.

"The magnet procurement for ITER represents by far the largest worldwide production of superconducting Nb3Sn wire in history, and so this is a truly unique opportunity for me to understand in significant detail the factors, both metallurgical and process-related, that influence the performance level and variability of the superconducting material," says Ian.  At ITER, he will coordinate the superconductor benchmarking and analyses activities currently underway in reference laboratories and universities around the world, and will follow the tests that are carried out as part of the quality assurance process for every step of superconducting strand manufacture. "The cable used in the ITER magnets each contains hundreds of superconducting strands, and each of the ITER magnets will operate under different conditions," explains Ian. "Testing and cycling the manufactured strands across a wide range of temperature and magnetic field will allow us to predict the performance of the full conductor under ITER conditions."

Improving tools for modelling fusion plasmas, particularly turbulent transport, is the focus of research for Debasmita Samaddar from India. She compares plasma turbulence to different sized eddies in an ocean current.  "By understanding the turbulent transport of particles between the hot core and the cool edge," she explains, "we can better plan for their confinement." She will explore parallelization options for numerical simulations of ITER; temporal parallelization (parareal algorithm) is her main area of interest. She believes that such time-efficient computer simulations will make exploring parameters for ITER operation more feasible. Long term, she hopes that simulating multiple plasma shots on ITER in real time will be possible.

Debasmita was recently awarded a PhD for research in the temporal parallelization of computations of plasma turbulence from the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF). She also worked as a research assistant at UAF, collaborating in particular with the Oak Ridge National Lab. She is excited to join the ITER team. "The ITER project has to be done," says Debasmita. "It's clear that we need a new energy source, but that's not the only reason. ITER will also answer many scientific questions."

The Fusion Expo will be on stage in Vienna at the Prechtlsaal of the Technical University, Karlsplatz 13, daily from 9:00-18:00 until 10 March.
Starting next Tuesday, 1 March, the Fusion Expo will open its gates at the Technical University in Vienna, Austria. The Fusion Expo is a travelling exhibition designed to be accessible to the general public, presenting various aspects of fusion as an environmentally acceptable, safe and sustainable energy technology. In a clear and simple way it explains the fundamentals of fusion, describes Europe's fusion research facilities, introduces the ITER Project, and looks ahead to the construction of a working fusion power plant. The exhibition is the property of European Fusion Development Agreement (EFDA) and the European Commission.

The Fusion Expo will be on stage in Vienna at the Prechtlsaal of the Technical University, Karlsplatz 13, daily from 9:00-18:00 until 10 March. On Tuesday, 1 March, Guenter Janeschitz on behalf of the ITER Organization will give the keynote speech reporting on the status of the project.

Click here for the program of the opening session.
Clikc here for the folder of the Fusion Expo.

TGVs cover the distance between Paris and Marseille in just slightly over three hours. Once in Marseille however, it takes them two and a half hours to reach Nice which is only 170 km distant.
Since 2001, TGVs (Trains à Grande Vitesse) have covered the distance between Paris and Marseille (750 kilometres) in just slightly over three hours. Once in Marseille however, it takes them nearly an equivalent amount of time—more than two and a half hours - to reach Nice, the French Riviera's capital and the country's 5th most populated city, which is only 170 kilometres distant.

As Western Europe's high-speed network keeps expanding, fixing the problem of this "missing link" has become a priority for public authorities, both national and regional.

After several years of study and some squabbling about the railway route, a final decision was reached seven months ago: new TGV tracks will be laid that will shorten the voyage from Marseille to Nice to one hour, and that of Paris to the Riviera's capital to less than four hours, from five hours and 40 minutes previously.

Known as "LGV (Ligne à Grande Vitesse) PACA", the project comes with a hefty price tag: the total required investment is on the order of 15 billion euros, including the upgrade of the local railway network.

That almost makes ITER look like a bargain.

Unlike ITER, which is funded by seven partners representing 34 nations, the bill for the LGV-PACA project will be footed by France alone.

The new high speed train connection could be operational by 2023-2025. It already makes Provence the only French region to host two multi-billion-euro projects.

Japanese visitors listen to explanations provided by Anaïs Padilla of the Joint Visit Team.
Five guests from Japan and twenty-four others from Sweden were welcomed last week on the ITER site, bringing the ITER "total visitor" count a few steps closer to the 30,000 mark.

The Japanese visitors were members of the JAEA Finance Department, external auditors and the Executive Secretary of the JAEA Paris bureau.

On a mission to the JAEA Paris Bureau, the accountants and auditors wished to have an overview of the ITER Project and, more specifically, an update on cooperation with the Japanese Domestic Agency.

The JAEA Paris bureau handles the coordination between JAEA and European organizations and also supports the many JAEA staff working in European laboratories and research institutions and international organizations such as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OEAD), the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) and the ITER Organization

The Swedish journalists, members of the Swedish Journalist Association who were training for two weeks at an international language school in Aix-en-Provence, insisted on having the ITER presentation as well as the question and answer session that followed in French.

The Alfvèn Laboratory of the Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm hosts a medium-sized reversed-field pinch fusion machine called EXTRAP T2R. The device, developed at General Atomics in San Diego under the name OHTE, was transferred to Sweden in 1991 and produced its First Plasma in 1994.

The delegation of responsibility was formalized on Monday 21 February with the signature of a convention by ITER Director-General Osamu Motojima (right) and Agence Iter France Director Jérôme Pamela.
Although the ITER site remains the property of the CEA, it
was made available last July to the ITER Organization.

The ITER Organization now holds "full rights" to the land and buildings and will retain them for the duration of the ITER Agreement—that is, until 24 October 2042.

For a transitionary period that will end on 31 December 2011, the ITER Organization has delegated the overall management of the site to Agence Iter France. Agence Iter France is responsible for implementing regulations regarding health and security and managing general logistics, access control, protection of the environment, waste, etc.

This delegation, based on an exchange of letters between ITER Organization and Agence Iter France management, was formalized on Monday 21 February with the signature of a convention by ITER Director-General Osamu Motojima and Agence Iter France Director Jérôme Pamela.

By the time the convention ends, the ITER Organization and the European Domestic Agency Fusion for Energy (F4E) will have chosen a contractor to take over current Agence Iter France responsibilities.

This week, Topher White, ITER webmaster, installed the first of a series of live webcams planned for the worksite.
Since the beginning of construction works last August, the ITER platform has undergone significant transformation. The 120x90 Tokamak Pit has been excavated down to 17 metres; the foundations for the wing-shaped Headquarters Building are clearly demarcated; and at the Poloidal Field Coils Winding facility—following the pouring of the 12,000 square-metre concrete floor slab—pillars as well as part of the roofing beams have been put into place.

Now, there is a way to follow the exciting developments on the ITER site from the comfort of your own living room.

This week, Topher White, ITER webmaster, installed the first of a series of live webcams planned for the worksite.

The webcam sits atop the Visitors' Centre and focuses across the ITER platform on activity at the impressive 252-metre-long Poloidal Field Coils Winding Facility, the first structure to go up out of 30.

"A lot of exciting developments will be happening here in Cadarache over the months to come," says Topher. "The webcam will make ITER site progress accessible to viewers all around the world, as well as the hundreds of people in the ITER offices."

A permanent link to the webcam will be incorporated into the Home page of the website in the coming days.

With more than 160 engineers and 140 workers on site, and after more than seven months of blasting and drilling, construction on the ITER site has taken off! The biggest international scientific collaboration in the field of energy is going up.

Given the increasing volume of requests for photos and clips, Fusion for Energy (F4E), the European Domestic Agency for ITER, has decided to bring the worksite to you by documenting the pace of change on a monthly basis. How? Our contractor, ADB, is visiting the site twice per month in order to take pictures and obtain footage on the progress of the works.

We therefore invite you to discover step by step how the ITER landscape is changing. We have kicked off with a series of clips bringing you footage from the construction of the Poloidal Field Coils Winding building, the Tokamak Pit and the future ITER Headquarters.

A new section in our image gallery called ITER 2011 has been launched where you can get a glimpse of the best pictures of this year so far. To see the progress of the site since the works started you can visit our 2010 archive. For those eager to see the blasts happening in action, we have uploaded new clips in our multimedia section.

The French popular science magazine "Science et Vie" features an 18-page story on fusion in its March issue. Unfortunately, it is not available online.
Everything you always wanted to know about fusion, or close to, is in this month's issue of the accessible French science magazine Science et Vie (circulation 280,000).

Under the headline "Will water replace oil one day?" the magazine devotes 18 pages to nuclear fusion, which it presents as "an energy source that—once harnessed—would change the face of the world."

"In four words: clean, safe, peaceful and unlimited," writes journalist Vincent Nouyrigat, "fusion energy offers the most beautiful promise ever made to mankind."

Illustrated with images, diagrams and artists' renderings, the article covers most aspects of the challenge of fusion, from plasma stabilization to material resistance and fuel production.

The 18-page story opens with ITER, described as "the first step in the monumental stairway" leading to the industrialization of fusion energy.

The article provides the lay public with a panoramic view of fusion research today, including insights into stellarators, inertial fusion, Sandia's Z-machine and fusion hybrids.