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ITER NEWSLINE 207
The year 2011 was a whirlwind of activity for the Department for Administration in which we had the benefit of three Management Advisory Committee meetings, two ITER Council meetings, two Financial Audit Boards and—last but not least—the Management Assessment Review. The good news is that all the reviews recognized significant progress in how we are doing our work. But we can do better!
Therefore, in 2012 our overarching aim will be to improve the project's performance and efficiency. ITER has grown up from the ground and now the organization and infrastructure to deliver the construction project is established. The organizational future lies in completing the construction of ITER in a manner that is safe, and which offers best value for money by incorporating measures and processes for operational excellence.
That is why we have triggered a new initiative based on the value of simplicity with the goal of improving the project's efficiency. The key element of this initiative is to build on the knowledge and experience of our workforce. Everyone who works for and with us is encouraged to constantly look for opportunities to simplify our procedures and practices.
This new initiative is being identified with the anagram "Improve(IT)².'' Improve by continuously asking yourself if you can do something more simply and either do it or report it, while remembering to always:
• Be impartial by being objective and making decisions based on unambiguous and defined rules;
• Take individual responsibility and accountability for deliverables;
• Trust your colleagues (ITER Organization and Domestic Agency) to do a good job and don't duplicate their work;
• Be a team player by working early in the process to help your colleagues achieve success. Welcome your colleagues' help.
The ideas may come from an individual, team or group within the organization or from internal or external audit reports. So far as is possible, the improvements should be acted upon locally and communicated so others can learn from the improvement achieved.
Then how do we convey our ideas? With the help of IT and Communication we are currently establishing what we call an "Ideas Network": a technical platform that will enable us to receive and register your suggestions—and to reply to them—supported with management-led team communication. This network we hope to have up and running by the middle of this year. The time between now and launch is being invested in ensuring that we can respond efficiently and act appropriately to the suggestions received.
In the meantime, Colette Ricketts, who has contributed immensely to setting up this initiative, and I—together with the steering committee for this effort—look forward to suggestions and ultimately to improving ITER!
Peralta was followed by Jean-Paul Clement, Director of the International School in Manosque which many of the ITER children attend. And then it was the turn of Osamu Motojima, the ITER Director-General, as well as the project's three Deputy Directors Rem Haange, Rich Hawryluk and Carlos Alejaldre to wrap up the achievements of the past year. Motojima compared the ITER project with a train that is picking up speed. "During the acceleration phase increased tension is appearing at the joints between individual cabins," he said, explaining that each cabin of the train stood for an individual element within the project.
It wasn't without satisfaction that Director Motojima pointed out that the project's Schedule Performance Index had increased markedly and that the Strategic Management Plan, developed during the year 2011 to minimize potential delays, was showing positive effects in keepting the project within the schedule and cost boundaries cemented by the ITER Baseline. "Today, the ITER budget is secured in all seven Member states," he continued. "Sixty-five Procurement Arrangements have been signed so far representing almost 75 % of the project's in-kind value."
So much for the project's status. With the first one hundred contracts coming to an end this year—year number five for the ITER Organization—and more contracts terminating in early 2013, there was genuine interest in the future staffing policy. Having answered a handful of questions on this issue by explaining management's approach, Director Motojima then opened the buffet where the Galettes des Rois, a traditional toroidal brioche, were waiting to be shared by all.
On 1 January of this year Frederic Escourbiac took over the Divertor Section from Mario Merola, who is now in charge of ITER's Internal Components Division. Frederic inherited a well-run house: four signed Procurement Arrangements, including those for the carbon fibre-reinforced carbon composite (CFC) targets facing the extreme heat at the very bottom of the ITER machine; the quality assurance program for all participating parties accomplished; and the preparation for the prototype manufacturing well under way. But then the "tungsten bomb" hit us, Frederic says, not sure if these words are politically correct. "But that was very much what we felt."
Driven by the urgent need to bring the project's costs down, the ITER management last summer launched an investigation into whether it was feasible to abandon the original carbon phase of the divertor and to implement tungsten right from the beginning of operations. The savings for the one-track-tungsten option would be in the range of EUR 400 million, as estimated by the procuring party, Europe. It was thus decided by the recent ITER Council, following the advice of the scientific and the management advisory boards, to delay the final decision on the specific choice of the divertor targets for up to two years and, in the meantime, focus the research and design activities on the tungsten option.
The soon-after rebaptized Tungsten Divertor Section took a pragmatic approach to the modified boundary conditions: first, they met in the nearby village of Vinon-sur-Verdon where they symbolically buried the carbon divertor, then they went back to the design codes and standards and drawing stations and faced the new challenge. And the full tungsten divertor is an engineering challenge, as Frederic explains. "Tungsten has the big advantage that it doesn't absorb tritium as compared to carbon. But at the same time, it does not offer the same forgiving behavior of carbon."
The stakes are thus high for Frederic and his team, but the engineer from the University of Toulouse, in his home town, is confident that they will develop a viable solution. And looking at his education, he has all the tools he needs at hand: his professional career started in 1995 at the IRFM, the fusion branch of the CEA in Cadarache that operates the French Tore Supra Tokamak. Within the framework of the CIEL (Inner Components and Limiter) project, he participated in the upgrade of all the internal components of Tore Supra.
Soon after, he became deputy section leader of the Plasma Facing Component Group. A job that prepared him well for his next move to another job which eventually lead him to the component at the very core of the ITER machine, the divertor.
In order to coordinate design development a Tungsten Divertor Task Force has been established, lead by Takeshi Hirai, responsible officer for the divertor outer vertical target procurement within the Japanese Domestic Agency. The kick-off meeting for this Task Force is planned to take place 3 February. It will be helpful to come to a decision about which road to follow within the next two years: go for tungsten right from the start or start with CFC . "My concern is not the outcome of this decision," says Frederic. "It is more the question when to draw the line, when to make that choice. That will be the hardest decision I see ahead."
Just as French students are getting ready to return to school and face another year of subjects ranging from mathematics to history, Les Editions Magnard have published a new edition of their geography text book "France et Europe" aiming to raise awareness on Europe's geopolitical goals and long-term strategy by highlighting—amongst other subjects—the ITER Project.
The section reporting on the European Union begins by presenting a list of indicators about its economic competitiveness vis à vis other key players such as the US, China and Japan. Special reference is made to the EU's leadership in development policy and its position as top contributor in this domain. Its institutional configuration is described together with new positions created by the Lisbon Treaty.
And while the above subjects may seem fairly obvious and in line with previous publications, this year's text book includes a new entry: fusion!
Europe's contribution to ITER through its Domestic Agency F4E is highlighted by underlining its commitment to being a pioneer in fusion and striving to deliver a better energy mix. The role of F4E is briefly described and its brochure is included as part of the chapter's illustrations.
The opportunity to reach out to so many young people through this textbook and describe the progress of the ITER experiment and its contribution to the long-term energy mix can help students evaluate options and develop opinions.
Only the future will tell if tomorrow's citizens will be fusion supporters!
Seven young fusion researches and engineers from Russia arrived at the ITER Headquarters in France this week. Over the next 45 days they will work closely with engineers and scientists on site. Andrey Mednikov, for example, comes from the Efremov Institute in St. Petersburg where he will be actively contributing to the winding of ITER's poloidal field coil #1, the only coil out of six that will not be wound on site. During his time at ITER, Andrey will be supervised by Byung-Su Lim, the responsible officer for the PF coils within the Magnet Division.
Elena Popova, is a mechanical engineer working in the design office of the Russian Domestic Agency, also known as the "Project Center ITER." Elena comes to France to improve her skills in electrical engineering. She has joined the group working on the switching networks and DC busbars for the coil power supply and will be supervised by Ivone Benfatto. Aleksandr Paramonov works at the All-Russian Scientific Research and Development Cable Institute (VNIIKP) in Moscow; he will be working with the ITER superconductor team led by Arnaud Devred, looking into conductor technology and conductor production.
Pavel Sergeev, also from the Project Center in Moscow, is an IT-technician. Pavel's interests lie in understanding how the ITER scheduling team works, and how the system and its software are set up in order to improve implementation and usage of this same system, back home. Pavel is assigned to the Central Integration and Engineering Division and will be supervised by Stefano Chiocchio. Pavel Shigin comes from the National Research Institute MEPHI in Moscow; he will work in the physics group around Richard Pitts, looking into glow discharge cleaning concepts. Denis Kaverin who is also from VNIIKP will study superconducting cable technology and production.
And finally there is Nikolay Yukhnov from the company Nikiet based in the Russian capital. Nikolsy will investigate the attachment systems for the ITER blanket modules. "Any ideas to simplify the design are more than welcome," ITER Director-General Osamu Motojima said with a jovial smile as he welcomed the new co-workers this past Tuesday. "With this scientific exchange we hope to set a precedent that will be followed by other Domestic Agencies," Director Motojima continued, adding that "by fostering young generations in the field of fusion science and technology we will ultimately turn ITER into a Centre of Excellence. That is my goal."
The European Domestic Agency F4E has signed a contract to receive engineering support over the next four years in the field of remote handling with OTL, Assystem UK and CCFE for a budget in the range of EUR 3.5 million.
Mechanical, electrical, electronic and control systems engineering linked to remote handling systems and components will be covered by the contract.
The work will be structured along the four packages for which Europe is responsible in this area: the divertor remote handling system; the cask and plug remote handling system; the in-vessel viewing system; and the neutral beam remote handling system. Furthermore, the framework contract could be used to verify the remote handling compatibility of other ITER systems like plugs and in-vessel components.
The scope of the contract is to support design and fabrication studies of remote handling equipment and respective systems; industrial evaluation of remote handling concepts and solutions in the areas of remote maintenance and decontamination; radiation tolerance assessments of components and materials; and the review of CAD models, technical specifications and safety evaluations.
The knowledge gained from the contract is expected to be complemented by existing and future grants in the area of remote handling when needed.
When ITER begins operating, inspections or repair of any of the tokamak components in the activated areas will be conducted by remote handling. Cutting-edge technology underpinned by precision and reliability will be necessary to manipulate and replace components weighing up to 50 tonnes.
The quest for energy goes back a long way in Cadarache. Long before the CEA nuclear research centre was established, men toiled in the deep and vast forest to produce a fuel of highly calorific power which they obtained by slowly "cooking" hardwood in the absence of oxygen.
Charcoal is among the purest forms of readily available carbon. Because it burns at intense temperatures of up to 2,700 degrees, it was for centuries the fuel of choice for the blacksmiths' forges, the glassmakers' and lime-burners kilns, and the ironmasters' furnaces of nascent industry.
From the Middle Ages until World War II, charcoal-makers, or "colliers," were familiar—although vaguely frightening—figures in the forests of southern Europe. Villagers were uncomfortable with their blackened faces, strange eating habits (didn't they feast on snakes and foxes?) and deep knowledge of the forest's secret resource. Villagers associated their craft, so closely linked with the mastery of fire, to the Devil's work.
Colliers, however, played an essential role in the development of local industries. In the 17th century, charcoal produced in the forest of Cadarache was burned in the kilns of the local glassworks, whose remnants were identified by archaeologists on the edge of the ITER site in the area where subcontractors now have their portacabin offices.
In the 1920s, some 50 charcoal-making families, most of them Italian immigrants from Piedmont and Bergamo, lived deep in the 2,200 hectare-forest. What they produced was sent all the way to Marseille to be used in furnaces and also as filter to purify drinking water.
"You can still see the traces left by the colliers' wood piles," says Alain Savary, the local National Forestry Commission (Office National des Forêts) representative and ITER's closest neighbour. "They are like perfectly circular clearings, some 15 metres in diameter. Nothing grows there: the soil underneath is totally burnt and sterile."
In his Maison Forestière, the large Forest Ranger's house he inhabits right across the road leading to the future Headquarters building, Savary has preserved some of the memories of the colliers of Cadarache forest.
Old photographs pinned to the wall depict the technique of wood-pile building, the transportation of charcoal by way of wooden "sleds," and the daily and quite primitive life of the charbonniers of Cadarache ...
Charcoal production in Cadarache seems to have ceased in the late 1940s, after a short revival during World War II. Motor engine fuel was scarce then, and charcoal was widely used in wood-gas generators to power private cars, buses and even tractors.
From approximately fifty thousand tons a year in the late 1930s, wood and wood charcoal production for such vehicles, called gazogènes, increased to almost half a million tons in 1943.
With the war over, the need for charcoal rapidly declined. In 1959, the best part of Cadarache forest (1,600 hectares over a total of 2,200) was sealed off to create CEA's nuclear research centre. In the quest for energy, the black-faced colliers gave way to engineers in white coats ...