At present, life in the Fusion Science and Technology (FST) Department is dominated by studies supporting the analysis of the design review issues raised by the Science and Technolgy Advisory Committee (STAC) in their November meeting. The capability of the poloidal field and central solenoid coils to provide the basic functions of establishing and controlling the specific plasma configurations and scenarios required for the ITER experimental program is being studied through collaborations between FST, the Tokamak Department and many experts from the ITER Members. Analysis of the possible use of additional magnetic coils to create Resonant Magnetic Perturbations (hence the acronym "RMP") as a means of suppressing Edge Localized Modes (ELMs) relies on a similar collaboration.
The Department has already completed a re-examination of the fuelling and pumping capability required to support ELM control via pellet pacemaking and has collaborated with the Department of Central Engineering and Plant Support in developing an updated specification of ITER's requirements in these areas.
During the last year's Design Review, FST worked closely with the Tokamak Department and the fusion community to redefine ITER's strategy for the use of plasma-facing materials during experimental operation. This is a subject which excites considerable controversy in the fusion community and has been the subject of many lively, and productive discussions during this period. Work is continuing in this area in order to provide input to the responses to the questions raised by STAC on this subject. Related activities include the support provided for the Dust Task Force headed by Safety and Security Division to develop a strategy for dealing with dust generated during plasma operation.
The development of the ITER Research Plan, to define in greater detail the research program accompanying construction and the research which will be carried out once ITER plasma operation begins, is an activity launched early in the Design Review in collaboration with the fusion community. Recent activities in this area have involved a close collaboration with the Codac, Heating and Current Drive Division (CHD) to incorporate the requirements for the commissioning of the Heating and Current Drive and Diagnostic systems in the early years of ITER operation.
The Fusion Science and Technology Department is also responsible for several activities which will integrate the expertise in the fusion communities into the ITER research program. Recently, FST has been participating in discussions with the Coordinating Committee of the International Tokamak Physics Activity (ITPA) to adapt the ITPA's operations to the new environment for fusion research which has been created by the establishment of the ITER project. As a result of these discussions, DG Ikeda has now approved the operation of the ITPA under the ITER auspices. In addition, FST is working to develop a framework for integrated modelling of ITER plasmas that will build on the activities underway in the ITER Members. An initial workshop held in Cadarache in September 2007 showed that there was a basic agreement within this community on the priorities for future research in this area and the focus of FST's work at present is to draft a framework agreement for collaboration in this area which can be agreed with the Members.
The final programmatic activity will, in time, become a substantial construction project in its own right: the Test Blanket Module program, which FST coordinates, will lead to the construction of six special blanket modules capable of breeding tritium and generating high grade heat, which will be prototypical of those used in a fusion power plant. These will be installed in three of the ITER equatorial ports and will be subject to an extensive testing program throughout ITER's life. The most recent meeting of the Test Blanket Working Group (see article in this issue) was held last week in Aix-en-Provence and brought together experts in this area from all of the ITER Members to discuss progress and the planning of future activities.
The ITER Organization and the European Organization for Nuclear Research CERN have signed a Cooperation Agreement. The Agreement provides the opportunity for CERN and ITER to cooperate not only in the fields of technology such as superconductors, magnets, cryogenics, control and data acquisition and complex civil engineering, but also in administrative domains such as finance, purchasing and human resources, including software programs.
The Agreement was signed by Kaname Ikeda, Director-General of the ITER Organization and Robert Aymar, Director General of CERN, in the presence of senior staff from both organizations. Kaname Ikeda said "The wealth of knowledge acquired by CERN over its many years of operation will make an important contribution to ITER's ability to make rapid progress." Robert Aymar expressed his pleasure not only as CERN Director General, but also as someone previously involved in the ITER project from its inception, that "CERN is very happy to work with ITER in common areas of science and technology."
The Cooperation Arrangement has been concluded for a five year period and enters into force immediately.
The first ITER Research Fellowships, sponsored by the Principality of Monaco, have been announced. The principal motivation of the Fellowships is the development of excellence in research in fusion science and technology within the ITER framework. The Fellowship applies to all PhD students of one of ITER parties or of the Principality of Monaco. Deadline for applications is 30 April 2008.
As the sun shone down onto the harbour of Cassis, inside a nearby meeting room the spotlight was on management as ITER senior management met over the weekend of 29 Feb — 2 March for the first Senior Management off-site meeting.
The first morning was spent concentrating on ITER's performance goals for 2008 and in the afternoon, Kaname Ikeda, Norbert Holtkamp and all the Deputy Director-Generals gave presentations, outlining what each of them wanted to achieve this year and how they can measure their success. This concentration on Management, the Organization, and a clear definition of objectives was extremely useful.
Sir Chris Llewellyn Smith, the Chairman of ITER Council also attended the final session of the meeting and gave a presentation on how ITER can interact effectively with Council. He congratulated ITER on organizing the off-site meeting and underlined the global importance of the ITER project. Sir Chris emphasized how crucial it is to set up relationships of trust and confidence with Council Members, the Member Parties and Domestic Agencies, noting that it takes time. He also reminded ITER management how long it can take to build up effective systems and trust within a major international organization. A consistent goal for ITER is safety, emphasizing, reinforcing, and assuring the integration of safe and secure practices throughout the project is of the highest priority.
There were also presentations from Francois Gauché from Agence ITER France, Colin Miège from Mission ITER and the Communications Divison outlining the proposed communication strategy for the Organization.
Taking a break for the photographer: the Tritium Plant Project Team. Though Hans Spoor never was a schoolteacher, he often uses the impressive blackboard that dominates his office to explain the importance of good budgeting in a couple of chalk strokes. Hans officially joined ITER on 1 March as Head of the Finance and Budget Division. In this role he will be responsible for financial management and accounting of ITER, budgeting, financial planning and resources, expenditures, annual accounts and auditing.
Hans certainly is no newcomer in the world of fusion. Although he is an accountant by education, he has worked in fusion, one way or another, for the last three decades. Hans joined JET as internal auditor in 1979 and later became Head of Finance from 1989 to 1993. Thereafter he moved to Brussels, where he was Head of Administration and Finance of the Fusion Division of EURATOM, between 1993 to 2004. In 2004 he joined the Directorate of International Cooperation in DG RTD (Research and Technological Development) at the European Commission as Head of Administration and Finance, overseeing the administration of international research activities.
His heart kept on going out to fusion though and when ITER, a project Hans had been following since the early days, finally became reality, being part of it was a challenge he willingly accepted. "I am a true believer in fusion energy as one of the potential solutions of the growing energy problems of this world. Helping the ITER project be successful in contributing to this is something I really look forward to doing."
Another Welcome Seminar will be organized on 18 March to help ITER arrivals settle into their new lives in Provence quickly and comfortably. This seminar is open to all ITER staff, including those who have been here for some time but want to catch up on information about practical issues they might have missed.
The seminar is meant to be interactive with plenty of time for questions and answers. The Welcome Office is therefore organizing two sessions on 18 March, one at 8.30 a.m. and one at 1.30 p.m. at the INSTN (next to the Chateau de Cadarache) Room B2.
Last week saw a two-day workshop for the design of the Hot Cell facility, with the goal of generating design options. The Science and Technology Advisory Committee (STAC) to ITER recommended an action plan that was launched last December. ITER staff, representatives from the European Domestic Agency "Fusion for Energy" and advisers from external companies participated in this exercise.
During last week's meeting two options were discussed, both including ITER maintenance issues, functionality requirements and possible optimization. "This meeting was a step forward in a long exercise," said Magali Benchikhoune, ITER Hot Cell & Radwaste Services Integration Section Leader. The outcome will be presented to the STAC2 Recommendations Coordination Meeting in its next meeting on 18 March 2008, during the IO—DA meeting in Aix en Provence.
The design and ultimately the size of the Hot Cell Building is driven by the special purposes and requirements of the ITER systems for remote handling and repair of tokamak components, including the management of radioactive waste generated by those processes. In simple words: It is all about the necessary size of the building allowing operation and maintenance of the ITER device. "It is a bit like building a car repair shop," Magali Benchikhoune explains. "You want to make sure that it is reasonably big enough so that you can park the cars to be repaired, do the maintenance work and store the spares."
How to handle and coordinate future work on test blanket modules has been the focus of a three-day meeting of the Test-Blanket ad-hoc group last week in Aix-en-Provence. Test Blankets are one of the key reactor-relevant elements to be tested on ITER.
The key goal of the ad-hoc group, a body created to integrate the various approaches from all seven ITER Members, was to explore a time table on how to proceed with the Test Blanket Program. "Test Blankets play an important part in developing fusion power plants and they will have to be there on the first day of ITER operation," Valery Chuyanov, ITER Deputy Director for Fusion Science and Technology, commented. "It is our job to develop an integrated research plan that allows us to study functional material behaviour, plasma behaviour, the resulting energy cycle and the tritium recycling capacity for blanket materials."
Twice a year, the ITER Tritium Plant Project Team convenes to discuss the integration, the various interfaces and safety issues of the ITER Tritium Plant in order to meet all the requirements for the building's layout stipulated by the regulator. The latest meeting took place in Cadarache on 28 February 2008 and was attended by delegates from all seven ITER Members. The US team participated remotely via video conference. "Great progress was made via intense bilateral contacts with the Domestic Agencies in regards to a detailed system design that will assure safe handling and safe confinement of the tritium inventory," Manfred Glugla, Divison Head for the ITER Fuel Cycle, explained.