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ITER NEWSLINE 257
There has recently been much excitement in Naka concerning the assembly of JT-60SA, the "satellite" facility of ITER that will model proposals for optimizing plasma operation and investigate advanced plasma modes that could be tested on ITER or used later on DEMO.
On 28 January, tokamak assembly began with the cryostat base, the first major component to be delivered by Europe. This marks a very important step forward for the project, which is part of the Broader Approach Agreement signed between Japan and Euratom, and implemented by Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) and the European Domestic Agency for ITER Fusion for Energy (F4E).
The cryostat base, which supports the weight of the entire tokamak, has a diameter of 12 metres, a height of 3 metres and weighs 250 tonnes. It consists of a double ring in three sectors, a lower structure in three sectors, and an inner cylinder and is assembled using connecting bolts. The manufacturing of the cryostat base was carried out in Aviles, Spain, by IDESA; final machining and pre-assembly was done by ASTURFEITO under the supervision of CIEMAT.
Anticipation had started to build already in November 2012 with the final pre-assembly of the cryostat base at the manufacturing facility. An accurate dimensional tolerance check was performed with a 3D portable laser tracker, and results proved to be satisfactory with low error under the limits.
By 8 November, the manufacture was completed and all parts of the cryostat base were packed for transport. Due to their large size (maximum width 6.5 m), the pieces were difficult to transport, especially by road, but fortunately the factories where the cryostat base was fabricated and machined were close to one another as well as to the port.
The cryostat base was collected from the factory on 12 November and transported to the port. After loading the cryostat base on board the IYO, the ship set sail on 22 November and took on further cargo at other European ports before heading across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans via the Panama Canal. After the 18,000-km-long sea voyage, the cryostat base finally arrived at Hitachi port in Japan on 16 January 2013.
The transport from the port to the Naka Fusion Institute was conducted by JAEA in seven stages during the week starting 19 January. Transport was carried out before dawn on closed roads All seven pieces of the cryostat base were delivered to the assembly hall at the Naka Fusion Institute by 26 January.
Tokamak assembly began two days later. The start was open to the press and reporters from ten media organizations were able to witness the first assembly work. This event was widely reported to the public through newspapers, web, and TV, including the national news.
This timely start to the assembly of the JT-60SA Tokamak is the beginning of a six-year assembly and commissioning period which will enable the first plasma to be achieved in March 2019, ready for this project's role to support and complement ITER.
The European program Erasmus Mundus, which aims at strengthening European cooperation and international links in higher education, awarded 18 scholarships this year to students (one third of them non-European) enrolled in Fusion Masters courses.
Along with an equal number of fusion students from the French Master's degree program in Fusion Science, the Erasmus Mundus students made a stop at ITER last Monday 11 February on their way to the laboratories where they will be doing two weeks of hands-on work.
Students will take part in experiments and data analysis at neighbouring Tore Supra and, remotely, at ASDEX and other European fusion installations.
The students were greeted at the Visitors Centre by ITER Director-General Osamu Motojima and fusion physicist Jean Jacquinot, who was instrumental in creating the French Master's degree program in Fusion Science six years ago. To this day, some 200 students have earned the Master's degree in Fusion Science delivered by several French universities and Grandes Écoles.
Looking for a picture of ITER construction taken from 40 metres above the platform? Jacques Chirac's handwritten note on the occasion of the ITER site decision? Factory images of ITER component manufacturing in Philadelphia, Glazov or La Spezia?
You'll find these and more on the new Image Gallery page, where seven collections of images recount the ITER story ... past, present and future. Back in Time, Life at ITER, Site Milestones, Aerial, Manufacturing Underway, Technical and Scenic—seven new galleries that offer over 400 downloadable and informative images relating to the ITER Project.
See the new ITER Image Galleries here.
The International Fusion Materials Irradiation Facility (IFMIF) is presently in the Engineering Validation and Engineering Design Activities (EVEDA) phase. Can you describe the project's framework, its objectives?
Fusion-relevant neutron sources are indispensable for the world's common effort to develop nuclear fusion as a limitless source of energy for humankind. IFMIF/EVEDA is one of the three projects of the Broader Approach Agreement between Japanese government and Euratom signed in 2007 concurrently with the start of ITER Organization. The Broader Approach is a beautiful example of a smooth and collaborative multicultural scientific collaboration sharing goals across the world. It is an honour for me to lead one of its pillars and I can tell you that daily I enjoy the constructive spirit that pervades its working atmosphere. The EVEDA phase was conceived as a risk contention exercise—by building prototypes of the main technological challenges of IFMIF we are accurately determining the cost involved and the construction schedule. In addition, the engineering design of the IFMIF plant is also in our mandate; it will be mature to successfully drive IFMIF construction as soon as our community asks for it.
What is the status of the different IFMIF facilities?
IFMIF includes three main facilities: the Accelerator facility, the Target facility, and the Test facility. The validation activities are based on the construction of prototypes for the three facilities aforementioned to demonstrate their technological feasibility. A deuteron accelerator of 125 mA beam intensity and first accelerating stage to 9 MeV is under installation in Rokkasho; a liquid Lithium loop reaching 15 m/s of flow speed is presently running in Oarai in parallel with the development of its diagnostics and remote handling; finally the High Flux Test Module with a helium cooling loop and heaters capable of controlling the irradiation temperature of small specimens has been developed by KIT (Germany) and last but not least the Creep-Fatigue test module prototype made by CRPP in Villigen, Switzerland. [Editor's note: the Creep-Fatigue module is the prototype that will test creep-fatigue* behaviour in IFMIF under neutron irradiation.]
What will happen after EVEDA? Who will build the actual IFMIF? Where, and when?
We don't know yet where and when IFMIF will be built. The success of ITER will drive the enthusiasm of DEMO construction—even possibly various DEMOs around the world—which will demand fusion-relevant neutron sources to give timely answers to engineers facing the design of the reactor. It is my personal feeling that as there will probably be various DEMOs, there will be various neutron sources. The concept that IFMIF/EVEDA is developing as neutron source will be nicely placed to become the solution in a rapid manner.
Why is IFMIF so important for the future of fusion energy?
There are two available types of neutron sources nowadays, fission reactors and spallation facilities. Fission neutrons present an average energy of around 2 MeV; in turn, spallation neutron sources present a wide energy spectrum with tails in the order of hundreds MeV that generate light ions in significant quantities through transmutation. Materials facing the plasma in DEMO and future fusion power plants will be impacted by an unprecedented flux of 14.1 MeV neutrons. The degradation of the materials in the first wall of the reactor vessel is driven by the accumulation of transmuted helium and hydrogen in the material lattice that drives their embrittlement. However, the transmutation energy threshold of incident neutrons is around 3 MeV. Neither fission reactors nor spallation sources are fully suited. ITER will present less than 3 displacements per atom (dpa) in its full operational life; however in certain regions of its first wall DEMO will present around 30 dpa/year in full power operational mode. IFMIF will provide over 20 dpa/year in its High Flux Test Module capable of housing around 1000 small specimens with fusion-relevant neutrons. Investigating the degradation of materials exposed to plasma in a fusion reactor and understanding its fundamentals is essential to efficiently operate a power plant. Material scientists need relevant irradiation data in the operational range of a fusion reactor; presently we don't know how the thermomechanical properties of materials will degrade with neutron bombardment in a fusion power plant.
Some of the ITER Members already have a schedule for building DEMOs. How will these schedules coincide with IFMIF's?
The finalization of the EVEDA phase by mid-2017 will allow us to face the construction of IFMIF with a full guarantee of success and, as I said, with an accurate understanding of cost and schedule thanks to the validation activities and the Engineering Design of IFMIF plant presently under preparation. IFMIF's concept (two 40 MeV deuteron accelerators with a tuned current of 125 mA each impacting on a liquid Li screen that will generate neutrons with a broad peak at 14 MeV in the forward direction through (d, Li)n stripping reactions) is significantly simpler than ITER; its construction will possibly take slightly more than five years, but within a couple of years of operation fusion-relevant data on materials degradation will be available. The common efforts of Japan and Europe framed by the Broader Approach will allow world DEMOs to become a reality.
You were appointed IFMIF/EVEDA Project Leader in June 2012. How do you look back on your ~ 9-month experience in Japan from a professional, personal and cultural point of view?
I love Japan, its people, its gastronomy and its respect for old traditions. I feel at ease in the wonderful organized chaos that one can experience in its big towns like Tokyo, undoubtedly one of the most fascinating towns in the world. During my time at ITER from 2005 on, as an engineer leading the design of the toroidal field coils, I had the opportunity to visit Japan very often and I built personal links. Things have evolved as I expected since my arrival: there have been no bad surprises! I feel comfortably integrated in Japan and hope to soon be fluent in Japanese. On a professional ground, I must also say that JAEA staff has been very supportive and accepting of my leadership. I was nicely surprised with the high quality and amount of work of IFMIF community. My life drive is learning and there are new fascinating technological fields I am deeply involved with like neutronics, liquid metals, accelerator beam physics, nuclear safety...
* A mechanical characteristic, creep describes plastification occurring under constant stress below the elastic limit. Fatigue is the degradation of stiffness under cyclic loads.
On February 5-6, 2013 the General Assembly of the FuseNet Association, the European Fusion Education Network, convened in the Rectorate building of the St. Clement of Ohrid University of Sofia, Bulgaria, where it was generously hosted by Prof. Evgenia Benova.
At the start of the meeting, FuseNet welcomed a wide representation of fusion institutes in Europe, including several new members that were present for the first time. In particular, FuseNet is proud to count the ITER Organization among its members.
This meeting took place at a pivotal moment in the existence of the Association. On the one hand it is a time of closure, as the principal grant of the Association, the FuseNet FP7 project, is coming to an end later this year. Reviewing the project at the start of the meeting, the chair showed that basically all goals that had been set out at the beginning of the project have indeed been realized.
Firstly, an effective education network was established, made sustainable by the FuseNet Association. Joint criteria were developed for the award of the Fusion Master and Fusion Doctorate Certificates, which serve to homogenize and enhance the level of fusion education in Europe.
Secondly, joint educational tools such as hands-on labs, web-based virtual tools, web-access to existing experiments and a web-based course on plasma physics were developed. Moreover, the production of a book on fusion technology was initiated and is presently in an advanced stage.
Thirdly, joint educational activities such as summer schools were supported and the annual event for PhD students—of which the 3rd edition will take place in York in June this year—was introduced.
Internships for students were also arranged and, more recently, matchmaking with industrial partners has been taken on. Finally, the project has had a singularly successful mobility scheme that has allowed students to take part in educational activities.
At the heart of FuseNet is the attractive website which provides transparent access to all educational activities in the field of fusion in Europe. Students have definitely found their way to this portal, with more than 100 visits per day.
The FuseNet Association is also growing in terms of its membership count. The board expressed its ambition to further extend FuseNet's representation of fusion institutes in Europe this year. With the shift from pure research to designing, building and operating facilities like ITER and DEMO in mind, FuseNet will also start welcoming industrial partners to join the Association and work closely together with industry to educate and train the students and engineers in skills for ITER operation.
FuseNet is now shifting into a new mode of operation. Based on membership fees, a limited set of core activities—including the website and the award of Master and Doctorate certificates—will be sustained. On top of this, FuseNet will apply, on behalf of all its members (presently over 30), for grants that will allow it to vigorously stimulate, coordinate and support fusion education and training in Europe.
For more information on membership of the Association, please refer to the FuseNet website.