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ITER NEWSLINE 266
What is it like to be at the centre of ITER, the huge international fusion experiment that is under construction in France? "It's both exciting and challenging," said physicist Rich Hawryluk, who recently returned to the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) in the US after a two-year stint as deputy director-general for the Administration Department of ITER. "It's exciting in the scope and scale of this effort, and challenging in bringing such a large project to completion."
Hawryluk had many diverse responsibilities at ITER. He oversaw functions ranging from human resources to finance and budgeting to procurement and information technology. "A project this large is almost a continuous cycle of oversight and reviews," said Hawryluk. "You're essentially going from one major review to another every few months, and this kept us extremely busy."
Hawryluk arrived at ITER in April 2011, a year after construction of the ITER complex began on a 180-hectare site in 2010. Contracts now are being prepared and awarded to assemble the six-storey-tall fusion facility, or Tokamak Building, that will be at the heart of the complex.
Hawryluk is no stranger to exhaustive oversight duties. He served as head of PPPL's Tokamak Fusion Test Reactor experiment from 1991 to 1997 and as deputy director of PPPL from 1997 to 2008. He also was a member of the US delegation to the ITER Management Advisory Committee, which reports to the ITER Council. "But there's a big difference between being an outsider on the advisory committee and dealing with day-to-day issues," he said. "Getting immersed in and resolving the many issues that we had talked about was a major change."
Read more on the PPPL website.
On 22 and 23 April, the ITER Organization welcomed 19 science journalists from the European Union's Science Journalist Association (EUSJA). This was the result of an initiative taken jointly by the Russian journalist Viola Egikova, vice-president of EUSJA, and ITER Communication to present ITER and the project's underlying fusion science and technology to a group of selected science journalists.
The two-day program included a visit of the worksite and presentations by several ITER scientists and engineers on status of the project, plasma physics, the chemistry of tritium, etc. Interviews were also organized at the requests of the journalists.
As Head of Communications, I believe it is essential to work with the press and to handle their requests as swiftly as possible, as there is still a huge information gap and major communication needs relative to ITER and fusion. In my opinion, the aim is not so much the information that you deliver but the openness and the dialogue that you establish (or make visible) ... and the respect for journalistic work.
"Indeed, I was pleased to see the openness of the ITER Communication team," said Amanda Verdonck, a free-lance Dutch journalist who participated in the EUSJA visit. "But I was really impressed by the scale of the project and the sophisticated scientific knowledge that has gone into the machine. And I will be further impressed to see all this functioning! Like your videoconference system — quite impressive to me!"
An important week of meetings took place recently in Korea for the ITER vacuum vessel and thermal shield—for both of these key components industrial suppliers have been selected and manufacturing, pre-manufacturing or kick-off works have begun.
The 52nd ITER Vacuum Vessel Integrated Product Team (IPT) meeting and Domestic Agency collaboration meeting held on 8-10 April brought together over 30 experts from the ITER Organization, the European, Indian, Korean and Russian Domestic Agencies, and Korean industry (Hyundai Heavy Industry & AMW). During meetings hosted at the National Fusion Research Institute (NFRI) and at Hyundai Heavy Industry, participants shared the technology and experience of fabrication of the ITER vacuum vessel, ports and in-wall shielding, and discussed the development pathway for fabrication issues. A visit was organized to the KSTAR Tokamak at NFRI.
During a bilateral collaboration meeting held on 11 April, participants from the Korean and European Domestic Agencies—plus industrial suppliers Hyundai Heavy Industry and AMW—focused more particularly on the new technologies for fabrication of ITER vacuum vessel sectors, especially welding, nondestructive examination (NDE) and optical dimensional measurement. All parties agreed that such valuable collaboration would be continued in the future.
On Friday 12 April, the kick-off meeting for the ITER thermal shield was held—this key component will be installed between the magnets and the vacuum vessel/cryostat in order to shield the magnets from radiation. The contract for the design and fabrication of the thermal shield was awarded by the Korean Domestic Agency in February to SFA Engineering Corp, which is also the supplier selected by Korea for ITER's assembly tooling. SFA presented the implementation plan for the procurement of the thermal shield during the meeting.
More than 20 responsible persons from the Korean Domestic Agency, SFA and the ITER Organization were present including Domestic Agency head Kijung Jung, SFA Chief Operating Officer Myung Jae Lee, and head of the ITER Vacuum Vessel Division Carlo Sborchia. Prior to the kick-off meeting, representatives from ITER and the Korean Domestic Agency agreed to collaborate closely to solve urgent design change requests related to assembly and interface issues.
"The thermal shield is one of the most critical procurement items in the ITER project. We will do our best in collaboration with the ITER Organization for its successful procurement," stressed Kijung Jung.
In the realm of nuclear safety, no detail is too small to overlook. An imprecise document, an incomplete procedure, a misplaced bolt or a slight deviation from the approved design can have serious consequences on the overall safety of the installation.
It is the duty of the ITER Organization, as nuclear operator, to ascertain that the safety requirements are understood and implemented throughout the whole chain of its suppliers and contractors, and that the procedures in application of the 1984 Quality Order are respected. And it is the mission of the French Nuclear Safety Agency ASN, in conformity with the 2007 ITER Headquarters Agreement, to verify that this duty is properly performed.
For their sixth visit to the ITER site, last Thursday 25 April, the ASN inspectors, accompanied by one expert from the French Radioprotection and Nuclear Safety Institute (IRSN), had decided to direct their scrutiny to the ongoing civil works on the ITER platform.
After a meticulous review of documents and procedures in the morning, the inspectors spent most of the afternoon onsite, focusing their attention on the B2 slab mockup (rebar arrangements and concrete formulation) and inside the Tokamak Seismic Pit, where formwork activity is progressing at a spectacular pace.
A letter summarizing the outcome of the inspection will be addressed to the ITER Director-General in the coming days and also made available to the public on the ASN web site. In nuclear safety, transparency is key.
"In my country," says acting Indian ambassador to France Indra Mani Pandey, "we are very energy deficient. This is why the success of ITER is so important for 1.3 billion Indians!"
Ambassador Pandey visited ITER last Tuesday 23 April, accompanied by his wife and one colleague. After touring the site—an experience that "helped [him] take the full measure of the challenge"—he met with the Indian staff members (29 persons presently) to discuss their experience at ITER and in France.
The Ambassador was particularly interested in learning "how the seven ITER Members collaborate on a day-to-day basis." The way the governance of the project is organized, he felt, is a template for the future.
This year has become the Year of the Jubilee for the world-famous Kurchatov Institute, which has played a key role in ensuring national security and the development of important strategic branches of Soviet and Russian science and industry since its founding in 1943 in Moscow.
In 2013, the Kurchatov celebrates the 70th anniversary of its founding, the 110th anniversary of the birth of institute founder academician Igor Kurchatov, and also the 110th anniversary of the birth of academician Anatoly Alexandrov, who became the second Kurchatov Institute director and headed it for 25 years.
The Kurchatov today possesses a unique research and technological base, performing R&D in a wide range of science and technology areas, from power engineering, convergent technologies and elementary particle physics to high technology medicine and information technologies.
The Institute's role in the development of thermonuclear fusion research is hard to overestimate. Under the scientific guidance of Igor Golovin, the first tokamak was assembled in1955—in fact, he coined the term TOKAMAK that is now widely acknowledged by the world community.
Read more about the Kurchatov Institute here.