The direct way is not always the fastest, an old Chinese saying goes. Defining the design for ITER, the next big step on the way to fusion power, took several iterations as well. But now we seem to have arrived at the point where the technical baseline design can be accepted at the next Council meeting.
At its third meeting last week, the Science and Technology Advisory Committee (STAC) expressed the view "...that IO is ready with all elements of an optimized reference design and can proceed with the task of finalizing the Overall Project Cost and Overall Project Schedule documents for the STAC, MAC and Council meetings in May and respectively June this year."
At their last meeting in November 2007 the STAC members had identified a number of high priority technical issues that could have led to risks in the performance of ITER, such as the control of Edge Localized Modes (ELMs), the vertical stability and shaping of the plasma, the loads on the Vacuum Vessel and the Coil Cold Testing. The IO, together with the Domestic Agencies, therefore set up 13 working groups to analyze these issues and, where necessary, to identify design improvements. In less than four months members of the IO, the DAs, the International Tokamak Physics Activity (ITPA) and participants from many fusion laboratories around the world have worked tirelessly to provide options and conceptual designs to be able to show STAC that ITER is ready to go.
Overall, the STAC endorsed all the solutions the IO proposed. Some suggestions were made for further refinements to the design. In his final comment, the STAC chairman, Prof Predhiman Kaw, commended the excellent work carried out by the working groups over the past months and the proactive manner in which novel solutions to the critical issues have been sought. return to Newsline #27