This week, the ancient Château de Cadarache is once again witness to another chapter being written in the history of the ITER project. Starting today, 19 May, the International Science and Technology Advisory Committee (STAC) convenes in Cadarache to discuss the final design of ITER, the machine's scope and the schedule up to First Plasma. From Wednesday onwards, the Management Advisory Committee (MAC) will follow. The recommendations made by these two committees will go to the ITER Council, the supervising body of the ITER project, that will meet in Aomori, Japan, on 18 June.
The deadline for application for the newly-created ITER Fellowships sponsored by the Principality of Monaco has been extended until 31 May 2008. These ITER Postdoctoral Research Fellowships will allow recent PhD graduates to join the ITER Organization for a period up to two years.
Though ITER site preparations have only just started, some people have been with the project for 15 years...which gives an interesting perspective of how long it has taken to get ITER from its conceptual phase to an emerging reality.
When Doris Spiegel, Assistant to Project Deputy Director-General Norbert Holtkamp, joined ITER in Garching in 1993, little did she expect that she would become so fond of working in a multi-cultural environment, that it would ultimately make her move in 2006 from her home city Munich to sunny Aix-en-Provence, where she now feels quite at home. Doris is so much part of ITER and now Provence, that she even adopted her cat, Eddy, during last year's ITER summer party.
When she left high school, Doris' area of predilection was literature rather than science. She became fascinated by Japanese literature and history after reading the Tale of Genji, an 11th century Japanese novel.
She studied Japanology to become a Japanese literature translator, but it didn't work out that way. After having worked as a translator and then for a Japanese company for a short while, Doris joined NET (Next European Torus) as a multi-lingual secretary in Garching in 1989 and then ITER in 1993.
And although she doesn't practise her Japanese on a daily basis anymore it has remained the thread through her career. So has the cultural diversity which is so characteristic of ITER. "What I enjoy most in working for ITER is the mix of nationalities, languages and cultures, all working together to build this amazing machine," says Doris, "This is what makes ITER unique, and I think it would be difficult to find a working environment quite like this anywhere else."
EAST has recently finished the installation of actively-cooled Plasma Facing Components (PFCs). The PFCs consist of upper and lower divertors, high and low field side plates, and passive plates, made of B-Si-Ti-doped graphite tiles bolted to actively-cooled CuCrZr heat sinks. Altogether more than 8500 tiles, 270 heat sinks and 300 supports over 50,000 pieces have been used and it is expected that the divertor could withstand heat loads of maximum 2MW/m2. New electromagnetic coils for better plasma measurements and control, and a circular inner cryopump, directly mounted under the lower divertor, were also installed.
The EAST vacuum vessel is scheduled to be closed before the end of May, then pumped, leak-checked and cooled down in the following weeks. Operation will begin around late of June and will last one month.
Measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale, the earthquake that occurred in the Sichuan Province of China at 0628 GMT on Monday 12 May was the most severe earthquake China has experienced in the last 30 years. More than 50,000 people are feared dead in the Sichuan Province alone. The epicentre of the earthquake was in the Wenchuan region, 95 kilometres north-west of Sichuan's capital Chengdu with its population of 10 million people.
Like Youkun Fu, a member of the ITER Tokamak Divison, most of the Chinese ITER staff are from the Chengdu region. When Youkun heard the news about the earthquake, he immediately tried to contact his wife and relatives back in Dujingyan — without any success. Most of the telephone lines were destroyed, the mobile network had collapsed. Then, on the second day, he was relieved to receive the text message: Everybody fine!
Xiaoyu Wang, who also works in the ITER Tokamak Division, is from Jiangyou, north of Chengdu, a mere 20 kilometres away from the earthquake's epicentre. His parent's house has been severely damaged, he says, his parents currently live in a tent they put up in a park together with many hundred other families. The people are not yet allowed to return to their houses as aftershocks are still occurring.
While the situation in Jiangyou remains disastrous, in Chengdu itself the situation seems to stabilize day by day. "Water, gas, and electricity are working again," another colleague from China, Caipin Zhou, reports. "After having spent the last three days in her car outside the city limits, my wife yesterday dared to return to our apartment."
While the tokamak in the Southwestern Institute of Physics (SWIP) was not damaged, as Dr. Pengyuan Li, a visiting scientist from SWIP currently working for ITER in Cadarache, confirmed, the news about the Dongfang Turbine Factory in Deyong 90 kilometres northeast of Chengdu came as a shock to the Chinese group gathered in Youkun Fu's office this morning. The company, one of the major cooporation partners of the ITER project in SWIP and a potential manufacturer for the ITER magnet supports and blanket, was almost completely destroyed by the earthquake - and with it the company's school. Almost all children inside the building are reported to be dead, Youkun Fu said.
In order to support the victims, the Chinese staff together with some colleagues from Japan and Korea spontaneously collected money which they handed over to the Consulate-General of China in Marseille last week. On behalf of the ITER Organization, ITER Director-General Kaname Ikeda sent a letter to Dr. Wan Gang, the Minister of Science and Technology of China and to Professor Pan Chuanhong, President of SWIP, expressing his condolences: Ï am deeply shocked and saddened by the loss of life and the scale of the devastation caused by the earthquake. Mere words cannot express our feelings in the face of such suffering. But on behalf of myself, and the ITER Organization, we would like to offer our heartfelt sympathy and condolences to all the victims of this terrible tragedy."
Anyone who wants to help and make a donation should contact the Chinese Consul General in Marseille:
Consul General: Song Binglin,
20, boulevard Carmagnole,
13008 Marseille, France
Tel:+33-491320017 (24 hours) or +33-491320000
Fax:+33-491320008 / 491320004
On 9 May, DG Kaname Ikeda attended the kick-off meeting of ITER Korea held in Deajeon. This meeting, which will be in the future held three times a year, was attended by all ITER-related representatives within the Korean government, research institutes and industry. At an unrelenting pace they come and go, more than ten giant scrapers who take the rubble from the highest point of the site and use it to fill up the lowest spots. Their drivers, who are between 20 and 25 years old, now perfectly control every single manoeuvre.
They have all completed a two-month specific training course according to the machine they operate (dumper trucks, compactors, sprinkler lorries). This training was given on site by instructors from Valerian, the company in charge of these machines, and also by outside instructors. "The training begins with basic information on security and how to operate the equipment (about 80 hours), and then progressively every driver gets to practise handling these huge machines which weigh several tens of tons and are more than four metres high," explains one of the instructors.
Once they have obtained their certificate of competence, they can start moving around the 2,3 million cubic metres of rubble on site, almost the equivalent of the pyramid of Kheops, estimated at more than 2,5 million cubic metres.
We will miss them, those lost visitors wondering around our corridors, knocking on our doors asking for directions on how to find Mr or Mrs So-and-So. Relief has finally arrived. Since last week, the ITER Organization has its own receptionists.
Sebastien Chicca (and his replacement Benoit Granel), employed by Dynapost, a company specializing in internal logistics, will be located right at the entrance of Building 519. From now on, one or the other will be there every day between 8.30 and 11.30 and between 13.15 and 16.45 to handle incoming and outgoing mail and deliveries and also to welcome visitors and help them find their way in the ITER Organization buildings.
The reception desk's telephone number is - 9915