The last week of May, the world's leading experts on plasma wall interactions gathered in Toledo, Spain, for the biannual International Conference on Plasma Surface Interactions in Controlled Fusion Devices (PSI). Plasma wall interactions are one of the key issues for the success of fusion energy, and this year a large part of the conference was dedicated to the key R&D issues for ITER, indicated PSI Chairman and Senior Scientific Officer for Transport and Confinement Physics of ITER, Alberto Loarte. And there seems to be good news.
Based on recent experimental and modelling results, the scientific community's prediction on the fluxes to the divertor and the first wall due to Edge Localized Modes (ELMs) in ITER is "very much converging", says Loarte. "Before, we had very diverging opinions. One of the issues we were not so sure about was the question whether achieving regimes with ELMs that would not erode the divertor, would also provide a solution to avoid damage to the first wall. We are now pretty sure that this issue has an integral solution, i.e., if we develop a regime with ELMs that is tolerable for the divertor, then it will also be tolerable for the ITER wall. Now the main R&D thrust must be to develop schemes for ELM control such as triggering of ELMs with pellets or edge magnetic field perturbation, as foreseen for ITER."
Will it be carbon or something liquid?
When the going get's tough, that's when the bright brains become creative. For this year's Conference on Plasma Surface Interactions in Toledo, the Local Committee Chairman Francisco Tabarés composed the following song:
When I get older,
losing my hair,
many years from now,
In our countries,
will we still be won-de-ring,
which material shall we purchase?
For the divertor,
for the first wall,
oh what such a mess!
Will it be tungsten,
or something lighter,
When I am sixty-four.
Everybody has a word to say
about the way to go.
But don't be a fool.
Let's work together,
under the sun of Cadarache site,
we will meet someday.
There'll be fusion,
I don't doubt it,
but who knows the Q we'll achieve?
Years are running,
maybe too fast,
we can't just relax.
Will it be carbon
or something liquid,
when I am sixty-four.
Lyrics: Francisco Tabarés, CIEMAT
After having involved the local governments in financing the ITER program, Saint-Paul's mayor is having a Guesthouse built for students and visiting scientists.
Roger Pizot, 62, left school when he was 14, but when it comes to things nuclear, he's close to being an expert. For almost three decades, first as deputy, then as mayor of Saint-Paul-lez-Durance since 1995, he's been "à tu et à toi" — that is, on very friendly terms — with all CEA-Cadarache directors and scores of prominent scientists. He has met science ministers and high commissioners for Atomic Energy, physicists from all over the world and has provided his no-nonsense, down-to-earth opinion and advice to the early promoters of the ITER project. Saint-Paul's mayor wants to serve ITER as ITER is serving Saint-Paul, bringing the village pride and popularity. After a brand new "commercial centre" with ten shops, an Internet Café and a restaurant, Pizot is having a guesthouse built at the edge of the village's "zone artisanale ", two kilometres south of Cadarache. The guesthouse will consist of 77 cosy studios and small apartments, which, by next spring, will be available for visiting scientists and students
"The best weld is no weld. But you have to be a welding engineer to say so," Tommi Jokinen, the ITER welding engineer, comments with a smile.
Tommi Jokinen was born in Nokia (yes, that Nokia), Finland.
After his graduation as mechanical engineer in 1995, Tommi worked for the aviation industry. Later he changed to VTT, the Technical Research Centre of Finland where he also did his PhD in laser welding and qualified first as European and later as International Welding Engineer. In 2006, Tommi and his family moved to Garching in Germany to work as VTT contractor for the European Fusion Programme EFDA. His responsibility there was to follow tasks relating to welding mock-ups and the welding process development projects mainly concerning the ITER Vacuum Vessel.
"The main problem with welding thick stainless steel structures up to 60 mm thickness are the distortions," Tommi explains. "In many cases in the ITER machine it will only be possible to access and weld those thick sections from one side. The so-called balance welding, which needs both side access, is thus impossible. This leads to greater distortions. But there are some methods to reduce distortions, for example using narrow gap techniques, which means less material to be melted and thus less distortions. Still, whenever you melt steel by welding you'll get distortions."
His experience in welding of ITER components finally brought Tommi to France, to work for ITER itself. Here he is currently finalizing the welding specifications for the divertor components. Tommi will be working in Cadarache for just one year, nevertheless his family has moved with him. The Jokinens are now living in Pierrevert, the two oldest of their three children (aged 2, 5 and 7) go to the International School in Manosque at the moment and the youngest one will start there in September. "The two years in Germany and now the experience here in France working for the ITER project has been a unique opportunity for me. And for the family it has been great chance to learn new languages and new cultures. We like it here!"
"The time has come when energy and climate are now at the top of the world political agenda," Paul Vandenplas and Gerd H. Wolf write in a feature for Europhysics News in which the authors celebrate the 50th anniversary of controlled nuclear fusion in the European Union. "Society seems to have gained a deep-rooted understanding of the seriousness of these problems. Scenarios exist which demonstrate the huge supply gap to be expected towards the end of this century. It is obvious now that fusion energy must be developed with the necessary impact to gain its place in the world's energy mix as soon as possible."
The National Russian TV (RTR) has produced a short news item on ITER.
Please click here...
(Sorry, no subtitles or translation available!)
For the past year, teams of archaeologists have been scraping and digging at various locations on the ITER work site. An "archaeological survey" is required by the French law preliminary to any construction, whether it be a motorway, a car park or a fusion installation. Over the past months, the archaeologists mandated by the Agence Iter France have identified remnants of several charcoal burners on the ITER site, a lime kiln and a glassworks, dating back to the late 18th century.
Now, a team from the National Institute of Preventive Archaeology (INRAP) has come up with a more spectacular find: next to the RD 912, the road leading from Cadarache to Vinon-sur-Verdon where the trees have been cut for ITER's hydraulic network, several tombs have been found. Presumably they were part of a small necropolis. "Burial techniques of this kind have been common in Provence from late antiquity until the time of the Merovingian kings, so we are talking about a time span between the 5th and the 7th century A.D.", says Françoise Trial, in charge of Archaeology in the Bouches-du-Rhône department.
Fifty years ago, when CEA-Cadarache was being built, excavators had brought to light a similar burial place, which is still visible inside the CEA/Cadarache centre. Some Bronze Age tombs were also discovered nearby, one of them containing the remains of both a man and a boar. "Probably some kind of offering", says Françoise Trial.
The first survey of the newly discovered tombs is now completed. Their potential historical interest has prompted the INRAP to file a request for a "salvage dig", which, if granted, could begin in the coming weeks.
The three buses that had been hired to transport ITER employees to the Salle Polyvalente last Wednesday 4 June to attend the All-Staff meeting, proved to be barely sufficient to transport the ever-growing ITER crowd. Not surprising because although the ITER Organization currently counts 256 directly employed staff, adding all on-site subcontractors and temporary staff. "All-ITER" now totals more than 400 people, representing 24 nationalities.
In his talk, Kaname Ikeda focused on the Project Baseline which, to be achieved, requires more manpower. Ikeda further outlined the construction progress with focus on the new temporary office buildings on the ITER site; he touched on ITER's Collaboration Agreements with CERN and the Principality of Monaco; and he gave an update on the development of the International School.
Road signs on the motorway don't agree: some announce "Saint-Paul-les-Durance", as if there were several Durance rivers ; others add a "grave" accent on the "e" of "les", thus making up a word "lès" which does not exist. Even maps, sometimes, seem to get confused.
There is only one way of spelling the name of the village which hosts the ITER IO: it is "lez", and there is a good reason for it. "Lez" is an old French word, commonly used until the 16th century, which has now vanished from spoken and written language, but has survived in some villages', churches' and towns' names.
"Lez" means "near", "close to", "next to". Thus Saint-Paul-lez-Durance is Saint-Paul by the Durance River, like Villeneuve-lez-Avignon, is Villeneuve close to Avignon.
"He is a nice guy - and he can still do the math." Last week the ITER Vacuum Group and many more colleagues gathered in the "Centre Court" and raised their glasses to Mike Wykes who has finally decided to look at the sunny side of retirement. Mike, an experienced fusion scientist, had already officially retired from fusion work some years ago when he was asked to help build up the ITER Vacuum Group — which he did. As the deed is done, Mike sets off home for the second time in his life. But seriously, what would a dedicated fusion gypsy do at home for more than a month? The serial retiree plans to come back to Cadarache in August to start working as a part-time consultant. "I would not bother to come back if this here hadn't been fun. Great fun!"
The Max-Planck Institute for Plasma Physics in Garching, together with the European Fusion Development Agreement (EFDA) have produced a movie on fusion in the year 2100.
View the video here...