Long before the "Iron Curtain" fell, a conference on the shores of Lake Geneva celebrated the end of classified documents and secret research behind closed doors: From 1-13 September 1958, 5000 scientists, government officials and observers from both East and West had come to the old League of Nations building in Geneva - and the nearby exhibition hall that had been constructed especially for this first nuclear world "fair" - to bear witness to the revelation of nuclear research.
Sponsored by the United Nations, the "Second United Nations International Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy", better known as the "Atoms for Peace" conference, was the largest international gathering ever to focus on the potential of taming nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. The main attraction: the promised revelation of secret fusion research by the United States, Great Britain and the Soviet Union, i.e. the talks of the leading fusion scientists Hannes Alfven, Lev Artsimovich, Ludwig Biermann, Peter Thonemann and Edward Teller on "the possibility of controlled fusion. "On the second day of the conference the fusion scientists crowded into the League of Nations assembly hall. This was the moment of reckoning", writes Robin Herman in her book "Fusion - the search for endless energy". "The first day had been spent mostly on formalities. Now, in major speeches, each country's top scientists were set to present the first broad revelation about what they had achieved in fusion."
In his report on fusion research in the USSR, keynote speaker Lev Artsimovich, stressed the importance of this new joint international effort : "We must not underestimate the difficulties which will have to be overcome before we learn to master thermonuclear fusion", he said. "A most important factor in ensuring success in these investigations is the continuation and further development of the international cooperation initiated by our conference. The solution [...] will require a maximum concentration of intellectual effort and the mobilization of very appreciable material facilities and complex apparatus." And Edward Teller, his colleague from the other side of the world, later added: "It is remarkable how closely parallel the developments in the different countries are and this, of course, is due to the fact that we all live in the same world and obey the same laws of nature. [...] It is wonderful that over a large and important area of research we can now all talk and work together freely. I hope that this spirit of cooperation will endure, that it will be generally exercised throughout the world in this field and that be extended also to other fields."
Click here to read the
"Proceedings of the Second United International Conference on Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy".
More info: Fusion - the search for endless energy,
by Robin Herman, Cambridge University Press, 1990, ISBN 0-521-02495-1
(also available at the ITER library!!)
Honoré de Berre—not Berre-L'Etang, where the ITER components will start their land journey to Cadarache, but Berre-les-Alpes, near Nice—is the first of the provencal high lords to have actually lived at Cadarache. In the 1450's, he was a very powerful man, the Grand Steward to the House of Rene d'Anjou who ruled over Provence, Naples and Jerusalem.
Honore loved his domain, where he could invite his overlord the "Good King René" to hunt hares, deer and wild boar. To accommodate his guests, he transformed the old tower into a three-storey construction with vaulted rooms and huge fire places—this is the origin of the present Château de Cadarache.
On Honoré's death in the late 1480s, the castle and domain passed into the estate of the Villeneuve family, whose crest—with a couple or orbiting electrons added—CEA-Cadarache adopted when it was established in 1959. For the following three centuries the castle remained the property of the Valbelle and Castellane families until the Revolution in 1789, when it was decided that all castles belonged to the people. The Castellane were ousted and Cadarache was auctioned as "national property".
New money soon replaced old aristocracy and lawyers, merchants and industrialists succeeded counts, seneschals and marquis. In 1863, a rich public works contractor became the new "lord" of Cadarache. In his old age, in 1905, he bequeathed the entire domain to his hometown, the village of Embrun in the Hautes-Alpes department. Five years later, the Embrun municipal council, having reaped no profit from the domain, handed it down to the State.
And so it happened that, looking for a place "near a river, not too heavily populated, close to a university town and located in a pleasant region where scientists and engineers would be happy to settle with their family," the CEA decided in 1958 that the largest of its research centres would be established here, close by a château whose history goes back more than a thousand years.
For a more detailed history: Cadarache, a château between the Durance and Verdon rivers by Marie-Jose Loverini, Jeanne Laffitte publishing, 2005
If you want to enjoy the Provencal summer sun but haven't found the time during your long and busy working days, how about a lunchtime picnic in the woods?
Eight wooden picnic benches have been installed under the pine trees near building 525, for ITER staff to eat outside instead of going to the canteen when the weather is nice. All you need to do is bring your own food and drinks and enjoy a peaceful lunch away from the crowds.
Please beware though that smoking is strictly prohibited in this picnic area because of the risk of forest fire. We would also like to remind you to clean up your table after you have finished your lunch and to dispose of your litter in the containers near the buildings.
Hope you can spare an hour on Tuesday 23 September, because that's the day all ITER staff get to visit the ITER site.
Want to see the impressive progress that has been made over the last few month in shaping the environment of our future ITER machine and its infrastructure? Don't miss this opportunity to see it all for yourselves!
Six buses, with a capacity of 50 passengers each, will be leaving from the ITER building that day, between 9 a.m. and 3.30 p.m., according to a schedule that will be send out in the coming weeks. You will be asked to pre-register to the visit on a first-come-first-served basis, to avoid queuing and long waiting times.
So stay tuned for more info on this visit soon.
Four or five years ago, when I was quite new to the fusion community, someone told me that each of the big tokamaks was able to do something that none of the others could do. I was surprised to find that there was no centralized database summarising the specifications and achievements of the machines that have been built. There were many lists of a few tens of machines, and thousands of technical articles giving details of their discoveries, but no complete overview. Hence my collection started. I decided to catalogue tokamaks, but not stellarators and pinches unless they have run in tokamak configuration at some time. Working from the biggest tokamaks, the list grew quite quickly.
About two years ago I was encouraged by some of my friends at Culham to set up a web site to share the collection with the rest of the fusion community. Initially I was reluctant because of the difficulty of obtaining permission to publish the information, even though it is all in the public domain already. However, after some discussions, the web site was agreed by the Culham management, on the condition that it was made clear that it was not part of my formal duties, but simply a hobby. Hence
All-the-World's Tokamaks was created and run rather anonymously. People then started to volunteer more information, send news and photographs and claim discoveries and achievements. A few of the larger fusion labs around the world were kind enough to link to the web site and now it can be found very easily via Google. It has had over 10,000 visits, and the daily hit rate is an interesting barometer of public interest in the subject.
Last year it was suggested that it would be fun to create a poster, and I am pleased to say that the idea has received universal support from all the large machines featured, and in particular, the PR team at JET who provided a graphic designer. Thank you to everyone who has provided a photograph, corrected my text and helped to produce the poster of "Conventional Tokamaks from around the World". Perhaps it is controversial to have excluded spherical tokamaks, but it would be interesting to consider a second poster dedicated to them. Someone has recently suggested creating a new game, "Tokamak Top Trumps" like the popular children's card game. I think he was joking, but... at least I would have a chance of winning this version of the game!
And finally, I have to admit that I still don't know how many tokamaks there have been. I know that at least 210 have been built in the last 50 years, the smallest being the size of a compact disk! I would be pleased to hear from anyone who can contribute more information.
Works are progressing on the ITER site at full speed, including the excavation of the four water basins that form part of the ITER Cooling Water System.
The water that is needed to remove the heat from the Tokamak vessel and its in-vessel components is derived from the Canal de Provence. It is used to cool down the diagnostics and the heating systems, the power supply and the cryogenic system. It is separated into two closed heat transfer circuits plus a Cooling Tower open circuit.
After having cooled these systems, the water flows through the primary and the secondary separate heat exchangers that reduce the water temperature from a maximum value of 150 degrees C to 50 degrees C. Then the heat is released to the environment through the Cooling Tower at an average thermal power of 450 MW during the Plasma operation.
In fact, as ITER is a research facility not aiming to produce power, most of the cooling water simply evaporates in the Cooling Towers.
The remaining water is released into the Durance River (Canal EDF). But before it does that, it will have to pass through three of the four cooling basins with a capacity of 3000 cubic metres each. The first basin will simply be used for collecting the outlet. From number one it then flows into number two where it will be tested for various parameters such as temperature (maximum outflow temperature is 30 degreesC), pH, hydrocarbons, chlorides, sulphates and tritium. All tests will be submitted to the Prefecture. Only then will the water flow into basin number three and finally out into the Durance river. The fourth basin will be used as a backup.
He is used to thinking in big dimensions and to working in an international environment. The fact that he used to be a rugby player is most certainly not a handicap: Arnaud Foussat, a material science engineer and a graduate of the National Institute of Applied Science in Toulouse, is one part of the two-man-team (besides Paul Libeyre) in charge of ITER's Central Solenoid and the Correction Coils. He joined the ITER Organization in May 2008 after having worked on high pulsed power electrical technology in Basel and with Oxford Instruments developing Quench protection systems on magnets in Oxford. The last 10 years he spent at CERN constructing ATLAS Toroidal magnets, one of the huge detectors magnet system on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). Arnaud has been part of the ATLAS project right from its beginning, the cavern excavation, until the final commissioning magnet test. So he knows all about the ups and downs of a big science project.
"Talking about ITER's Central Solenoid, the magnet is still on paper", Arnaud says. "But sooner or later we will start manufacturing and finally assembling towards its commissioning. Then, I am sure, we will have to face many technical issues, big and small,, as well as the odd last minute repairs." At this point the team player enters the game: "From my former experience at CERN I know that some of the problems that arise when building these big systems are too complex for one man, one team or even one party alone. That will really be the time to play and interact between teams."
Comparing ATLAS and ITER, there are many similarities—and differences.
"Although ITER operates on a larger scale—and that is not only with regard to the magnets' size and energy capacity—the project's functionalities and its technological challenges are very similar", Arnaud admits. The word "cost cut" is also not new to his ears. "We had to cut the costs for ATLAS by one third which we did, for example, by implementing value engineering tools at each stage of the project. So, the phase we are going through right now with a profound review of the estimated costs for ITER is a very natural process in large science projects."
At ATLAS, a system of four magnets provides the magnetic field for the inner detector, the solenoid, and the muon detectors, the toroids. There are eight so—called Barrel Toroid (BT) Coils on ATLAS with conductors made of NbTi. These BT Coils are currently the largest superconducting magnets in the world.
ITER: 18 TF coils, Nb3Sn conductor, 8,7 m wide x 13,8 m high,
810 ton superconductor, TF coil weight: 6540 tons, 81 km conductor, Force per TF coil: 403 MN, Current: 68 kA at 11.8 T, Energy in TF coils: 41 GJ, Construction: 10 years
ATLAS: 8 BT Coils, NbTi conductor, 20 m diam. x 25 m long, 170 ton superconductor, BT coil weight: 1320 tons, 90 km conductor, Force per BT coil: 15 MN, Current: 20.5 kA at 4.1 T, Energy in BT coils: 1.55 GJ, Construction: 8 years
On 29 August, as part of a European tour, managers of companies in nuclear facilities of the Japan Atomic Energy Agency visited the Cadarache site, including Tore Supra. They held discussions with Japanese staff in the ITER offices, followed by a visit to the ITER construction site.