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News & Media


Of Interest

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Kaname Ikeda
The year 2008 has been the ITER Organization's first full year and I think it is worth taking some time to stand back and look at what has been achieved.

People are at the heart of the ITER Organization and in 2008 we have been able to recruit first-class staff. Our staff numbers have increased from 180 to 300 in 2008 and I am very pleased with the model of international teamwork that is developing.

There are many other metrics which indicate the momentum of the project and both the ITER Organization and the Domestic Agencies can be proud of their achievements. Progress has been considerable. All Domestic Agencies are now established, a schedule against which to measure our performance exists, procurement arrangements are being signed, the preparation of the ITER platform is nearly completed, and the ITER Organization has a headquarters building on its own site. Scientific R&D has progressed well and I would like to congratulate team working at the Institute of Plasma Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (ASIPP) in Hefei, China for the excellent results on the high temperature superconductor current leads that have just been announced.

This issue of ITER Newsline includes a pictorial record of some of the many highlights of 2008 at ITER. There have been some tough times in 2008 but the ITER staff has consistently risen to the challenge and I would like to thank you all for your contribution to the creation of one of the great science projects of our time. After this very busy year, take time over the holidays to relax and enjoy friends and family. We will be back, fully refreshed, in the new year for an outstanding 2009 at ITER.

"Building an airplane is not quite as easy as baking biscuits," the Head of Airbus Industries, Thomas Enders, jovially replied to journalists on the occasion of his company celebrating the delivery of an A380 to Quantas in October this year.

Well, ITER is not designed to fly. But building the 30 buildings needed for the ITER plant, manufacturing and assembling the more than 30,000 components and about 10 million bits and pieces that will have to fit together to form the ITER machine and to make sure that they arrive in Cadarache on time and in good shape is no biscuit business either.

There is no user manual for the biggest experimental tokamak ever built and with its parts being manufactured in various regions across the world. ITER's central component, the vacuum vessel, for example, will be built partly by Europe and partly by Korea. From Korea, the steel structure will be shipped across the oceans to the port of Fos-sur-Mer in southern France, and then it will be put on wheels to crawl along the 110 kilometres to Cadarache where, with a precision of 5 mm, it will finally be assembled with other parts delivered from Europe, Russia and India.

To make sure that the housing for the steel vessel, the Tokamak Building, is in place when the parts arrive on site, and that all the pipes, cables, busbars, feeders and power supplies are there ready to be connected, it is essential to have a plan. And it had better be a good plan if ITER is to produce First Plasma in 2018.

Currently, about 30 planners within the ITER Organization and the seven Domestic Agencies are elaborating a master plan: the Integrated Project Schedule (IPS). The IPS, a complex network of logically linked tasks, is the roadmap to ITER. Colour-coded bars indicate the timelines allocated to the various parts, giving an indication on how much time is needed to manufacture, deliver and finally install them in the machine. "Our work is based on assumptions," explains Debbie Cox, in charge of transforming assumptions into a master plan for the electron cyclotron and the ion cyclotron heating systems. "Our job has a lot to do with communications," the planner from Thurso in the far north of Scotland explains. "Being a planner does not require special expertise on how to assemble a tokamak. A planner has to be able to extract the information from the people who will actually do the work and format this in a way that it can be communicated to others."

While Debbie concentrates on heating, her colleague Nancy Bernius from the US deals with the assembly of the basic machine, plant and ancillary systems. Currently, she is focusing on ITER's blanket structures. The design of the vacuum vessel includes 440 blanket modules that will have to be bolted to the inner walls. It is up to Nancy to find out how much time will be needed to mount one module and, based on this number, to calculate how long it takes until the whole vessel is covered. "The calculation starts with presuming that we will have two remote handling devices available to move the modules weighing 4.5 tonnes each into the right position. We will then need a working platform for the people fitting in the 5,760 bolts that will hold the modules. We further assume that it will take ten minutes for each bolt. Some jobs can be done simultaneously, others can't. We assume that there will be two 7.5-hour shifts per working day during the Assembly Phase. Then, the blanket modules will have to be delivered to the site three months prior to the start of assembly. There has to be some contingency in the plan," says Nancy. "Mounting the modules should not be the first encounter with the high-tech devices."

At the end of this exercise, Nancy will come up with a number that she will forward to Steve Gilligan, the Planning and Scheduling Section Leader within the ITER Organization. With the input he receives from the planners, Steve then draws the big picture, the Integrated Project Schedule.

Recently, all planners from both the ITER Organization and the Domestic Agencies, along with their counterparts from the technical departments, met in Cadarache for a four-day meeting. "The main goal of this exercise was to improve the communication amongst the teams and thus come to a better understanding of the assumptions made. This we hope will ultimately lead to the development of a more detailed, and thus a more realistic and achievable, project schedule."

The first tests of the poloidal field insert coil at Naka have delivered encouraging results. On Monday, 23 June, the conductor has been successfully taken up to an operating point of 52kA at 6.5T and 4.6K.
A special collection of the best and most important ITER photos from 2008 can be found here.

This statue, in the medieval church at Les-Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, depicts the arrival of the "Holy Women" on the shores of Provence.
According to a very ancient tradition, the closest companions of Jesus, persecuted by the Roman authorities, were set adrift in a small boat "with no rudder or sail," miraculously traversed the Mediterranean and landed in a desolate place south of Arles, in the marshlands of the Camargue.

Among the castaways were Mary Magdalene and her brother Lazarus, Mary Jacobe and Mary Salome—the "Holy Women" and the man who had risen from the Dead. From the place they had landed, soon to become the village of Les-Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, they started spreading the Gospel, making Provence the first region in Europe to be evangelized.

Two millennia later, Provence is no more "religious" than any of the other French provinces. But popular Christian rituals have remained strong, especially during the Christmas season. Their expression is often naïve and secular, but their roots reach deep into the oldest tradition and symbolism.

The Christmas Eve dinner, which is called "Gros Souper" (Big Supper), is at the heart of the Season's celebrations. It is a close family event where every course, and even the table setting, is rife with symbols. The table is dressed with three white tablecloths and is lit up by three candles, one for the Father, one for the Son, and one for the Holy Ghost. An empty seat awaits the poor who may knock on the door.

Seven courses, without fat, recall the "Seven Dolors" of the Virgin Mary, while 13 desserts symbolize Jesus and his 12 apostles. Three of these desserts, hazelnuts, raisins and almonds, are called "The Three Beggars"—their colour recalls the shade of the garment worn by the mendicant, or "begging orders."

But Christmas traditions have preserved something of pre-Christian times, when, at the Winter Solstice, one celebrated "Sol Invictus," the Undefeated Sun. Next to the family table, a fruit-tree log is burning in the fireplace, which the family head will sprinkle with a glass of wine, saying (in Provençal, of course): "To the coming year, and if we are not more, may we not be less!"

And this is a wish, whether we are Provençal or not, we can all share.

Twenty-four outstanding business students from the University of Tennessee recently visited the US ITER Project Office to learn more about the international fusion project's possible role in the world's energy future.

The students are participants in the university of Tennessee's Global Leadership Scholars Program, which promotes the development of international and intercultural awareness, leadership, and personal and professional growth and responsibility.

Program scholars participate in honours classes, these are classes of advanced study for students who have shown outstanding promise in earlier courses, and seminars in leadership training, international experiences, and extracurricular activities to develop the skills needed to become future international business leaders.

Before being briefed on the ITER Project, the students visited other facilities at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), where they met with Deputy-Director for Science and Technology Jim Roberto and toured the National Center for Computational Sciences.

"This was an exciting opportunity for our students to learn more about international energy challenges," said Kathy Coleman Wood of UT's College of Business Administration. "They learned how ORNL participates in solving global energy issues and also saw its tremendous computing capabilities. The students were especially interested in learning about the technical and business challenges related to the ITER Project."

Test cryostat; i.e., cryogenic vacuum vessel containing the HTS current leads.
A prototype of the 68 kA high temperature superconductor (HTS) current lead for the ITER toroidal field coil has been successfully tested in the Institute of Plasma Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (ASIPP) in Hefei, China. On 17 and 18 December, the HTS current lead was operated at 85 kA for several minutes and 90 kA for five minutes. The 90 kA level is more than 32 percent above the nominal operating current.

HTS current leads are designed to transmit high power currents from the room temperature power supplies to the low temperature superconducting coils with minimum heat load. For this they use a short segment of high temperature superconductor which can carry much higher current densities than a normal conductor such as copper. It can thereby conduct the current in much less material (smaller cross-section), thus reducing heat conduction. The heat load reduction by the HTS current lead results in a decrease of the power input, and thus will greatly improve the efficiency of the ITER device and dramatically reduce the operation cost. The HTS current lead technology is therefore one of the "enabling" technologies for a fusion tokamak.

The Institute of Plasma Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (ASIPP) in Hefei, China, started the development of such current leads more than one year ago. The HTS current leads are part of the so-called feeders, a set of ITER components provided entirely by China.

In another test the 68 kA HTS current lead was operated in steady state for 42 minutes. The test confirmed the simulated low temperature end conduction heat-load of less than 10 W per lead. It also revealed a current lead to the busbar joint resistance of less than 1nOhm, which is lower than expected. The busbar is a superconducting cable operating at low temperature, which transmits the current further to the toroidal field coils. All of these results are preliminary and more test results will be delivered in the near future. 90 kA operation establishes a new world record for the operating current of a HTS current lead. With this successful test ASIPP, China and the world just made a big step toward ITER.

The French Training Program of Agence Iter France has been awarded the European Label for Languages for its innovation and quality. Shawn Simpson, Training Program Manager, says it is thanks to the diverse cultures present at the ITER Organization that this program exists. "If it were not for the participants and their active feedback, we would never have been able to develop such a program. We learn as much, if not much more, than the learners themselves and this on a daily basis." Last week, after a strenuous year learning vocabulary and cramming grammar, the participants received their diplomas.

Ho Ho Ho! Last Wednesday, Father Christmas, alias Neil Calder, the Head of ITER Communications, passed by the International School in Manosque. Even though not all of the children were convinced that this "Père Noel" with his British accent was for real, the visit made some exiting change to the end of the year.

Jennifer Hay
After two years working in the ITER Communication Office, Jennifer Hay returned to Great Britain in December. Jennifer was the foundation stone of ITER Communications—she wrote, she edited, she kept our English up to scratch, she prepared presentations, she organized visits, she put on exhibitions. All this she did to the highest professional standards and at the same time created a vast network of friends and admirers. ITER will miss her.