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Of Interest

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ITER's physics R&D program benefits from contributions made by scientists and engineers across the fusion communities in the ITER Member States. During the last quarter of 2008, the development of a comprehensive physics work program covering the period 2009-2011 provided a focus for discussions between the Department of Fusion Science & Technology (FST) and senior physics representatives from the Domestic Agencies and their supporting communities. Through these discussions we have defined a program of design and R&D studies which is aimed at meeting the needs of the project over the next three years as it completes the definition of the majority of the Procurement Arrangements, and also looks ahead to some of the major issues which we will have to deal with in implementing a productive scientific program during ITER operation.

The program that we have assembled encompasses design and R&D tasks which we will implement in cooperation with the Domestic Agencies, R&D studies which will be carried out in collaboration with the International Tokamak Physics Activity (ITPA), a new program to develop an integrated modelling capability for burning plasmas within the ITER framework, and the further development of the ITER Research Plan. Work on the last activity will be carried out by a collaboration of experts nominated by the ITER Organization and the Domestic Agencies, while an Integrated Modelling Expert Group (IMEG) has been established through the ITER Organization-Domestic Agency Coordination Meeting in order to identify the priorities for the development of the integrated modelling capability.

The ITPA Topical Groups have also been active in recent months in developing their responses to the research needs identified in the Physics Work Program. Led by the ITPA Chair, Ron Stambaugh, the Groups have drawn up programs to address key ITER physics R&D challenges. Proposals for joint experiments making use of the world's major tokamak facilities to investigate high priority issues in ITER physics are an important aspect of the Topical Groups' research activities. To review the Groups' R&D programs and to consider the proposals for joint experiments, a joint meeting of the ITPA Coordinating Committee (CC) and the IEA Tokamak Implementing Agreements (IA) was held at Cambridge, Massachusetts in December 2008.

The enthusiasm with which the international fusion community responds to ITER's needs is encouraging.

This meeting was the seventh in the series and involved members of the ITPA Committee and the Topical Groups, program leaders from the tokamaks participating in the IEA Agreements from all of the ITER Members, as well as representatives of the Domestic Agencies and the ITER Organization's Physics Department. Its aim is to provide a mechanism for incorporating the joint experiments proposed by the ITPA into the annual experimental planning processes for the tokamak facilities. During the meeting which was hosted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Fusion Center and organized under the leadership of MIT's Earl Marmar, participants listened to a presentation on ITER's high priority physics research needs and discussed the reports presented by the Topical Groups' Chairs and Co-Chairs reviewing their R&D programs and joint experiment proposals. The tokamak program leaders provided valuable feedback on the proposals and were able to indicate the areas where they expected their facilities to contribute in the coming year.

While there are still some challenging questions to be resolved in ITER physics, the enthusiasm with which the international fusion community has responded to ITER's needs is an encouraging sign for the future. Whether in discussions with individual researchers or in talks with program leaders representing world-class facilities, the message that the ITER project is an unparalleled opportunity for the fusion program and provides motivation for some exciting physics research in existing tokamaks generates an immediate resonance.

December's meeting was a further illustration of the breadth of the collaboration working on some of the big questions in ITER physics and of the depth of the expertise in the fusion community which we can draw on.

Norbert Holtkamp (second from left), Erkki Leppavuori, Didier Gambier, and Octavio Quintana Trias pressed the button that set the first full-size prototype for ITER into motion.
"We often talk about ITER in global terms, but we must not forget that it is the efforts of people on the ground that really push ITER forward," said the ITER Principal Deputy Director-General Norbert Holtkamp before he, together with Octavio Quintana Trias, Director of EURATOM, Didier Gambier, the Director of the European Domestic Agency, and Erkki Leppavuori, CEO of VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland pressed the button that set the first full-size prototype for ITER into motion.

These words were spoken on 29 January in the presence of more than 100 guests from the European fusion community, as the new ITER remote handling test facility, known as the Divertor Test Platform 2 (DTP2), was officially inaugurated in Tampere, Finland. The DTP2 facility is a required step in developing and testing the maintenance robots and remote handling operations necessary to the replacement of the ITER divertor. It was constructed over a period of four years at a cost of around EUR 4 million. Hardware for the project was sourced from all across Europe, including Spain, Luxembourg and Finland. Operation of the facility will be carried out under a joint venture between the VTT and the Technical University of Tampere (TUT). To date, the VTT has been mainly responsible for managing the installation of the facility hardware, while TUT efforts have been concentrated on developing the control software for the robotic devices and setting up the DTP2 control room infrastructure.

During the inauguration ceremony, the audience was addressed by the guests of honour mentioned above, as well as by Jouko Suokos, Executive Vice President of VTT, Seppo Karttunen, Head of the Research Unit EURATOM-Tekes and Riikka Heikinheimo, Director of Tekes, the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation. Mr.Suokos explained how locating the DTP2 in Tampere allowed the facility to take advantage of the best of two worlds: the experience of the VTT—a well established and industrially focused research institute—and the theoretical strength and young talent provided by the university. Didier Gambier later reinforced this point by saying he hoped that research infrastructures across Europe would soon embrace the Finnish model of close co-operation between industry, research labs and universities which has been so well illustrated within the DTP2 project.

The contract was signed in Beijing by Shaoqi Wang, ITER Deputy Director-General, and Xiaofang Wang, Board Chairman and Senior Engineer-Professor representing the NERCC.
On Saturday, 7 February 2009, the ITER Organization and the Chinese National Engineering Research Center of Converters (NERCC Co. Ltd.) signed a two-year framework contract. The contract covers the supply of engineering and consultancy support to the ITER Organization for the design and installation of the ITER AC/DC power converter systems plant. The duration of the contract is two years with the option of extending it for another three.

NERCC engineers and designers will work both at the ITER site and the NERCC location in the Shifeng hi-tech district of Zhuzhou, a city in Hunan Province, China. The support work will include providing consultation on technical issues, defining building requirements and layout, contributing to the system interface control document, defining test criteria and contributing to system integration requirements. The work will also contribute toward finalizing baseline design and design criteria at the level required for the preparation of functional technical specifications for the procurement of the ITER AC/DC power converter systems.

Neil Mitchell
If you want to conduct an interview with Neil Mitchell you had better be fit; you will have to bring your jogging shoes to follow him pacing through the corridors. Or, you had better have a good reason for making him sit down. The Head of the ITER Magnets Division is a cross country runner on weekends. Weekdays, he is either coming in from a mission or heading out on another: observing conductor tests in Switzerland, strand manufacturing in Japan, or celebrating the foundation stone ceremony for the new jacketing facility in China.

Neil Mitchell has been involved in fusion research and the early stages of the ITER Project for two decades. He came to Cadarache for the first time in 1985 when the then Head of Tore Supra, Robert Aymar, showed the young visiting engineer from "Angleterre" around the Tore Supra magnet system that was under construction.

With an engineering PhD in turbomachinery and industrial experience in gas turbine construction, Neil had come into contact with fusion research at the JET project in Culham in 1981. At that time, the RFX project—a tokamak with a radius of 2 m and a plasma current of 2 MA—was in the planning stages with the financial and scientific support of Los Alamos (New Mexico), US and Padova in Italy. The project was finally reassigned to Italy in 1984. Neil remembers: "The construction of JET sucked in all the money and squeezed the UKAEA's domestic program."

In 1983 Neil irrevocably got caught in the fusion "NET." NET stood for the Next European Torus, an international project based in Garching, Germany. Its objective was to produce a plasma with parameters relevant for a fusion reactor, and in this way was one of the early steps on the way to ITER. Neil was among the first three people to arrive in Garching, charged to deal not only with the magnet issues, but also to look at the vacuum vessel and blankets. "It soon seemed to me that the crucial factor in achieving fusion was the magnets, so I gradually specialized in this area." Among the successes credited to the NET team was the development of cable-in-conduit conductors and the use of niobium-tin (Nb3Sn) combined with high voltage coil insulation instead of the superfluid baths that were used in Tore Supra.

The contours of Neil's further career were thus defined. After ten years in Garching, including contributing to the first world wide fusion collaboration, INTOR, and participating in the ITER Conceptual Design Activities (starting in 1988), Neil moved to Naka, Japan, in 1993 as head of the conductor section. Here, as his family embarked on yet a different cultural experience, he oversaw the conductor fabrication and testing of the central solenoid model coil project. He became the head of ITER magnets after the retirement of Michel Huguet, and was the last head of the Naka site, closing the ITER activity there before moving to Cadarache in 2006.

Last week in Cadarache, representatives from the ITER Organization, the Russian and the European Domestic Agencies, and external experts met to review the ITER poloidal field coil design. The overall conclusion of the three-day review chaired by Michel Huguet was that the coil design is sound and forms an acceptable basis for the issue of the Procurement Arrangement which is expected to be signed in April 2009.

"The schedule is tight," said Gary Johnson, Deputy Director-General, Head of the ITER Tokamak Department in his opening remarks. "The ITER magnets are on the critical path and this meeting is an important milestone towards starting the fabrication."

Reviewers confirmed that results from the poloidal field insert test at Naka, Japan, in July 2008 have demonstrated that the conductor is able to meet the coil requirements for temperature margins, stability and AC loss. For the coils, reviewers found that the basic design concepts are sound. Some analysis and design adjustments in the region of the joints, as well as general documentation, are to be completed in the next six weeks before the Procurement Arrangements are signed. The reviewers stressed the need for careful design in these regions because of the high voltages at which the coils operate, with test voltages close to 30kV expected.

More than 60 Hot Cell experts from around the world participated in last week's workshop.
More than 60 experts from Europe, the United States, Korea, India and Japan attended a three-day workshop in Aix-en-Provence, France, last week, in preparation for the ITER Hot Cell Facility design review. The purpose of the workshop was to bring together the responsible officers from the ITER Organization, designers from the involved Domestic Agencies, and external experts from across the world to further assess design options, functional requirements and cost issues. Four different working groups were established: architectural issues, strategies for refurbishment of in-vessel components within the Hot Cell, storage of equipment and components, and strategies and requirements for the mock-up facilities. "A number of very useful recommendations were made which will be extremely helpful for the ongoing optimization work and further development of the fusion support facility's design," Magali Benchikhoune, leader of the ITER Hot Cell Section, summarized the outcome.

Recently, 18 red phones have been installed around the new Headquarters Building. These are meant to be used in the case of an emergency. They directly connect you to the security staff in the guardhouse. These phones are independent from the IP phone network and can be used at any time.

You also may call the guardhouse using either Microsoft Communicator by dialing 18, or via your mobile phone by dialling 04 42 17 19 10.

In the case of fire, you can also break the glass of one of the emergency call buttons located close to each fire extinguisher.

"The time for talk is over," says President Obama.
"The time for talk is over, the time for action is now!" In his address to Department of Energy (DOE) employees last Thursday, President Barack Obama called for quick action from legislators on the economy, and highlighted the role of energy and the DOE in the nation's recovery. "Washington may not be ready to get serious about energy independence," President Obama said, "but I am. And so are you."

Introducing the president to the DOE's press room in Washington, D.C, the new Secretary of Energy Steven Chu stressed the seriousness of the country's economic and climate challenges. "But I remain optimistic that scientific research will once again bring us transformative solutions," Chu said. "Some of these technologies are already within our grasp, while others are yet to come. As the premiere science agency in the field, the Department of Energy will play a crucial role in developing those solutions and in helping them to take hold in our nation's economy. At a time of great uncertainty in our economy, we are fortunate to have a leader who is willing to think and act boldly—and to challenge all Americans to join this effort to renew our nation."

The ITER Library has reopened in Building 519, room 15, and is pleased to offer a wide selection of books and magazines.

In addition, a new service is now available which will allow all ITER staff to have access to the full-text contents of more than 13,736 online books (with more added daily) on subjects such as engineering, IT (information technology) and business.

In order to start using the service:

1. Go to

2. Click the "Register" button

3. Enter your ITER e-mail address and press the "I agree" button (please note: as this is an ITER subscription, only addresses are valid)

Your temporary password will be sent by e-mail, and you can start using the service using your credentials.

A quick guide and some other instructions can be found at the following link in IDM: Books Online. You will also find updated information related to this service on the ITER Library site. For any problem using this service or for further information please contact the Document Control Centre by e-mail:

Régis Kuntz, a former air-traffic controller who heads Vinon-sur-Verdon's gliding platform.
Provence boasts 300 days of sunshine a year (well, not this year...), splendid scenery, magnificent Roman monuments, great food and a unique quality of life. But some people come to Provence from all over Europe for an altogether different reason: the region's strong and regular "thermals."

Thermals are columns of warm, rising air which occur under specific weather and terrain conditions. In the sunny plains and valleys at the foothills of the Southern Alps, the quality of thermals has created a gliding heaven. "Gliding," says Régis Kuntz, a former sky controller who heads Vinon-sur-Verdon's platform, "is nothing but the art of riding thermals and using them to remain airborne."

Vinon is home to the largest gliding club (600 members) and training centre in France. The small airfield's location is strategic: less than 40 kilometres to the north, small mountain ranges and steep cliffs, like the Montagne de Lure or the rock formation in Les Mées, provide beginners with ideal flying conditions. From Vinon, more experienced gliders routinely do the "Grand Tour," a 1,000-kilometre circuit which takes them all the way to Mont Blanc, Western Europe's highest peak (4,810 metres), and back.

There's no age for gliding. One can get a licence at age 15, and "several people have joined the Club after retiring, at age 60 or 65. It doesn't make much difference, except that it takes them a bit longer to learn the theory."

But don't expect to get a bird's-eye view of the ITER worksite from one of the club's 25 gliders: the area is part of CEA-Cadarache "no-fly zone," whose radius, after 9/11, has been "temporarily extended" from 3 to 5 kilometres. Good neighbours, though, always find a way to accommodate each others' demands. The "no-fly zone" has been slightly truncated to allow tow planes to briefly head south before releasing the gliders.

On their recent visit to Tore Supra, Polytechnique students and their professor were welcomed and briefed by Jean-Marc Ané, Philippe Jacques Moreau and Sylvain Bremon, IRFM, CEA-Cadarache.
In fusion, bigger is always better: the larger the plasma volume, the more efficient its insulation and the longer the system's energy confinement time. Confinement is one of the key parameters for achieving fusion reactions. Early tokamaks, like the 1958 Soviet T1, provided plasmas in the range of 0.4 cubic metres. In 1982, plasma volume in the American TFTR, was 30 m³. It is about 100 m³ in JET and in the Japanese JT-60, and will be close to 900 m³ in ITER. Future industrial reactors will operate with plasmas three to four times larger.

While large tokamaks dominate fusion research, there is still a lot to be learned from small, even tiny machines. ToriX, with a plasma volume of 0.03 m³ (30 litres), is one of them. It was built some 15 years ago at the French École Polytechnique, one of the most prestigious scientific institutions in the country, and has been used ever since to train students in various diagnostic methods.

"We use ToriX as support, both for thesis work and for students' science projects," says Dominique Grésillon, a physicist and professor who recently led a small group of Polytechnique second-year students—or "Xs," as they are nicknamed—on a visit of the Tore Supra installations. "Some of the diagnosis methods which have been developed here are now implemented on Tore Supra. There's a place for our "baby tokamak" in support of the much bigger installations."

Taking in the size, volume, and complexity of the Tore Supra installation was a defining experience for the students. "But what impressed us most," says Alexandre Mougel, one of the visiting Polytechniciens, "is how well the people we met understood the issues we're facing with our little ToriX. We felt much honoured as they took our students' project very seriously and treated us with great consideration."

Not all the students who take part in this project will become fusion physicists. But over the past 15 years, ToriX has contributed to the training of several specialists now working at Tore Supra, teaching plasma physics, or simply spreading the word on fusion energy.