Wednesday last week some significant news reached us: US ITER will receive a total of $124M for the fiscal year 2009 (from October 2008 through September 2009). The appropriation was passed by the Congress and signed by President Obama. It's important to consider that for the period of October 2008— February 2009, the US Project Office was operating under a "Continuing Resolution," which provided a budget of $5.3M for the first six months.
The increased funding will enable us to significantly boost our R&D and design activity, with priority given to the mitigation of performance, cost, and schedule risks, and to elevated procurement activity. Specific areas of emphasis will be:
Magnets: The US will complete the next stage of design of the central solenoid and start the procurement of long-lead materials for the toroidal field conductor. The US has qualified its toroidal field conductor samples.
Cooling Water: The US has begun optimizing and is completing conceptual design. We will engage an architectural/engineering company to finish optimization while performing preliminary and detailed design, and then managing procurement of components.
Blankets: The US is working with the Blanket Integrated Product Team to refine the distribution of work; at this time, the US has qualified its first wall prototypes.
Other areas: R&D and design work will continue, with a strong emphasis on risk reduction.
All of us at the US Domestic Agency are energized by the new funding situation and eager to continue our efforts toward making fusion power a reality.
Furthermore, the US Domestic Agency is fully established and functional. We are structured as an integrated project team in the context of the Department of Energy (DOE) Project Management Order, with the DOE Deputy Secretary as the Acquisition Executive, Jeff Hoy as Program Manager, and Bill Cahill as Federal Project Director. The non-federal effort is hosted by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). Technical and management leaders and staff are provided through Oak Ridge and our partner labs, the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory and Savannah River National Laboratory. Detailed design and fabrication will be performed mostly through contracts with industry, with some work by universities and laboratories.
The US physics research community is organized through the Burning Plasma Organization, led by Jim Van Dam of the University of Texas—also the US Domestic Agency's Chief Scientist—thereby establishing a close tie between the physics research community and the US ITER Project. In parallel, the US engineering technology community is engaged through the Virtual Laboratory for Technology, under ORNL's Stan Milora, who also serves as US ITER Chief Technologist.
Our near-term foci include advancing the design of US components and establishing a baseline of cost, scope and schedule. The design effort emphasizes the compilation of requirements and the optimization of the design, consistent with meeting those requirements. The highest design priority is advancing the design sufficient to allow planning, including finalizing the scope, planning the schedule, and estimating the cost. Achievement of this US objective requires that the international scope and schedule be established, which we hope will be in November of this year.
To help enable establishment of the international baseline, we are working with the ITER Organization and the other ITER Members to advance the design and assess the impacts of changes. We also are responsible for planning and estimating some new scopes, such as the ELM coils, which emerged from the design review as a necessary addition to enable successful ITER operation. We are committed to working with the ITER Organization and the other Members in developing the basis for a reliable cost estimate and a realistic schedule.
The official US DOE project management process includes a sequence of critical decisions (CD). The US contributions to ITER project has achieved the CD-O (Mission Need) and CD-1 (Establish Cost and Schedule Range). The next step is establishing the cost and schedule baselines (CD-2 — Performance Baseline). The US baseline and continued US Congressional support for the project are highly dependent on the establishment of the international baseline.
Last week, members of the ITER Tritium Division and Communication Office visited the Tritium Laboratory (TLK) in Karlsruhe, Germany. The Karlsruhe Tritium Lab is the only scientific laboratory in Europe able to handle tritium in technical amounts for fusion-related applications. It has a lot of similarities with the future ITER tritium plant. The tritium technology developed at TLK comprises areas such as efficient tritium recovery and minimization of waste, tritium storage and accountancy, detritiation of materials, development and optimization of tritium analytics, and safety improvements.
The first 50 kg of chrome-plated niobium-tin (Nb3Sn) strands for the ITER toroidal field magnet conductor have been delivered for cabling. In total, the ITER toroidal field coils will require about 400 tonnes of Nb3Sn strands, whose production will be shared among six ITER Members: China, Europe, Japan, Korea, Russia and the US. This delivery represents a very small first step (0.01 percent of the supply) on the road to construction, but it is the first completed component that will form a part of the future Tokamak.
On 28 November 2007, the Japanese Domestic Agency was the first to sign a Procurement Arrangement with the ITER Organization covering its 25 percent share of cable-in-conduit conductors for the toroidal field magnet system. In March 2008, the Japanese Domestic Agency awarded two contracts to Japanese companies for the supply of 20 tonnes each of chromium-plated Nb3Sn strands within the framework of this Procurement Arrangement. One of the companies, Jastec, completed the production of its first batch of strands in mid-December 2008 and carried out the required acceptance tests earlier this year.
Following the successful completion of these tests, Jastec received the required 'authorization to proceed' from the Japanese Domestic Agency, and was cleared to ship the strands to the cable manufacturer. All corresponding strand data was saved to the Conductor Database, developed by the ITER Organization as a common tool to assist the Domestic Agencies in monitoring their industrial contracts.
The Broader Approach Agreement signed in February 2007 between EURATOM and Japan establishes the framework for research and development work "in support of an early realization of fusion energy." News has reached us from Rokkasho and Naka, Japan on the status of the three Broader Approach projects. Project leaders Pascal Garin, Shinichi Ishida, and Masanori Araki describe progress-to-date:
A major step forward has been made toward realizing the advanced superconducting tokamak JT-60SA in Naka, in the prefecture of Ibaraki, Japan. The Integrated Design Report for this device, including the plant integration focument, was adopted by representatives from Japan and EURATOM in Karlsruhe, Germany on 10 December 2008. Once in operation, this upgraded version of the existing JT-60U tokamak will serve as a "satellite" to ITER in order to develop operating scenarios and address key physics issues in support of ITER and the future DEMO power plant. Construction has begun in Naka on the poloidal field coil and poloidal field conductor manufacturing buildings.
Engineering Validation and Engineering Design Activities (EVEDA) are also underway for the International Fusion Materials Irradiation Facility (IFMIF). This facility, whose site is not yet known but managed today from Rokkasho in the prefecture of Aomori, Japan, will be used to test and qualify advanced materials for use in a future fusion power plant. Most of the activities this past year have focused on the preparation of the prototypes that will contribute to validating IFMIF's design. The prototype accelerator, for example, will bring a deuteron beam of 125 mA at an energy of 9 MeV in continuous wave. Through work carried out in France, Spain, Italy, and Japan, the high-energy part of this accelerator was redesigned to integrate modern superconducting half wave resonators. This accelerator will be tested in Rokkasho from 2012 on. Detailed design work has also begun on the Lithium Test Loop in a joint collaboration between Japan and Italy. The Lithium Test Loop will be set up in Oarai on Japan's Pacific coast, and experiments are planned beginning 2011. Thanks to the recent involvement of Belgium in the Broader Approach, test modules and the capsules containing materials samples are scheduled to be irradiated in a Belgian reactor. Preparations are ongoing in Germany and in Japan.
Work also progresses on the establishment of the International Fusion Energy Research Centre (IFERC) in Rokkasho, Japan. Its mission is to contribute to the ITER Project and promote the early realization of DEMO by coordinating design and R&D activities, providing computational simulation of fusion plasmas and reactor technology systems, and carrying out remote experimentation activities designed to facilitate a broad participation of scientists in ITER experiments. Workshops have been held for design/R&D activities with experts from Europe and Japan, and much design work for the installation of DEMO R&D experimental equipment in Rokkasho has been performed. Work-sharing meetings have taken place relating to computational simulation to discuss issues between the Implementation Agencies and the project team. Information exchanges have also begun between ITER Organization and the project team pertaining to remote experimentation.
John Holdren, the Harvard University professor who is director-designate of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), an Executive Office of the President, told his confirmation hearing last month that international collaboration will be a key part of his plan, especially on big science projects addressing climate issues. "The cost and complexity of cutting-edge accelerators, telescopes, and certain experimental energy technologies, such as the ITER fusion experiment, are good reasons in themselves for sharing the costs and risks internationally," says Holdren, noting that he has been involved in international cooperation on fusion and other energy technologies since 1971.
The ITER community was treated to a special event last Thursday 12 March. In the first of a series of Inside ITER conferences, David Campbell, Assistant Deputy Director-General for Fusion Science & Technology, made a concise presentation on the basics of fusion, and fielded questions from a mixed audience of scientific and non-scientific ITER employees. All were there to enrich their knowledge about the science of the ITER Project.
"The aim of these seminars," explained David, "is to explain what we're doing here in ITER in a straightforward and simple manner. We all come from very different backgrounds. My hope today is that you'll leave today with a clear idea about why we're doing fusion research, what fusion is, what plasma is and, indeed, what ITER is ..."
More than 200 people attended the seminar, in a terrific start to the Inside ITER series. Please be encouraged to attend the next one on 2 April 14.00-15.00. Deputy Director-General Gary Johnson from the Tokamak Department will give a presentation on the technological and scientific challenges of the ITER Tokamak.
Years from now, when fusion energy is part of our daily life, we'll look at this picture with amazement. So this was the original "ITER Team" in France—only seven people? Of course when the picture was taken in February 2006, hundreds had been working around the world toward ITER. But these were the "Original Seven," the first occupants of Building 519, the pioneers of the Joint Work Site in Cadarache.
Eisuke Tada, head of the Project Office, was among them, both as a pioneer and a veteran. What he felt then—"the complexity of the task ahead and the dream"—he still feels "every morning."
Twenty years earlier, at the very beginning of the ITER Project, he had been part of Conceptual Design Activities (CDA) in Garching, Germany, "a time when it was difficult to believe we would actually build ITER. It was such a political and technological challenge!"
From CDA, Eisuke went on to Engineering Design Activities (EDA) and, from there, to the "tough process" of site selection, first between three Japanese proposals, Naka, Tomakomai and Rokkasho, and finally, as an "assessment member" between the four international sites. In the last stages of the process, some of the current ITER Organization members such as Manfred Glugla and Akko Maas were his counterparts on the European side, and if "discussions were always fair and professional," Eisuke admits "they were sometimes hot..."
As a young mechanical engineer eager to "build things," he entered the world of fusion in 1978 fresh out of University. JAERI, the Japanese Atomic Energy Research Institute (now JAEA, Japanese Atomic Energy Agency) was building one of the six toroidal field coils of the "Large Coil Task" (LCT), a joint Euratom, US, Japanese and Swiss collaborative venture and an important milestone in the international fusion program. The LCT aimed at proving the design principles and fabrication techniques to be applied for the construction of a superconducting tokamak.
As head of the Project Office, which he likens to the "control tower" of the ITER Project, Eisuke's responsibility is "to provide systems and tools for project management, technical integration and engineering." It is still, in a way, a mechanical engineer's job.
One of the most famous mountains in the world, along with Mount Fuji in Japan and Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, rises a few kilometres east of Aix-en-Provence. History gave it its name and art—its universal renown.
Long before Cézanne and other painters began celebrating the changing colours and form of the Mount Sainte-Victoire, a fierce battle had been fought here. The year was 102 B.C. Barbarian tribes from the North—everything that was not Roman then was considered "barbarian"—threatened the garrison village of Aquae Sextiae, the present-day Aix-en-Provence. The fall of this small stronghold founded twenty years earlier would mean that the road to Rome was open to Barbarian invasion. The threat was serious enough for Rome to dispatch to Provence Caïus Marius, one of its most brilliant generals and future consul.
Marius' army met the Cimbrian and Teuton barbarian tribes on a plain at the foot of the limestone mountain east of Aquae Sextiae. It was a terrible battle which claimed tens of thousands of lives according to Roman historian Plutarch—a bit of an exaggeration maybe. But there were so many corpses left on the battlefield that the plain was later referred to as "campi putridi"(the rotten fields). The name of a nearby village Pourrières—"pourri" is French for "rotten"—probably has its origin here. As for the limestone mountain, it was soon to be known as "Victoire," later Christianized to "Sainte-Victoire."
But as often happens, these etymologies are disputed. Frederic Mistral, the great 19th century Provençal author and poet, thought "Pourrières" stemmed from the word "porri," which is provençal for leek — a rather less glorious origin. As for the name Sainte-Victoire, it could well be related to Sainte Venture, to whom a chapel was dedicated in the 13th century, or more simply to Vintur, the Celtic God of high places who also lent his name to Mont Ventoux.
So much for history. Next in Newsline, we'll tell you about pre-history and how the region of Sainte-Victoire, not even a mountain yet, was home to large populations of dinosaurs. The dinosaurs are long gone, but the eggs they laid are still there—fragments of their shells literally covering the ground in some areas of the massif.
Building Security Supervisor Alain Le Bris would like to remind ITER employees of the following precautions to be taken in the office:
No objects or cardboard boxes should be stored on top of file cabinets. If you need extra storage in your office, please contact Logistics through the IDM Ticket System.
Make sure that all personal electrical appliances (lamps, kettles, coffee machines) comply with French (NF) and European (EN) standards. Personal heating devices are forbidden—see Logistics if you have a specific need.
It is contrary to French work legislation to cook or eat in your office. Microwave ovens are expressly forbidden.
Electrical or network cables should be kept along the walls, and out of the way of passers-by. Contact Logistics if you need help. In general, office furniture should be organized in such a way as to leave exits free, in order to facilitate evacuation in an emergency.
Laser researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California have reached a long-sought goal, firing a laser pulse through all 192 arms of the National Ignition Facility into the 10-metre target chamber for the first time.