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US ITER gets 124 million out of federal budget

Ned Sauthoff, Project Manager, US ITER Project Office

Ned Sauthoff, US ITER (Click to view larger version...)
Ned Sauthoff, US ITER
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.

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