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Of Interest

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The AREVA TA Consortium core team. From left to right : Dominique Charlaix, Didier Derbesy, Ingrid Durand, Laurent Vinci, Michel Brun, Christian Serre, and Axel Lavarde.
Since last Monday, a little space has been made in Building 519 for a special group of newcomers—the eight members of the AREVA TA Consortium core team that have come from different horizons to support ITER engineering.

The team will be working within the scope of a Systems Engineering Support (SES) Contract that was signed with ITER Organization last month—the biggest of its kind for the ITER Project Office. "ITER is a scientific experiment," explains Stefano Chiocchio, Head of the Technical Integration Division. "With this SES contract, we are bringing important industrial expertise into the project."

Stefano oversaw the entire tender process, narrowing a group of twenty contenders down to four, before making the final selection. The contract was signed for one year, renewable three times.

The consortium includes AREVA TA, specialized in nuclear engineering and scientific projects; CNIM Toulon, experienced in the construction of advanced systems; and Kraftanlagan Heidelberg, with particular expertise in the fields of cryogenics and magnets. The three groups have worked together before on large-scale scientific projects, including the Laser Megajoule project currently under construction near Bordeaux.

As engineering at ITER moves from defining global system requirements to providing detailed design documents and even more detailed technical specifications, outside verification and control is essential to making sure quality requirements are met at every level. Have top-level design documents properly been taken into account at the second level? Has nothing been left out? Do the many interfaces work well? Are the designs well coordinated and integrated? Verifying these questions will be the responsibility of the AREVA TA Consortium, headed by Project Manager Ingrid Durand.

Ingrid will report to Stefano Chiocchio. Her eight-member team will increase to twenty members by the end of the year, and she is currently looking for additional office space in the area. The entire team is enthusiastic about the ITER Project and its international environment. "For engineers, it's the most exciting project around!" says Ingrid. She and her team are looking forward to a challenging project and ... to practising their English. Stop by and see them in Room 21; they'd be glad to make your acquaintance.

Members of the Financial Audit Board browsing through the ITER Organization account statements.
Last week, the Financial Audit Board (FAB) came together in Cadarache for its second "on the spot" audit. The role of the board which has one representative from each ITER Party, is to examine whether the financial statements made by the ITER Organization in the year 2008, including balance sheets, expenditure tables and contracts, correspond to the Project Resource Management Regulations. The audit will continue until the end of this week.

Our new Headquarters building may only be temporary, but our move to the permanent ITER buildings is still a couple of years away. Nonetheless, we may as well make the living conditions in and around our interim "home" as pleasant as possible.

Some landscaping would definitely contribute to that. This is the reason Eric Benoit of Logistics briefed a number of local landscaping companies for a proposal to embellish the areas around the Headquarters building, car parks, and entry gate with some of those plants and trees that are so characteristic of Provence. Following this call-for-tender procedure, Nature et Paysage from Pierrevert was selected.

As soon as the weather permits, this company will start bringing in plants, trees, grass and an automatic sprinkler system. In one month's time, our site will be home to ancient olive trees, pine trees and lavender that will contribute that little southern-French touch that is currently lacking.

Let's all try to keep these green areas fresh and clean—please throw away cigarette ends and other rubbish in the waste bins intended for that purpose.

"The history of science is being written here" is the title of a full-page interview with the ITER Director-General Kaname Ikeda published in the newspaper La Provence last week. "Le Journal ITER" is a new series that will appear on the first Monday of every month in La Provence.

The farm at La Verrerie was located on the edge of the ITER work site in what is now the subcontractors' area. © Agence Iter France.
Cadarache Forest has always been a busy and industrious place. Digging and excavating at various locations on the ITER work site, archaeologists have identified the remnants of several charcoal burners, a lime kiln and, most interestingly of all, a glassworks dating back to the late 17th century.

The glassworks remnants came as no surprise—they were brought to the surface on the site of an old farm building whose name, La Verrerie (French for "The Glassworks"—was an obvious indication of the place's purpose. The farm was located on the edge of the ITER worksite, facing the Headquarters Building, where subcontractors now have their portacabin offices.

Now that the archaeologists from the Arkemine company have submitted their final report to Agence Iter France, we know a lot more about the origins and development of that activity. Local archives indicate that it was started in 1667, when the Lord of Cadarache granted Joseph Melchion, from Manosque, and Antoine Desferres, from the Valsaintes hamlet west of Forcalquier, the right to settle in the forest.

"The location was ideal for a glassworks," explains Gérald Bonnamour, the archaeologist who directed the four-week salvage dig in December 2007. "The forest provided fuel in abundance, while raw material in the form of quartz pebbles and silica sand could be easily extracted from the Durance riverbed."

Excavations have brought to light part of the kiln, some ceramics, chunks of melted glass, fragments of bottles and drinking glasses, and a copper coin dated 1642. Some of this "waste" clearly indicates that glass-blowing was among the techniques in use at the Melchion-Desferres glassworks.

"We have no indication about the actual production of this cottage industry," says Bonnamour. "Stained glass windows were certainly an important part of it, as was glassware for the local aristocracy. We know from the archives that the Lord of Ribiers, a powerful baron in the Sisteron area, was very fond of the Melchion-Desferres production."

The last document referring to the glassworks in Cadarache Forest is dated 1676. "Apparently the place closed down after 10 or 15 years of activity, probably because it was exacting too high a toll on the forest." Still, and quite amazingly, the name La Verrerie endured and preserved the souvenir of the glassworks for more than three centuries.

Günther Hasinger, Director of the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP) in Garching. © ChristophMukherjee
Less than half a year in his new position, he already explains the H-mode as if he never talked about anything else. On 1 November 2008 Günther Hasinger took up his appointment as Scientific Director of the Max Planck Institute of Plasma Physics (IPP) with its two institutes located in Garching and in Greifswald, Germany. The IPP hosts the tokamak ASDEX Upgrade and the Stellerator Wendelstein (W-7X). Günther Hasinger ranks amongst the world's leading capacities in the fields of cosmology and X-ray astronomy—the investigation of outer space in X-ray light. So far, exploring the universe was his passion, documented in his many scientific contributions and awards and finally in his book "Schicksal des Universums" (Fate of the Universe). Fusion has become his newest flame.

Newsline: From the stars to the energy of the stars—have you already settled into your new position?

Hasinger: Yes and no. I feel very happy and honoured to join the scientific community in its quest to develop a new source of energy, although I am still on a steep learning curve as in regards to the fusion vocabulary. And I have to admit that I was a bit nervous when I took over this position here in Garching. As former Director of the Astrophysical Institute in Potsdam near Berlin and until recently of the Max Planck Institute for extraterrestrial Physics in Garching I do have experience in leading big science labs, but the enterprise here is significantly larger.

What convinced you to swap from investigating black holes to studying plasma physics?

Being Director of the IPP, the biggest institute of the German Max Planck Society and also associated to the Helmholtz Association of large German research centres, represents a big challenge for any researcher. I also felt the responsibility to join in to help solving the global energy problem. Finally, astrophysics and fusion are not that far apart as you may think.

What would you say are the biggest challenges the fusion community in general and the IPP are currently facing?

Well, it has been proven that fusion works and that we can produce energy with it. The challenge now is to develop a working reactor concept. ASDEX Upgrade, JET and ITER together take a sort of "step-ladder-approach" to this. ITER, being an experimental reactor, will test different approaches and different operation scenarios. We are preparing these tests on a smaller scale. The ultimate goal is to prepare the ground for a demonstration power plant, DEMO.

Just to mention one of the many ITER-relevant experimental research issues we are dealing with here in Garching are the ELM control studies for ITER. These edge instabilities in the plasma represent a delicate balance between good and bad: they can clean the plasma, but also carry away the energy and thus pose a danger to the wall, in particular for ITER and DEMO. How to best control ELMs is one part of the research done here on ASDEX Upgrade.

Also, predictions of tokamak operation scenarios rely very much on a detailed comparison between experiments and theory and thus also on computational capacity. In this regards we have very good news: We have just launched a high-level scientific support group for the new High Performance Computer for Fusion (HPC-FF) that is going to be installed in Jülich. HPC will deliver computing power of about 100 teraflop/s and will certainly propel the simulation of fusion processes.

What about the stellerator, how is Wendelstein 7-X progressing?

I am glad to say that with Wendelstein 7-X we are on a stable track now. Over the past decade this experiment has faced many difficulties—technological but also in schedule and budget. Thanks to the tremendous efforts of the team under my predecessor, Alex Bradshaw, both schedule and cost have been stabilized since two years. We are optimistic that we will turn on the machine in 2014. Wendelstein 7-X will then be the most powerful stellarator, testing the optimized steady-state magnetic confinement scheme alternative to tokamaks like ITER.

Where does the stellerator stand compared to the tokamak?

The stellerator is one generation behind the tokamak. The difference between both technologies is the fact that a tokamak can, in principle, be designed on a drawing board. In order to design a stellerator, vast computational capacity is needed. That is why Wendelstein 7-X is often referred to as being a child of the Cray computer. Whereas ITER is crucial for proving that a fusion machine can produce more energy than it consumes, Wendelstein 7-X is to prove the reactor potential of the stellerator concept.

You mentioned earlier on that astrophysics and fusion are not that far apart. Could you please explain a little more?

I have spent part of my career helping to develop X-ray optics and X-ray detectors looking at the sky. To me, there are similarities between astrophysics and fusion plasmas: let's say, fusion is like the universe in a box. Inside that box it is extremely hot, around the wall moderately warm and on the outside, around the superconducting coils it is very close to absolute zero. The same holds for hot astrophysical plasmas, like supernova remnants or the gas in clusters of galaxies. For both you need a whole suite of multi-wavelength diagnostics, and thus there are synergies I would like to explore.

Very soon, in May, we will install a new working group here at the Technical University Munich and IPP called "Astrophysics and Plasma Diagnostics." This new group is intended to strengthen the ties between the IPP's core research on nuclear fusion and astrophysics. One goal of this new group will be the application of new detectors developed for X-ray astronomy to fusion devices, both to improve the readout speed for spectrometers and for hard X-ray imaging. My dream is to obtain a hard X-ray image of the plasma in ASDEX Upgrade. Besides, I guess I cannot completely give up looking for black holes.

Didier Gambier, Director of the European Domestic Agency (4th from left), and his team from the European agency "Fusion for Energy" after signing the contract for 62 tonnes of copper strand with the Finnish company Luvata. Photo courtesy of F4E.
The European Domestic Agency for ITER has signed a contract for the manufacture of 62 tonnes of chromium-plated copper strand, which will form part of ITER's superconducting magnet system. This contract marks the launch of Europe's first in-kind hardware technological contribution to the ITER Project.

ITER will operate with a special type of high purity chromium-plated copper strand. It has high conductivity at extremely low temperatures, and limits the temperature inside the cable in case of superconductivity loss. Strands of such kind are mostly used in superconductors and cryogenic applications.

Superconducting and copper strands are twisted together to build high-amperage cables made of more than 1,000 individual strands. The cables are inserted into a stainless steel jacket and compacted to their final diameter in order to be used in the toroidal field coils of ITER. It is estimated that about 180 tonnes of pure copper strands will be needed for these coils.

The contract for the production of the chromium-plated copper strand was awarded to Luvata, an international metals, manufacturing and technology supplier based in Finland with a workforce of over 8,000 people in 18 countries.