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Of Interest

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During the latest coordination meeting between representatives of the ITER Organization and the seven Domestic Agencies, held the first week in May in Barcelona, four Procurement Arrangements were signed with the European Domestic Agency.

The first contract covers the conductor supply for ITER's poloidal field magnets. The poloidal field magnet system consists of six independent coils of different dimensions. The coils will be made of cable-in-conduit superconductors, in which a bundle of superconducting Nnobium-titanium (NbTi) strands is cabled together, cooled by flowing helium, and contained in a square steel jacket.

Two other procurement packages deal with the Architect Engineer Services for the ITER construction site and buildings, and the anti-seismic bearings for the Tokamak Complex. These bearings are square, laminated isolators with different layers of elastomer and incorporated steel plates.

Last but not least, the fourth Procurement Arrangement covers the excavation of the Tokamak Pit. The location of the future Tokamak Building, this 20-metre-deep pit will measure approximately 92 x 130 metres.

These four contracts raise the total number of Procurement Arrangements signed to-date by the ITER Organization to 17.

Tungsten, with its very high melting point and high thermal conductivity, is an attractive candidate as fusion wall material. Nevertheless it can melt within one millisecond when in direct contact with the plasma. (Photo: Egbert Wessel, Julich Research Centre)
In search of the right plasma facing material—one that is able to withstand the extreme heat of fusion plasmas—more than 200 scientists from 27 countries convened in Jülich, Germany last week for the 12th International Workshop on Plasma-Facing Materials and Components for Fusion Applications. In various poster sessions and oral presentations, the latest results in materials research for fusion applications was discussed. These included results from ELM-simulation experiments in plasma accelerators; retention studies conducted in the ASDEX-upgrade, Textor and Tore Supra; and requirements for removal techniques and transient heat loads in other current fusion experiments.

Fusion energy research recently took a small step forward with a successful simulation performed on Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Jaguar supercomputer. A team led by C.S. Chang of New York University used the XGC1 code to verify that turbulence in the well-confined edge of plasma in a fusion reactor can penetrate the core and boost its temperature. This effect has been noted in experiments and expected in ITER, but until now the projections for ITER have been based on the coupling of more heuristic, thus experimentally based models for the edge turbulence suppression and its coupling to the core transport.

XGC1 models the kinetic energy within the plasma to obtain various transport properties, neoclassical and turbulent. Future plans include even more comprehensive kinetic calculations, detailed validation against experimental results, and applications to ITER.

This research was funded by the Department of Energy Office of Fusion Energy and Office of Advanced Scientific Computing Research.

Peide Weng (left) supervising the installation of parts of the cooling feeder in EAST's cryostat.
Building a tokamak is expensive. So when the opportunity arises to get one for free you jump on it, even if it means footing a hefty bill for dismantling the machine and shipping it overseas.

Such an opportunity presented itself to China in the late 1980s. "At that time, we only had very small machines to work with and very little funding," remembers Peide Weng, former Deputy Director of the Institute for Plasma Physics in Hefei, now in charge of integration in ITER's Tokamak Department. "In order to pursue our research, we needed a large superconducting tokamak—but of course, there was no way we could afford to build one."

At the Kurchatov Institute in Moscow, the Russians had been operating such a machine for the best part of the previous decade. The T-7 Tokamak, whose construction was completed in 1979-1980, was the first tokamak to demonstrate the feasibility of superconducting toroidal field coils. The complex architecture of the machine—48 toroidal field coils as compared to Tore Supra's and ITER's 18—left very little space for vacuum vessel ports and dramatically limited their size. The torus could only accommodate 12 small-sized ports which prevented T-7 from meeting the requirements for diagnostics, efficient heating and current drive. It was a good machine, only unfortunately not suitable for plasma physics research.

By the end of the 1980s, with the T-9 and T-10 tokamaks in operation and another, more powerful superconducting tokamak soon to be completed (T-15), the Russians did not really need T-7 anymore. "We had a longstanding relationship with the Kurchatov Institute—a very close and friendly one. At one point Boris Kadomtsev, who was head of the Institute, just offered to give it to us as a present."

It took more than three-and-a-half years to dismantle the machine, ship its parts to China, and redesign and upgrade it into an installation suitable for the needs of research. "We built a new vacuum vessel, and merged two of the T-7 double pancake coils into one four-pancake toroidal field coil. A "pancake coil" is a coil whose winding is arranged in the form of a flat spiral. ITER toroidal field coils will be configured as double pancake. By reducing the number of coils from 48 to 24 we were thus able to add 22 larger ports to the original 12. By 1994, we had a new machine that was twice the size of our previous HT-6M. We changed its name from T-7 to HT-7 — the "H" being for Hefei."

One of China's first steps toward exploring long-pulse plasma and steady-state operation in a superconducting tokamak, and an important milestone for their fusion research program, HT-7 is still in operation in Hefei. "HT-7 yielded great results: all the specified plasma parameters were realized. We achieved a 400-second discharge (50 kA), which is a very long plasma—much longer than we expected. More important for us is that we accumulated very valuable experience in superconducting tokamak operation and trained a batch of plasma physicists and fusion engineers."

Research on HT-7 enabled China to launch the HT-7U program for the first fully-superconducting tokamak, later known as EAST. And the example set by the Institute of Plasma Physics in Hefei wasn't lost: by 2002, the South-Western Institute of Physics in Chengdu was operating HL-2A, a reconstructed tokamak which uses the vacuum vessel and field coils from the former German ASDEX.

You can't operate a solar farm when it's pouring, but you can always inaugurate it.
You can't operate a solar farm when it's pouring. But provided you find the right shelter for your guests, you can always inaugurate it. That is what happened last Friday when, due to very bad weather, the official opening of France's second largest solar installation was moved from the farm's location on the road leading from Vinon-sur-Verdon to Ginasservis to the village hall in Vinon.

Spread over 10 hectares of pasture, the 1,860 solar panels began producing electricity on 26 February and will generate an average of 6.3 gigawatt/hours. This, emphasized Claude Cheilan, the mayor of Vinon, "is the equivalent of 120 percent of the annual electricity needs of the village's 4,000 inhabitants."

Solaire-Direct, the company that built the solar farm, invested EUR 18 million in the venture and expects a return on investment in 15 to 20 years. "What we have done here is unique and historical," said the company's president Thierry Lepercq. "Operating solar farms like the one we're inaugurating today; fitting roofs with photovoltaic installations; these are first steps toward turning electricity consumers into electricity producers."

Solar energy accounts for only 0.06 percent of all renewable energy produced in France, including hydraulic. But there is hope: solar energy is growing fast (+31 percent since 2004), and in Vinon, the younger generation is determined to make it happen. At Friday's inauguration, Inès, Mohammed, Lauris, Rémy and their friends from the local grammar school demonstrated how they had boiled an egg with a solar oven made out of shoebox—which prompted the president of Solaire-Direct to offer them a job with his company as soon as they reached the proper age.

Robert Budny from PPPL talking to students.
On 25 April, the US Department of Energy's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) participated in Communiversity, a town-gown community arts festival in downtown Princeton and on the University's campus. Robert Budny, a PPPL physicist, talks about fusion and ITER at the PPPL exhibit, which included an ITER model (shown in photo). The US is one of the seven international ITER Members; PPPL is a US participant.

On 13 May, CEA organized a visit of scientific councillors from several embassies.

In total, 12 countries were represented. These councillors from Russia, France, Israel, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Mali, Portugal, Sweden, Czech Republic and Germany visited Cadarache and were given a presentation on ITER by the Deputy Director-General of Safety & Security, Carlos Alejaldre.

Judith Campbell conquers the fiery beast.
People often underestimate the danger of a fire and are unsure of what to do if they have to use a fire extinguisher. This is why the ITER Safety and Security Department is offering regular training to members of the ITER First Aid Team. The purpose of this training is to provide instructions on how to fight a fire and understand the limitations associated with a portable fire extinguisher. For more information on the use of these extinguishers please click here.

A first training session took place on 30 April, followed by another one on 5 May, attended by 17 participants in total. All of the participants are or will be part of the ITER First Aid Team. Safety Notice Boards with the names of First Aid Team members to contact in case of emergency are now available in every building. In case of an accident or sudden illness of an employee, please warn the person on this list nearest to the incident.

Pascale Amenc-Antoni, Senior Advisor to the ITER Director-General, explains the project's layout to Maryse Joissains-Masin, the Mayor of Aix-en-Provence. On the right: Francois Gauché, Director of Agence Iter France. © J-C Carbonne - Mairie d'Aix
For many years, Maryse Joissains-Masini has been an ITER fan. As a member of the French Parliament, the Mayor of Aix-en-Provence and President of the Greater Aix-en-Provence Community Council (CPA) she was instrumental in mobilizing political and financial support for the project.

On Wednesday 13 May, Mayor Joissains-Masini and a party of some 60 CPA officials visited the ITER site and attended several presentations given by Kaname Ikeda, ITER Organization Director-General; François Gauché, Director of Agence Iter France (AIF); Jean Therme, Head of CEA-Grenoble and CEA Director for Research and Technology; and Serge Kovacs, Deputy Director of CEA-Cadarache in charge of development.

"ITER's economic benefits have come faster than we expected," said Mayor Joissains-Masini after listening to Director-General Ikeda's and AIF Director Francois Gauché's presentations.

The participants were then introduced to the "Energy Valley" project, a prospect project for CEA-Cadarache presented by the CEA Deputy Director Serge Kovacs, and also to the highly successful experience conducted in the Grenoble area where collaboration between research, universities and local governments has been stimulating industrial development for more than 40 years.

The CODAC group has published a new version of the Plant Control Design Handbook after a thorough review involving all ITER Members. This document defines standards, specifications and interfaces applicable to all ITER plant systems. In total 161 plant systems have been identified in ITER; the cooling water system is one, for example, as is the vacuum vessel. Diagnostics alone comprise 89 plant systems.

The new handbook specifies the development process, with clearly defined deliverables, quality assurance requirements and milestones, as well as catalogues of standard software and hardware components. These standards are essential in order to integrate all plant systems into the central ITER control system, to maintain all plant systems after delivery and to contain cost by economy of scale, both for spare parts and in human expertise. The Plant Control Design Handbook will be enhanced and released at regular intervals throughout the construction phase of ITER.

In addition, the CODAC group has executed a standardization process, endorsed by the ITER Organization and the seven Members, to minimize the number of brands of Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC). The process has been completed with the selection of Siemens Simatic S7. PLCs are widely used in industrial automation and will also be widely used at ITER. Unlike a general purpose desktop computer a PLC is designed for harsh environments, extensive input and output arrangements and predictable real-time performance. It is estimated that for ITER, hundreds of thousands of actuators and sensors will be interfaced to many hundreds of PLCs.

Mimicking the main features of the landscape: the wall that supports a 400-metre stretch of the ITER Itinerary at the Pont de Mirabeau.
When André Mascarelli designed the new Mirabeau Bridge, in 1986, his main preoccupation was "to preserve the grandiose scenery of the river gorge." His minimalist approach led to a very simple construction: a straight double roadway supported by three pairs of 10-metre-high cylindrical piers.

Earlier this year, the architect from Marseille was back at the Pont de Mirabeau with a new mission: to design the 400 metre-long, 10-metre-high wall that runs parallel to the Durance riverbed and holds the new, widened roadway leading to Saint-Paul-lez-Durance.

The passage through the gorge of Mirabeau is one of the most spectacular sections of the ITER Itinerary. Because of the presence of the old, pseudo-roman porticos of the 1847 bridge, it is listed among France's historical landmarks. And to make things even more complicated for an architect, the area is placed under the jurisdiction of the Historical Building Authorities of the four different départements which meet at the bridge.

"Because it holds the roadway for more than 400 metres, the wall is a very imposing structure," says Mascarelli. "But I did not want it to be a monster construction that would spoil the scenery." Minimalism, in this case, meant "mimicking" the main features of the landscape, leaving some natural rock jutting out of the wall face and breaking its monotony with terraces which will later be planted.

Mascarelli—to whom we owe the preservation of the four allegoric steles which decorated the 1934 bridge and which now stand in the centre of the roundabout at the southern entrance of the bridge—is a bit angry though. As soon as it was completed, the wall was defiled with three-metre-high graffiti. "I do not understand this lack of respect. You do your best to create something that will not impact the scenery and some Barbarians come and destroy it within the hour. To me, this is really heartbreaking ..."

Smiling for the family album at this year's annual meeting: Osamu Motojima, Director of the National Institute of Fusion Science, Japan, and recipient of the 2008 Fusion Power Associates Distinguished Career Award; John Sheffield (University of Tennessee); Tom Simonen (General Atomics, retired); Bick Hooper (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, retired); Roger Bangerter (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, retired).
The Fusion Power Associates, based in Maryland, US, will celebrate their 30th year anniversary with a symposium in Washington D.C. in December of this year. "The Association is dedicated to providing timely information on the status of fusion development and other applications of plasma science and fusion research," says Stephen O. Dean, the man behind the association's public website:

Among many other links that the Association has posted on its site are the presentations from its annual meetings and the listing of award recipients dating back to 1980. Awards are presented annually for leadership, distinguished career, and excellence in fusion engineering. A calendar of fusion-related meetings and an extensive set of links to other fusion sites is also provided.

In the Tore Supra hall: (Fourth from the left) M. Gabriel Marbach, (Fifth) M. Bernardino Mancini, (Sixth) Stefano Chiocchio from ITER.
On Tuesday ,12 May, Bernardino Mancini, the Italian Consul in Marseille came to visit ITER. Thierry Brosseron from Agence ITER France invited him to a ITER site tour and Stefano Chiocchio from the ITER Project Office explained the project's goals and outline in Italian.

Then Director-General Kaname Ikeda invited the Consul to lunch together with the Italian ITER staff as well as few Italian scientists working at Tore Supra.

After the lunch, Gabriel Marbach, Director of the "Institut de Recherche sur la Fusion Magnétique" within CEA gave them a tour around Tore Supra.

On 11 May, eighteen students from the Polytechnical University of Catalunya, Spain, came to visit ITER and Tore Supra. Carlos Alejaldre, ITER Deputy Director General for Safety and Security, gave them a presentation on the scientific and technical aspects of the ITER project at the Visitor Centre.