Doug Loesser, an engineer at the U.S. Department of Energy's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), has been appointed Blanket Integrated Product Team Leader for ITER. Loesser directly serves the ITER Organization, coordinating the efforts of the blanket team.
"A blanket module is basically a block of actively-cooled stainless steel with a copper heat sink and beryllium layer facing the plasma. Its function is to absorb heat from the plasma and provide nuclear shielding," says Loesser, who began his role as team leader in December. Plasma is a hot, gaseous state of matter used as the fuel to produce fusion energy — the power source of the stars.
"I'm responsible for this large component, totaling about 2 million pounds of stainless steel. It has close to 460 modules — each weighing 4 tons. The approximate cost to the project is about $500 million," he says. There are 440 wall-mounted modules and about 20 port-mounted modules. The blanket team jointly designs the component and splits the tasks. Its fabrication members each build a piece of the component.
The blanket team includes six of the seven ITER Members — China, the European Union, Japan, Russia, South Korea, and the U.S. The seventh ITER Member is India, which is not involved in the blankets. Loesser's team includes about 30 engineers and 30 designers, half working at the ITER site in France. "My job is to make sure that the work going on in each Domestic Agency and the Blanket Section of the ITER Organization is all organized toward a common goal," says Loesser, who has 30 years of experience in engineering fusion-related components, reports to Gary Johnson, a former DOE Oak Ridge National Laboratory employee who is now ITER's Deputy Director-General for the Tokamak Department. Loesser will spend half his time at the ITER site and half at PPPL working on the project. One thing makes his job easy: "I like all the people I'm working with." return to Newsline #86