The major challenge of this century is to provide the world with sufficient food, water and energy, in an equitable and sustainable way, in the face of rising world population, the threat of climate change, and a decline in the availability of fossil fuels as the century progresses. Without sufficient energy it will not be possible to provide adequate water and food. Provision of sufficient energy, in a sustainable way, is therefore the key challenge.
If we can produce fusion power in a reliable and competitive way, it will be one very important part of the portfolio of measures that must be taken to meet the energy challenge. I say "if" because we are not certain that we can do it and we don't know what the competition will be or what it will cost. The role of ITER is of course to demonstrate the scientific and technical feasibility of fusion power.
Recognizing the importance of determining the viability of fusion, countries that together house over half the world's population have combined their forces to build ITER. One reason for working together is that we can share costs, because fusion development is thought to be expensive, although in fact the cost is negligible on the scale of the $5 trillion dollars that the world spends on energy every year, or the consequences in the future if we fail to meet the energy challenge. More importantly, in my opinion, by working together we can combine intellectual resources and bring the best talents together, from wherever they may be located, to work on fusion.
I said that we are not certain that fusion power will be viable, although I am optimistic. I am however 100 percent certain that we must make every effort to establish its viability, and that ITER is of vital importance for the world and for future generations.
The message was short and unambiguous: "The world relies on you!" With world energy use expected to double by 2030 and fossil fuels declining, "provision of sufficient energy, in a sustainable way, is therefore 'the key challenge,'" ITER Council Chairman Sir Chris Llewellyn Smith stated last Wednesday. "There is no single solution, we've got to go for everything."
"Energy" was the featured topic of the fourth Inside ITER seminar given by Llewellyn Smith, the prominent and world-travelling ambassador for fusion energy. "If we can produce fusion power in a reliable and competitive way, it will be one very important part of the portfolio of measures that must be taken to meet the energy challenge."
The seminar followed a round-up for the ITER staff on the outcome of the fourth ITER Council meeting that took place in the Japanese city of Mito the week before.The summary was jointly given by the Council's Chairman and the ITER Director-General, Kaname Ikeda. "The scope of ITER is set," Ikeda stressed, "everything now depends on the schedule."
In Mito, the ITER Organization had presented a proposal to the delegates from the seven ITER Member states to build ITER in stages and to have it commissioned in phases. This approach means that ITER operations will begin with First Plasma in 2018, with all vital components in place such as the vacuum vessel, the superconducting magnets that will confine the hot plasma, and the cryogenic system to cool the magnets. Over the following years all other components will gradually be added to prepare ITER for its ultimate goal: a power-producing plasma of deuterium and tritium by the end of 2026.
"Sticking to 2018 is not only politically important," Llewellyn Smith stressed, "but also important for morale." All big tokamaks have been built in stages, Ikeda pointed out. "This is a better and less risky approach. If something goes wrong, it will still be possible to get in and fix it."
In the context of the world's biggest financial crisis, the pressure was certainly on this fourth ITER Council. However, both the Director-General and the Council Chairman praised the collaborative and committed spirit of the Mito meeting. "Things are really coming together now," Llewellyn Smith said. "This relationship is working." He stressed the importance of keeping 2018 as the target for First Plasma. "The world needs to be convinced that 2018 is a realistic target. This requires a lot of hard work—both by the ITER Organization and the Domestic Agencies. They must work very closely together."
From June 22-24, a face-to-face meeting of the Power Supply Integrated Product Team was held in ITER Korea (KODA), Daejeon, Korea.
The IPT members and experts from Korea, China and the ITER Organization discussed and reviewed the progress of the design work for the new baseline of the AC/DC power converters for ITER.
Researchers and engineers at the Dutch FOM-Institute for Plasma Physics Rijnhuizen have reached the second major milestone in the construction of the plasma wall experiment Magnum-PSI. They completed the construction of the full plasma source system with cooling, gas feed, control and data acquisition, power supplies and safety system. On 18 June, the first plasma was made in Magnum-PSI which showed excellent operation of the entire system. "This really is an achievement of the team as a whole. Everybody worked very hard on this, and the results are better than we hoped for," said project leader Dr. Wim Koppers.
Magnum-PSI is a unique experiment, specifically designed to study the processes that will take place in the ITER divertor. This is the region in the fusion experiment where the hot plasma fuel will actually come into contact with a material wall. Magnum-PSI will allow scientists to create plasma conditions of their choice and use a range of wall materials. The effect of the plasma on the wall materials can be studied in situ with a variety of advanced diagnostic tools. It is the only experiment of its kind that will be capable of actually reproducing the plasma density, temperature and magnetic field expected in the ITER divertor.
Earlier, researchers at Rijnhuizen demonstrated their ability to recreate these conditions in the Pilot-PSI experiment, a smaller forebearer of Magnum-PSI. When finished, Magnum-PSI will feature a much wider plasma beam than Pilot-PSI. This will allow the study of the "strongly coupled regime," where eroded wall material will remain in the plasma and can chemically and physically interact with the wall and plasma.
The third major milestone—the installation and testing of the superconducting magnet system—is scheduled for November 2009. At the end of 2009, the construction of Magnum-PSI should be completed and high-level commissioning and first experiments are expected to start early 2010.
General Marc Mondoulet, who was nominated PACA Regional Commander of the Gendarmerie for the Southern Defense Region in May 2009, together with representatives of the Gendarmerie, visited the ITER site this week, where Director-General Kaname Ikeda introduced the visitors to the project: Colin Miège, Director of the Mission Préfectorale ITER; Carlos Alejaldre, Deputy Director-General of the Safety & Security Department; Colonel Jean-Marc Isoardi; Director-General Kaname Ikeda; Pascale Amenc-Antoni, Senior-Advisor to the Director-General; General Marc Mondoulet; Colonel Gérard Rouillon; Capitaine Pierre Bichon; Lieutenant Thierry Huc; Harry Tuinder, ITER Legal Advisor. The visit was coordinated by Agence Iter France. An "Emergency Plan Alert Documentation" was recently installed in all ITER buildings at meeting points; it contains information on the main alert procedure from sector 34 that must be followed in case of an emergency.
These documents should only be used in case of real emergency or in the case of a drill exercise. They should never be removed.
The Building Responsible Officer and his/her deputies are trained on application of the alert procedure in case of real emergency or drill exercise.
If they should be absent during a real emergency or drill exercise, line managers or any person confident enough to step forward should spontaneously assume their role.
No previous knowledge is necessary; just common sense and leadership skills.
The ITER Vacuum Group members recently met with their US colleagues in Oak Ridge in order to progress the design and routing of the 30 kilometres of vacuum piping in the ITER Tokamak Complex. One option currently being trialled by the US Domestic Agency is the use of a 3D virtual reality tool to route piping through the Tokamak Complex. Viewed through glasses with different coloured lenses, the ITER CAD models turned into a 3D world which could be walked through as if at a theme park. US lead vacuum engineer Walt Gardner stated that "such tools would really help in the massive amount of integration that is required."
The thermometer may be rising in Provence, but Bharat Doshi has been spending his days working on the ITER cryostat, the "supersized fridge" that will provide a vacuum environment to the superconducting magnets and help to keep them cool.
Bharat Doshi joined ITER in May as Section Leader for the Cryostat & Vacuum Vessel Pressure Suppression System (VVPSS). As the mounded dossiers on his desk attest, his first weeks on site have been extremely busy. "Our team is finalizing system requirements documents for the end of this month, before beginning the conceptual and preliminary design review process. These are necessary steps in finalizing the design of the cryostat down to the last detail before signing Procurement Arrangements in 2010." From two team members currently, staff in his Section will be added over the next months.
Bharat was trained as a mechanical engineer at Gujarat University in India. Early on, he worked on the design and development of mechanical systems for the MIG-27 fighter plane. He joined the Institute for Plasma Research's Tokamak fusion program in 1990, and contributed toward the development of two experimental tokamaks—ADITYA and SST1—following SST1 development from conceptual design through to integration.
For the last three years, Bharat was Project Manager for the cryostat and VVPSS system at the Indian Domestic Agency in Ahmedabad. He worked on developing the design and specifications for the ITER cryostat, and developed the ITER-India Quality Assurance Program Manual; India will have full responsibility for cryostat and VVPSS procurement for ITER. He collaborated closely with the ITER Organization during these years and with people who are now situated just a few doors away.
"Part of the complexity of the project is fostering efficient collaboration between the ITER Organization and the Domestic Agencies, and beyond that between the Domestic Agencies and their industrial partners. Industry needs a solid blueprint to move ahead. That is what the ITER and the Domestic Agencies are working toward now. It will take much devotion and dedication; I'm glad to be a part of such an interesting challenge."
Plasma Surface Interaction was the focus of the third ITER Summer School that took place at the Institut d'Etudes Politiques in Aix-en-Provence this week. On Wednesday, the students originating from all over world came to ITER to experience direct interaction with the matter, a presentation given by Chris Llewellyn Smith. Among the fusion newcomers were Koichi Miyaya and Kosuke Tsukatani from Osaka Univeristy in Japan.