The European Joint Undertaking for the ITER Fusion energy organization and the development of fusion energy has been established by the Council of the European Union at its meeting in Brussels on 27 March. The Joint Undertaking will form the European Domestic Agency that will manage the EU's contribution to ITER.
With a lifetime of 35 years, a total budget of 9.653 M Euro and based in Barcelona, Spain, the Joint Undertaking will play a major role in the EU's fusion activities. It will provide the contribution of the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) to the ITER International Fusion Energy Organization, provide Euratom's contribution to "broader approach" activities with Japan for the rapid realisation of fusion energy, and prepare the co-ordination of a program of activities in preparation for the construction of a demonstration fusion reactor and related facilities.
ITER Nominee DG Kaname Ikeda welcomed the decision: "The EU Domestic Agency has a very large role to play in the ITER project, and I congratulate the EU on this important progress. We hope that this organization will become operational as soon as possible, and we look forward to working with this new counterpart." Read full ITER Press Release here.
Before the ITER Toroidal Field coils are procured, the superconducting strands that make up the cable need to be qualified for ITER operation. At the Sultan test facility at the fusion institute CRPP (Switzerland), a 3.5 meter conductor sample cabled from strands and produced by the company EAS has been tested with positive results. The conductor used for the sample was fabricated under supervision of the Italian fusion institute ENEA, and the sample was prepared, heat treated and assembled at CRPP.
The test program involves the operation under conditions representative of the operation in ITER of a TF coil. The sample was therefore tested with a current of 68 kA, in the Sultan background magnetic field of 10.8 Tesla, and more then 1000 cycles from zero to full current were applied. The performance of the cable proved to be stable under these tests, and the sample passed the acceptance criteria (5.7 K current sharing temperature after 1000 cycles). The EAS strand is therefore considered qualified for the ITER TF coil conductor. Overload tests at 80 kA and a background field of 11T, which were performed after the cycling, did not show any degradation.
During the next few months, strands of the Parties involved in the TF coil production will undergo the same qualification testing program.
Under the supervision of Agence Iter France, the ITER site is being prepared for construction. As a first phase, a temporary fence has been put up round the site, and trees have been cleared on an area of 75 hectares.
Road works have been carried out to create an easier access to the ITER site. The main access to the ITER site will be constructed in the summer, and be operational by September.
On 21 March, a group of members of the Korean National Assembly visited ITER. They toured the CEA site, visited the Tore Supra tokamak, and had discussions with ITER management. The photo at right was taken at the entrance of the ITER construction site.
Between 21-23 March, a Site & Buildings working group meeting — involving representatives of the ITER Parties and the ITER Organization — took place under the chairmanship of Carl Strawbridge of the US ITER Office. The working group is part of the Design Review process, and it is their task to resolve the outstanding issue cards regarding the size and layout of the ITER buildings, in particular the nuclear buildings. The working group also defines the schedule for the architectural engineering, and provides input for the safety and licensing procedures.
Jerry Sovka, one of the participants to the meeting, said: "We meet every two weeks, be it by means of phone or video-conferences, or face-to-face meetings. The ITER Responsible Officers provide us with input on what they need to put in the buildings, and it is our job to translate that information into a consistent layout of the site".
Thiago Olson, a seventeen year old boy from Michigan, USA, has been added to the sparse ranks of those that have achieved fusion reactions in their basement. Inspired by a website on amateur fusion, he constructed a fusor apparatus over the course of two years time, using used laboratory equipment and cheaply-acquired parts.
In the article he wrote on his work, entitled "Neutron activation analysis using an inertial electrostatic confinement fusion device," he concludes "My apparatus does not produce more energy then I put in — that's never been done, and if someone can figure it out, they'll be set. My research with the fusor has just started." Read more in the Financial Times here.
When ITER uses the real fusion fuel during operations — a mixture of deuterium and tritium — part of this fuel will not be burned. This leads to an exhaust mixture of fusion fuel and helium, which needs to be processed at unprecedented flow rates, with measures necessary for the confinement and safe handling of tritium. The tritium plant systems will be procured through the EU, Japan, Korea and the USA.
At a meeting held on 21-23 March, a Tritium Plant Project Team was established to coordinate all design aspects of the ITER tritium plant, in particular the safety requirements and adherence to guidelines and standards. The project team will also coordinate the schedules and procurement activities in the ITER Parties which are related to the tritium plant systems. Each Party is represented by a formal contact person and by technical experts. Within the project team, task forces have been set up for special subjects, such as tritium plant codes & standards, safety design guidelines, and detritiation systems design.
To create a design for the so-called annex buildings on the ITER site, a competition for architects is being held. The annex buildings include office buildings, a public relations and welcome centre, a restaurant, an access control and a medical office. The 27-strong jury — composed of representatives of the ITER Organization, local politicians, representatives of the European Commission, Director of CEA/Cadarache, and architects — came together on 20 March to agree on the rules for the competition. They reviewed 25 applications of architects of which six were invited to provide a detailed design. In July, the jury will meet again to review the architects' proposals and choose the winner.
During their meeting on 2 April, the Korean National Assembly ratified the ITER Joint Implementation Agreement. This opens the way for the establishment of the Korean Domestic Agency. A goverment official stressed the commitment of the Korean government to continuing its high level of support for the successful launch of the ITER Organization and the ITER project.
On 27-28 March, representatives of the seven ITER Parties came together in Marseille to prepare the Interim ITER Council, which is planned for July in Japan.
Many issues were discussed, such as the Design Review, ITER staffing, licensing, budget and resource estimates for 2007-2008, procurements, site preparation, the international school, etc. Another IIC preparatory meeting will be held in June.
This month ITER DG Kaname Ikeda took off for a two day visit to South Korea, where he visited the construction site of the Korea Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research facility (KSTAR) in Daejeon, south of Seoul. KSTAR is currently in its final stage of completion, with first plasma being expected in 2008. "I am very much impressed by the progress this project has achieved so far", Ikeda said. "Especially as this Tokamak will operate with ITER like specifications such as its superconducting magnets and the vaccum vessel so their experience will be fully reflected to the construction and operation of ITER."
The ITER project plays a significant role for South Korea which imports 97 percent of its energy resources from abroad and is also known as the 10th largest consumer of energy in the world due to its major reliance on heavy industry.
On the second day of his visit, Ikeda met the Vice Prime Minister and Science Minister Kim Woo-Sik, to report on the status of ITER construction. Also on the agenda was the ratification of the ITER Agreement by the Korean Parliament and the organization of the Korean Domestic Agency. "From the ITER point of view it will certainly be a big step for Korea to have the Domestic Agency in place", Ikeda said "and it is also significant for Korea to keep the momentum of the fusion society currently experienced with KSTAR so as to fully mobilize it towards construction of ITER."
Jeff Freidberg, Professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering at MIT, has published a new textbook, "Plasma Physics and Fusion Energy". The book is based on a series of lecture notes from graduate courses in plasma physics and fusion energy at MIT. The 671 page text is published by Cambridge University Press. Freidberg states, in the Preface, "it is my hope that the book will help educate the next generation of fusion researchers, an important goal in view of the international decision to build ITER, the world's first reactor-scale, burning plasma experiment." This week, the IT-Team and members of the Tokamak Group moved into the newly built portakabins on the ITER Joint Work Site.
While most offices are still rather empty, some staff members brought their armchairs and felt right at home. The new building can hold 75 persons. During the same week, Agence ITER France has also moved to a new building, right in between the two ITER buildings.
Fusion Power Associates (USA) are looking for nominations for their annual "Excellence in Fusion Engineering Award". The Award has been given annually since 1987 in memory of MIT Nuclear Engineering Professor David J. Rose. The purpose is to recognize and encourage fusion science and engineering professionals in the early part of their careers (maximum age 42). Candidates may be either in the physical or engineering sciences but must have shown some attention to the ultimate goal of fusion power.
Born in 1936 and raised in Southern Alberta, Canada, Jerry Sovka received his primary education in small country schools. He obtained a BSc in Chemical Engineering from University of Alberta; an MSc from University of Birmingham, England and a doctorate in nuclear engineering from MIT, Cambridge, USA.
Throughout his professional career, he has been involved in research and development, design, construction, commissioning and project management of commercial nuclear facilities in Canada, South Korea, England, China and USA. His experience includes project manager of the Wolsong Tritium Removal Facility in Korea, project manager of the MDS Nordion Medical Isotopes Reactor in the USA, and Chief Engineer of the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope in Hawaii.
Since 2001, he has been working on the ITER project buildings and site layout, in Naka, Japan and Garching, Germany. From January, 2006, Sovka has been seconded by the US ITER Project Office to the Cadarache Joint Work Site, currently as acting Head of Construction and Site Support Department. In that capacity, he is responsible for the site layout, and the design and construction of all buildings of the ITER project.
From 28 March until 21 April, the Fusion Expo (a traveling exhibition on fusion run by EFDA) will be open to the public in Nîmes. The venue is the "ShowRoom de Nîmes Métropole", at Rue du Colisée 3 in Nîmes. Local coordinator of the Expo is Michel Dumas of the Université Montpellier 2.