10 Sep 2018 to 17 Sep 2018
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ITER Research Plan | The 400-page scenario
The ITER Organization has just made publically available the most recent version of the ITER Research Plan, a 400-page document that describes the present vision for operating the ITER Tokamak from First Plasma through high-fusion-gain deuterium-tritium operation. The ITER Research Plan was initially developed during the ITER Design Review in 2007-2008 in order to analyze the experimental program towards high-fusion-gain deuterium-tritium operation. In the ensuing years it was further elaborated to identify the main lines of physics R&D required to support preparation for ITER operation, and to incorporate elements of the testing program for tritium breeding technology in the fusion environment. Since 2017—with the collaboration of fusion science experts from the ITER Members' physics communities—the ITER Research Plan has been undergoing revision in order to reflect the revised baseline cost and schedule for the project—Baseline 2016. Baseline 2016 identifies the date of First Plasma as December 2025 and lays out a multi-phase approach to full deuterium-tritium operation in 2035, in which periods of machine operation alternate with shutdown periods for further assembly. This 'staged approach' to assembly is considered to represent the best compromise between the desire of all partners to advance quickly, technical constraints (including risk), and the financial constraints of the Members. With the acceptance of the revised ITER Baseline by the ITER Council in November 2016¹, a study was launched to bring major elements of the Research Plan in line with the framework of the staged approach to ITER construction to ensure that the operation of ITER required to commission ancillary systems was consistent with the phased installation of these systems. Also taken into account were the most recent advances in physics research. In the staged approach, two main phases are foreseen following First Plasma: Pre-Fusion Plasma Operation — in which the basic controls and protection systems are demonstrated, and the auxiliary heating systems and diagnostics are fully commissioned. (Two operational campaigns are expected.) Fusion Power Operation — in which ITER fusion performance goals are demonstrated. ITER fusion power production goals are the production of 500 MW of fusion power with an energy gain (Q) of Q=10 for >300 s, and in-principle steady-state operation with Q=5. The development of long-pulse inductive plasmas² for fusion technology development is also envisioned. (The ITER Research Plan anticipates at least three operating campaigns to be required to achieve these goals.) The revision of the ITER Research Plan has involved a re-analysis of ITER plasma scenarios in each phase and the identification of open issues that need to be resolved by physics R&D with support of the ITER Members' fusion communities. 'This revision of the ITER Research Plan was a major effort, spearheaded by my predecessor, David Campbell,' said Tim Luce, Director of the Science & Operations Department. 'It combines the detailed knowledge of the ITER Organization staff about the ITER facility with expertise from the Members' fusion research programs. We are especially grateful for the delegates who were appointed by the Members to help revise this document. This release is the first time the ITER Research Plan has been publicly available, which we hope will enable a stronger partnership between the fusion community and the ITER Organization to realize the ITER goals.' The Plan will continue to be updated over the years to reflect the results of continuing fusion R&D and the detailed implementation of the staged approach to ITER assembly. Click here to view/download the 'ITER Research Plan within the Staged Approach' from the ITER Technical Reports page of the website. ¹ The overall project schedule was approved by all ITER Members at the Nineteenth ITER Council in November 2016; the overall project cost was approved "ad referendum," meaning that each Member is seeking approval of project costs through respective governmental budget processes.² An inductive plasma is a tokamak plasma in which the circulating current is sustained using the central solenoid, as opposed to a steady-state plasma in which the plasma current is sustained by heating and current drive sources and plasma-driven processes.
Upending tool | How to raise a sleeping giant
How will the teams on site raise components weighing up to 450 tonnes from their horizontal delivery configurations to the upright orientation needed for assembly? With a specially crafted 'upending' tool that will provide support and safeguards as the loads are lifted by crane and slowly tilted to vertical in mid-air. In 2019, the massive doors of the Assembly Hall will open to admit the first of nine ITER vacuum vessel sectors. Encased in packaging and resting on a large transport frame, the 440-tonne steel component will resemble a sleeping giant ... one that has to wake, shake off its covers and stand upright before pre-assembly activities can begin. A lifting accessory procured by the Korean Domestic Agency will have an important role to play in the process. Termed the 'upending tool,' it has been designed for the 9 vacuum vessel sectors as well as another set of large components that must be lifted to vertical: the 18 large D-shaped toroidal field coils. The tilt operation is designed to take place several metres overhead, although the exact height will only be determined once tests are run on the assembled tool at ITER. The tool will clamp each component firmly at strategic interface points, keep it steady as the double overhead crane lifts both component and tool several metres off the floor, and finally disengage after the components have been brought to vertical. 'Not counting the test lifts, the tool will perform the upending operation 27 times during ITER assembly,' says Hyung Yeol Yang, Assembly Support Section leader. 'Each operation will take up to three weeks—only one day for the upending itself, but several weeks—at least for the first few sequences—to prepare the loads and the overhead cranes so that everything goes smoothly.' In a carefully planned operation, cables will descend from the double overhead crane to connect to the corners of the tool (see image at right). The tool (and load) will be lifted horizontally at first, then suspended mid-air as the cables are winched on one side to bring the tool to an upright position. The upending tool will then be lowered back to the floor and secured, as its clamps open to allow the crane to lift the vertical component up and away from the tool for transportation to another area of the Assembly Hall.¹ In Korea, the design team has now completed the structural integrity assessment of the main frame, its footings and the interfaces planned for the two types of load it will carry. Following the submission of the model to the ITER Organization last week, teams are now finalizing the 2D drawings needed for the start of fabrication. Korean contractor ILJIN plans to deliver the tool to ITER in two sections in March 2019. In parallel, the ITER Organization will be placing a contract to first assemble and then test the tool using the test loads planned for use on the first sector sub-assembly tools. In one year, the first upending operation should be underway. ¹ The 'upended' components will be delivered to one of the two sector sub-assembly tools, where each of the vacuum vessel sectors will associated with thermal shields and a pair of toroidal field coils before being delivered to the machine assembly area.
SOFT 2018 | Conference opens in antique setting
The ancient theatre of Taormina, in northeast Sicily, was built by the Romans on the foundations of an earlier Greek theatre. Still used to this day, the round structure normally resonates with the sound of opera or other performances. On Sunday 16 September, however, the historic monument provided a magnificent setting for quite a different event—the opening of the 30th Symposium of Fusion Technology (SOFT), the largest fusion technology conference in Europe. This year's gathering was organized by the Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development, ENEA. With close to 1,000 participants and more than 1,000 contributions it is looking to be a record-setting year in the history of the symposium. For conference chair Aldo Pizzuto from ENEA, these numbers—along with the ever-increasing participation of young researchers and the consolidated representation of industry representatives—illustrate the importance of SOFT as a platform for exchange on recent progress in fusion research and technology. ITER Director-General Bernard Bigot opened his keynote speech by expressing his admiration for the Greek and Roman engineers who built the ancient theatre of Taormina and then drew a parallel with ITER. 'They divided the amphitheatre into nine sectors to accommodate 5,000 spectators,' he noticed, and drew a parallel to the nine sectors of the ITER vacuum vessel—five of which will be manufactured and delivered by Italy. The ITER Director-General then presented an update on recent developments in the manufacturing of ITER components and in the building of the ITER scientific facility since the last SOFT conference in 2016. The audience was visibly drawn in by information on recent achievements such as the completion of the concrete wall that will completely surround the machine (the bioshield), the installation of 600 tonnes of tanks in the Tokamak Complex, progress on the ITER cryostat, and spectacular photos of work in the Assembly Hall or cryoplant. Asked what needed to be done to ensure the continuity of the project, Bernard Bigot stressed the importance of preparing the best scientists and engineers for the operation of ITER. 'We need to motivate young people to become the next generation of fusion experts by giving them the flavour of fusion,' he advised. He shared the enjoyment he felt during weekly Skype conversations with the young fusion aficionados who contacted him. The opening ceremony also provided the stage to award the 2018 European Prize for Innovation in Fusion (the 'SOFT Innovation Prize'). Established by the European Commission in 2014, the prize is to reward outstanding researchers or industries who try to find new solutions to the huge challenges of fusion—solutions that can possibly have wider spin-off applications that can benefit society today. The 2018 winners were: First Prize—Jens Reiser from Germany for his work on the development of a novel ductile tungsten material; Second Prize—Simon Kirk from the United Kingdom for his work on the development of a novel robot tool for cutting and welding using a small laser head; and Third Prize—Yican Wu from China for the development of a new CAD-based particle transport software for nuclear design and radiation safety calculations. At the end of the opening ceremony, the ancient theatre returned to cultural performance function, entertaining conference participants with music by Italian composers performed by the Plectrum Orchestra of Taormina. SOFT continues through 21 September. More at this address.
Former Council Chair Iotti | "Everyone should be congratulated!"
For those who dreamed ITER in the 1990s, a visit to the construction site today is like stepping into a miracle. For Bob Iotti, who has been associated with the project since its early days and who later chaired both the ITER Management Advisory Committee (2008-2009) and the ITER Council (2014-2015), a site tour should be a familiar, no-thrills affair. It is not. Even for an ITER veteran, being onsite and taking in the full measure of the project's magnitude remains an awe-inspiring experience. 'Anyone who comes here can't fail to be impressed. It is so big, so gorgeous! What's been accomplished in the past three years since I left is just astounding ...' As Council Chair, Iotti had steered the project through some very rough waters. Although building ITER will never be easy sailing, many things have changed. 'Now people know that ITER is doable. Morale is high; I sense an awful lot of enthusiasm. The current rate of progress—0.6 percent per month toward total work scope to First Plasma—means the schedule will be met. Everyone, both here in the ITER Organization and in the Domestic Agencies, should be congratulated for that.' Iotti doesn't make light of the challenges ahead. 'There will soon be material and components descending en masse on site. Are all plans and strategy in place to deal with such a huge quantity of items? This might be one of the most challenging phases so far, but also one of the most exciting ...' A nuclear engineer by training and a specialist in the design and construction of large nuclear facilities, Bob Iotti is now busy working on the design of a small, modular, fast-neutron fission reactor. But he's never, and never will be, far from ITER: 'I've dedicated so much of my life to this project,' he says, 'that I will always keep my eyes trained on it and my ears open to what's happening in the ITER world. If I can help, if I have some influence here and there, I will use it to promote this unique and magnificent project.'
In-vessel coils | Conductor qualified for manufacturing
For magnet coils operating inside of the vacuum vessel, conventional insulation schemes are not an option. ITER will rely on mineral-insulated conductor technology for its ability to withstand large transient electromagnetic fields, high radiation flux, and high temperature. After a decade of development and intensive collaboration with industry and research institutes, the first manufacturing phase—qualification—was recently concluded. The coils inside the ITER vacuum vessel are part of the overall plasma control system that ensures and maintains stable plasma operations. Two vertical stability coils will provide fast vertical stabilization of the plasma, while an array of 27 edge localized mode (ELM) coils will create resonant magnetic perturbations to magnetically control the plasma exterior in order to suppress potentially harmful power deposition on plasma-facing components. The in-vessel coils will be mounted on the vacuum vessel wall, behind the blanket shield modules. The backbone of both types of in-vessel coil is a non-superconducting mineral-insulated conductor, which consists of a stainless steel jacket, a layer of mineral insulation, a hollow copper conductor, and a central water cooling channel. The mineral layer—made of compressed magnesium oxide (MgO) powder—provides electrical insulation between the jacket and the conductor, as well as thermal conduction and structural support for the copper conductor. 'The ITER Organization has managed substantial design and R&D work over the last 10 years to finalize the design of the mineral-insulated conductor and develop suitable manufacturing procedures and techniques to ensure manufacturability,' says Anna Encheva, the ITER engineer in charge of the in-vessel coil conductor. 'With this work behind us we are ready to enter the series manufacturing phase. However, as most in-vessel coil components cannot be based on existing industrial solutions, we have organized a two-phase process—first conductor manufacturing qualification, then fabrication.' Conductor manufacturing contracts were signed in early 2017 with two suppliers—the Italian Consortium for Applied Superconductivity (ICAS) and the Institute for Plasma Physics, Chinese Academy of Science (ASIPP)—for the qualification phase. One of the most challenging fabrication activities has been to manufacture long, single-piece copper tubes required by the ITER design in order to avoid having joints in the coils. The manufacturers had to demonstrate suitable techniques and equipment, as well as compliant mechanical properties in the final product. Also, although MgO insulation is used widely in industry for small applications (fire-proofing industrial cables and diagnostic cables, for example) the quantities required for the ITER in-vessel coil conductor are without precedent. The suppliers have had to develop robust quality control to keep impurity content in the insulation at a very low level (important to maintaining excellent resistance) and to limit the absorption of moisture (as a very hygroscopic material, MgO easily absorbs moisture from air). 'Other challenges in the manufacturing process result from the stiffness of the conductor, which makes assembly activities difficult, and the strict dimensional tolerances required by ITER,' explains Encheva. 'These tolerances are driven by both the structural integrity requirements of the final coil and the tight space limitations in the in-vessel environment.' The qualification phase has now been concluded successfully by both suppliers, as confirmed at recent in-factory manufacturing readiness reviews during which the review panel assessed the results of the qualification phase as well as the availability of resources and equipment for series production. One supplier will be selected to manufacture a total length of approximately 5 km of conductor during the series manufacturing phase. The ITER Organization expects to award the contract by the end of this year.
The adventure of logistics
In this recent video, ITER global logistics provider DAHER takes us through the different phases and challenges of transporting massive ITER components from their manufacturing location, sometimes half way across the world, to the project's construction site in southern France.
New cameras focus on JET plasma
New cameras are capturing detailed images of fusion energy experiments at the Joint European Torus at Culham. The cameras are actually outside the machine hall and relay video back from the heart of the 100-million-degree plasma via a set of mirrors. The footage will be used by EUROfusion scientists in forthcoming experiments to monitor JET's operation and to carry out studies on the plasma's behaviour and properties. The video shows the comparative view from two identical cameras: one located outside the bioshield wall (left) and one inside the Torus Hall (right).
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