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Second test convoy, with maritime leg this time

In September last year, at the time of the first ITER Itinerary test convoy, the crossing of the inland sea Étang de Berre had to be cancelled: the barge that was to ferry the trailer and its 600-tonne dummy load was stranded in Turkey because of weather conditions. A second test convoy campaign, focusing this time on the rehearsal of logistics and timing, is scheduled from 31 March to 4 April. Weather permitting, the maritime leg of the journey should be one of the most spectacular parts of the operation. In order to ferry the components from Fos harbour, on the Mediterranean Sea, to Port-de-la-Pointe, on the north-eastern shore of the Étang de Berre, a combination of conventional barge and heavy-lift pontoon will be used. The 26-kilometre voyage will take four hours. On Wednesday 12 March, a representative of DAHER, ITER's Global Transport, Logistics and Insurance Service Provider, presented a captivating animation to the ITER community on how the barge and pontoon will operate, and how the trailer and its 600-tonne dummy load will be loaded and unloaded (see attached video). François Genevey is the project director for the ITER contract at DAHER. 'The crucial moments in the port operations are when the ITER loads are rolled onto and off of the barge. An electronic ballasting system will ensure that the barge and the pontoon maintain their full stability during the transfer of the charge.' Once the maritime leg of the journey is past, the trailer will commence its slow and careful ride to the ITER site just as it did six months ago. This time, instead of verifying how critical points along the Itinerary hold up under the load, operators from DAHER and Agence Iter France will test the complex logistics involved (more than 200 people will take part in the operation) and validate the projected timing for the transportation of the most taxing of the ITER components in terms of size and weight. Of a projected 250 Highly Exceptional Loads (HELs) to be delivered to the ITER site, approximately 30 belong in that category. But HELs are not all—close to 2,500 Conventional Exceptional Loads (CEL), and several thousand container-sized loads will travel the regular roads to the ITER site between mid-2014 and end-2020.

How 3D printing changes the design process

ITER has been called a puzzle of a million pieces. US ITER staff at Oak Ridge National Laboratory are using an affordable tool—desktop three-dimensional printing, also known as additive printing—to help them design and configure components more efficiently and affordably. 'Now for pennies instead of tens of thousands of dollars, we can have impact right away with 3D printing. It lets us see what the part actually looks like,' says Kevin Freudenberg, an engineer who supports the US ITER magnets team and has led the project's use of 3D printing. 'On 3D CAD (computer-aided design) displays, you can't feel the shape of an object. You just see it. Many people have trouble seeing 3D projections or find them tiresome to view over time. With the 3D printed objects, you can run your finger over the surface and notice different things about the scale and interfaces of the component.' The fusion engineering design process has long relied on mock-ups and prototypes. Full-scale models cast or machined from metal and other materials continue to have value and will still be a part of the US ITER development process, as will 3D computer modelling; however, the affordability and accessibility of desktop 3D printing offers a number of advantages. Freudenberg said that 3D printing helps mitigate risk: 'The models show complexity and help us catch issues earlier in the process.' A normal part of the engineering process is the identification of interferences or design problems before a component is finalized. Mark Lyttle, an engineer working on the pellet injection and plasma disruption mitigation systems for US ITER, observes, 'It's a lot more time consuming and expensive when you find that mistake in a metal prototype than it is in a 3D printed component. 3D printing is very low-cost. With metal, you may have to start over if you can't re-machine it.' Gary Lovett, a designer with US ITER, adds, 'If you can correct one design and make one revision, you've basically paid for the printer. It's so much more informative, especially if you have assemblies to put together.' The printed components are also shifting how manufacturers interact with the ITER designs. Freudenberg recalls, 'We went to a vendor meeting recently. We looked at line drawings for a minute, and then the vendors spent hours looking at and discussing the 3D parts. Most of the meeting was spent talking about the parts. Having something in your hand that is tactile can show what machine processes and best practices to use in manufacturing.' Some components, such as the 13-metre-tall central solenoid, must be printed at 'toy' scale; others can be printed at actual size. Even handling objects at toy scale is useful, as it brings massive components into the hands of engineers and manufacturers and provokes useful analysis. Lyttle explains, '3D printing helps you look at the design and see specific parts, like an O ring that needs more space around it to sit properly. On the computer screen, you could miss that." 'On the screen, some components don't look especially bulky,' Lyttle adds. 'But when you make it in metal, it will be a hunk of material that is too heavy and hard to handle. When you have a physical model, it is easier to spot opportunities to save material and make the design more efficient and the manufacturing less expensive.' Printing the component also helps engineers check the interfaces for possible collisions. 'You can put it together, move it a bit and visualize how it's going to be built. You can see problems like a weld you can't get to or a screw head that is inaccessible,' Lyttle says. Read the whole article on US ITER website.

Driving the ITER gyrotrons

When it comes to measuring the overall efficiency of a fusion reactor—how much power output can it produce for a given heating input power—it's important to know that a large part of the electrical energy inputted into the machine is used to power the gyrotrons. The gyrotrons will heat the plasma through a technique called electron cyclotron resonator heating (ECRH). In ITER, the radio frequency sources for the ECRH system will be composed of 24 gyrotrons procured by Russia (8), Japan (8), Europe (6) and India (2) for a total combined heating power of 24 MW. Directly associated to the performance of the gyrotrons are their high voltage power supply systems. These power supplies convert the grid voltage to the appropriate high voltage levels required for the gyrotrons (55kV-110A). Not only must the power be provided with the highest efficiency but power rise and fall times must also be extremely short in order to properly trigger or shut down the gyrotrons, which will ensure that such very expensive devices are well protected against any damage such as arcs building up inside the gyrotron itself. The contract for the design, manufacture, installation and commissioning of the power supply systems of the European and Russian gyrotrons was recently awarded by the European Domestic Agency Fusion for Energy to Ampegon, a Swiss SME based in Turgi, near Zurich. 'The power supplies are a critical element of the energy transformation chain for the ITER machine. We are very proud to contribute with this significant subsystem and be part of the world's largest fusion project,' said Ampegon CEO Josef Troxler at the signature ceremony. 'Ampegon's contribution to ITER's power supplies will make an important contribution to the overall energy efficiency rate of the machine,' added Michel Hübner, Switzerland's Industry Liaison Officer for ITER. 'I am pleased that Fusion for Energy has entrusted a Swiss company with its expertise to manufacture this highly challenging equipment. This is the first contract awarded to a Swiss SME and I hope that more will follow.' This latest contract is the sign of the strong relationship between the ITER Project and industry, according to Fusion for Energy Director Henrik Bindslev. 'ITER offers a vast range of business opportunities to small, medium and larger companies. This latest signature proves yet again that SMEs have a role to play to the most ambitious international collaboration in the field of energy.' Ampegon is a highly specialized company in the field of high power radio frequency (RF) engineering. As a leading manufacturer of high power AM/DRM broadcasting transmitters, high power RF amplifiers, regulated high voltage modulators and power supplies for more than 75 years, Ampegon has significant experience and know-how in the field of RF amplification, power electronics and fast signal processing. -- With Michel Hübner, Switzerland's Industrial Liaison Officer for ITER, and the European Domestic Agency Fusion for Energy. Read the full news on the contract signature at Fusion for Energy.

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Busy days in China

​During a recent visit to China, ITER Director-General Osamu Motojima met with high-level representatives of government and had the opportunity to visit some of the factories where fabrication is underway on components within the Chinese scope. On March 5, 2014, Vice Minister Jianlin Cao of MOST, head of the Chinese delegation to the ITER Council, received the Director-General and colleagues Ju Jin, ITER Deputy Director-General, Sachiko Ishizaka, Secretary to the ITER Council, and members of the Project Control Division for an exchange of views on recent developments in the ITER Project. The following day, the ITER Director-General visited the headquarters of China National Nuclear Corporation in Beijing, meeting with Chief Engineer Zengguang Lei and ITER Management Advisory Committee (MAC) Chair Jiashu Tian. During his three-day stay he was also able to pay visits to Western Superconducting Technologies in Xi'an City, the company responsible for the manufacturing of ITER superconducting strand, and Nantong Shenhai Science and Industrial Technology, responsible for the surface-plating of ITER niobium-tin and niobium-titanium superconducting strands.

More than a year in Provence

​In the Spring issue of InFusion, a publication from the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE), Mike Walsh, head of the ITER Diagnostic Division and Neill Taylor, former Division head of Nuclear Safety and Analysis, reflect on their experiences at ITER. Read it here (p.12-13).

World's largest energy initiative comes to Wollongong

​One of the people responsible for the manufacture of the magnet system at the heart of ITER presented a special guest seminar recently to staff and students at the Australian Institute for Innovative Materials. Arnaud Devred, Superconductor Systems and Auxiliaries Section leader at ITER, is responsible for the in-kind procurement of the superconducting cable-in-conduit conductors which are expected to cost around $US1 billion, about half of the whole cost of the ITER magnet system. Read the original article here.

What's the Moon Worth?

​Without the moon, we probably wouldn't exist. In that sense, the moon's value is infinite -- but what if you wanted to put a dollar amount on that rock? Most scientists think the rock is made up of elements like iron and magnesium, but the most valuable part of its structure may be Helium-3. Hard to find on Earth, the isotope can power nuclear fusion reactors, a potentially mammoth answer to future energy needs. Read the full article here.

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Nouveaux convois tests d'ITER fin mars

Helios expansion gives ITER more computing resources