you're currently reading the news digest published from 01 Sep 2014 to 08 Sep 2014



First plant components delivered to ITER

The trailer truck that pulled to a stop alongside the Poloidal Field Coils Winding Facility last Wednesday was nothing out of the ordinary—just a regular truck that didn't even qualify as a convoi exceptionnel. The load it carried, however, was of highly symbolic value for ITER. The four wooden crates solidly attached to its flatbed contained the very first plant components delivered to the ITER worksite: 12 high voltage surge arrestors supplied by the US Domestic Agency as part of the US contribution to the installation's steady state electrical system. 'This is a historic and meaningful moment,' said Ken Blackler, head of the Assembly & Operations Division, as the crates were being unloaded into the building for temporary storage. 'These are the first of many thousands of components to be delivered to ITER by the project's Members.' Surge arresters have the same function as a home surge protection device that prevents excess voltage from flowing straight from the grid to appliances or equipment in the case of a voltage surge. With one big difference, however: whereas a circuit breaker or a fuse 'interrupts' the current flow by creating a gap in the circuit, a surge arrester diverts the considerable amount of energy generated by a surge to the ground. 'The ITER surge arrestors are calibrated to short circuit whenever they detect a voltage higher than nominal (of the order of 400 kV), which would be the case if a bolt of lightning hits the switchyard,' explains Joël Hourtoule, ITER Electrical Power Distribution section leader. The 12 surge arresters delivered on 4 September are part of a large system that will be installed between the RTE switchyard and the transformers that feed power to the installation. Twelve each of the following components—line disconnectors that physically separate the 400 kV RTE switchyard from the ITER installation, circuit breakers to protect the transformers, and potential and current transducers—will be shipped to ITER to equip four transformers fed by three-phase electric power. The full set of components is expected at the ITER site before the end of the month for assembly and installation in early 2015. For all the parties involved—ITER Organization, US ITER, the manufacturer ABB, and the logistics service provider DAHER who handled the shipment all the way from New York—this first delivery provided a concrete opportunity to test the administrative, technical, industrial and regulatory procedures that will accompany the procurement of plant and machine components by the ITER Members. 'The proper planning and timely delivery of these first plant components—in conformity with the schedule proposed in 2010—is an example to be followed,' said Directorate head Sergio Orlandi (Plant System Engineering) who represented ITER Director-General Osamu Motojima at the short ceremony that followed the unpacking of the crates. Click to read the press release in English or in French.

An anchor for the backbone

While concrete pouring was underway last Wednesday on the last segment of the Tokamak Complex basemat, laser measurements were still being performed on a large steel ring, deeply anchored at the very centre of the plot. Topped by a temporary, blue steel structure designed to prevent deformation, the steel ring is part of the support system for the huge inner support column—the steel backbone that, along will seven radial beams, will stabilize the vacuum vessel sectors during the first stages of machine assembly. Because it was vitally important that the circular ring and its four associated inserted plates remain perfectly positioned, the temporary steel structure guaranteed the ring's rigidity during the pour and regular laser surveys ensured that no deviation had occurred from the original position. During first-phase Tokamak assembly operations, the inner support column will form the axis of the Tokamak. Once the nine sectors of the vacuum vessel are assembled and welded, the column will be removed from the machine and the central solenoid will take its place. Last Wednesday, as ITER celebrated the 'Final Pour' of the Tokamak Complex basemat, the first element of an assembly tool was in place, ready for an operation that should begin in 2017.

A bright future in fusion

Monday 25 August saw the award of the very first diploma of the new fusion master's program at the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e). The proud recipient was Kevin Verhaegh. Launched in 2012, Science and Technology of Nuclear Fusion is two-year, full-time interdisciplinary program entirely dedicated to nuclear fusion energy, combining elements from applied physics, mechanical engineering and electrical engineering. The program was initiated with the aim of training a new generation of fusion scientists and engineers—the generation that will build, run and exploit ITER and contemporary machines worldwide and also design and build DEMO. The international character of fusion research and the work in interdisciplinary groups are important in the program, as are the socio-economic aspects of fusion energy. The program fulfils all criteria for the European MSc Fusion Certificate, which has been established by European fusion scientists under the coordination of FuseNet. Kevin is the first student to have completed this dedicated master's program at the Eindhoven University of Technology. In the course of his studies, Kevin benefitted from internships at JET and the European Domestic Agency for ITER, Fusion for Energy. His graduation research was on the exotic 'cluster fusion' phenomenon: fusion reactions induced by the interaction of a femto-second laser pulse with tiny droplets of deuterium and tritium. He will now continue his research in fusion with PhD study in York, England and Lausanne, Switzerland. Click to find out more on TU/e's Fusion Master program and on European Fusion Master and Doctorate certificates.


Ed Moses appointed president of the Giant Magellan Telescope Organization

​Ed Moses, a longtime scientific leader at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, has been appointed by the Giant Magellan Telescope Organization (GMTO) as president of their organization, effective 2 October 2014. "Ed is ideally positioned and qualified for this scientific leadership role," Goldstein said. "He is an expert in laser science, optical systems, technology development, systems engineering and project leadership and management. Ed has played key roles in major LLNL programs over the last 35 years including Atomic Vapor Laser Isotope Separation, Peregrine, the National Ignition Facility and the National Ignition Campaign." "He also was responsible for building several major science and DOD work-for-other programs," Goldstein said. "Ed is an international leader in fusion energy science and applications. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and member of many other professional societies, and a winner of a broad spectrum of prestigious awards." Source: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Underground experiment confirms what powers the sun

​Scientists have long believed that the power of the sun comes largely from the fusion of protons into helium, but now they can finally prove it. An international team of researchers using a detector buried deep below the mountains of central Italy has detected neutrinos—ghostly particles that interact only very reluctantly with matter—streaming from the heart of the sun. Other solar neutrinos have been detected before, but these particular ones come from the key proton-proton fusion reaction that is the first part of a chain of reactions that provides 99% of the sun's power. The results also show that the sun is a remarkably steady power source. Neutrinos take only 8 minutes to get from the sun's core to Earth, so the rate of neutrino production that the team detected reflects the amount of heat the sun is producing today. It just so happens that this is the same as the amount of energy now being radiated from the sun's surface, even though those photons have taken 100,000 years to work their way from the core to the surface. Hence, the sun's energy production hasn't changed in 100 millennia. 'This is direct proof of the stability of the sun over the past 100,000 years or so,' says team member Andrea Pocar of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Read more on Science website

NSTX fusion reactor at Princeton will be operational again after $94 M upgrade

​Tucked away from major roadways and nestled amid more than 80 acres of forest sits a massive warehouse-like building where inside, a device that can produce temperatures hotter than the sun has sat cold and quiet for more than two years. But the wait is almost over for the nuclear fusion reactor to get back up and running at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. 'We're very excited and we're all anxious to turn that machine back on,' said Adam Cohen, deputy director for operations at PPPL. The National Spherical Torus Experiment (NSTX) has been shut down since 2012 as it underwent a $94 million upgrade that will make it what officials say will be the most powerful fusion facility of its kind in the world. It is expected to be ready for operations in late winter or early spring, Cohen said. [...] The upgrade (NSTX-U) will essentially double the power of the reactor by increasing the heat, electrical current and magnetic field. A second [device] that helps heat the plasma was added, and the center magnet, which resembles the core of an apple, was rebuilt to create a stronger magnetic field. 'We may reach several hundred million degrees Celsius in the new machine,' said Masa Ono, a research physicist and head of the NSTX department. Access the full story, image gallery and video interview at


The B2 slab is "topped out"


ITER receives first plant components

Les premières pièces américaines livrées sur le site d'ITER

ITER, réacteur expérimental

ITER sort de terre

Gorham, Maine company to supply parts for world's largest fusion reactor