ITER Newsline / 08 December 2017

A note to our readers: Newsline will not be published again until Monday 14 May.

Businesses, jobs, technology
ITER's impact on European economy and society

What are the economic, societal and scientific benefits for Europe stemming from its participation in ITER? And—looking ahead—what future impact can Europe expect from its role in this unique scientific project that aims to unlock the potential of fusion energy? These were the top questions discussed by 120 participants at the ITER Industry Day in Brussels, Belgium, on 4 December. It was the first time that the European Commission had sent an invitation for an ITER Industry Day. And they all came: European business representatives, policy makers, scientists, civil society organizations, and the media. The ITER Project already brings a host of concrete opportunities for industry, businesses and the research community. Over 400 European companies and 60 scientific and research entities—from more than 20 countries—have concluded contracts with the European Domestic Agency for a total of approximately EUR 4 billion. The Italian company Belleli Energy is but one example of how ITER can help European businesses to grow and thrive through development opportunities and job creation: 'Thanks to ITER, the staff of our company grew from 300 in 2010 to 1,000 today,' reports CEO Paolo Fedeli. Spin-off technologies is another area with great potential. Participants discussed how spin-offs, spill-overs, start-ups and applications resulting from ITER-related contracts can promote development in other technological and industrial areas. Jérôme Pamela, the chairman of EUROfusion, Europe's fusion energy think tank, pointed to ITER's impact on scientific research potential: 'Facts speak for themselves. ITER, which provides us a common goal, is a key driver for 2,000 research positions that exist in the member states. Without ITER, there would be far fewer researchers involved.' It was not just about opportunities for Europe in Europe. As an international scientific project with 35 member states from three continents, ITER provides fertile ground worldwide for global technology cooperation, business opportunities, partnerships and innovation. Click on these links to read speeches by the French Minister for Research, Education and Innovation, Frédérique Vidal, in French and English, and by the EU Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, Miguel Arias Cañete, in English.

Fusion world
A reinforced Sino-French collaboration

Interaction between French and Chinese fusion laboratories began in the early 1990s with a collaboration on the first Chinese superconducting tokamak HT-7. Over the years, the collaboration intensified with the creation of training programs for PhD and postdoctoral students and, more recently, with the establishment of 'associated laboratories' between the French Institute for Magnetic Fusion Research (IRFM) and China's main fusion institutions: the Institute of Plasma Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (ASIPP) and the Southwestern Institute of Physics (SWIP). ITER of course is now at the centre of this collaboration. The two Chinese institutions are key partners in the WEST project (the refurbished Tore Supra tokamak that serves as a test bench for ITER) and joint teams are involved in several R&D activities in support of both ITER and Chinese national fusion projects. Two weeks ago, on 24 November, Sino-French collaboration on fusion took a whole new dimension. Whereas cooperation to date had been a bilateral affair between laboratories, it will now develop and expand within a high-level political agreement between the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) and the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST). The agreement was signed in Beijing in the presence of the French Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Vice-Minister of MOST. The agreement establishes SIFFER (for SIno-French Fusion Energy centeR), a research consortium that brings together IRFM, ASIPP, SWIP and the Chinese Domestic Agency ITER China. As it is sponsored at the highest political level in both states, the agreement lends added strength to the ongoing collaboration between French and Chinese fusion institutions—not only on ITER and WEST, but also on the operational Chinese machines (EAST, HL-2A and HL-2M) and on the planned China Fusion Engineering Test Reactor (CFETR) that aims to bridge the gap between ITER and the future demonstration reactor (DEMO).

Heat rejection system
Equipment keeps arriving

Work is underway in India to fabricate the components of ITER's heat rejection system, including cooling towers, vertical pumps, electrical equipment, piping, valves, filters, and instrumentation. In addition to batches of piping that have been shipped regularly since 2015, the first equipment is starting to arrive. As an experimental device, ITER will not be converting the heat generated during operation into electricity. Instead, cooling water will circulate under pressure through the ITER installation to remove the heat load from the ITER vacuum vessel, its plasma-facing components, and plant systems such as heating and power systems and transfer it—through a cascade of cooling loops—to the heat rejection zone located on the northern edge of the platform. There, it will be cooled using an evaporative process. The infrastructure of the heat rejection system—including hot and cold cooling water basins, powerful pumps, heat exchangers, and an induced-draft cooling tower with ten individual cells—is concentrated in a 6,000-square-metre area that is under construction now on the ITER worksite. The design and fabrication of the heat rejection system is part of India's procurement contributions to the ITER Project, while the equipment will be installed by the ITER Organization. Europe has excavated the site and created the concrete basins and structures. Following the delivery of the ozonators earlier this year, a new batch of equipment has arrived on site—including large stop log gates that can be used to close off each of the cooling basin compartments for maintenance, screens to be installed to keep debris from reaching the pumps, and auxiliary components related to installation. The Cooling Water System Section is expecting the first batch of heat exchangers before the end of the year and the first shipments of cooling tower parts in early 2018. On site, the hot and cold basins have been created below platform level and the cold basin area has been turned over to the ITER Organization for installation activities. One of the first activities will be to install metal footings in the cold basin to prepare for the installation of the cooling tower structural members. Read more about ITER's heat rejection system here.

Elementary particles
And now quark fusion?

Fusion as we know it involves two nuclei of light atoms. Nature provides a dozen possible combinations for fusion, but in the present state of our technological capabilities only the fusion of deuterium (D) and tritium (T), two hydrogen isotopes, is accessible. Recently, physicists at Tel Aviv University in Israel and at the University of Chicago in the US have found evidence suggesting that fusion could occur between quarks, an elementary particle that is a constituent of the nucleus. Quark fusion, they calculate, could generate approximately eight times more energy than the energy released during DT fusion. How does one go about fusing quarks? Researchers Marek Karliner and Jonathan Rosner think it could be technically feasible in a powerful particle accelerator such as CERN's Large Hadron Collider (LHC). But they warn that their work is still purely theoretical — just like the fusion of nuclei was not so long ago in the 1920s. More information here and here.

Vacuum vessel in Europe
Assembling the puzzle

Five thousand tonnes of steel, dozens of 'port' openings at three levels, interfaces with nearly every major system ... ITER's steel vacuum vessel is one of the largest-scale and most complex of the ITER 'objects' to manufacture. In Europe, which is producing five of the nine vacuum vessel sectors, a consortium of industrial firms has divided out the tasks of manufacturing the many sub-elements of each sector, step-by-step assembly activities, and demanding welding and non-destructive examination stages. With contractors and subcontractors located across Europe, the European vacuum vessel fabrication consortium (see more here) has sought to increase its manufacturing capacity. In a recent article on vacuum vessel manufacturing progress, the European Domestic Agency reports that all five sectors are now in some stage of fabrication, with sector #5—the first due on site according to the ITER machine assembly schedule—leading the pack. European companies CNIM (France), ENSA (Spain), MAN (Germany), ProBeam (Germany), Belleli (Italy), Mangiarotti (Italy), Walter Tosto (Italy), and Ansaldo Nucleare (Italy) are all involved. Vacuum vessel manufacturing is time-consuming and labour intensive due to the sheer volume of sub-elements, their unconventional shapes, and their size. At the end of the process, each sector will measure 6.5 metres high, 3 x 6 metres in width and depth, and weigh between 400 and 500 tonnes. Fabrication is a multiyear process that has involved multiple qualification phases before passing on to manufacturing design, material procurement, precise machining, and finally welding. Because the vacuum vessel and ports are classified as nuclear pressure equipment under French ESPN regulations, the welding and non-destructive examination activities are submitted to particularly stringent specifications. For the European industries involved participation in such a high-profile and demanding manufacturing project has contributed to increasing their expertise and skill base, and improving their competitiveness on world markets. (See related article in this issue.) Read the full article on the European Domestic Agency website here.


Submissions wanted for SOFT innovation prize 2018

The starting shot for the 2018 SOFT Innovation Prize has sounded. The prize is a feature of the Symposium on Fusion Technology (SOFT), a biennial conference organized by the Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (ENEA). It rewards outstanding researchers or companies who find new physics or technology solutions to address the challenges of fusion, with the potential of wider application. The competition is open to researchers, research teams and companies from around the world. Anyone interested to enter the competition needs to apply through the Research and Innovation portal of the European Commission; the deadline for submissions is 8 March 2018. An independent jury of experts in technology transfer will select the three winners and the award ceremony will take place as part of the 30th SOFT conference taking place in Giardini Naxos, Sicily, Italy, from 17-21 September. Last year's winners were awarded the prize for a novel type of high temperature superconductor cable based on REBCO tape material, a new membrane technology to produce ultra-pure hydrogen and a new virtual reality software technology to improve radioprotection. SOFT is an important conference in the area of fusion technology and research in Europe. It attracts over 800 scientists, engineers, industry representatives and exhibitors from around the world. Read the full article here.

A birthday celebration in Barcelona

"Few projects in the world combine such ambition, cutting-edge science and technology, and energy for future generations." With these words Johannes Schwemmer, the Director of the European Domestic Agency, opened the 10-year anniversary celebration of Europe's involvement in ITER on 30 November. European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, Miguel Arias Cañete, went on to highlight the human capital behind this one-of-kind project and praised "the work of so-many scientists and engineers, and the fact that countries, industries and research centres are working together to translate a common vision into a reality.' The Mayor of the city of Barcelona, Ada Colau, explained that it was 'an honour to host the European Agency and this was also proof of Barcelona's commitment to science and innovation.' For Spain's Secretary of State for Research, Development and Innovation, Carmen Vela, ITER will 'also open the door to the commercialization of fusion energy by laying the industrial foundations in each of its parties.' View more on the event, as well as anniversary video clips, here.

A note to our readers: not all the press clippings that appeared in the media on ITER in the last seven days can be listed here. Please see this page for a more exhaustive list.

BBC News

Nuclear fusion research centre gets £86m from government

Tech News Taiwan

世上最大的核融合實驗反應爐施工進度已過半,預計 2025 年首度測試

Agence France Presse (AFP)

Nuclear fusion project faces delay over US budget cuts: director

Der Standard

Kernfusionsreaktor ITER ist zur Hälfte fertig

Executive Intelligence Review

ITER Director-General Is Lobbying the White House for Increased Fusion Funding


Najveći stroj na svijetu napola dovršen


தெற்கு பிரான்ஸில் கட்டப் பட்டு வரும் உலகின் மிகப்பெரிய அணுக்கரு வெப்ப ஆராய்ச்சி உலையான ITER

ČT24 — Česká televize

Sen o energii zdarma se rozplývá. USA usekly peníze projektu ITER

Термоядреният реактор ITER е наполовина готов


世上最大的核融合實驗反應爐施工進度已過半,預計 2025 年首度測試

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