you're currently reading the news digest published from 12 May 2014 to 19 May 2014



1,300 get a real sense of ITER

Saturday 17 May was Open Doors Day on the ITER site. Nearly 1,300 visitors—members of the public as well as the families of ITER employees and contractors—took part in the event, the fourth organized by ITER Communication since 2011. From 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., regular rotations of shuttle buses conveyed visitors from the public parking lot to the ITER construction platform. While certain chose to start their visit by a guided tour of the work site, others walked at their leisure to the ITER Visitor Centre, where mockups of the machine and the construction site—as well as videos on construction, fusion, or the assembly of the machine—were all starting points for understanding the goals of the ITER Project. Guides were on hand all day to answer questions. The bus tour of the construction site—organized in collaboration with the European agency in charge of all works on site, Fusion for Energy—made two stops. At the first, visitors entered the 257-metre-long Poloidal Field Coils Winding Facility, where four of the six ITER poloidal field coils will be manufactured. At the second, they were taken as close as possible to the work progressing on the foundations of the Tokamak Complex where explanations on the seismic foundations of the Complex (no longer visible) and the requirements of the foundation slab that will be supporting nearly 400,000 tons of building and equipment were given. Curiosity about ITER remains strong and—as the construction of 16 new structures gets underway—the 42-hectare platform is evolving monthly. A second Open Doors Day event is planned for October 2014. Click here to view more images of the May 2014 Open Doors Day.

40 journalists, 15 countries and lots of explanations

ITER is a strange object. It is both experimental and huge. It is taking shape in the foothills of the southern French Alps, but also in factories all over the world. It is nuclear—but not of the kind of nuclear we are accustomed to. It is both a culmination and a beginning. And it is utterly complex in almost all of its dimensions: scientific, technological, financial, cultural, organizational ... Early this week at ITER, these different aspects of the project were presented to more than 40 journalists from 15 countries (Japan, Korea, Canada, Russia, Europe...) Over two days, the journalists attended presentations, met project actors, got as close as possible to ongoing construction activity, toured the nearby Tore Supra tokamak, and had a chance to visit a European manufacturing facility near Toulon (CNIM, in La-Seyne-sur-Mer) where series production has started on the huge radial plates for the toroidal field coils. Many of the journalists had little prior knowledge of the project. 'There are many misunderstandings about ITER,' explained Hiroaki Miyagawa of the Japanese daily Mainichi Shimbun (circ. 6 million). 'It is not easy for the public to distinguish between fusion and fission. But after spending two days here, I feel quite motivated to do it!' Alexandra Borisova, a science journalist for the Russian website who closely follows the activity of the Russian Domestic Agency, draws a parallel between the quest for fusion energy and that of the Higgs boson, which she also covered. 'Projects become loud when they produce results,' she said, 'so I'm not surprised that ITER—despite its dimension and stakes—is not yet very visible to the general public. I know that will change and, 20 years from now, I will proudly tell people that I was there when ITER was just a big hole in the ground!' Many, like Sorina Buzatu of, a non-profit media agency that focuses on projects funded by the European Union, sensed both the difficulties of the project and the optimism of the scientists and engineers she talked to. 'I felt there was a good measure of confidence. And I leave ITER convinced that we will eventually have fusion energy.' In the view of a freelance reporter with a long experience covering the antinuclear movement, the complexity of ITER is such that 'a thousand things could go wrong before an actual fusion plasma is produced...' and reflected: 'Well, I probably would have felt the same 40 years ago about the Apollo program...' A press trip is not intended to convince, but rather to explain. The one that brought the world media to ITER on 12-14 May did a lot of that and, judging by the information tweeted in real time by the participants and by the first articles published in the press, managed to generate quite a bit of interest.

Jamie gets a slice of the True Reactor

A month and a half ago young Jamie Edwards, a student at Penwortham Priory Academy in Lancashire (UK), got his proverbial 15 minutes of world fame. In fact, he got much more than that: tens of thousands of web and newspaper articles, and radio and TV interviews that culminated in an appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman (CBS), broadcast live from Broadway in New York ... Jamie Edwards, the media trumpeted, had built a fusion reactor. As the 13 year old explained to Letterman, he did it 'because it seemed cool ... I guess...' The fact that what Jamie had built in his school lab was not exactly a fusion reactor, but rather an ambitious experiment with deuterium gas and high voltage, didn't seem to bother the media—the title '13 year old builds fusion reactor' made for a great, and selling, headline. Like David Letterman, many people had never heard of fusion or fusion reactors; now, thanks to planetary coverage of Jamie's success in the laboratory, they have. As it takes determination, know-how, precision and ingenuity to build and operate a school-lab fusion experiment, Jamie certainly deserves to be congratulated. "We should not hold back from praising Jamie for a wonderful scientific experiment," said ITER neutron specialist Michael Loughlin, who was asked to comment on the teenager's story in a recent issue of the ITER Newsline. To celebrate his success, and encourage Jamie's early interest in the field of fusion, the European Domestic Agency for ITER invited Jamie to visit the people building the largest fusion reactor in the world. Joining a group of 50 media representatives that spent two days at ITER Headquarters this week, the Lancashire student—who recently turned 14—did what all journalists and budding fusion students are supposed to do: he listened, asked questions and took notes. And due to his recent fame, he also gave a few interviews ... As a spectacularly efficient fusion promoter and a member of the very generation that ITER and the fusion community are working for, Jamie was entitled to a very special gift—a sample of toroidal field coil niobium-tin conductor offered in person by ITER Director-General Osamu Motojima. The sample will be a precious addition to his assortment of nuclear-related artefacts—it will sit on a shelf in his room amid a collection of early 20th century uranium glassware.

One flew over the Tokamak's nest

This spectacular view of the Tokamak Seismic Pit was taken on 30 April from a helicopter, as part of a general survey of the ITER site. Iron reinforcement bars at the centre of the Pit form the carousel-like structure that will support the machine proper; the small squares that dot the circle (diameter: 60 metres) are embedded plates—thick steel plates embedded deep into the rebar lattice to provide extremely robust anchorage to the equipment and systems of the Tokamak. The largest embedded plates, which can support loads of up to ~90 metric tons in pure traction, will be positioned on the floors, walls and ceilings of the different levels of the Tokamak Complex. All in all, there could be up to 80,000 such plates (16,000 in the basemat slab alone and at least 20,000 to hold the cable trays in the outside gallery). Embedded plates, arranged in a different pattern, are also clearly visible on the right side of the image where the Tritium Building will be erected. About one third of the foundation slab has been poured; the two remaining segments (~700 square metres each) should be completed by the end of June. To the right, the Diagnostics Building slab is now complete. Embedded plates are barely visible as they are perfectly level with the surface of the concrete. Just like the spectacular arrangement of the 493 anti-seismic pads (now covered by formwork and rebar), this graphic view of the Pit will soon vanish, replaced by that of a perfectly smooth concrete surface. So, let's enjoy it while it's here...


A conversation with Prof. Predhiman Krishan Kaw

In this video, Prof. Predhiman Krishan Kaw, the former Director of the Institute for Plasma Research (IPR) in Gandhinagar, India, speaks about his life, research in plasma physics and ... ITER.

India and the historic global effort to find new energy

The energy source for the future is being incubated in Gandhinagar. Scientists of the city-based Institute of Plasma Research (IPR) are contributing to the heart of the world's biggest tokamak fusion reactor, ITER. India is contributing to building the cryostat and vacuum vessel, which is the heaviest and the largest part of the ITER reactor where the fusion will take place. This is the biggest scientific collaboration known to humankind and will produce unlimited supplies of cheap, clean, and safe energy from atomic fusion. ​ Read more in The Times of India.

Preparations for the operation of Wendelstein 7-X starting at IPP Greifswald

​After years of calculation, planning, component production and installation, the Wendelstein 7-X project is now entering a new phase: in May the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP) in Greifswald, Germany began preparing for operation. Wendelstein 7-X will be the world's largest stellarator fusion device. Read more on the IPP website.

5 years, $2.5 million to explore hot edge of fusion plasmas

​Physicist Brian Grierson of the US Department of Energy's (DOE's) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) has won a highly competitive Early Career Research Program award sponsored by the DOE's Office of Science. The five-year grant will total some $2.5 million and fund exploration of the mechanisms that govern the formation and maintenance of the hot edge of fusion plasmas — the electrically charged gas that results in fusion reactions in facilities called tokamaks. The work will be carried out on the DIII-D National Fusion Facility in San Diego. Read more on the PPPL website.

Nuclear startups reimagine atomic energy

​To most people, the outlook for nuclear power wouldn't seem bright. The Fukushima disaster in Japan three years ago increased public resistance to the industry. Cheap natural gas is undercutting its competitiveness. Aging nuclear plants around the country, including Vermont Yankee in Vernon, Vt., are shutting down. But into this bleak environment come two startups with roots at MIT hoping to revive an industry that has long struggled to make a comeback. Their technologies aim to solve issues that have bedeviled nuclear power for decades: safety, cost, and radioactive waste. Transatomic Power, a three-person firm sharing incubator space at the Cambridge Innovation Center, is designing a reactor that would be cheaper than coal and generate electricity from spent fuel rods — aka radioactive waste — piling up in the nation's nuclear plants. UPower Technologies is developing a miniature atomic power plant that would be cheaper and cleaner than diesel generators used in remote locations. Read the whole article on bostonglobe website.

A letter from the ITER Director-General on the meeting of the Fourteenth ITER Council

The ITER Project is a global project that brings together seven Members: China, the European Union, India, Japan, Korea, Russia and the United States. It aims to contribute a viable solution to the energy and environmental challenges facing humankind. By producing 500 MW of thermal power, ITER will demonstrate the availability and integration of the science, the technology, and the safety features of a fusion reactor. Since 1985, when the ITER Project was given a decisive political push, the world has experienced many crises. In 2007, at the Elysée Palace in Paris, the seven Members signed the Joint Implementation Agreement that formally established the ITER Organization. As a long-term international project, aimed at providing mankind with a safe and unlimited energy source, ITER has made it a rule to keep away from the world's political and diplomatic discussions. It is ITER's philosophy that the project should not be impacted by situations or events developing outside its direct area of competence. ITER Organization Director-General Osamu Motojima has sent the attached letter to the Heads of Delegations of the seven ITER Members to voice his concern about the current international situation 'and its possible political impact on the ITER Project.' The ITER Director-General strongly encourages the seven ITER Members, together with the ITER Organization, to proactively work at solving any issue. Thanks to great effort of the ITER Council Chair, all Members have been working very harmoniously to ensure that world situations do not affect the progress of the project. We are very glad to know that if some Members have issues, the rest will work with them to find a solution that is acceptable to all. Fifty percent of the world population and 80 percent of GDP are represented by the seven Members of ITER. The ITER Project creates a new collaborative culture and standard aimed at solving energy and environmental problems and contributing to world peace.


Preparing Tore Supra for WEST - a time lapse video


Heißes Plasma zwischen kalten Spulen

Complex fusion reactor takes shape as start date slips

Démarrage de la fabrication de série des Plaques Radiales du réacteur ITER sur le site industriel CNIM de La Seyne-sur-Mer


A las puertas de la fusión nuclear

[르포]프랑스 원자력청 중심부를 가다

모토지마 ITER 사무총장 "핵융합은 미래 투자"

Raising our own sun

Das lange Warten auf die Zündung