ITER Newsline / 10 February 2018


Construction management
Bringing all the strands together

With a project as complex as the construction of the ITER machine and plant it is easy to lose sight of the big picture over the many intricate details. Angie Jones from the MOMENTUM consortium makes sure that this doesn't happen. She fiercely defends the need to look at the construction project with the eye of an eagle. The MOMENTUM Joint Venture joined ITER's quest for fusion energy in the summer of 2016 as Construction Manager-as-Agent (CMA). Its main task, according to Project Director Angie Jones, is to bring all the strands together and make sure that the ITER machine and plant are assembled and installed on time, safely and in compliance with budget. "Our mission is to manage, coordinate, and supervise assembly and installation activities on behalf of the ITER Organization. As CMA, we share industry best practice for large construction projects, and adapt it for implementation at ITER." MOMENTUM is led by Wood (UK, formerly Amec Foster Wheeler) in partnership with Assystem (France) and KEPCO Engineering and Construction (Korea). Based on already completed scientific and engineering work, MOMENTUM puts together controllable construction work packages for the contractors, who in turn break them down into installation work packages. 'These detailed packages allow us to monitor and measure the work as the construction manager,' says Jones. Jones and her 70 colleagues are fully focused on their mission as ITER's construction management partner. They deliver processes and procedures for all phases: construction preparation, project management, contract management, interface management, site coordination, construction supervision and completion. The biggest part of her job is integration—bringing all the elements together and identifying gaps. This means raising the focus from specific engineering and manufacturing tasks to the long-term goal--achieving First Plasma in 2025. It all comes down to perspective, according to Jones. 'Chickens keep pecking on the ground, never looking up to see what's going on elsewhere. But the eagle can see everything from a great height,' says Jones. 'We must shift to a project delivery culture in which construction needs drive the engineering and procurement priorities.

An engineer with a penchant for the unusual

Angie Jones is used to taking on large and demanding engineering projects, often in far-flung or testing locations. "Challenge motivates me," she says. An engineer by background, she started her career at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the US, dealing with the remediation of nuclear waste and the decommissioning of obsolete nuclear research reactors. She later managed the demolition of several obsolete space launch complexes at the US Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Her job as a contractor for the US government brought Jones to work in many different countries. Just before starting on site at ITER, she was contracted by the US Air Force Space Command to build a radar station and power plant on the Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands, to create a space surveillance system to protect satellites against space debris.

She calls it the 'right-to-left approach,' where the end goal—completing the installation—defines the construction project schedule in all its phases. Jones named her high-level strategy meeting with the MOMENTUM leadership team the 'eagle meeting.' This is where the team works together to identify transversal challenges and to bring solutions to the ITER Organization. As might be expected, it took some time for the CMA partner to find its place among pre-existing ways of working. The political nature of ITER was also a new challenge for Jones—requiring the team to go beyond industrial construction expertise and be diplomats as well. And in front of engineers, scientists and project administrators who, for some, had already spent a decade on this project, it was necessary for the MOMENTUM team to persuade others that it shared the same commitment to making ITER a reality. 'Today, I feel more of a partner than ever before,' she says. Jones has begun to see the fruit of her persistent efforts. The MOMENTUM delivery organization has evolved along with the ITER Organization to prepare for the phase ahead, and it is now fully aligned with clear lines of authority for quick decision making to deliver on the construction objectives. 'It's been worth it to work so hard for these synergies over the last 17 months,' she concludes.

On site
US "Burning Plasma Committee" visits ITER

February at ITER opened with a high-stakes visit from the Committee on A Strategic Plan for U.S. Burning Plasma Research. The Committee, operating under the auspices of the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, has been charged with reviewing the overall state of magnetic confinement fusion research in the United States. A key outcome of the review is to be a recommended strategy for going forward—with or without ITER—in a way that preserves the US status as a leader in burning plasma research. The full 'statement of task' forming the charge to the Committee can be read here. On 21 December 2017 the Committee publicly released its interim report, a thorough analysis demonstrating the seriousness with which the Committee has taken its charge. The report made interesting observations regarding the importance of burning plasma research and the status of U.S. domestic research. For the ITER audience, two of the most interesting statements were the following: The only existing project to create a burning plasma at the scale of a power plant is ITER, which is a major component of the U.S. fusion energy program. A decision by the United States to withdraw from the ITER project as the primary experimental burning plasma component within a balanced long-term strategic plan for fusion energy could isolate U.S. fusion scientists from the international effort and would require the United States to develop a new approach to study a burning plasma. [From page 3 of the interim report.] Naturally, a critical aspect of the Committee's review was a visit to ITER to gain a first-hand look at the status of the project. Participation in the trip was strong—enough so that the Committee expanded its visit into a formal two-day meeting, and invited a number of EUROfusion officials as well to present the European fusion research program. ITER's presentations to the Committee, and the discussions that ensued, were centred around the science, engineering, and management of the project. As pointed out by Tim Luce, Head of the ITER Science & Operations Department, ITER by design will answer several long-standing fusion energy questions, such as: Does self-heating work? How large does a plasma need to be to achieve dominant self-heating? Is steady-state operation feasible in a burning plasma? Can helium ash be exhausted? Are plasmas disruption-free in stationary conditions? ITER will also address a broad variety of plasma physics issues, ranging from the existence of 'intrinsic' rotation to the mechanism of the L-H transition or the origin of isotope scaling. To the group of scientists that comprise the Committee, this discussion made especially compelling arguments about the value of a machine built to ITER's specifications. Deputy Director-General Gyung-Su Lee and Head of the Project Control Office, Hans-Henrich Altfeld, respectively presented the engineering and project management aspects of ITER. In both cases, the presentations and ensuing discussions took a detailed look at both the challenges evoked and why the Committee should have confidence in a successful outcome. The worksite tour, as might be expected, was the highlight of the meeting. Nothing quite explains the scale and complexity of the project, nor inspires a knowledgeable scientist with the ITER mission, like an in-person tour of the Tokamak Complex. In short, ITER made a strong case for the value of international collaboration in the fusion research enterprise—a case that was well-received by the Committee members. As Director-General Bigot declared in his closing remarks to the group, 'the future of fusion—like the future of all big science—is partnership.

Europe-Japan tokamak
Isabelle and Jeanne are packing for Naka

Soon Isabelle and Jeanne will fly to Japan to be reunited with their sisters from France and Italy. "Isabelle" and "Jeanne" are two out of the ten toroidal field coils manufactured in France for the EU-Japan tokamak JT-60 SA. The components are part of France's contribution to the Broader Approach, the collaboration agreement that was signed between Europe and Japan in 2007 to support and complement the ITER Project with advanced research activities. JT-60SA—one pillar of the Broader Approach—will be used as a "satellite" facility of ITER to model proposals for optimizing plasma operation and to investigate advanced operating modes towards DEMO. Assembly is underway now under the coordination of the two Broader Approach implementing agencies—the European Domestic Agency for ITER (F4E) and QST Japan. France and Italy have shared the procurement of 20 toroidal field coils (18 + 2 spares) for JT-60SA. Since the word for "coil" is feminine in both French and Italian, each coil was christened with a feminine first name. In France, the Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA)—responsible for the procurement of 10 coils—chose to honour famous French movie actresses, beginning with "Annie" (Girardot) and ending with "Jeanne" (Moreau). In Italy, the ENEA (Ente per le nuove tecnologie, l'energia e l'ambiente) team responsible for the procurement of the remaining 10 coils, decided to give the coils they manufactured the names of their own daughters. The shipment of the JT-60SA toroidal field coils began with Annie, in late April 2016, who successfully making her 10-week sea voyage to Japan to reach the JT-60SA site at Naka. In order to reach Japan more quickly and accelerate assembly operations, Isabelle and Jeanne will travel by plane. Being both quite massive—a total of 30 tonnes each, including packing—they will soon be transported by one of the largest cargo planes available, an Antonov 124.

Cryostat Workshop
Lower cylinder and base take shape

The lower cylinder of the ITER cryostat represents only one-third of the whole component's height. Still—it dwarfs the men standing nearby. Both tiers of the cryostat lower cylinder are now in place, stacked one on top of the other. The lower tier is already fully welded, while the segments of the upper tier are being readied for welding operations. At the other end of the football-field-size Cryostat Workshop, the base of the cryostat is progressively taking shape. The base section—1,250 tonnes—is the single heaviest piece of the ITER machine. Its form can be compared to that of a deep soup plate, with a 20-metre-in-diameter base, vertical walls and a broad rim (1.30 metre wide and 30 metres in diameter). The lower portion of this sub-component (equivalent to the bottom of the soup plate) has been finalized. All non-destructive examination tests on the welds were completed, as well as all dimensional/tolerance tests. On the pedestal rim (the soup plate's rim) welding is now 50 percent complete. For the moment, the space between the two is empty—in other words, the plate has a bottom and a rim, but nothing connecting the two. 'By fitting what we call the 'main shell' only after the pedestal ring and the bottom of the base section are installed provides more flexibility for adjustments,' explains ITER cryostat engineer Guillaume Vitupier. Further explanation on the ongoing operations can be found in the gallery below.

Tokamak building
The undressing of the bioshield

More than two years ago in October 2015, concrete pouring began for one of the most striking structures of the entire construction site: the ITER bioshield, a massive cylindrical fortress that surrounds the machine and protects workers and the environment from the radiation generated by fusion reactions. As construction progressed, the nest-like structure became the defining feature of Tokamak Complex construction and an icon for the project as a whole. Pictures of the bioshield—taken from above in the slanted late evening light by drone or from a crane—have been a favourite of the media for the past two years. Until last week, however, what was visible of the bioshield was mostly ... the formwork that surrounded it—white and red moulds, scaffolding and platforms pressing against grey concrete and brown rebar. Now, the bioshield is fully formed and this equipment is not needed anymore. The structure is bare and its anatomy, now revealed, helps us better understand its function—how, for instance, penetrations of all sizes and shapes will allow neutral beam injectors, diagnostic systems and remote handling machinery to reach the heart of the machine. Covered or naked, the fortress remains imposing—a renewed emblem for a unique project.

Electricity supply
Power to the magnets

The 50-tonne box-shaped transformer hovers about a metre and a half above ground. In a carefully calculated procedure, a crane moves the device to its final destination—a concrete slab just outside one of the two Magnet Power Conversion buildings. Two days later, a second transformer is positioned on the opposite side of the building—this one weighing 20 tonnes. These are the first two transformers to be delivered out of a set of 18 procured by Korea from the company Hyosung. They will be integrated into a complex arrangement of equipment dedicated to converting the power supplied by the French grid to the voltage required for the operation of ITER's magnet system. The magnets will run on electricity with a specific configuration of low voltage and high current. In a sequence of two steps the voltage is first converted from 400 kV to 66 or 22 kV, and then to the voltage level required by the corresponding converters. For the larger transformer installed last week it will be approximately 1kV; for the smaller, the voltage required is 0.327 kV. The newly positioned transformers will come into action in the second step. The 20-tonne transformer will ensure electricity supply to the correction coils that will be inserted between the poloidal and toroidal field coils, while the 50-tonne transformer is linked to the plasma vertical stabilization circuit. Both the correction coils and the vertical stabilization coils will fine-tune the plasma inside the vacuum chamber. In a later step, the transformers outside the Magnet Power Conversion buildings will be linked to converter bridges or rectifiers on the inside. They function like adapters, converting the alternating current (AC) to direct current (DC) before it is fed into the tokamak to power the magnets. In April, the next four transformers will arrive from Korea; by May 2019, all Korean-produced transformers will be installed. Together with transformers procured by China, there will be 32 converter units to supply the ITER magnet system.


Not just for smart phone batteries

The chemical element lithium may just have found itself a new application. Scientists at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) and China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) have found that lithium powder can reduce periodic instabilities in plasma when used to coat tungsten surfaces in fusion devices. These instabilities are known as edge-localized modes (ELMs) and occur at the outer parts of the fusion plasma. ELMs develop regularly when the plasma enters what is known as high-confinement mode, or H-mode, which holds heat within the plasma more efficiently. ELMs can damage the divertor, a plasma-facing component that extracts heat and ash produced by the fusion reaction, and cause fusion reactions to fizzle. The researchers also found that it became easier to eliminate ELMs as the experiments progressed, possibly requiring less lithium as time went on. The results cause physicists to be confident that these techniques could also reduce ELMs in larger fusion devices that were designed to be compatible with lithium. Read the full article on the PPPL website here.

A new page for ITER news

The main webpage for ITER news has evolved. Follow this address——to find all the latest social media posts, announcements, articles, photos and videos. The page serves as an aggregator; from there you can consult the full archive of press articles on ITER, scroll through photo galleries, dig more deeply into the Newsline archive for a research topic, or click on our live site cam. Make it your bookmark today!


The Weather Network

Meet the scientists who want to harness the power of the Sun

Science News

50 years on, nuclear fusion still hasn't delivered clean energy (subscription only)


Jak sledovat plazma v termojaderného reaktoru


Fusion nucléaire : les bobines supraconductrices françaises prêtes pour le tokamak JT-60SA

Revista Empresarial EKA

Tico entre los 28 mejores científicos del mundo en fusión nuclear

Correio Do Estado

Universidades pesquisam criação de reator que produz energia com fusão nuclear

En kunstig sol og helium fra Månen: Sådan vil forskerne revolutionere

ITER Newsline and ITER Mag are publications of ITER Communication.
Suggestions are always welcome at