17 Mar 2014 to 24 Mar 2014
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Concrete pouring begins for Tritium Building basemat
Concrete pouring for the basemat of the Tritium Building began on Wednesday 19 March. Close to 1,000 cubic meters of concrete were employed in filling a 638 square-metre plot (P14) in the north-east corner of the Tokamak Pit. As for the Diagnostics Building basemat, the section of the slab that will support the Tritium Building will be poured in three separate segments. The next two, plots 12 and 15, are scheduled for pouring in April. In the central area of the Tokamak Pit, where a combination of orthogonal and orthodradial rebar create a particularly tight and complex pattern, pouring should begin in late July and be completed in early October.
Six years later and still delivering
It's the longest running ITER Organization-Domestic Agency meeting at a technical level. For the last six years, the Domestic Agencies responsible for delivering ITER's high-tech superconductors have met twice a year to share experience, talk over challenges and mutualize technological expertise. Despite a multiplicity of ITER conductor types (poloidal field, toroidal field, central solenoid, correction coils, feeders), strand production sites (nine), conductor jacketing lines (five), and participating Members (China, Europe, Korea, Japan, Russia, US), the semi-annual Conductor Meeting has been able to promote synergies and enable constructive dialogue. And the results are tangible. At the Conductor Meeting organized on 18-20 March, Arnaud Devred, head of Superconductor Systems & Auxiliaries at ITER, reviewed the latest accomplishments. After five years of ramping up, strand production for the toroidal field conductors is almost completed. Nearly 480 tonnes of niobium-tin (Nb3Sn) strands (>100,000 km) have been registered in the Conductor Database and one producing Domestic Agency, Korea, has entirely completed its share. The cabling and jacketing of conductor unit lengths (ULs) is underway in the six Domestic Agencies involved. Sixty-three 760-metre ULs and twenty-six 415-metre ULs have been registered and are now stored for coil winding, an amount corresponding to approximately 12 toroidal field coils. Suppliers have also registered 185 tonnes of niobium-titanium (Nb-Ti) poloidal field strand, 20 tonnes of Nb-Ti strand for the correction coil and feeder conductors, and 25 tonnes of Nb3Sn strand for the central solenoid in the Conductor Database. China reports that it has completed half of the correction coil conductor ULs and two correction coil busbar conductors; Japan has completed one 613-metre UL and one 918-metre UL for central solenoid module CS3L. Over the years, the ITER Organization has validated 8,475 control points, relying on 29,550 strand critical current measurements. 'Thanks to the Conductor Database and close relationships between the ITER Organization and the Domestic Agencies, these control points were cleared in a timely manner, allowing industrial production to proceed worldwide,' says Arnaud. The next Conductor Meeting is planned for October 2014.
PPPL microwaves fight instabilities in DIII-D, KSTAR
PPPL collaborations have been instrumental in developing a system to suppress instabilities that could degrade the performance of a fusion plasma. PPPL has built and installed such a system on the DIII-D Tokamak that General Atomics operates for the US Department of Energy in San Diego and on the Korea Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research (KSTAR) facility in South Korea—and now is revising the KSTAR design to operate during extended plasma experiments. Suppressing instabilities will be vital for future fusion facilities such as ITER. The system developed on DIII-D and then installed on KSTAR aims high-power microwave beams at instabilities called islands and generates electrical current that eliminates the islands. The process links software-controlled mirrors to detection equipment, creating a system that can respond to instabilities and suppress them within milliseconds. 'It works like a scalpel that removes the island,' said PPPL physicist Raffi Nazikian, the head of the Laboratory's collaboration with DIII-D. Revising the unit on KSTAR calls for adding a water-cooling system to keep the mirrors that direct the high-power microwaves into the plasma from overheating. KSTAR's superconducting magnets can confine the plasma for up to 300 seconds during long-pulse experiments that reach temperatures far hotter than the 15-million degree Celsius core of the sun. 'Once you get beyond 10 seconds you have to remove the heat as you put it in,' said PPPL engineer Robert Ellis, who designed the copper and copper-and-steel mirrors. Ellis was part of a team of PPPL physicists and engineers who worked closely with their counterparts at General Atomics to develop the original system on DIII-D. PPPL Physicist Egemen Kolemen, an expert in plasma control, created much of the software that automatically steers the mirrors and directs the microwave beams to their target. PPPL engineer Alexander Nagy also shared responsibility for the system, providing onsite support in San Diego. The microwave beams not only remove instabilities, but enable researchers to mimic the way that the alpha particles produced by fusion reactions will heat the plasma in ITER. While current heating methods typically heat the ions in plasma, these microwave beams act on the electrons instead. This process parallels what will happen in ITER. 'By putting microwave power into the electrons,' Nazikian said, 'we can experimentally simulate and study how a fusion plasma will be heated in ITER.' The revised KSTAR unit will extend such research to long-pulse plasma experiments when work on the water-cooled mirrors is completed later this year. See the original article on the PPPL website.
Completed conductor leaves Russia
Two spools of completed toroidal field conductor left the premises of the Kurchatov Institute in Moscow, Russia, this week for transport to La Spezia, Italy. The spools each contained 760 metres of niobium-tin superconductor that will be integrated into regular double pancakes for the powerful D-shaped ITER toroidal field coils at a winding line in La Spezia, Italy (ASG Superconductor). In addition to the winding stage, the pancakes will be heat treated, electrically insulated and transferred into the grooves of stainless steel radial plates. At the end of the coil manufacturing process, the completed toroidal field coils will be transported to ITER.
A five-storey "Diagnostic Hotel"
Diagnostic instruments will be distributed throughout the ITER vacuum vessel, as near as possible to the plasma in order to capture information for plasma control, machine protection, and an understanding of plasma physics. But the back ends—the electronic and information systems that will receive, record and interpret signals from the operational arena—must be situated at a distance, well protected from the nuclear and thermal loads of the Tokamak. In February work was completed on the concrete basemat for the Diagnostics Building, a 40 x 80 metre, five-storey structure that will house most of the back-end systems for ITER diagnostics. Situated outside of the bioshield that will surround the ITER Tokamak, but part of the same suite of buildings to be built on nuclear foundations in the Seismic Pit, the Diagnostics Building will remain accessible to technicians. 'On an average day, no frequent human intervention will be necessary within the Diagnostics Building,' explains Victor Udintsev, who leads the Common Port Plug and Engineering Sub-Section. 'Data coming from the diagnostics will be monitored from the Control Room, where approximately 20 percent of operators will be assigned to diagnostics. But technicians can enter the building and spend time in the event that repairs or testing are necessary.' Walking through the hallways of the Diagnostic Building would feel a little like walking along the corridors of a hotel—flanked on every side by closed doors with room numbers and the names of the systems enclosed within. 'One room has typically been reserved for every system,' says Victor. 'Behind the doors, you'd find the complete back-end systems, including electrical cubicles, electronics, computers and control units.' And, despite its name, in addition to back-end diagnostics the Diagnostics Building will also house CODAC and other systems. Diagnostic signals will be transported out of the Tokamak an average of 25 metres, and in some cases as much as 40 metres, along waveguides, cables or fibre optics. Each central floor of the Diagnostics Building is built to match a level of the vacuum vessel (lower, equatorial or upper). Construction will start this year on the Diagnostics Building and is slated to last approximately two years. In late February, a meeting was held to review the space allocations, interfaces, geometrical conflicts and possible mitigation measures for Level L2 of the building; this work will be pursued level-by-level before construction can begin. Diagnostic Engineer Thibaud Giacomin is charged with the integration of many of the back-end systems into the Diagnostics Building. 'We will have diagnostic systems coming from all seven ITER Domestic Agencies; in addition to the systems, they will deliver the electronics, the control systems and the software. We need to define the location of each diagnostic; we need to think about all the services needed for the equipment (gas, power, water); and we need to evaluate the weight of each part and provide this data for the building in order to make all the necessary calculations, for example seismic calculations.' 'One of the greatest challenges for our team is the alignment of diagnostic schedules with those of building construction and machine assembly,' says Victor. 'We must have all Domestic Agencies on board for maximum coordination. We are confident that we will succeed.'
Contract signed for seven ITER buildings
ITER construction is accelerating thanks to the signature of two contracts between Fusion for Energy, the EU body that manages Europe's contribution to ITER, and the Spanish consortium Ferrovial Agroman. The contracts, worth approximately EUR 40 million, cover the design and construction of seven buildings, part of the 39 buildings that will make up the ITER infrastructure. Under the first contract, Ferrovial Agroman will build two buildings for magnetic power conversion, each with an area of 4,900 m2 and a volume of 39,000 m3. They will house components manufactured by China, Russia and Korea that will convert alternating current to direct current for the ITER magnets. The contract also covers the construction of a smaller building for the reactive power compensation system. Under the second contract, Ferrovial Agroman will design and build the cooling tower and hot/cold basins. The basins—with a total volume of 26,000 m3 (or the size of ten Olympic swimming pools)—will store the cooling water that will travel in and out of the ITER machine during operation. Additional buildings will be constructed for cooling water system pumps and pipes, water treatment and heat exchangers. 'ITER construction is reaching a turning point,' commented F4E Director Henrik Bindslev after the signatures. 'More companies are participating, more workforces are being deployed and more progress is being made on one of the busiest worksites in Europe.' Ferrovial Agroman is also part of the consortium (with Vinci and Razel-Bec) that is responsible for the construction of the Tokamak Complex and nine ancillary buildings. 'These two contracts offer Ferrovial Agroman the opportunity to be further involved in ITER and establish itself as one of the most committed contractors,' said company CEO Alejandro de la Joya. 'We are extremely proud to be part of the most ambitious international collaboration in the field of energy.' Please visit the F4E website for the full article and press release.
Making synthetic diamond crystals in a plasma reactor
Diamonds are highly sought after as jewelry and as a form of capital investment. They are also prized by the research community, but not because of their brilliance or symbolic significance — it is their physical properties that make these gems precious to scientists. Diamonds are extremely hard, have unrivaled thermal conductivity and have a broadband spectral transparency that stretches from ultraviolet to far infrared, making them the ideal material for a host of different applications. Consequently, there is a large market for synthetic diamonds: they can cut through steel as if it were paper, dig their way through the earth on the tips of drilling heads, are used as scalpels in operations and can act as bio-electrochemical sensors for detecting substances such as DNA. Read more here.
Indian community celebrates Holi festival
Holi Hai!! Holi, the Indian festival of colours (also known as the festival of love), is a celebration of the arrival of Spring. The festival symbolizes happiness and brings together families and friends for delicious food and lots of fun. On Sunday, 16 March near Manosque, nearly 50 people—ITER staff from India, friends and families—gathered to celebrate this most colourful holiday.
Assembly Building: heavy tools to come
Song and games at Korea Day
Eureka! How a magic doughnut that fakes the sun could save our planet.
Magnetic behavior discovery could advance nuclear fusion
The Future May Be Getting Close to Reality in Vancouver, With D-Wave and General Fusion
ITER construction gathers momentum
Interview mit Markus Haider von der TU Wien