you're currently reading the news digest published from 07 May 2019 to 13 May 2019



ITER physics school | Ten years of lectures now available

The lectures from ten ITER International Schools held since 2007 have been collected and are now available through a dedicated webpage on the ITER website. In anticipation of the beginning of ITER's construction, the Aix-Marseille University and the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) together with ITER Organization launched a series of "ITER International Schools," whose main goal is to offer advanced graduate students, recent PhDs, and young researchers a complete picture of both the theoretical and experimental aspects of tokamak physics. The school aims at preparing young researchers to tackle the current and anticipated challenges at magnetic fusion devices, and spreading the global knowledge required for the effective exploitation of ITER's scientific potential. The ITER International School (IIS) is jointly hosted and organized every two years by the Aix-Marseille University and the ITER Organization and alternates between Aix-en-Provence, France, and sites within the ITER Members. The first ITER school—in July 2007 in Aix-en-Provence, France—was organized on the topic of turbulent transport in fusion plasmas. Nine different editions have followed: Fukuoka, Japan, on magnetic confinement (2008); Aix-en-Provence on plasma-surface interactions (2009); Austin, Texas (US) on magneto-hydro-dynamics (2010); Aix-en-Provence on energetic particles (2011); Ahmedabad, India, on radio-frequency heating (2012); Aix-en-Provence on high performance computing in fusion science (2014); Hefei, China, on transport and pedestal physics in tokamaks (2015); Aix-en-Provence on the physics of disruptions and control (2017); and, finally, Daejeon (Korea) on physics and technology of power flux handling in tokamaks (2019). The next ITER International School is planned in Aix-en-Provence, France, in 2020. Over the last decade, the school has covered a very wide range of topics in the areas of experimental and modelling fusion physics and engineering. The choice of ''school format'' for IIS was adopted due to the need to prepare future scientists/engineers on a range of different topics and to provide them with a wide overview of the interdisciplinary skills required by the ITER Project. The lecturers at the schools are leading specialists from research organizations within the ITER Members and from the ITER Organization. Their lectures, together with the proceedings published for some school editions, represent a wealth of knowledge on fusion and ITER. The ITER Organization and Aix-Marseille University, supported by the organizers and lecturers at the past schools, have thus taken action to collect this priceless knowledge and make it accessible for future generations of fusion scientists and engineers, particularly for post-graduate students and young researchers who are the primary attendants of the schools. The ITER Organization and Aix Marseille University would like to warmly thank the school organizers and lecturers at the ten ITER International Schools for making the lectures available. Please see the new resource on the ITER website here.

Bookmark | The Future of Fusion Energy

To write about fusion is to walk a fine line between the temptation of lyricism and the arid demands of scientific accuracy. Whereas the general media tends to succumb to the first, fusion specialists rarely dare to depart from the second. Fusion is a highly complex field of research that encourages oversimplification. The principle may be simple, but the implementation is of mindboggling complexity. Fusion is the stuff of dreams—it is about 'bringing the power of the stars to Earth' and ensuring an endless supply of clean and safe energy for the eons to come. It also has its share of nightmarish challenges: how do you confine a star in a man-made machine ? How do you keep it burning? How do you 'capture' the energy it radiates? Both the lay writers addressing the general public and the specialists talking to their peers can answer these questions. But it takes a special talent to write about fusion without losing the interest the average reader or offending the physics PhD.Jason Parisi, of the University of Oxford, and Justin Ball, of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, have this talent. As young fusion scientists they 'see a massive disparity between the current state of the field and the descriptions available to the public.' The thick book they have just published, The Future of Fusion Energy (World Scientific) aims to 'bridge that gap,' and it succeeds. For the reader in a real hurry, the book's introductory pages summarize 'The case for fusion': fusion, Parisi and Ball write, 'is an attractive, sustainable solution to humanity's energy problems,' but also 'a massively complex problem that requires significant upfront investment.' Contrary to what fusion (and ITER) opponents claim, fusion has been underfunded for decades, the authors argue. Current funding for fusion is 'peanuts'—literally. (Subsidies for peanut farmers in the US are nearly double the entire budget of the Office of Fusion Energy Sciences.) Over twelve chapters, Parisi and Ball take the reader through a crash course on energy; its principles, as illustrated by numbers and graphs; fusion fundamentals; the state of the art (with a large section devoted to ITER, defined as 'one of the most ambitious science experiment ever'); and alternative approaches including stellarators and inertial confinement fusion experiments, as well as some of the unorthodox approaches of the private fusion startups. It would be excessive to say that the book reads 'easily.' It demands attention, but that attention is rewarded—the lay reader will enjoy the narrative flow and its touch of humour; the specialist will be satisfied with the equations contained in the 'tech boxes' that pepper the book. Fusion, the authors conclude, is 'one of the most exciting and consequential endeavours in human history.' After close to 400 pages, with or without 'tech boxes,' the reader clearly understands why. Jason Parisi and Justin Ball, The Future of Fusion Energy (World Scientific, 2019)

Image of the week |The shine of silver

All ITER components are precious. But some look more precious than others. A vacuum vessel sector, a toroidal field coil, a cryopump, or a divertor cassette are priceless pieces of high technology. But they could hardly pass for jewelry. The thermal shield could. Because its mission is to protect the tokamak's superconducting coils from thermal radiation, it is coated with the most efficient of 'low-emissivity' materials. And this material happens to be ... silver. Given the size of the thermal shield (approximately 2,000 square metres), a 5- to 10-micrometre-thick silver plating on both sides requires no less than 5 tonnes¹ of the precious metal—enough to make 625,000 sterling silver rings. A first finalized sector of the vacuum vessel thermal shield (sector #6) has left the SFA Engineering Corp in Changwon, Korea, to be delivered to ITER. ¹Five tonnes of silver will be required in the electroplating baths. The mass of silver coating the thermal shield panels is estimated at just under 800 kg total.

JT-60SA | "ITER satellite" to begin operating next year

In a major assembly milestone for the JT-60SA tokamak, the 12-metre-tall central solenoid was successfully installed by overhead crane on 8 May. Japanese television was there to film the operation. JT-60SA will begin operating in 2020 as a fully superconducting tokamak capable of confining high-temperature deuterium plasmas. The experiment—a major modification of the former JT-60U tokamak at the Naka Fusion Institute in Japan—is designed to address key physics for ITER and next-stage devices. Tokamak assembly has been underway since 2013 and will be completed in March of next year, with the first plasma planned in September 2020. The single heaviest component—the central solenoid—was lowered into the centre of the donut-shaped machine on 8 May (see videos below). Experts highlight the complementarity of the JT-60SA and ITER machines, which record overlaps in areas including magnet conductor design and testing, cryoplant design, in-vessel remote handling, and heating and current drive systems. By coming on line before ITER, JT-60SA will allow the exploration of ITER-relevant high density plasma regimes and the optimization of configurations for ITER and the next-phase device DEMO. (See more about the scientific objectives of JT-60SA here.) JT-60SA is financed jointly by Europe and Japan through the Broader Approach Agreement*, through implementing agencies Fusion for Energy (F4E) and the National Institutes for Quantum and Radiological Science and Technology (QST) of Japan. *The Broader Approach agreement was concluded between the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) and Japan in 2007 for advanced R&D activities which aim to complement the ITER project and to accelerate the realization of fusion energy. Learn more here. See a related article of the European Domestic Agency website here. See the video clips on TV channels Asahi and Ibaraki (in Japanese).

"Vigyan Samagam" | India showcases megascience

From micro to macro—specifically, from the India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO) that will study neutrino mass ordering events lasting 10-43 seconds, to the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), which has detected gravitational waves through the study of black holes and stars in merging events lasting a few billion years—seven of the world's mega-science projects came together last week for the launch of a major exhibition in Mumbai. Appropriately titled 'Vagyan Samagam,' from the Hindi words for 'science and confluence,' the exhibition will move from Mumbai to Bangalaru to Kolkata to Delhi over an 11-month period, raising awareness of ITER and other mega-science projects in which India plays a prominent role. Arun Srivastava, who is both the Chair of the ITER Council and the Head of the Institutional Collaboration and Program Division in India's Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), was one of the driving forces in bringing Vigyan Samagam from an idea to reality. The goal, he says, is for this traveling roadshow to 'provide a unique science communication platform, creating a bridge for further interaction between India and its global peers, and bolstering India's contribution to prestigious global science projects.' On a practical note, the expected attendance of millions of viewers will help make fundamental science accessible to the Indian public, highlight the value to Indian industry of being engaged in the cutting-edge technologies that support these mega-projects, and—above all—inspire the next generation of Indian scientists and engineers. The ITER Project was featured at a special session on Thursday 9 May. Attending dignitaries, audience members, and journalists alike remarked on the physical progress of the project, and the way in which ITER spans both fundamental research and the pragmatic objective of abundant energy. Vigyan Samagam is being sponsored by the DAE, the Department of Science and Technology, and the National Council of Science Museums. In addition to ITER and the other science projects mentioned above, the traveling conference and exhibition features CERN, the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), and the Facility for Antiproton and Ion Research (FAIR). Follow this link for a 19-minute interview with author and journalist Pallava Bagla: "India Hungry for Fusion Energy! ITER is Coming: Laban Coblentz, ITER," filmed on the site of the Vigyan Samagam exhibition.


Fusion diagnostic may help diagnose cancerous tumours

In his time at DIFFER (the Dutch Institute for Fundamental Energy Research) and the Swiss Plasma Center, fusion researcher Wouter Vijvers developed a novel imaging diagnostic known as MANTIS (Multispectral Advanced Narrowband Tokamak Imaging System). Today, as CEO of the fusion spin-off Chromodynamics, he is hoping to use his real-time imaging technique in applications such as medical diagnosis and industrial quality and process control. Imagine if a surgeon removing a malignant tumour from a patient could precisely see the contours of the tumour while operating. "Healthy tissues and malignant tissues have different chemical profiles, and this difference is what multispectral imaging will be able to capture and show," he explains. "Combine that with real-time capabilities, and a surgeon could see the image of the malignant tissue while operating to ensure complete removal." In the meantime, Vijvers is still using his technology to study the plasma edge. In a Cooperation Agreement signed in February with the ITER Organization, Chromodynamics is joining Dutch research institutes TNO and DIFFER as well as Active Space Technologies (Europe) to develop a diagnostic tool capable of measuring the impurity content of the plasma. See the full article on the EUROfusion website.

Magic metal, lithium, to be tested in LTX-β upgrade

Lithium, the light silvery metal used in everything from pharmaceutical applications to the batteries that power your smartphone or electric car, could also help harness fusion energy on Earth. Lithium can maintain the heat and protect the tokamak vessel walls, and it will be used to produce tritium, the hydrogen isotope that will combine with deuterium to fuel fusion. At the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) in the US, researchers have completed a three-year upgrade of the Lithium Tokamak Experiment, now called the Lithium Tokamak Experiment-Beta. This unique device will be able to test the ability of lithium to maintain the heat and protect the walls of the tokamak. Photo: Interior view of the Lithium Tokamak Experiment prior to the upgrade. See plans for the machine on the PPPL website.


2nd International Conference on Data Driven Plasma Science opens

太陽と同じ仕組みの核融合 実験施設建設進む

Eni and ENEA researching fusion together