you're currently reading the news digest published from 31 Jan 2022 to 07 Feb 2022



Systems commissioning | Starting with the heat rejection system

Commissioning of the heat rejection system is well underway, clearing the path for all "client" systems. The heat rejection system is the third and final cooling loop at ITER, ultimately dissipating the full heat load from the plant during ITER operation. The heat rejection system serves the secondary cooling loop, which in turn serves the primary cooling loop and the auxiliaries—including coil power supply and electron cyclotron heating. As for the primary cooling loop, it serves the ITER Tokamak. 'Commissioning started in August 2021 when we received the turnover certificate,' says Thomas Pralus, the Cooling Water Engineer in charge of commissioning the heat rejection system. 'This formalized the transfer of ownership from the construction teams to the commissioning team within the Operations Division. Of course, we started what we call 'cold commissioning' a bit earlier. We did the loop checks, testing around 1,000 input/output signals—including temperature sensors, pressure and flow transmitters and vibration sensors that monitor the process during commissioning and, ultimately, during operation.' The team reached a major milestone in September. 'We started the first motors and demonstrated they worked in isolation. After performing this motor 'solo run test' we started 'warm commissioning,' coupling the motors with the pumps.' The first task was to mechanically align the motors to the pumps. The heat rejection system has 13 vertical pumps submerged in the 7-metre-deep basins and powered by electrical motors. From the cold basin, water is pumped to the heat exchangers, then to the cooling tower, and back to the basin to complete a closed loop. The team started running a single pump in November 2021. A week later they ran three pumps in parallel, reaching a flow rate of 4200 kilograms per second. 'We are now in what we call 'flushing' operation,' says Pralus. 'This is the first time we circulate water from our pipeline into our basin. Before passing through the plate heat exchangers, we want to be sure all the pipes are clean. To do this we bypass the heat exchangers and run the pumps to reach nominal velocity in the pipes to remove all the dirt. When we complete flushing in early 2022, we'll be able to integrate the plate heat exchangers, which will remove the heat load.' One big remaining task for the team is testing the 10 cooling towers. A lot of cold commissioning has already been done there, including all the instrumentation of the cooling tower fans; the next step is to start the fans. The main goal is to be ready for the first client, the cryoplant, which will start commissioning in 2022 and will require a cooling water system by mid-2022. Commissioning is also expected to begin on another secondary loop in 2022—the chilled water system loop—which will be used for the installation's HVAC needs. 'There will be a big increase in commissioning activities at that time, and all of it has to be done in parallel, by the same team,' says Thierry Menguy, Commissioning & Operations Management Officer. 'We only have a few commissioning engineers, so we have to be very well organized to get it all done. The very good news is that the operation team, consisting of principal shift operators and shift operators, is already in place and is currently supporting a lot the commissioning activities.' As commissioning continues for the heat rejection system, preparations are underway for commissioning of other secondary cooling water systems needed for First Plasma. 'All commissioning activities require documented test procedures,' says Menguy. 'We are currently preparing this documentation to be ready to begin.' If all goes according to plan, by the end of 2022, four secondary cooling water systems will have been fully tested in addition to the heat rejection system. Commissioning the control software Laura de Frutos Bolzoni, Control Systems Integration Engineer, is responsible for integrating the cooling water systems with the central control system CODAC. 'Commissioning the cooling water systems is a lot of work. These systems are very large-scale, covering the whole ITER platform. The heat rejection system is only one part of that.' To test the control system and its integration with CODAC, the commissioning team checks sensor by sensor, wire by wire, verifying that everything is well connected Then it checks all the inputs and outputs, and all the actuators. The team follows all these steps for each device of the cooling water system, before moving on to functional tests. 'We are just getting started with the functional tests now,' says de Frutos Bolzoni. 'Part of the job is to put operators in front of the new control system. This allows us to check several things, including human interaction, systems operability, alarms, and archiving. We test system robustness, making sure no data is lost under any conditions. We try to test all the scenarios—for example, what happens if the power is cut? If we find a problem, we try to address it immediately and find a solution.' 'During the tests we interact with many different stakeholders, requiring us to understand different perspectives. Control room operators see things differently than field operators, and the process people have a completely different perspective. We take our time, we listen, and we make sure that each part of the complex cooling water control system is working as it should.'

Electrical power | Strolling along the AC/DC boulevard

Electrical power is both familiar and mysterious. In our daily lives, we rarely think of the extensive production, transport, conversion and distribution infrastructure that lies behind every switch and wall socket. In a place like ITER, where electrical power has a visible and massive presence (think of the installation's four-hectare switchyard and its mammoth transformers), the distribution infrastructure and all its alien devices and strange contraptions are there for all to see, at least for the moment. And no place is stranger or more alien than the twin magnet conversion buildings, where AC power is converted into DC current, filtered, and smoothed before being delivered to the machine's magnetic system. If streetlights, water heaters and home appliances ran on DC current, ITER's twin magnet power conversion buildings could provide power to a city of 50,000 people. The clients for the infrastructure housed in these buildings, however, are not people but magnets—32 converter units, each weighing approximately 22 tonnes, dozens of corresponding 'reactors,' bridges to connect them, and kilometres of busbars are tasked with feeding the ITER tokamak's superconducting magnets ... all 10,000 tonnes of them. Like futuristic townhouses lining a boulevard, bizarre contraptions line up along the whole length of the buildings, inside and out, creating a most peculiar atmosphere. What are all these steel and electronic devices for? Only a specialist can tell. Along the 'avenues,' some blocks are identified by a sign printed in bold characters. This is an indication of what the equipment is destined for—the largest converter sets serving the most powerful coils such as the central solenoid or the 24-metre-in-diameter poloidal field coils, the smallest serving the much lighter corrections coils. The underground infrastructure is no less impressive. Originating in the cooling tower basins, a large-diametre piping network runs underneath the boulevards, ramifying into much smaller pipes and eventually emerging close to the electrical components. Because of the large amount of heat they generate, transformers, converters and reactors must be must be actively cooled at all times. When the installation is fully operational, cooling water will rush through the pipes and valves at the rate of close to 2,000 cubic metres per hour. 'Even electronic switches must be cooled,' explains David Stachler, the contract responsible officer for the installation of poloidal field coils units. 'This is clearly a challenge as water and electricity are not supposed to coexist in such close proximity.' Equipment installation began in the spring of 2019, shortly after the twin buildings were transferred from the European Domestic Agency Fusion for Energy, which built them, to the ITER Organization. Close to three years later, 82 percent of the required equipment for First Plasma has been installed. One of the buildings (tagged #33 in the ITER naming system) is now completely equipped while its twin (# 32) will only be fully installed after First Plasma. The full capacity of the buildings will only be needed when the project enters deuterium-tritium operations in 2035. An installation playing such a central role in ITER operation must of course be carefully tested before being commissioned. Beginning this summer, each converter will be connected to a dummy load outside the building to verify performance prior to its connection to a magnet coil. The system relies on tens of thousands of manually connected cables, but each set of converters is equipped with a 'DC disconnector' capable of shutting off the entire circuit in the case of an incident. When current begins to run through the converters, reactors and busbars, the buildings will be closed to human presence and strolling along the AC/DC boulevards will no longer be possible. A dense fibre optic network will link the control-command system to the power sources and magnets so that all operations can be performed remotely from the main ITER Control Building.

Configuration control | Masters of change hold 500th meeting

The ITER Configuration Control Board held its 500th meeting earlier this month. 'CCB,' as it is known at ITER, is at the centre of managing any changes to the technical configuration of the structures, systems and components of the ITER machine and plant. Configuration management describes the processes, activities, tools and methods that are used to manage the full lifecycle of a project. Through systems engineering processes all functional characteristics are documented, consistency is maintained, and the project's deliverables are protected from unauthorized change. With robust configuration management, project decisions related to design, development, operation and maintenance can be made on the basis of technical data that is not only consistent, but also controlled and validated. Exactly 14 years ago, in January 2008, the ITER Configuration Control Board gathered for the first time under the leadership of Eisuke Tada, current Deputy of the Director-General who was at that time Head of Project Office. Before that date, all design changes were brought before a Technical Management Board. The creation of a new board for configuration control was a sign of the importance top management placed on creating an integrated approach to handling project change requests and the recognition that, as the project moved forward, proper configuration management was integral to controlling cost, schedule and procurement. The idea was launched by Stefano Chiocchio, Design Integration & Configuration Control Section Leader at that time, who clearly saw the need for it. Every partner had proposals for detailed design changes to simplify, improve, or reduce costs, but very seldom were such proposals "stand-alone," with no implications for other equipment. Today the CCB is celebrating its 500th meeting. It has been a long journey marked by many challenges and one overriding preoccupation—the constant search for the most efficient methodology. 'Since we introduced a Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) tool to manage ITER configuration in 2015, the system is more challenging for users, who have had to upload all engineering data and rigorously determine their applicability and level of technical control. But it gives us the guarantee that all project change requests are properly implemented throughout the project,' says Benoit Salamon, Configuration Management Division Head since December 2021. 'There is no space for omission: if a document is listed as 'impacted' by a certain approved change request, the request is blocked for closure until the new revision appears. These highly interlinked and automatized checks ensure high-quality engineering processes.' The effort to populate the PLM tool with data is still a work in progress. More than 100,000 documents have been uploaded (beginning with those relating to First Plasma components and systems) and another few hundreds of thousands are expected by the deuterium-tritium phase. We still need to interlink the configuration management tool with other ITER databases or improve these connections. But we can already see the fruit of the enormous effort of the past years. 'The work accomplished so far is incredibly valuable and now we are taking it one step further, examining all missing items in the technical baseline and preparing a list of 'known unknowns,'' says Alain Becoulet, Head of the Engineering Domain and CCB Chair since 2020. 'We are finalizing a Project Change Request Forecast Roadmap—a list of changes that we know we still have to introduce for the proper operation of the machine.' The Configuration Control Board today is not only about project change requests; it has expanded to have oversight over other baseline-related issues, risks, and the resolution of some delivered-component non-conformities involving Domestic Agencies. We now have CCB meetings at three levels, from systems-level discussions right up to the level of the Director-General. What remains unchanged is the participation in discussions. The CCB remains a forum that involves the ITER Organization and the Domestic Agencies. Each person who has a direct interest in the system or component under discussion can connect and participate remotely in the deliberations (since COVID-19, there have been no in-person gatherings). Harry Bailey, configuration manager from the United States ITER Domestic Agency, speaks for all Domestic Agencies when he says, 'We are all strongly involved in the discussions at CCB, and also keep a vigilant eye on what we are doing and how. If we believe we can help, we initiate discussion on possible improvements. As ITER evolves as a project, critical issues and concerns evolve as well. Our mission is to ensure that CCB fulfils its role as 'configuration guardian.''


Webinar: Women in Big Science

On Friday, 11 February 2022—International Day of Women and Girls in Science—Fusion for Energy (F4E) and the Big Science Business Forum will be hosting a webinar on the role of Women in Big Science. The session will bring together representatives from big science organizations, industry and policy in Europe to discuss the potential of women in big science and some of the long-lasting challenges they face. The idea of an award promoting best practice involving women in big science will also be discussed. Registration is open here.


Initiatives aim to speed fusion deployment

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Fusion Technology Transfer Award: apply through 2 April 2022

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