Managing ITER publications: a job for the professionals

Behind every large science project, there is a mountain of scientific text published in the form of abstracts, journal articles, papers and presentations.
ITER is no different: since the beginning of conceptual design work and continuing to this day, scientists involved in the project have regularly published scientific and technical updates in academic journals and presented written material at conferences.

The ITER Organization needs to ensure that this material that goes out „in ITER’s name” has followed proper review channels and that it does, indeed, accurately represent the project. „Material presented for publication must follow specific ITER Organization procedures,” stresses Saroj Das, ITER librarian. „These procedures are meant to verify that the publications contain no copyright or intellectual property issues, and that other legal issues like the disclaimer have been handled properly.”

The Document Control Centre at ITER is in charge of publication services. All material to be published—whether authored by ITER Organization staff, or co-authored with Domestic Agency staff or collaborators of the two institutions—must be submitted to an internal review and approval process. These materials are centrally stored for archival purposes, and organized in the ITER Document Management System where authors can keep track of the status and history of each publication.

To ensure that ITER’s publication procedure is followed and that publications are in line with the ITER Baseline, a Publication Board has been constituted of technical representatives from every ITER Directorate. Any written material with potential intellectual property or export control implications is forwarded by the Board to the appropriate bodies.

„Our role is an important one, since the material published on ITER in these scientific and technical works is reported to the world,” says Dhiraj Bora, chairman of the Publication Board. „We also try to sort out delicate issues such as authorship.” The Board Chair, who has the delegated responsibility of approving all ITER-related scientific or technical publications, signs the final Permission to Publish form when the material has completed the internal review process.

For the largest annual or biennial fusion conferences, dedicated review boards are created with representatives of the ITER Organization and the Domestic Agencies. These review boards can receive hundreds of documents. „For the 27th Symposium on Fusion Technology in September (SOFT 2012),” says Saroj, „we have already received 46 abstracts from ITER Organization staff, and 78 abstracts from the Domestic Agencies.”

A new class of publication will soon be available through the ITER website. ITER Technical Reports—in-depth documents on scientific and technical activities concerning the project—are aimed toward the broader technical and scientific community. The regular publication of these reports will significantly increase the documentation on the ITER project accessible through the web.

F4E to study non-destructive testing technologies

Testing components in a rigorous manner and identifying possible improvements before assembling them is a fundamental step in a project as technologically complex as ITER. The need for leading expertise and knowledge transfer is high on the agenda.
In line with the above considerations, a framework contract has been signed between ITER’s European Domestic Agency Fusion for Energy (F4E) and TWI Ltd, the World Centre for Materials Joining Technology, for a maximum value of EUR 800,000 over a period of four years. TWI will provide F4E with know-how through engineering studies, assessments, technical audits and qualification procedures in the area of joining of components and non-destructive testing technologies.
The results will feed into the manufacturing processes of key structural components like the vacuum vessel and magnets, in-vessel components and the remote handling systems. In addition, modelling activities will be carried out in the areas of heat transfer, prediction of distortions and residual stresses. 

F4E has already identified that the first engineering activities will concern the vacuum vessel and the toroidal field coils. A task on friction coefficient testing is envisaged for the vacuum vessel, while the quality of the welding procedure will be assessed for the toroidal field coils.

Plasma fingers point to the taming of the ELM

New images from the MAST device at Culham Centre for Fusion Energy could find a solution to one of the biggest plasma physics problems standing in the way of the development of fusion power.
MAST, the Mega Amp Spherical Tokamak, is the first experiment to observe finger-like lobe structures emanating from the bottom of the hot plasma inside the tokamak’s magnetic chamber. The information is being used to tackle a harmful plasma instability known as the edge localized mode, which has the potential to damage components in future fusion machines, including the key next-step ITER device.

Edge localized modes (ELMs) expel bursts of energy and particles from the plasma. Akin to solar flares on the edge of the Sun, ELMs happen during high-performance mode of operation (’H-mode’), in which energy is retained more effectively, but pressure builds up at the plasma’s edge. When the pressure rises, an ELM occurs—ejecting a jet of hot material. As the energy released by these events strike material surfaces, they cause erosion which could have a serious impact on the lifetime of plasma-facing materials.
One way of tackling the problem is ELM mitigation—controlling the instabilities at a manageable level to limit the amount of harm they can do. MAST is using a mitigation technique called resonant magnetic perturbation; applying small magnetic fields around the tokamak to punch holes in the plasma edge and release the pressure in a measured way. This technique has been successful in curbing ELMs on several tokamaks.
The lobe structures that have recently been observed in MAST are caused by the resonant magnetic perturbation, which shakes the plasma and throws particles off course as they move around the magnetic field lines in the plasma, changing their route and destination. Some particles end up outside the field lines, forming finger-like offshoots near the base of the plasma. Changing the shape of a small area of the plasma in this way lowers the pressure threshold at which ELMs are triggered. This should therefore allow researchers to produce a stream of smaller, less powerful ELMs that will not damage the tokamak.
First predicted by US researcher Todd Evans in 2004, the lobes—known as homoclinic tangles—were seen for the first time during experiments at MAST in December 2011, thanks to the UK tokamak’s excellent high-speed cameras. CCFE scientist Dr Andrew Kirk, who leads ELM studies on MAST, said: „This could be an important discovery for tackling the ELM problem, which is one of the biggest concerns for physicists at ITER. The aim for ITER is to remove ELMs completely, but it is useful to have back-up strategies which mitigate them instead. The lobes we have identified at MAST point towards a promising way of doing this.”
The lobes are significant for another reason; they are a good indicator of how well the resonant magnetic perturbation is working: „The length of the lobes is determined by the amount of magnetic perturbation the plasma is seeing,” explains Dr Kirk. „So the longer the 'fingers,’ the deeper the penetration. If the fingers are too long, we can see that it has gone too far in and will start to disturb the core, which is what we want to avoid.”
The next phase of the research will involve developing codes to map how particles will be deposited and how the lobes will be formed around the plasma.
„We already have codes that can determine the location of the fingers but we cannot predict their length due to uncertainties in how the plasma reacts to the applied perturbations. Our measurements will allow us to validate which models correctly take this plasma response into account,” said Dr Kirk. „New codes will mean we can produce accurate predictions for ITER and help them tame the ELM."

Click here for the pdf of this press release.

Japanese artist creates stunning Lego Tokamak

Forget about tungsten, beryllium, niobium-tin and other exotic materials—the new trend in tokamak design these days is plastic.
The learned public was introduced to this new concept in the June issue of Scientific American. The US monthly’s four-page article titled „Fusion’s missing pieces” was illustrated with a stunning cutaway of a partially completed ITER Tokamak made of … Lego bricks.

All parts were in place, clearly visible and perfectly rendered in spite of the limitations of the Lego bricks’ sharp edges: a D-shaped toroidal field coil suspended from a crane, the central solenoid, sections of the vacuum vessel, blanket modules, the divertor, feeders …

This 8,000-piece ITER mockup was both a technical achievement and a piece of art. It is the work of Japanese Lego bricks artist Sachiko Akinaga, who began playing with Legos at age 5 and later developed her hobby into an artistic quest.

„As a little girl in Tokyo,” she says, „I would never tire playing with Legos. It gave me a lot of confidence and joy. I could not believe I could create objects that I had first pictured in my mind …”

A graduate of the Toyo Institute of Art and Design in Tokyo, Sachiko has come a long way from what she considers her first work of Lego art: a box of tissues decorated with Indians dancing around a signal fire, a pond, and a crocodile that she created in 2002.

Over the years her work has evolved into a more and more sophisticated form of expression, culminating with her now-famous Let’s go to the Earth Park!”—an impressive project made with about 40,000 Lego bricks.

Last year, when the The New York Times decided to illustrate its winter travel issue with a logo made of Legos, representatives at the Lego Group led the newspaper’s editors to Sachiko.

Although it included only 15,000 blocks, the Lego structure was four times larger than her „Earth Park.” The artist confided to The New York Times that she worked for eleven days on the logo, including „many days nonstop, in 16-hour shifts”…

The iconic „T” logo (in gothic font) appealed to Sachiko for what she calls a „secret reason”: it also stands for the word tanoshi, which means „fun” in Japanese.

The New York Times cover caught the eye of several art directors and magazine editors in the US, among them those at Scientific American.

„Editors there gave me a cutaway view of the ITER Tokamak and a link to the ITER website. Needless to say, I knew absolutely nothing about fusion energy. Understanding the structure of a tokamak was very difficult. Basically, I used five images from the ITER web site.”

As with every Lego creation, the hardest part in building the ITER model was to make the rounded shapes—and there are many in a tokamak. Overcoming this difficulty owes as much to Sachiko’s technique as to inner workings of the viewer’s brain. „Legos create what is very close to a pixelated effect that the human eye and brain smooth out,” explains the artist. „When you look at an angled sphere made with bricks, your brain makes it appear round. I find this mental process very exciting …”

Sachiko’s rendition of the ITER Tokamak is both realistic and naïve, as a Lego construction should be. There are workers pushing a trolley loaded with pipes; others signalling to a crane operator with both hands as the delicate operation of installing a toroidal field coil is proceeding.

Of course, it won’t happen exactly this way during the assembly of the machine. Like all artists, Lego artists are entitled to some poetic license.

Swiss industry offers "niche competence"

As a member of Euratom, Switzerland has been involved in the European fusion program and ITER from the start. And the country’s interest in fusion is not only scientific. Last week, on Wednesday 20 June, 18 representatives from the Swiss industry came to the ITER site to see the project’s physical progress, but also to get a first-hand update on upcoming procurements and tenders.
„There are not so many opportunities for Switzerland to participate in the building of ITER’s largest components,” said Michel Hübner, ITER Liaison Officer for Switzerland. „But Switzerland has some recognized niche competencies in the domain of complex electro-mechanical systems. We are therefore looking for matching tenders to be issued from F4E, other Domestic Agencies, or the ITER Organization over the next years. Some Swiss companies have already joined their forces and created consortiums in anticipation of ITER’s demand.”
The delegation’s visit to the ITER construction site was preceded by an off-site meeting during which senior representatives from the ITER Organization reported on the design and manufacturing status of the major components. Philippe Olivier from the Industry Liaison Office within Agence ITER France and Kurt Ebbinghaus from the German ITER Industry Forum (DIIF) also participated in this event.

10th ITER Council held in Washington D.C.

During its tenth meeting held on 20-21 June in Washington D.C., the ITER Council acknowledged a number of positive advancements for the project, noting, in particular, the progress of ITER construction and licensing.
The Council stressed that respecting the project schedule within cost remains a critical issue and that reported slippages need rapid correction; it also noted that the ITER Organization and the seven Domestic Agencies are working together on these corrections. Relative to schedule issues, decisions were taken regarding the manufacturing of some major ITER Tokamak components.
This meeting took place in the Ronald Reagan building, which is fitting given the fact that ITER was born out of the shared vision of Secretary General Gorbachev and President Reagan at the Geneva Summit in 1985. This ITER Council was the first chaired by Dr. Hideyuki Takatsu of Japan, who began his term as ITER Council Chair on 1 January 2012.
The Director-General Osamu Motojima thanked all ITER Members for their proactive and forward looking contributions and their much appreciated encouragement. The ITER Organization will keep continuing to promote the ITER project together with its seven Domestic Agencies,” Motojima stressed.

Read the ITER Council Press Release in English and in French.

Heavy breathing

Remind you of something? This Darth Vader-like structure sitting on the roof of the Poloidal Field Coils Winding Building is one of several exhaust fans that will suck air out of the vast building. Heavy breathing indeed…

Iter council has been held in Washington DC

During its tenth meeting held on 20-21 June in Washington D.C., the ITER Council acknowledged a number of positive advancements for the project, noting, in particular, the progress of ITER construction and licensing.

The Council stressed that respecting the project schedule within cost remains a critical issue and that reported slippages need rapid correction; it also noted that the ITER Organization and the seven Domestic Agencies are working together on these corrections. Relative to schedule issues, decisions were taken regarding the manufacturing of some major ITER Tokamak components.

This meeting took place in the Ronald Reagan building, which is fitting given the fact that ITER was born out of the shared vision of Secretary General Gorbachev and President Reagan at the Geneva Summit in 1985. This ITER Council was the first chaired by Dr. Hideyuki Takatsu of Japan, who began his term as ITER Council Chair on 1 January 2012.

Read the full text of the Tenth ITER Council press release.
Read the press release in French.

Predicting the neutrons’ impact

US ITER researchers at the University of Wisconsin and Oak Ridge National Laboratory are developing advanced processes to assess ITER’s unique tokamak components and materials in the presence of the tremendous amount of neutron flux and energy released by fusion reactions. The process, called neutronics analysis, involves a palette of complex computational codes and libraries for predicting neutron impacts.

Clikc here to read more.

80 percent of in-kind construction value under contract

During this week’s meeting of the ITER Council in Washington, four Procurement Arrangements were signed between the ITER Organization and Domestic Agencies, taking the total in-kind procurement value of ITER construction to the 80 percent mark.

Number one was the Procurement Arrangement for ITER’s Pulsed Power Electrical Network (PPEN), which will supply alternating current (AC) power to the machine’s superconducting coils and its heating and current drives. This mighty power source will be procured by China. The PPEN will absorb 500 MW and 200 Mvar pulsed power for the pre-programed physics scenarios and plasma current, position and shape control. The power will be distributed from three main 66kV busbars and three main 22 kV busbars that will normally operate uncoupled from one another.
The loads connected to PPEN are mainly large thyristors based AC/DC converters rated typically in the range from 5 to 90 MVA.

Most of the large and dynamic loads are directly fed from the 66 kV busbars, that is to say the AC/DC converters feeding the superconducting magnet coils and the neutral beam system providing plasma current. The loads with relatively lower power (normally less than 20 MVA/unit) are fed from the 22 kV busbars.
The Procurement Arrangement signed with the Chinese Domestic Agency comprises the manufacture, inspection, testing, packaging, shipping and provision of on-site technical assistance during the onsite assembly, the subsequent acceptance tests and the commissioning and integration of the items; this applies to all the items, structures, materials and mechanical and electrical facilities for the new 400 kV substation and the transformers associated with the 400/66/22 kV supplies and the 66/22 kV items and cable.

The second Procurement Arrangement signed in Washington concerned the low field side reflectometer. This diagnostic system will monitor electron density and aid in the assessment of fusion performance. Understanding and monitoring electron density profile evolution and density fluctuations is essential for assessing the stability of fusion performance inside a tokamak.

Along with Victor Udintsev from the ITER Organization, Greg Hanson of Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Fusion Energy Division and Tony Peebles of the University of California at Los Angeles have been working on the conceptual design of the reflectometer with an international team that includes staff from ITER; the University of California, Los Angeles; Oak Ridge; and the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory.

ITER’s complex diagnostics are configured at ports in the vacuum chamber around the plasma vessel, monitoring and providing data over time of the evolution of plasma properties such as electron density and temperature. Besides providing data on the electron density profile evolution, the new reflectometer will monitor small-scale density turbulence and larger-scale magneto hydrodynamic modes inside the plasma, such as fast-ion driven instabilities. Such instabilities can cause the plasma to lose heat, particles, and momentum. It is important for the safety of the ITER device to understand and monitor the amplitude and spatial distribution of these instabilities, so that researchers can project forward to the next-stage fusion reactor.

Wednesday, 20 June also witnessed the signature of the first of four Procurement Arrangements that are to be signed for the procurement of ITER’s powerful 1MW microwave sources (gyrotrons). This week’s Procurement Arrangement was signed with the Russian Domestic Agency, which will be providing 8 of the 26 gyrotrons installed on ITER. Each gyrotron generates roughly the equivalent of 1,000 microwave ovens in a relatively compact single tube roughly 2 m in height and ≤50 cm in width. The Russian scientific teams have extensive experience in developing gyrotrons of various powers and frequencies for research facilities around the world.

Part of ITER’s electron cyclotron team had the chance last year to visit the Russian laboratories and witness the highly reliable operation of the gyrotron for near 1MW output power and pulse lengths of >600sec. The Russian teams in Nihzny and Moscow have produced several ITER-like prototype tubes that have demonstrated performance equivalent to ITER operation needed for the Q≥10 / 15MA scenario. The first gyrotron is planned to be delivered to the ITER site in France in early 2016 and will be used to generate the spark to start the very first plasma in ITER.

Last but not least, an amendment to the Procurement Arrangement on the Vacuum Ultra-Violet (VUV) Edge Imaging Spectrometer was signed. The primary role of the Core Survey VUV system is to monitor all impurities in the main plasma.
The primary role of the Divertor VUV spectrometer is to monitor impurities in the Divertor, especially Tungsten lines around 25 nm. These PA amendments complete the scope of the Korean Domestic Agency for VUV spectroscopy.

We would like to thank Lynne Degitz (US Domestic Agency), and the ITER responsible officers for these Procurement Arrangements Jose Gascon, Caroline Darbos, Mark Henderson and Robin Barnsley, for their contribution to this article. 

A long-expected letter

The official letter from the French Safety Authority (Agence de sûreté nucléaire – ASN) that the ITER Organization received on 20 June marks a major milestone in a lengthy, complex and demanding process that began a year and a half ago.

After months of in-depth technical examination, the ASN has judged that the ITER Organization’s proposal on the operational conditions and design of the installation fulfils the expected safety requirements at this stage of the licensing process.

In simpler words, this is the long-expected green light meaning that the French government authorizes the construction of ITER. 

Licensing a nuclear installation takes considerable time, requires the production of thousands of pages of technical documents, and mobilizes scores of experts and institutions. ITER is the first fusion facility to undergo this licensing procedure in France.

As a consequence, at decisive stages in the procedure like the one announced this week, there is a feeling of deep satisfaction among all those who were involved in the process.

In practical terms, a peer committee of ASN and ITER Safety, Quality & Security experts will now work on drafting the decree that will be submitted to the French government’s signature. This highly detailed document can be described as „the safety contract” that will bind the ITER Organization (as nuclear operator) and the French State for the whole duration of the installation’s lifetime.

The final decree that should be signed by the French President or his Prime Minister is expected to be issued in the last months of 2012.

F4E launches new Industry Portal

F4E’s new Industry Portal is now available. This new portal, the entry point for companies and associations who want to answer F4E Calls for Tender, has undergone a complete refurbishment so that users have a quicker and more efficient way of sharing their information. The portal also offers increased networking opportunities among industry and the opportunity to search and find relevant business partners or sub-contractors whilst enjoying improved security.

A one-stop shop where all F4E business Calls for Tender and announcements are published, the new Industry Portal has been especially developed to foster an interactive, dynamic relationship between European industry and F4E. Users can create a profile and register their company using pre-existing online forms. This information is then checked as part of pre-qualification process in order to ensure that basic data needed to be identified by F4E or other industry as a potential partner are given. Pre-qualified suppliers can re-use the corporate information they have submitted, including financial data, when applying for future Calls for Tender.

In order to allow users to familiarize themselves with the new features of the Industry Portal as quickly as possible, five tutorials are available on the portal site. 

Access the new F4E Industry Portal by clicking here.

ITERminator wins first ITER robot contest

Ten or fifteen years from now, some of the students from the neighbouring schools may wish to work at ITER or in one of the many fusion labs around the world paving the way towards fusion energy. So why not get an early start and begin training for, let’s say — remote handling?

Such was the idea behind the First Student Robot Contest (Premier concours scolaire de robotique) that Agence Iter France and the ITER Organization jointly organized this Tuesday, 19 June. The contest was based on a simulation of a real-life situation, one that will occur over the 20-year course of ITER operation: the remote-handled removal of selected blanket modules from the inner wall of the vacuum vessel, followed by transport of the modules to the nearby Hot Cell Facility.

Students from the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur International School in Manosque and from nearby Collège (junior high) Pierre-Gardot in Sainte-Tulle—all aged 13 or 14—had accepted to take on the challenge.

As both teams performed the last adjustments to their robot, ITER Assembly & Operations Division Head Ken Blackler addressed the contenders. „ITER will be the first fusion machine to produce a burning plasma. Because of the resulting radiation, it will be impossible for humans to enter the vacuum vessel. We will need many robots…”

Although simplified to the extreme, the remote handling operations were quite challenging for the small school-made robots. Both robots, ITERminator 5.1 from the Sainte-Tulle team and RTX Ariane 26 from the Manosque team had to follow a specific path, materialized by black lines on the floor. The path led to a mockup of the ITER Tokamak in the centre of the stage, where the robots needed to pick up a small plastic piece representing a four-ton blanket module, pivot, and head back to a black box representing the Hot Cell Facility to deposit the blanket module.

The robots had to perform the operation three times on three different modules. Instructions on the final module were given only at the last moment, requiring the teams to program their robot in the heat of the action.

As the robot from the International School began its journey toward the mockup, it became clear that something was wrong with its electronic brain. RTX Ariane 26 experienced serious difficulty in following the lines, seemingly preferring „freestyle” to compulsory figures. Despite a last-minute reboot, it never quite managed to fulfil its mission.

True to its name, ITERminator 5.1 proved invincible: its performance was nearly faultless and brought to the Sainte-Tulle Junior High a clear victory.

The competition was just a game and, as such, „the essential was not to have won but to have fought well …”

There was a moral, however, to be drawn from the experience. „You can do something great on paper,” Ken Blackler told the contenders, „but the real test is in the confrontation with reality. Things rarely work the first time.”

In the young students’ efforts, co-host Alain Becoulet, head of CEA’s Institute for Magnetic Fusion Research, saw the reflection of „two of the greatest challenges in fusion research”: the necessity of working together on one same object, and the necessity of being patient. „In fusion,” he said, „the timescale is larger than an individual’s lifespan…”

Schedule and cost "critical issues" says 10th ITER Council

During its tenth meeting held on 20-21 June in Washington D.C., the ITER Council acknowledged a number of positive advancements for the project, noting, in particular, the progress of ITER construction and licensing.

The Council stressed that respecting the project schedule within cost remains a critical issue and that reported slippages need rapid correction; it also noted that the ITER Organization and the seven Domestic Agencies are working together on these corrections. Relative to schedule issues, decisions were taken regarding the manufacturing of some major ITER Tokamak components.

This meeting took place in the Ronald Reagan building, which is fitting given the fact that ITER was born out of the shared vision of Secretary General Gorbachev and President Reagan at the Geneva Summit in 1985. This ITER Council was the first chaired by Dr. Hideyuki Takatsu of Japan, who began his term as ITER Council Chair on 1 January 2012.

Read the full text of the Tenth ITER Council press release.
Read the press release in French.

Cooling water: last preliminary design review

Nearly all of the heat generated during ITER operation, whether it be from the fusion reaction, auxiliary systems, electrical cabinets, (or even warm bodies!) will be collected by the Component Cooling Water System (CCWS) or the Chilled Water System (CHWS). These systems subsequently reject the heat to the atmosphere, either directly or via ITER’s Heat Rejection System (HRS).

Although the CCWS and CHWS systems use standard, proven technology, the design of the systems is highly complex. The systems will serve a wide variety of clients, all with different requirements and with designs at different levels of maturity. Approximately 200 unique interface documents are required to define the CCWS and CHWS interfaces with clients, buildings, and services. 

The design and procurement of these systems is under the responsibility of the Indian Domestic Agency. On 11-14 June, the preliminary design review for the CCWS and CHWS cooling water systems was held in Cadarache, gathering representatives from the ITER Organization, the Indian Domestic Agency, and experts in the field. One of the experts was Warren Curd, former Cooling Water Section leader, who travelled from China where he is currently a construction coordinator for two of the first Westinghouse AP1000 reactors to be built.

Sekhar Basu, chief executive at the Department of Atomic Energy in India, was chairman of the Design Review. During a meeting of the review panel on the final day of the review, he received a phone call informing him that he had just been appointed Director of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), India’s premier nuclear research facility, based in Mumbai.  This announcement was greeted with a spontaneous round of applause and congratulations from the panel members.

One of the important topics discussed during the review was the approach taken to seismic design of the system piping which will crisscross the site and be installed in nearly every building. „While the analytical approach we took was satisfactory, this meeting gave participants the opportunity to ensure agreement on assumptions and inputs so that safety, regulatory, and investment protection goals are met,” says Prashant Wani, project engineer for Tata Consulting Engineers, who performed preliminary design on behalf of the Indian Domestic Agency.

A few other key issues, inherent to this stage of design, were identified during the review. Following the resolution of these issues and one last review of interfaces, the next step will be for ITER-India to launch a call for tender to select an engineering and procurement contractor to perform final design and procurement of piping and equipment.

The first shipment of piping is due on site in the summer of 2014.

The preliminary design review of the Tokamak Cooling Water System (TCWS) and the Heat Rejection System (HRS) took place in March 2012.

Positive results with new wall materials at PSI 2012

From May 21-25, a very successful Plasma-Surface Interactions (PSI) conference was held in the historic city of Aachen, Germany, which houses Roman baths and is known as „The Emperor’s City” due to its status as Charlemagne’s favourite place of residence.

The conference, which is held every two years, focuses on the region of the fusion plasma that is closest to the inner wall of the containment vessel, exploring both how the wall is affected and how the plasma responds to the release of wall material. Approximately 400 people came from all of the ITER Member countries, with the number of participants quadrupling since 1980, reflecting the importance of plasma-surface effects in high-performance devices like ITER and fusion power stations.

ITER is considering changing the wall material from carbon to tungsten for the areas that receive the highest heat loads. The conference was very timely in that many of the presentations discussed the properties of tungsten, from melting and gas trapping to less familiar effects caused by plasma exposure such as the formation of bubbles and nanostructures on the surface. 

Of particular note was the presentation of initial experimental results from the ITER-like wall that was recently installed in the JET Tokamak. The wall tiles are made from tungsten and beryllium, and are arranged in a way that is similar to the ITER design. There was quite a bit of good news, including fuel retention levels consistent with the ITER requirements and the production of clean, high performance plasmas. 

Other topics covered included heat load control, plasma transport, and computer simulations, as well as a look to the future with respect to advanced wall materials, novel magnetic field designs, and reactor requirements.

The final presentation was a lively retrospective by Volker Philipps from Forschungszentrum Jülich that celebrated the 40-year history of the conference and highlighted progress that has been made in the field. The conference location moves between North America, Europe, and Asia; Kanazawa, Japan was announced as the next host city.
The conference’s official press release can be found here.

Imagine the unimaginable

Following the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant in Japan in March 2011, the European Union declared „that the safety of all 143 nuclear power plants [in Europe] should be reviewed on the basis of a comprehensive and transparent risk assessment.” These assessments are known as stress tests.
As the first fusion reactor to undergo full nuclear licensing, ITER will also have to pass this complementary safety assessment, In the words of Licensing Officer Joëlle Elbez-Uzan, the stress tests are „a targeted reassessment of ITER’s safety margins in the light of the events that occurred at Fukushima.”

„What this means, is that we will look into the resistance of the facility in the face of a set of extreme situations leading to the sequential loss of the ITER lines of defence—irrespective of the probability of this loss. In other words, we are imagining the unimaginable.”
The type of extreme situation under examination: very severe flooding, a severe beyond that postulated in the ITER safety case, or a combination of both. „Special focus will be given to our crisis management plan describing how to react in such an extreme situation,” explains Joëlle.
As a first step, the French regulator (Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire, ASN) asked the ITER Organization to draft a report describing the methodology by which the stress tests will be performed. This report was sent to Paris on 15 January and the methodology has been approved.

Currently the Safety, Quality & Security Department is carrying out its stress test evaluation and the outcome will be submitted to the authorities mid-September.

The ten-millionth object

And the winner is … François Sagot! By uploading the „RAMI Summary Report for the ITER Cryoplant” into the ITER Collaborative Platform (ICP), the ITER technical officer officially became the platform’s ten-millionth customer.

„Ten million objects is a really impressive number,” says web application officer Carlo Capuano. „An aircraft carrier is made up of about ten million parts … and ten million is not the end of the ITER story!”

Less than three years ago, we reported on the one-millionth ICP object.

ICP is a one-stop shop for all data related to ITER, from Word documents stored on ITER’s document management system IDM, to Catia data files used by the designers. Today, the biggest portion of stored data is associated with the Engineering Database which was launched in February. However with 100,000 accesses per day, IDM accounts for the largest traffic within ICP.

The platform developed for ITER is now a precedent for other projects. ICP is currently installed at the European Domestic Agency in Barcelona, Spain; at the JT-60SA worksite in Garching, Germany; and at the Chinese Domestic Agency in Bejing.

A certain number of well-established commercial tools provide strong support for the most important activities inside the ITER Organization. Whenever those tools do not provide needed functionality, however, the ICP platform can provide solutions quickly to manage any kind of data and workflow.

In the past five years more than 50 applications have been developed and are in use with the same user interface—available at any location in the world—thanks to the strict adherence to web interfaces. Applications cover engineering problems like magnet conductor production, for example, or action tracking.