Self-sustained tritium production is essential to the future of fusion. While an experimental machine such as ITER will draw upon the tritium presently available in the market (a couple of tens of kilos), future fusion plants will have to breed their own tritium supply in a continuous manner.
Tritium, which occurs only in trace quantities in nature, can be produced through the impact of fusion-generated neutrons on lithium nuclides present in the plasma-facing components. Based on this principle, six experimental Test Blanket Modules (TBM) will be installed at the equatorial ports of the ITER vacuum vessel wall. Two of them will be procured by Europe; India, China, Japan and Korea will each contribute one. The Russian Federation and the Unites States will give support on specific technical items.
Over the years, as they are impacted by the neutron flux, the ITER TBMs will progressively become activated. „However different each TBM concept may be, we can reasonably anticipate the amount of radwaste that will be produced within the Tritium Breeding Systems (TBSs) and that we will have to manage,” explains Magali Benchikhoune, the ITER Hot Cells & Radwaste Section Leader and Chair of the Test Blanket Program Working Group on TBS RadWaste Management (TBP-WG-RWM) that has been assigned to deal with this matter.
Following three and a half months of videoconference meetings, the international players of the TBP-WG-RWM met for two days — and for the first time 'in person’ — last week at ITER.
The group comprised the ITER Members’ TBM designers, the ITER Organization TBM responsible officer, radwaste management, safety and transport specialists, legal experts from all the contributing Members and also representatives of Agence Iter France (as the interface between ITER and the host country, France).
Once the breeding experiments are completed, the activated TBMs will go back for further analysis to the ITER Member who procured them. The rest (and the largest part) of each system will go into interim storage and, eventually to a permanent disposal facility managed by the French Nuclear Waste Management Agency ANDRA.
How to approach this issue? What are the realistic options to manage and transport the irradiated components? What are the cost drivers? What can be optimized? These questions were central to the meeting that summarized and developed the work accomplished since the Working Group kick-off meeting on 19 July. „Whether from ITER, Agence Iter France, CEA or the ITER Members,” says Magali, „we all worked hard and the two-day meeting was a very motivating experience for all of us.”
The progress of the work by this Working Group will be reported to the TBM Program Committee, which heads all TBM-related activities, during its meeting in early November.
Henrik Bindslev was appointed last Friday 25 October as the new Director of the European Joint Undertaking for ITER and the Development of Fusion Energy (Fusion for Energy). He is currently the Vice Dean for Research at Aarhus University, Faculty of Science and Technology.
Stuart Ward, Chair of the Fusion for Energy Governing Board, took the opportunity to congratulate Henrik Bindslev on his new position and thanked all members of the Board for their collaboration taking together this important decision.
"I am honoured to have been appointed Director of Fusion for Energy at a time that Europe’s contribution to ITER enters a decisive stage and rapid progress will be made on all fronts. It is the moment to engage actively with Europe’s industry and fusion community to honour our commitment to this prestigious international project" said Bindslev.
Henrik Bindslev has been engaged in energy research for more than 20 years and has considerable experience in research management, both in Denmark and internationally. He is currently Vice Dean for research at Aarhus University, Faculty of Science and Technology and past Chair of the European Energy Research Alliance (EERA). He is a delegate to the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) and Chairman of ESFRI’s Energy Strategy Working Group.
Previously, he was the Director of Risø DTU, the Danish National Laboratory for Sustainable Energy, managing 700 members of staff.
He was educated at Denmark’s Technical University and completed a DPhil in Plasma Physics at the University of Oxford. He worked as a fusion researcher at different facilities including ten years at the Joint European Torus (JET), Europe’s biggest fusion research device, and has published more than 150 papers.
The Director is appointed by Fusion for Energy’s Governing Board for a period of five years, once renewable up to five years. The appointment is made on the basis of a list of candidates proposed by the European Commission after an open competition, following a publication in the Official Journal of the European Communities.
From 2-4 December 2013 the Principality of Monaco will – for the second time – host the Monaco ITER International Fusion Energy Days (MIIFED 2013). This 3-day conference, held under the High Patronage of H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco, will showcase the progress of the ITER project, including the status of construction and manufacturing. The event will also discuss the global socio-economic context of fusion energy, while looking at the future prospects for fusion energy.
For further details on the MIIFED 2013 and to download the leaflet click here.
Articles summarizing the first edition of the MIIFED held in 2010 can be found here.
Beginning in the first quarter of 2013, the number of construction workers on the ITER site will rise sharply, passing the 1,000 mark in less than six months to stabilise at about 2,600-2,800 in 2015 before finally declining in 2016.
By late 2014, construction personnel will be joined by specialists in charge of assembling the machine. They will be 1,000 by mid-2016 and close to 1,600 throughout late 2018.
From late 2015 to late 2016, these two combined workforces will lead to a peak of more than 3,500 workers on the ITER site, not counting the present ITER staff and contractors which amounts to approximately 1,000 and will remain stable throughout the coming years.
Projections from both Agence Iter France and the French regional authorities indicate that accommodation for some 1,500 to 2,000 workers arriving in the region will have to be found during this peak period.
These figures were announced last Friday 19 October at a meeting organized by the Commission Locale d’Information (CLI) in Vinon-sur-Verdon.
The CLI acts as an official interface between ITER Organization (nuclear operator of the ITER facility) and the local population, which means that anything the public feels it should know falls under its jurisdiction. Housing 1,500 to 2,000 workers close enough to ITER so that commuting does not exceed 30 minutes either way is definitely an issue that concerns the local population and authorities — the housing market in the defined area is rather tense, with an estimated rental stock that does not exceed 300 to 500 units.
This is no new preoccupation for the French authorities and local mayors: the first meetings on the subject were organized some 17 years ago, when Cadarache was already preparing its bid to host ITER. More recently, Agence Iter France drew up an inventory of „potential solutions” in close collaboration with the local mayors, the government authorities and the companies likely to bid for construction or assembly contracts.
The problem, however, is that „the picture is still unclear” as pointed out by the General Secretary for Regional Affairs, Gilles Barsacq. As in any projects this size, the work organization on the ITER site will be characterized by „a cascade of subcontractors”; some will be local, some not and each will have its own policy in terms of employee housing.
Other large projects have been facing the same issues and Agence Iter France has closely studied how they were taken into consideration, e.g. at the EPR worksite in Flamanville (Normandy) and at the Millau viaduct in south central France.
In short, companies operating on the ITER site must be given a number of options from which they can choose the one that suits them best.
Working with the local mayors and specialized relocation agencies, Agence Iter France has retained 20 projects located along the Durance River, most of them within a 30-minute drive from the ITER site.
Slightly beyond this limit, the largest of these projects is located in Château-Arnoux (pop. 5,300) where accommodation in mobile homes for 700 can be organized at the local campground. In Manosque, the youth hostel can provide 40 places; the village of Corbières has offered to turn a soccer field into a campground and in Montmeyan 200 beds are available at a summer camp. „What we must avoid at all cost,” explained Agence Iter France Director Jérôme Pamela, „is uncontrolled or illegal situations such has having trailers parked here and there.”
Most of these projects require investments: companies with ITER contracts could finance the renovation of, say, a workers’ or youth hostel. They could therefore house their employees for the duration of the contract and return it to its owner (generally the municipality) once the job has been finished. The municipality would then put the building to a different use in line with its own development projects.
It was clear from the figures presented at the Vinon-sur-Verdon meeting and from the ensuing discussions, that the area considered — with an overall population of 250,000 stretching between Château-Arnoux in the north to Aix-en-Provence in the south and growing some 1 percent every year — is capable of absorbing 1,500 to 2,000 workers without any major problems. Representatives from the Ministry of Education and the Regional Health Agency assured that the workers’ presence would have no impact on the local school and health infrastructures.
The local population, especially those living in villages near the ITER site, have long voiced their preoccupation with the transportation issue. Daily traffic through Vinon-sur-Verdon (pop. 4,000), for instance, clocks up an average of 13,500 vehicles per day, while access roads to the worksite are narrow and often saturated by traffic due to both ITER and the CEA-Cadarache Centre.
As companies will organize their own bus services, parking lots on the ITER construction site will be deliberately „undersized” to discourage the use of individual vehicles. There is also an ongoing reflection on using the railroad that runs along the Durance River on the side opposite to ITER.
However, one of the most efficient measures (already decided) will involve implementing offset working hours for worksite personnel so as to reduce clogging on access roads to ITER.
„Accommodating 1,500 to 2,000 workers should not be seen as a constraint”, concluded the General Secretary for Regional Affairs, „but as an opportunity.”
A world record in heating power, in relation to the size of the device, has been achieved by the ASDEX Upgrade fusion device at Max Planck Institute of Plasma Physics (IPP) in Garching: This was made possible by a sophisticated control system.
For the first time world-wide, a fast feedback control facility ensures, on the one hand, that the millions of degrees hot high-power plasmas needed are produced and, on the other, that the wall of the plasma vessel is not overloaded, this being an important result on the way to a fusion power plant.
[…] The hitherto unattained heating power of 14 megawatts per metre with respect to the radius of the device was achieved without overloading the divertor plates.
Read more here
Russia makes progress with the well-timed procurement of the future facility’s components to the ITER Organization. On 9 October 2012, two qualified unit lengths of Toroidal Field Conductors for the ITER magnetic system were shipped from Kurchatov Institute, in Moscow, to the customs office for their subsequent transportation to Europe. These were the copper dummy and the 100-metre qualification conductor, Russia’s first procurement of the Toroidal Field Coils Conductor.
The conductor lengths, manufactured at the Open Joint-Stock Company All-Russian R&D Project-Design and Technological Institute of Cable Industry (OJSC VNIIKP) were delivered from the National Research Centre „Kurchatov Institute”, where they had previously undergone vacuum tests involving special equipment. The next shipment of Toroidal Field Conductors is planned to take place in compliance with the schedule.
Click here to view a video of the operation.
On the other side of the CEA fence, in Cadarache, sits a large tokamak which played an important role in the definition of ITER. Tore Supra, a CEA-Euratom device which began operating in 1988, was the first tokamak to successfully implement superconducting magnets and actively-cooled plasma-facing components.
Over the past twenty-four years, Tore Supra has explored the physics of long-duration plasma pulses, reaching a record of 6.5 minutes in December 2003.
In 2000-2002, Tore Supra was equipped with a new carbon-carbon fibre (CFC) „limiter” — the equivalent of the divertor in ITER — capable of withstanding an ITER-relevant heat load of 10 MW per square metre.
This project, named CIEL for Composants Internes Et Limiteurs, demonstrated that, while CFC performs very well in terms of power handling and compatibility with the plasma, its use results in substantial erosion caused by the physico-chemical reactions between the carbon of the limiter and the hydrogen (deuterium) in the plasma. Further experiments in JET have confirmed these observations.
Now, there are not many options when it comes to choosing the material of a divertor. Fifty years of experience in tokamak technology have narrowed them to two: it’s either CFC or tungsten, their respective advantages or disadvantages depending on the plasma regimes they are exposed to. (More here).
In ITER, it was originally planned to begin operations with a CFC divertor and replace it with a tungsten one before the start of nuclear operation (deuterium + tritium) in 2026. After years of discussions, panels and reviews, a new plan was established and ITER is now considering doing without the first-phase CFC divertor.
Indeed, substantial cost reductions would be achieved by installing a tungsten divertor right from the start and operate it well into the nuclear phase. This solution would also provide for an early training, during the non-nuclear phase of ITER operation, on how to operate with a tungsten divertor.
The ITER Members, however, have not yet reached a unanimous position on this issue.
Whatever ITER decides eventually, the tungsten option must be explored and this is what Tore Supra’s WEST project (W Environment in Steady-state Tokamak, where „W” is the chemical symbol of tungsten) is about.
„ITER success is CEA’s top priority,” says Alain Bécoulet, the Head of CEA-IRFM (Institut de Recherche sur la Fusion Magnétique) which operates Tore Supra. „By installing an ITER-like full tungsten divertor in Tore Supra, we can turn our platform into a test-bench on ITER critical path. We can thus contribute to reducing the risk and to saving time and money for ITER. WEST is not something we would add to Tore Supra like we did with CIEL. It’s more like Tore Supra becomes WEST to serve ITER.”
The CIEL project provided IRFM with a strong experience in cooperating with the industry. Adapting Tore Supra to accommodate a full tungsten divertor — 500 components with a total of 15,000 tungsten tiles — is a challenge the Institute is ready to take on. (All carbon will have to be taken out of the device; in-vacuum vessel magnetic coils will need to be installed in order to modify the plasma shape from circular to „D-shaped” and heating systems will have to be adapted to the new configuration.)
The formal decision to go WEST is due to be taken by CEA at the end of 2012; Bécoulet is optimistic: partners are showing interest and „customers” other than ITER appear eager to utilize the future test bench as well. „All fusion machines, present and projected,” he says „are expected to go tungsten.”
Bringing a timely answer to ITER interrogations means that Tore Supra, which Bécoulet calls „a technological jewel”, should prepare to go WEST early in 2013 and be ready for the first experiments in 2015.
Click here to view an animation of the WEST project.
A large gathering of fusion scientists such as the 24th IAEA Fusion Energy Conference held in San Diego on 8 — 13 October, offers a unique vantage point to assess the progress of fusion research worldwide.
The 400 papers and posters that were presented throughout the week — some 70 being ITER-related — clearly demonstrated that, in many critical areas, researchers are reaching a much better understanding of the phenomena that control plasma behaviour — and we all know that this fundamental knowledge is essential to the success of our project and, beyond, to the future of fusion energy.
One of the highlights of the meeting was the presentation of JET’s results: now equipped with an ITER-like wall, JET, together with ASDEX Upgrade, is answering critical questions on how tungsten would affect plasma performance in ITER. The results on fuel retention on JET are encouraging and we are awaiting further results from JET on how to optimize plasma performance.
The synergy between exploratory experiments on ASDEX Upgrade and follow-up experiments on JET has been valuable. This has implications for the role of satellite experiments in the member states when ITER comes into operation.
The superconducting tokamak facilities, EAST, KSTAR and JT-60SA, clearly see how they could contribute to ITER. It was also pleasing to hear that the SST-1 tokamak at IPR has been reassembled and that commissioning of the superconducting magnets is underway.
We were all very interested in the new data on disruptions and runaway electrons that the teams working at JET, Alcator C-Mod, DIII-D and T-10, as well as other machines, have accumulated. Innovative techniques are being developed to minimize the impact of the runaway beams on the plasma-facing materials on DIII-D, which is good news for our community. The effectiveness of a second gas valve to reduce the asymmetry in the radiated power during a disruption was studied on C-Mod.
The disruption observations from JET indicate that there are significant differences between a carbon divertor and a tungsten divertor. The plasma current decays more slowly and the vertical position also evolves more slowly. This is probably related to the decreased radiated power – however, the duration of the halo currents is greater.
An intriguing result from analysis of NSTX disruptions is that 98% of disruptions can be flagged with at least 10 ms of warning with only 6% of false positives.
These results combined with other results on disruption mitigation give greater confidence that a sufficiently reliable disruption mitigation system can be developed for ITER, though further work is needed.
An increasing body of fundamental knowledge is also being accumulated in the field of ELM control, which will lead us to re-evaluate how to either mitigate the impact of, or preferably suppress, ELMs by means of the in-vessel coils. ASDEX Upgrade, DIII-D and MAST are strongly contributing to this exploration and understanding as well as theorists from around the world. In addition, interesting new data using other techniques, including pellet injection, to control ELMs were shown by DIII-D, EAST and KSTAR.
Increasingly detailed analysis of stability and confinement characteristics of H-mode plasmas are advancing in impressive fashion: the conference heard of the remarkable agreement between the predictions of the „EPED” code and measurements of limiting pedestal pressure in many tokamak experiments.
An interesting new analysis of the influence of isotopic mass on the confinement characteristics of H-mode plasmas was also reported from JT-60U, and striking results from nonlinear 3D modelling of individual ELMs with the JOREK code were also presented. An extensive review of recent data on the dependence of the H-mode power threshold carried out by the ITPA will also give us food for thought.
On the first day of the conference, ITER Director-General Osamu Motojima gave a status report on ITER in the first technical session of the meeting. Later that day, there was a session devoted to ITER Physics, Scenarios and Heating and Current Drive Technology. These two sessions provided an excellent introduction and overview about the status of the project and recent scientific and technical achievement.
At a town meeting that was held on the following night after a full day of meetings, both of us respectively presented the "The ITER Research Plan”, and "Burning Plasma Research on ITER”” to a large audience. There is clearly interest in what ITER will do during the operations phase.
David’s presentation related ITER’s plans to achieve burning plasma conditions to some of the recent work highlighted at the meeting. Based on successfully achieving burning plasma conditions; Rich’s presentation described how ITER would be able to advance our understanding of deuterium-tritium burning plasmas far beyond what we achieved on JET and TFTR during the 1990s. The presentation described not only the progress that both JET and TFTR had made but also the outstanding scientific issues.
The results described above are not a comprehensive summary of the meeting but merely some casual observations of interesting results to stimulate people to read the conference proceedings and articles in Nuclear Fusion.
Better, maybe, than a dramatic announcement of a revolutionary breakthrough, the conference provided a clear and reassuring image of a community that is marshalling its facilities and intellectual resource to make fusion happen and in the process, addressing key issues of importance to ITER.
See more pictures here.
Although it may appear as a faraway activity, the assembly of the ITER Central Solenoid (CS), the backbone of the machine’s magnetic system, and its installation inside the tokamak were discussed at two Preliminary Design Review meetings held in Cadarache last week.
The US Domestic Agency (US-DA) is responsible for the construction of the 6 CS modules plus one spare, and for the associated pre-compression structure. Due to its large size, the CS will not be delivered by the USDA as a single piece and thus needs to be assembled on the ITER site in Cadarache.
The US partner is in charge of the design, procurement and delivery of the special assembly tools that are necessary to assemble the 6 modules with the pre-compression structure and the current lead extensions. The assembly itself will be carried out by the ITER Organization. Once assembled, the 17metre-high CS will be lifted and transported to the tokamak where it will be lowered into its 4.4-metre diameter pit with a clearance of 42 mm.
Both reviews, assembly tooling and installation, were chaired by Michel Huguet, former Director of the ITER Naka site during the Engineering Design Activities (EDA) phase of the project. Most of the presentations were delivered by Mike Cole and Robert Hussung, both staff members of the US-DA, leading the development for the special tools.
These include: an assembly platform where the modules will be stacked; a lifting device to handle the module and to stack them on top of each other with millimetre-accuracy; a rotating fixture to turn over the three lower modules; a man lift to allow performance of operations inside the inner bore of the modules; a drill guide fixture to allow drilling holes in the interface between modules in order to insert shear pins preventing relative displacement between modules; a lead extension alignment fixture, and a lead support structure.
Delivery of these tools is planned to start in June 2016, matching the IO needs for the assembly of the machine’s central magnet. Manufacturing of the early delivery items, the assembly platform and the lifting tool, is expected to start in early 2015.
Once installed in the tokamak, the CS will be supported at its bottom on lower supports attached to the bottom of the TF coils and kept centred at its top by a system of rods attached to the top of the TF coils. The lower supports are thus the first components to be put in place. The CS can then be lifted by the crane and lowered into the tokamak.
The review panel was pleased with the quality of the presentations which helped everyone to understand how the tooling is designed and the way it is planned to be used. The reports demonstrated the high involvement of the team and its capacity to address the challenge of accurately positioning heavy loads given the fact that the total weight of the assembled CS is around 1000 tons.
Nevertheless, several chits are in preparation by the review panel and will be communicated through the review report within a few weeks. This will help the design team to focus on the few remaining issues to be tackled before moving into the final design phase.
Ever since Dr Heike Kamerlingh Onnes walked the pace of superconductivity back in 1911, there have always been scientists endeavouring to exploit its tremendous properties through powerful; high magnetic field magnets.
These endeavours are turning into a reality at ITER, as the largest and most powerful superconductive magnets ever designed, with an individual stored energy of 2.2 Gigajoules (GJ), are being manufactured.
The Toroidal Field Coils is the ITER magnet system responsible for confining the plasma inside the Tokamak vacuum vessel, using Cable-In-Conduit niobium-tin-based conductor technology.
Procurement for the 19 Toroidal Field Coils (TFCs) is shared between the Japanese Domestic Agency (JA-DA), and the European Domestic Agency Fusion for Energy(EU-DA).
Following the last call for tender in August 2012, the first of a series of procurement contracts of the nine Japanese TF coils has been awarded to Mitsubishi Heavy Industry as a main contractor, with Mitsubishi Electric Corporation (MELCO), as a sub-contractor — a well-known stakeholder in superconducting magnet world.
_To_39_Tx_TF Coils are encased in large stainless steel structures. The nineteen encasing stainless steel coil structures (TFCS) procurement is the responsibility of the Japanese Domestic Agency (JA-DA) who recently placed two contracts respectively for First of Series European TFCS with Hyundai Heavy industry in Korea and for Japanese TFCS with Mitsubishi Heavy Industry in Japan.
With a total weight of 3400 tons, the „superstructure” of TF coils is pushing the limits of manufacturability. Millimetric tolerances require state-of-the-art welding techniques (plate thickness on 316LN is up to 180 mm) to reach high quality requirements. As a result it is necessary to use specialists in heavy industry.
From 1 to 3 October 2012, the Collaboration Toroidal Field Coil Working Group met in NAKA (Japan) after visiting Hyundai Heavy Industry, Mitsubishi Heavy Industry and MELCO manufacturing premises. This meeting was attended by TFC and TFCS Technical Responsible Officers (TROs) from the ITER Organization, the European Domestic Agency and JA-DA. Several specialists from JA-DA supplier Mitsubishi Heavy Industry were also invited to participate in the meeting.
Such meetings are essential for resolving common Toroidal Field Coil system issues between both DAs and their multiple suppliers, and to manage the interfaces and tolerances between the winding packs and the coil structures.
It goes without saying that regular contact with the Domestic Agencies industry, through meetings with TROs will guarantee the prompt solving of any issues that may arise within such a challenging production environment.
The manufacturing of the first series of double pancakes as part of first Winding packs by both DA is planned to start in September 2013, with delivery of the first winding pack in 2014 bringing up to full speed the.series production.
Given that the knowledge-based coil fabrication will be very dynamic, improving insight in those magnets tolerances will be essential as discussed with JA-DA TRO Norikiyo Koizumi and EU-DA TRO Alessandro Bonito Oliva.
Alexandro Bonito Oliva reported additionally on recent progress concerning the commissioning of the European TF winding tooling facility, the heat treatment oven and ongoing qualification tasks on joint, helium inlet and impregnation trials.
In spite of the difficulties of coordinating fabrication work with such a vast logistic and high production rate, the ITER Organization is confident in the ability of the DA suppliers and of the ITER TF IO-DA team project capacity to continue working in a cooperative and synergetic manner in order to reach our common goal.”
The TF Collaboration Meeting is also an opportunity to showcase the work done in the Japanese and European DAs. The substantial progress achieved by both European and Japanese domestic agencies would not have been possible without an effective collaboration with the TF team.
Upon his arrival at ITER, on Thursday 11 October, ITER Director-General Osamu Motojima was greeted by the assembled staff at the entrance of the new Headquarters Building.
DG Motojima, who was accompanied by his wife Kaoru, had been attending the 24th Fusion Energy Conference in San Diego (USA) and this was his first official contact with the new building.
Having missed the thrill of the move on Monday, the ITER Director-General was eager to discover his new office and the spectacular worksite view it commands. Rather than the bucolic view of the rolling hills of Haute-Provence, he had chosen the „platform side” in order to follow the daily progress of construction.
One could have stayed a long time just enjoying the view and imagining the huge Tokamak Complex rising 55 metres high, but the ITER machine was rolling and a Project Board Meeting (PBM) — the first to be held in the new building — was scheduled to begin.
Addressing the PBM participants and the personnel who had briefly joined them for the occasion, DG Motojima stressed the symbolic importance of the moment. „What we are witnessing today,” he said, „is the beginning of a new era. ITER is now 'at home’ in this new building and I wish to express my appreciation to all who have made this moment possible: France and Europe, who have contributed this building to the ITER project, and also our colleagues in Building and Site Infrastructure (BSI) and in IT, who have successfully managed the moving operations and will continue to do so in the weeks to come.”
ITER Deputy Director-General Rem Haange and Head of the Directorate for General Administration Jiu Jin, also addressed the audience, conveying the same message: as staff and machine will soon stand face to face, moving into the new Headquarters building is indeed a turning point in the long history of the ITER project.
Latest results from the Joint European Torus (JET) fusion device are giving researchers increasing confidence in prospects for the next-generation ITER project, the international experiment that is expected to pave the way for commercial fusion power plants. Operation with a new lining inside JET has demonstrated the suitability of materials for the much larger and more powerful ITER device.
JET, Europe’s premier magnetic confinement fusion facility, based at Culham, UK, has completed eleven months of tests to simulate the environment inside ITER and to prototype key components. For this purpose JET has been successfully transformed into a 'mini-ITER’ with a wall made of the same materials — beryllium and tungsten — that ITER plans to use.
Read more on the EFDA website.
Nearly 1,000 of the world’s preeminent fusion researchers from 45 countries gathered last week in San Diego to discuss the latest advances in fusion energy. The 24th International Atomic Energy Agency Fusion Energy Conference, organized by the IAEA in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) and General Atomics, aims to "provide a forum for the discussion of key physics and technology issues as well as innovative concepts of direct relevance to fusion as a source of nuclear energy.”
Those in attendance in San Diego included Nobel Prize-winning physicist Burton Richter, Physicist Steven Cowley, CEO of the United Kingdom’s Atomic Energy Authority; Frances Chen, a plasma physicist and UCLA professor emeritus who wrote the book „An Indispensable Truth: How Fusion Power Can Save the Planet”, and keynote speaker William Brinkman, Director of the Office of Science in the U.S. DoE.
ITER Director-General Motojima gave the overview talk in the opening scientific session on Monday 8 October and ITER played centre stage throughout the conference, with more than 20 members of staff present providing as many scientific papers and posters (the ITER Domestic Agencies, for their part, contributed 54 papers to the conference).
While acknowledging the difficulties in the implementation of the project which the ITER Organization and Domestic Agencies are tackling, delegates to the conference welcomed the significant technical progress in ITER design and construction activities which were reported in the ITER presentations.
At a "Town Meeting" on the prospects for Burning Plasma Studies at ITER that was, arranged by the local organizers of the conference, presentations by Rich Hawryluk and David Campbell were particularly well received.
Overall, the atmosphere was highly supportive of the ITER project and a substantial fraction of the presentations made at the conference were linked in one way or another to addressing ITER’s R&D priorities.
Significant progress was reported in areas such as the use of all-metal plasma facing components and the associated plasma-wall interaction issues, disruption mitigation, ELM control, H-mode access and confinement. Plans presented for future R&D activities in the major fusion facilities continued to reflect a close link to physics areas which are key to ITER’s success.
Click here to view the conference coverage on KUSI local news channel.
Having recently celebrated its fifth anniversary, the ITER Project has moved steadily from negotiations to real manufacturing, and from dummy testing to production of the tokamak’s construction elements.
One of the first systems to be manufactured in line with the ITER Organization (IO) Integrated Schedule Plan is the superconductor for the ITER magnet system. Russia has demonstrated high stability and reliability during this process, fulfilling all its obligations in time. This has not only been acknowledged by the IO experts, but also by the international superconductor community.
The Russian Toroidal Field (TF) conductor with bronze route strands was tested in the SULTAN facility by Centre de Recherches en Physique des Plasmas- Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (CRPP-EPFL) in late September — early October 2012. This is the fourth Russian sample to be tested in SULTAN but the first sample containing two sections of conductor made of real production length which will be used to manufacture real TF coils for the machine. The left section of the conductor was cut from side Double Pancake pre-production conductor (Phase III) while the right section was made from first production (Phase IV) regular Double Pancake.
The results obtained with the the TFRF4 (Toroidal Field Russian Federation # 4) sample show very good agreement with results of the two last samples TFRF2 and TFRF3, which demonstrated the relatively good stability of the conductor during electromagnetic cycling, as well as its good durability during the warm-up/cool-down procedure.
Testing the TFRF4 sample was a very important milestone which completed the pre-production phase of the TF conductor procurement process. This means we can now proceed to the final production stage. At the same time, it opens the way to start shipping the real conductors to the coil manufacturer so they can be used to make coils for the ITER tokamak.