The promises of "synthetic viewing"

Remote handling is never easy, but in the ITER machine it will be particularly difficult. Narrow entry ports, space constraints, poor visual contrast between the different components, limited options for camera placement … all will combine in ITER to create an exceptionally demanding environment.

„In remote handling, lighting and viewing are vital ingredients,” explains David Hamilton, the engineer in charge of the remote handling control systems at ITER. „And yet during ITER machine maintenance, camera placement will be very limited and visual obstacles will be everywhere. As for lighting, we will have to bring in our own sources, which will also be quite limiting.”

Although ITER will not be the first tokamak to rely on remote handling, the machine’s characteristics generate some unique challenges. „In JET for instance, a 300-kilo antenna is considered an exceptional load to handle. In ITER, we go up to 40 tons …”

3D models and virtual reality can help solve some of the difficulties—both are quite useful for having an overview of the environment. „But there’s always an error margin,” says David. „You can’t trust them for the last 20 or 50 millimetres because, after a certain period of operation, the machine’s components will have moved and shifted slightly from the position recorded in the model.”

A new innovative technique called „synthetic viewing,” although not completely mature, looks like a promising alternative. „Synthetic viewing is based on the combination of data from the model and of data acquired and updated in real time by sensors, like cameras. It allows you to generate your own version of the view from an optimal angle and with optimal contrast and lighting. Based on the data stored in the model, you can 'see through’ the obstacles that are blocking the camera.”

In Holland, ITER NL—a consortium of Dutch laboratories and industry established in 2007 to promote participation in ITER—had done some exploration in this direction. In August 2012, the consortium was commissioned by the ITER Organization to assess the feasibility of synthetic viewing and to develop a system prototype. In February, this prototype was successfully demonstrated at the Petten nuclear research centre (see video).

„Synthetic viewing is still a speculative technology,” warns Hamilton. „For the moment, ITER is an end-consumer with an interest in the area… However, it is important to stimulate research because we will need such a system in ten years’ time.”

The largest obstacle that stands on the way to a perfectly efficient synthetic viewing system is computer power. „The problem is data calculation. A one-tenth of a second delay between what you capture on the viewing system and what is actually happening with the remote-handling device is the maximum tolerable. For the moment, computer systems are too slow to do object recognition and accurate localization within this time delay. But I’m confident these possibilities will evolve along with the calculation algorithms…”

Synthetic viewing systems of the future could also support more radiation-tolerant and lower cost acquisition devices, such as ultrasonic sensors.

Now that a prototype and an impressive self-explanatory video have been produced, the next step for Hamilton and the remote handling specialists at ITER is to „stir up interest in synthetic viewing” amongst the ITER European and Japanese Domestic Agencies who will procure the machine’s remote-handling systems and components. „I’d like to think,” says Hamilton, „that by acting together we’ll be able to fund more research. There’s a huge market there …”

For ITER, the stakes are considerable. A swift, precise and reliable remote-handling system will reduce the length of the machine shut-down phases and largely contribute to optimizing overall operation costs.

Watch the ITER NL video on synthetic viewing here.

The fellowship of the Plasma Ring

Thirty years ago, on 25 June 1983, the Joint European Torus (JET) came to life with a flash of plasma. „There was an air of hushed expectancy as the countdown for the first plasma attempt progressed,” remembers Phil Morgan, then an optical spectroscopy specialist who had joined the project the year before. „A suppressed gasp was heard as on one of the TV screens the machine appeared to tilt when the magnetic field was switched on—then loud laughter as people realized that the field was distorting the image recorded by the TV camera.”

This anecdote and many others were shared on 24-25 June as JET and ITER personnel, connected by video link, assembled to commemorate the event that, 30 years ago, opened a new era in the history of fusion.

In the ITER Council Room, where some 25 former members of JET’s staff had gathered around the head of ITER’s CODAC, Heating & Diagnostics Directorate, Paul Thomas, and at Culham, where participants were hosted under a tent, participants remembered with equal emotion the intensity of the peak plasma current that was achieved on that day and the taste of the minestrone soup prepared by the wife of Franco Bombi, then head of JET’s Control and Data Acquisition System.

To Paul, and many others who now are part of the ITER team, JET provided „invaluable experience.” Thirty years after its first plasma and two decades after its first burst of fusion power on 9 November 1991, „JET is the key device to resolve many of the challenges that we are facing,” (Mike Walsh, head of Diagnostics); „Its input is critical for our commissioning plan,” (Ken Blackler, head of Assembly & Operations); „It continues to deliver important results that provide direct input, even today, in our design decisions,” (Günther Janeschitz, Engineering Officer).

The posters decorating the conference room at Culham for this two-day celebration read: „30 years of JET — Paving the way to ITER’s take-off.” ITER Director of Plasma Operation David Campbell, who made the trip to JET, stressed this important mission in his speech, broadcast live: „JET provides substantial training for those who will operate ITER.”

More coverage on the EFDA website.

Inspecting drain tank manufacturing in the US

Across the river from Philadelphia, in the industrial suburb of Camden, New Jersey (US), manufacturing of the ITER drain tanks has begun at the Joseph Oat Corporation. Thick stainless steel plates are being welded and will soon be formed into cylinders—the largest nine and a half metres high and more than six metres in diameter, capable of holding over 227,000 litres of water.

Procured by the US Domestic Agency, the drain tanks will be installed in the „basement” (level B2) of the Tokamak Building, ready to collect the water from the cooling circuits in case of leaks or accidental situations.

Because the ITER drain tanks fall into the category of „Safety Important Components” (SIC), the ITER Organization must ascertain that manufacturing processes and procedures meet the safety requirements established by French nuclear safety regulations and, specifically, the August 1984 Quality Order (Arrêté Qualité).

„As nuclear operator, it is our responsibility to control that this set of regulations is applied throughout our whole chain of contractors and suppliers,” explains Joëlle Elbez-Uzan, acting division head for Nuclear Safety, Licensing & Environmental Protection at ITER.

An important point at this stage in the manufacturing process is to make sure that the tanks’ stainless steel is not exposed to pollution from carbon. Exposure to carbon could cause corrosion, which would put at risk the required leak-tightness of the tanks.

In Camden, Joëlle and Safety Control Section Leader Lina Rodriguez-Rodrigo noted with satisfaction that a specific „ITER zone,” clearly separated from other production and using specific tooling, had been organized within the factory.

Joëlle and Lina’s sojourn at Camden was short (two days) but fruitful. „The 1984 Quality Order is well implemented,” says Joëlle. „US ITER has done a great job in propagating its requirements down the whole chain of contractors and they have a permanent representative in the factory we visited. For us, it is a very strong guarantee.”

The Camden inspection was part of the annual audit program that ITER Safety, Quality & Security Department submits for approval to the ITER Director-General. One other inspection has already been performed this year on vacuum-vessel manufacturing in Korea; next on the agenda are the fast-discharge units, whose fabrication has begun at the Efremov Institute in Russia.

Council welcomes progress in construction and manufacturing

The ITER Council met for the twelfth time in its history on June 19-20 in Tokyo, Japan.

The meeting brought together senior representatives from the seven ITER Members—China, the European Union, India, Japan, Korea, Russia and the United States—under the chairmanship of Hideyuki Takatsu (Japan).

The Council took note of the increasing pace of construction activities on the ITER site and progress in the manufacturing of components and supporting systems, highlighting the fact that major contracts have been placed recently and many leading industries are now involved in ITER construction.

During the 12th ITER Council, significant progress was reported in the manufacturing of ITER magnets: over 420 tons of niobium-tin strand (Nb3Sn) for the toroidal field conductors (90 percent of project needs) and 133 tons of niobium-titanium (NbTi) strand for the poloidal field conductors (51 percent of project needs) have been produced to date.

The Council reaffirmed the importance of sustained efforts regarding schedule implementation, while recognizing the challenges due to the first-of-a-kind nature of ITER. In this context, the governing body of ITER welcomed improved collaboration between the ITER Organization and the Domestic Agencies as part of the Unique ITER team.

Click here to view the photo gallery of the Twelfth ITER Council.
Read the Press Releases in
English and in French.

Ascending the "Beast"

On maps and in geography books its name is the Mont Ventoux—the „Windy Mountain” of Provence—that towers over the plain of Vaucluse halfway between the Rhône and Durance rivers valleys. However to many people, and especially to Tour de France racers, it is known as the „Beast of Provence.”

The climb to the summit at an altitude of nearly 2,000 metres is one the toughest and most gruelling in professional cycling. The 21-kilometre road that leads from the village of Bédoin to the finish line has an average gradient of 7.5 percent, with peaks above 10 percent—meaning that for every kilometre covered, the rise in altitude can be as high as 10 metres.

The Tour de France has ascended the Beast 14 times since 1951. Everyone here, bicycle aficionado or not, remembers the tragic date of 13 July 1967 when British champion Tom Simpson collapsed and died during the climb at age 29.

The mountain, which appears perpetually snow-capped even in the hottest days of summer (bare, white limestone creates the illusion) acts as a magnet for cyclists around the world.

Ascending the Mount Ventoux is a ritual of passage: no one can pretend to be a real cyclist who hasn’t suffered through the torments of the climb, preferably in July when temperatures can reach 35 °C.

The first cycling champion to challenge the mountain was a Frenchman named Jacques Gabriel: in July 1908, by way of the Bédoin route, it took him 2 hours and 29 minutes to reach the summit. The present record (55 minutes and 51 seconds … with a much lighter bicycle) was established in 2004 by Spanish cyclist Iban Mayo Diez.

On Sunday 2 June, after a couple of months of training, six ITER staff members (Hyun-Sik Chang, Russell Eaton, Benoît Giraud, Edward Daly, Joo-Shik Bak and René Raffray) decided they were ready for the trial. Starting from the village of Sault, which makes for a longer 26-kilometre climb but one that is relatively easier, they reached the summit in 2 hours and 45 minutes.

One century ago, they would have been hailed as champions; in 2013, they can be considered impressive climbers …

Tiny diamond detectors for the giant ITER machine

In the world of tokamaks ITER will be a giant, weighing some 23,000 tons and measuring 30 x 30 metres. Whatever its might, however, the operation of this giant couldn’t be successful without such tiny elements as diamond detectors. These small components, only 4 x 4 x 0.5 mm, are an important part of one of ITER’s neutron diagnostics, the vertical neutron camera.

The diamond detectors, part of the Russian Domestic Agency’s procurement responsibilities for ITER diagnostics, will be manufactured at a dedicated facility at the Troitsk Institute for Innovation and Fusion Research (TRINITI) near Moscow.

Manufacturing is a sophisticated and multi-stage process, according to Nikolay Rodionov who heads the facility: „In ITER, detectors will operate under high neutron flux and high temperature, and it will be our task is to produce diamond detectors that are capable of withstanding such extreme, severe conditions.”

At the beginning of detector manufacture, the key elements—electronic-grade, single-crystal diamond plates—arrive at the material analysis laboratory where highly sensitive instruments test quality and identify defects. Next, the plates and associated metal fixings are cut to the required sizes and shapes by laser.

To correct possible defects, the single crystal diamond plates are annealed in a high-temperature vacuum oven at temperatures no less than 1500 degrees Celsius. Rid of their organic impurities by specially mixed acids, the diamond crystals are exposed to additional purification from an ion beam of oxygen or argon.

For such a sensitive component as a neutron detector, even the smallest impurities are inadmissible.

In the next stage of manufacturing a metal layer (gold, titanium, platinum or aluminum) is deposited on the diamond plate and gold or aluminum current conductors are welded on—these conductors, which at 30 micrometres thick can hardly be seen by the naked eye—collect electric charge from metal contacts. Now the detector, placed into a special mounting of thin sapphire plate and attached by two membranes of bronze or copper, is ready for installation on the vertical neutron camera.

By 2018, the specialists at TRINITI will have manufactured approximately 100 diamond detectors for ITER, including test samples, prototypes and spares. Currently, the facility has been equipped with laboratory and technical equipment for the manufacturing of dummies and test samples. For the production of prototypes and the beginning of batch manufacturing of qualified diamond detectors, additional modernization is planned to meet the requirements of the complex manufacturing operations for the diamond detector.

Click here to view a video on the manufacturing of ITER diamond detectors.

Sokendai awards Honoris Causa to Prof. Motojima

On 5 June 2013, ITER Director-General Osamu Motojima was honoured for his long-term achievements as Professor in Plasma Science and education by receiving a degree honoris causa from the Graduate University for Advanced Studies of Japan.

The Graduate University for Advanced Studies (Sokendai) was founded in 1988 as the only university in Japan and throughout the world to offer exclusively doctorate-level training. It is made up of 16 national institutes and organizations such as the National Institute for Fusion Science, the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, and the High Energy Accelerator Research Organization.

The university has the world’s highest level of education, curriculum and syllabus taught by professors who are closely affiliated with research institutes and organizations throughout Japan, providing doctoral students with access to the nation’s premier facilities for mathematical, physical and life sciences, as well as cultural and social studies.

Its Department of Fusion Science, established in 1992, is closely associated with the National Institute for Fusion Science (NIFS) which is home to the Large Helical Device (LHD).

Before coming to ITER, Osamu Motojima held a full-time professorship at NIFS from 1989-2003 in the Department of Fusion Science. In 1998, he took over responsibility for the LHD Program; during his time there the device achieved its first high-temperature plasma. Prof. Motojima continued to direct the LHD Program until April 2003, when he became Director-General of NIFS, crowning nearly twenty years spent within the Institute.

During the ceremony, the university’s President, Prof. Naoyuki Takahata, congratulated all the awarded honorary professors, and thanked Prof. Motojima for coming all the way from France to attend the ceremony, for his long-time contribution at the highest level of responsibility for education in NIFS, and for having supervised many doctoral students (about 20). Prof. Takahata also stressed that this year is the 25th anniversary of Sokendai.

During his acceptance speech, Prof. Motojima said, „It is my great honour to be awarded honoris causa together with my old colleagues. Sokendai is well known throughout the world and I wish it further progress in its contributions to worldwide post-graduate education. ITER has a scholarship program of post-doctoral fellows supported by His Serene Highness Prince Albert of Monaco and has established a good relationship with several universities. It is the necessary condition for the success of the ITER project to have a high level of research and engineering, in addition to supporting education and training for the next generation. I will contribute towards this from now on too."

For the ITER Director-General, 5 June has become a date that he will always remember.

Mirror, mirror on the platform …

What can an architect do with the ITER buildings … change their morphology? Impossible: each building’s height, footprint, volume and organization is determined by the processes it harbours. Coat the buildings with colours? Possible, but risky: what blends nicely into the environment at noon under a bright summer sun may look dull and depressing under the cold November rain.

„We faced an interesting problem,” says architect Simon Pallubicki, a partner at ENIA, the firm chosen in 2009 to work on the exterior architecture of the ITER installation. „The buildings on the platform were extremely heterogeneous in terms of functionality, size and construction mode; commonly used architectural parameters like regularity and alignment were absent.”

_To_47_Tx_The architects at ENIA, a Parisian firm specialized in multiple architectural domains, were presented with a double challenge: how to lend unity to apparent architectural disorder and how to integrate the project harmoniously into the surrounding landscape.

The solution they chose was daring but restrained. All buildings, with the exception of the Control Building, will be covered in alternating cladding of mirror-like stainless steel and grey-lacquered metal. The proportion between the mirror-like and lacquered surfaces will vary according to facade orientation: 80 percent mirror on the east/west facades and 80 percent lacquer on the north/south facades. For the Control Building in the northwest corner of the platform—the „brain” of the installation—the choice was made to clad the building entirely in polished stainless steel.

The architectural choices made for the cladding materials will allow for the harmonious integration of the scientific installation into its natural environment, with the buildings picking up hues of the passing seasons and blending poetically into their surroundings. The polished, mirror-like stainless steel also expresses, according to ENIA, „the precision of the research work being performed inside of the buildings.”

Architecture is as much about functionality as it is about aesthetics: the metal cladding will also enhance the insulation qualities of the buildings’ „skin.”
As they were working on the architectural project, Simon Pallubicki and his colleagues spent a lot of time hiking and driving around the site. „We did a lot of reconnaissance work, sometimes close by, sometimes as far as 40-50 kilometres from the platform to evaluate the visual impact of the installation.”

The ITER scientific facilities, say the ENIA architects, „should settle deep into the consciousness of the neighbourhood population and should leave a positive mark on local and regional history.” They feel that clean facades, reflecting the ever-changing shades of skylight and seasons, will express what is at stake in ITER: the perspective of harnessing an unlimited, universally available and environmentally respectful energy source.

LIPAc accelerator prototype installation begins in Japan

The IFMIF/EVEDA project is advancing. Concurrently with the accomplishment of the Intermediate Engineering Design report of IFMIF, the installation of LIPAC, the Linear IFMIF Prototype Accelerator has now started in Rokkasho, Japan.

The commissioning of LIPAc within the Broader Approach Agreement between Japan and EURATOM aims to demonstrate the technical feasibility of the IFMIF accelerator designed to operate two beams of deuterons at 125 mA with 100 percent duty cycle to obtain a source of fusion-relevant neutrons equivalent in energy and flux to those of a fusion power plant.

IFMIF will be capable of providing >20 dpa/fpy (displacements per atom/full power year) with neutrons with a broad peak at 14 MeV allowing, within a few years of operation, the characterization of suitable materials for the first wall of the reactor vessel, together with the acquisition of data from fusion-relevant neutrons that will help material scientists unravel the underpinning physics.

LIPAc is under design and construction mainly in different labs in Europe under the coordination of the European Domestic Agency (F4E), and will be installed in Japan by a joint team from Europe and Japan. On its own, with 1.125 MW of average beam power, LIPAc will lead the world ranks of high current accelerators. Its commissioning will be the responsibility of IFMIF/EVEDA Project Team, led by Juan Knaster.

After the successful performance during the individual system tests carried out at CEA (Saclay) in November 2012, the ion source and the low energy beam transfer have been delivered to Rokkasho and the installation activities have now started. An upgrade of the survey network in the accelerator hall was deemed necessary following a study by F4E to meet the alignment precision of 0.1 mm of certain components; an essential factor given the unprecedented beam current. The fiducialization upgrade will install 120 new additional fiducials and a permanent pillar, which will allow the placement of the laser tracker anywhere in the accelerator hall within uncertainties below 0.03 mm. This activity will be performed in Rokkasho by a team led by Luigi Semeraro (F4E) and the collaboration of JAEA during the third week of June.

The validation of the accelerator prototype, together with the success of other constructed prototypes related with the Target facility and Test Facility in Europe and Japan within the time allocated for IFMIF/EVEDA will support the start of construction of IFMIF whenever the fusion community demands a fusion-relevant neutron source.

A traditional Indian blessing for the Cryostat Workshop

In the Indian pantheon, Ganesha is the one who can remove the hurdles from the path of our human endeavours. In India, anything of importance—a wedding, journey or construction project—begins with an invocation to the elephant-headed deity.

Since a small portion of the ITER platform has been made available to the Indian Domestic Agency for the construction of the Cryostat Workshop, it was natural to place this football-field-sized piece of India under the protection of the „Remover of Obstacles.”

Throwing a bridge between the high-technology world of ITER and the Indian tradition of times immemorial, Bharat Doshi, Cryostat Section leader, first explained to his guests during a ceremony held on 6 June how the giant ITER cryostat will be assembled from 54 segments manufactured in India.

He then proceeded to „break the coconut” and share the coconut meat among the guests—a ritual that is also meant to appease Mother Earth, whose tranquillity will soon be disturbed by the construction works.

Once every guest had broken a coconut, a large excavator symbolically scratched the earth where the 26-metre-high, 110-metre-long Cryostat Workshop will soon be erected.

The same Indian company (Larsen & Toubro Ltd) that will manufacture the cryostat will also build the Workshop and manage the assembly and welding activities all the way through to the final integration of the cryostat into the machine.

„We have already launched the procurement process for the raw material,” explained Philippe Tollini, Larsen & Toubro’s director for Europe and Russia. „We are presently in the manufacturing design stage, which will be completed by September. We should begin to receive the first cryostat segments from India at the end of 2014, beginning of 2015.”

„The cryostat is an essential part of the ITER installation,” explained ITER Deputy Director-General Rem Haange. „It has to be absolutely leak-tight and its assembly requires kilometres of welding. It is a tough job not only to manufacture but also to assemble.”

Last fall, Larsen & Toubro awarded the construction of the 5,500 square-metre Cryostat Workshop to the French company Spie-Batignolles, which was part of the consortium that built the adjacent Poloidal Field Coils Winding Facility.

Construction should begin in earnest in the coming weeks and take a year and half.

CLI hears Nuclear Regulator’s report on inspections

Since January 2012, the French Nuclear Safety Regulator (Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire, ASN) has performed five inspections of the civil works on the ITER construction site.

Last Thursday 30 May at ITER, the results of these inspections were presented to the participants in the plenary session of the Local Commission for Information (CLI)—the citizens watchdog group that monitors ITER activities in accordance with the French 2006 Transparency and Nuclear Safety Act.

ASN considers that the organization of the ITER worksite is robust and efficient. In 2012, however, the Regulator noted that there was still room for improvement in the management of „non-conformities”—the small and inevitable deviations from blueprints that occur in construction works.

On a few occasions last year ASN observed that the „notification process” from the moment a deviation is identified by the contractor until a non-conformance report is processed by the ITER Organization needed to be optimized.

Following this remark, the ITER Organization took the necessary measures to ensure that procedures are observed throughout the chain of suppliers and contractors. In its last inspection to date (25 April 2013), ASN noted „a real improvement of the principles adopted and imposed by ITER [to its contractors] in the management of non-conformities.”

Although it is not an obligation, the ITER Organization has accepted that one or two CLI members be included as „observers” in one of the upcoming ASN inspections. Both the ASN and the CLI expressed their appreciation to ITER Director-General Osamu Motojima for this expression of the Organization’s commitment to openness and transparency.

ASN will continue to scrutinize the ITER installation throughout its lifetime and into dismantlement.

Robert Aymar receives top superconductivity award

Robert Aymar, former director of the ITER project (1993-2003) and director-general of CERN (2004-2008), has been selected to receive the IEEE Max Swerdlow Award for Sustained Service to the Applied Superconductivity Community (2012) for his technical and managerial leadership at CERN and ITER and for the use of superconducting magnet technology in high energy physics and fusion energy projects.

The award will be presented on 15 July 2013 during the opening session of the 23rd International Conference on Magnet Technology (MT-23), which will be held this year in Boston, USA. The award consists of an engraved plaque, an honorarium of USD 5,000 and an inscribed medallion made of niobium—the metal most commonly used in superconductor applications.

The award citation recognizes Aymar for sustained service to the applied superconductivity community that has had a lasting influence on the advancement of the technology and for leadership in the development of many large-scale superconducting magnet systems such as Tore Supra, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and ITER. The award also recognizes his role in directing research for the next-generation devices beyond the LHC and ITER, in chairing numerous committees for the promotion of academic research, and in organizing workshops related to applied superconductivity and large-scale superconducting magnets.

Following his studies at the prestigious Ecole Polytechnique in Paris, Aymar joined the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission CEA in 1959. Early in his career he focused on fundamental research in plasma physics and applications for controlled thermonuclear fusion.

In 1977, he was appointed director of the Tore Supra project in Cadarache (France) dedicated to research on the magnetic confinement of hot plasmas towards steady-state operation. He oversaw the project from conceptual design, through construction, and up to its operational kick-off in 1988 when he became head of the CEA’s Department of Fusion Research.
In 1990, he was appointed director of the Division of Fundamental Research in Natural Sciences at CEA, running a wide range of basic research programs including astrophysics, particle and nuclear physics, condensed matter and climatology, as well as thermonuclear fusion.

Aymar took charge of the international research program to prepare for ITER construction in 1994. He then spent five years as the Director-General of CERN, from 1994 on, overseeing the construction and launch of the LHC.

Since January 2009, Aymar has served as a Senior Scientific Advisor to the Chairman of the CEA.

The IEEE Max Swerdlow Award for Sustained Service to the Applied Superconductivity Community has been presented to a total of 11 individuals in the past 12 years by the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) Council on Superconductivity. Within the applied superconductivity community worldwide, this award is considered the premier distinction for the recognition of technical service in the field.

Additional information is available at

Progress on magnet supports in China

The Chinese Domestic Agency is building the full set of magnet supports for ITER, representing more than 350 tons of equipment. The magnet supports will support the overall tokamak gravity load of 10,000 tons as well as withstand the unprecedented large electromagnetic loads experienced by the magnets.

The gravity support system, attached to the base of the cryostat with 18-fold symmetry (see image), needs to accommodate local thermal shrinkage during operation of -32 mm for the toroidal field coil structure cooled to 4K while remaining rigid against all out-of-plane bending.
In May, representatives of the ITER Organization and the Chinese Domestic Agency were present to witness a step forward in the preparation of a gravity support mockup test frame, which is part of the qualification phase of the Magnet Supports Procurement Arrangement.

The mockup aims to verify the reliability of design and simulate some sub-scale operation loads on the ITER gravity supports. To this aim, a true-size gravity support mockup and a multi-dimensional loading test frame system was designed by the Southwestern Institute of Physics (SWIP).

At the beginning of 2012, the loading frame system was fabricated by the Changchun Research Institute for Mechanical Science Co, Ltd. and pre-accepted by both the Chinese Domestic Agency and SWIP. It was delivered to SWIP in February for assembly.
In May 2103, the first set of Alloy 718 fasteners were released for the final gravity support mockup test installation; these had been manufactured by Guizhou Aerospace Xinli Casting & Forging Co., Ltd.

Wuhan Heavy Machinery, the main machining and welding supplier of the Chinese Domestic Agency, is currently producing prototypes of poloidal coil supports in order to optimize and qualify final manufacturing processes in the prospect of beginning series manufacturing in 2014.

ITER presented at France’s "energy transition" debate

Earlier this year, France launched a wide national debate on energy transition. The aim is to prepare the ground for a new law to be passed in 2014 which will define quantitative objectives for each energy source and allocate specific means and funding to reach these objectives.

The debate is currently organized in the French départements through local initiatives such as public conferences, exhibitions and meetings. André Dorso, national secretary of the National Debate initiative, explains the importance of public consultation: „It is the first time that a national debate is organized in a decentralized way. This is because the regions do not have the same needs and there are significant regional disparities in energy supply. Also, the energy transition is not a mere technical issue. It is also related to public attitude and human behaviour.”

On 29 May, a conference was organized in Troyes (near Paris) by the Syndicat Départemental d’Energie de l’Aube, which owns and manages the energy infrastructure of the Department. The conference was attended by 400 representatives of the cities and local governments. Several presentations described the current energy situation, as well as forecasts and plans for 2030 and beyond. According to ADEME’s optimistic projections, the total energy consumption in France, currently at 151 Mtoe (million ton of oil equivalent) is expected to go down to 123 and 82 Mtoe, respectively in 2030 in 2050. At the same time, renewable energies are expected to provide 35 percent of the total needs by 2030.

The ITER Organization was invited to present the status of the ITER project at the conference. A specific presentation was prepared, aimed at a non-specialist French-speaking audience. While I stressed from the outset of the presentation that no commercial development of fusion is expected before 2040 the contribution of ITER to the discussion was appreciated. Once more I was able to observe that, although France is host to ITER, a large part of the French population discovers the project through our presentations.
The people I spoke with after the conference were enthusiastic and impressed by the project, its scale and its objectives. They appreciated our efforts to reach a non-scientific public. This is, in my opinion, a key communication objective as it is crucial that ITER be endorsed by the local, and national, community.

Download the general ITER presentation (in French) here.

Burning the midnight oil for the AC/DC converter

„Dear Kookie, please fill out and forward. Thank you.” (9:00 a.m., France)
„Dear Caroline, could you confirm… appreciate it” (4:00 p.m., Korea)

It’s not always highlighted, but the behind-the-scenes work for a successful ITER design review takes endless patience, organization and collaboration across long distances. For Caroline Moller, part of ITER’s Electrical Engineering Division, and Kook-hee Moon, part of the Korean Domestic Agency—as well as their colleagues—this often means days that begin very early, or end very late …
Last week, the Final Design Review for ITER’s AC/DC magnet power converters took place from 28-31st May at ITER Headquarters.

"Both the Electrical Engineering Division and the Korean Domestic Agency team have made a big effort to get this Final Design Review to go well,” says the Technical Responsible Officer for this system for ITER, Hao Tan. „I was impressed by the fast response and good cooperation between the two teams, including working at midnight! It was the first time we prepared the design review meeting according to the new procedure*. Achieving success was possible through strong support and tight collaboration both inside and outside the ITER Organization—a true expression of the Unique ITER Team—which should be a valuable experience for the future.”

„A Preliminary Design Review for the AC/DC magnet power converters was held exactly one year ago, part of the Procurement Arrangement signed by the Korean Domestic Agency in March 2011. The scope of the Procurement Arrangement includes the detailed design of the AC/DC power converter units for the ITER correction coils and vertical stabilization coils. During the preliminary review, interface requirements were clarified, key electrical design parameters were carefully evaluated, factory acceptance test (FAT) items were fully discussed, and site installation procedures and tooling were well investigated. This month, after one year of hard work, everything was ready for the Final Design Review for the correction coil and vertical stabilization power converters. (The Final Design Review of the central solenoid and toroidal field coil power converters is planned for the end of this year). 

The new design review procedure applied to the Final Design Review was a challenge for the joint team composed and the industry consortium comprising Dawonsys and Hyosung. Led by Hao Tan, all parties have been working closely together since March when the interface review meeting was finished. Within 80 days, an internal Final Design Review was organized by the Korean Domestic Agency in order to ensure success during the ITER review. The ITER Organization technical team reviewed all of the review documentation in advance before its official submission to make sure all the key points of the design were presented clearly and precisely. 

„We were all inhabited by the same desire to succeed at this Design Review,” says Caroline. „We exchanged many emails and phone calls to better manage the logistics of the event and to plan for the unexpected. Good team work and communication, the power to listen and respect different cultures … these are the things that create a positive dynamic and that allow us to move forward calmly and confidently.”

Kook-Hee, who acted as meeting secretary, agrees: „For the ITER Organization and the Domestic Agencies, communication is primordial. All participants worked hard for many months in the interest of the project. I cannot deny that the week was very intense, but satisfying. Believe it or not, I miss being at ITER already!”

China’s HT-7 retires after 11,800 plasma shots

Next time you want to see HT-7 you will have to go see it in its new home, ASIPP’s new energy centre in Huainan (80 km west of Hefei). It will ultimately become a museum exhibit, showcasing an important period of history and bearing witness to fusion research developments in China over the past two decades.

Recently the HT-7 Tokamak was officially endorsed for retirement by the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Ministry of Environmental Protection after a three-month review of the feasibility of retirement and the retirement plan that included an assessment of scrap equipment and environmental impact. This is the first mega-science device that has ever been taken out of service in China.

HT-7, the world’s fourth—and China’s first—superconducting tokamak entered service in 1995 and has fulfilled all of its scientific missions, running nearly 20 rounds of experiments, discharging 11,800 plasma shots, nurturing three generations of Chinese fusion scientists and achieving a 400-second record in long plasma discharges.

Its story dates back to early 1990 when Academician B. Kadomtsev, the former director of the Kurchatov Institute in Moscow, expressed his Institute’s willingness to transfer the T-7 Tokamak to ASIPP as a gift.

After discussing logistical, management and technical considerations with his colleagues, as well as the engineering and physics challenges, Academician Huo Yuping (the director of ASIPP at that time) made a quick and bold decision to accept the offer. This decision received strong support from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and other government authorities.

From 1991 to 1994 T-7, together with its subsystems, was transported to Hefei. Despite economic hardship at that time, ASIPP—with the participation and assistance of Russian scientists—pooled its human and financial resources to rebuild the T-7 Tokamak, which was renamed "HT-7" (the "H" stands for Hefei).

After commissioning in March 1995 HT-7 was put into operation the same year, a milestone marking the entry of China (after Russia, France and Japan) into the circle of nations possessing a superconducting tokamak.

In order to conduct long-pulse high-performance plasma operation and related physics research on HT-7, ASIPP developed dozens of systems and technologies such as radio frequency wall conditioning, a water-cooled graphite limiter, a1.5 MW/20-110 MHz radio frequency heating system, real-time multi-variable feedback plasma control, 2.45GHz/1.2MW lower hybrid current drive, and a 30 MW thyristor convertor in same phase anti- parallel connection with 4-quadrant circulating current operation mode.
In total, 11,8000 shots were discharged in nearly 20 HT-7 experiment campaigns, which explored graphite limiter operation mode, high parameter plasma characteristics with wave heating and drive, and long-pulse high-performance operation modes. On 21 March 2008, HT-7 achieved a 400-second plasma record with central electron temperature of twelve million degrees and central plasma density of 0.5×1019m-3.

Because of HT-7 construction and operation, ASIPP has greatly enhanced its R&D capabilities and cultivated a team of engineers and scientists willing to brave hardship and challenges, a trustworthy „team of accomplishments.” In addition, ASIPP has promoted extensive international cooperation.

The valuable experience and manpower training resulting from HT-7 exploitation paved the way for the successful construction and operation of EAST and has laid a solid foundation for China’s contribution to ITER. It is also a valuable source of information for the future fusion research and projects.

To those who have worked for and on HT-7, the tokamak represents a huge part of their lives—a legend of tears and laughter. The day of 12 October 2012 will always be a day to remember for ASIPP staff: three generations of ASIPP scientists gathered in the HT-7 tokamak control room to witness the last plasma discharge of this beloved machine and to say goodbye. HT-7 did not let them down, putting a beautiful full stop to its career by giving a mighty and last shot amid thunderous cheers and applause.

At last! Time to rest, old pal.

China delivers first load to ITER

It’s a long road from the Institute of Plasma Physics (ASIPP) in Hefei, China to the ITER site in southern France: 500 kilometres by route to the port of Shanghai; some 10,000 nautical miles from Shanghai to the port of Marseille-Fos; another hundred kilometres for the last leg of the journey, from Fos to the ITER site.

The distance was covered by trucks and the container ship Lyra in 38 days. Three crates that had been loaded at Hefei on 25 April were delivered to the Poloidal Field Coils Winding Building on Monday 2 June, three days ahead of schedule.

The crates contained the first batch of ITER items delivered by ITER China to the European Domestic Agency Fusion for Energy (F4E): 737 metres of dummy conductor, in three lengths, to be tested in a mockup of poloidal field coil number five (PF5). The 25-ton load was also the first ITER item to enter the large on-site winding facility.

„The conductor will be used to test the whole fabrication process,” explained Neil Mitchell, head of the ITER Magnets Division, as the crates were being unloaded and inspected. „This copper conductor will be wound, tested for tolerance, insulated, impregnated under vacuum and formed into a 'double pancake’ in the same way the actual superconducting niobium-titanium conductor will be handled by F4E at a later stage. What matters here are the mechanical properties, which are similar in both the copper dummy and the actual superconductor.”

An ITER load, even when it’s only a dummy component destined for mockup testing, is not an ordinary load. The transport crates were equipped with several monitoring devices to record movement and accelerations throughout the journey; other systems monitored the pressure inside the conductors, which are filled with pressurized inert gas, to confirm that there was no contamination by damp or salt.

Verifying that the crates (and hence the conductors) had not suffered during the 38-day voyage was the first thing that Piergiorgio Aprili, from F4E, and Chen Huan and Sun Yana, representing the Chinese transporter Sinatrans, did upon the delivery of the load. The integrity of the accelerometers was verified—proof that no major shock had occurred—and the crates’ „Black Box” was recovered for later analysis.

Compared with the oversized components that will soon be delivered to ITER this week’s 25-ton load appeared quite modest. However, for all those involved—ITER China, Sinatrans, F4E, the ITER Organization and the logistics service provider Daher—this was an important moment. „We have already managed several shipments of small components to and from the ITER Domestic Agencies,” explained Daher’s Laurence Prudhomme who oversaw the unloading operations, „but this is the first real heavy load we’re dealing with.”

Beginning early next year, the loads will change in scale: several hundred tons, by then, will be routine.

View an example of accelerometre data collected during the transportation of TF Coil conductor from Hefei to the Japanese port of Kobe in November 2012.