A call to arms for making fusion happen

To the members of the wider fusion community, the name Dan Clery most likely rings a bell. News editor for the magazine Science since 1993, Dan has closely followed the excitement and frustrations of the quest for fusion energy and, of course, the „making of” ITER. Over the years he has gathered more than enough information to fill regular magazine pages and so he decided to, temporarily, swap the fast beat of a news reporter for the reclusiveness of a book author.

A Piece of the Sun draws the bow from the Big Bang, to Prometheus, to the first scientists working out the details of the fusion reaction, the first machines and experiments, and finally to modern times. None of this is new and may have appeared before in print, but don’t be mistaken! Dan is not only an eloquent writer, but also a skilled journalist with a mission. In his hands, the book is far more than a technical narration of the good old days: it is a political statement … a rousing call to arms for making fusion happen.

„The world energy industry is worth trillions of dollars—divert only a tiny fraction of that into researching fusion and we will soon know if it is workable,” Dan passionately argues. „Some technological dreams just take time to come to fruition,” he writes, drawing the parallel with the Wright brothers and Virgin Galactic’s spacefaring pleasure aircraft. „The cost and time it will take to make fusion work has to be balanced against the enormous benefits it will bring. It won’t damage the climate, won’t pollute and it won’t run out. How can we not try?”

Read an interview of Dan Cleary on the PPPL website.

Русский День at ITER

Do Russians drink vodka for lunch? ITER DDG Alexander Alekseev made the point that they didn’t but Vladimir Pozdnyakov, Russia’s Consul General in Marseille, said he was „not so sure”, suggesting that they might, „just a little bit, on some special occasions…”

Vodka was the only thing Russian that was missing (along with Slavic melancholy) at the celebration of ITER’s Russia Day on Friday 19 July. For the rest, it was all there: the food, the songs, the dances, the images of Mother Russia…

More than 600 ITER staff and contractors participated in the event that Olga Star and Igor Sekachev had organized.

Experts on Russian singing and dancing (and there are at least 26 at ITER) assured that the five singers and dancers of Marseille’s Alliance franco-russe were among the best they had ever seen.

Vladimir Vlasenkov, Deputy Head of the Russian Domestic Agency, who was participating in the Unique ITER Team week at ITER, said „it [was] not very common, even for [him] to witness such a beautiful expression of Russian traditions.”
Click here to view more pictures of Russia Day at ITER.

Pair of safe hands to handle up to 1,500 tons

Fusion for Energy (F4E), the Domestic Agency managing Europe’s in-kind contribution to ITER, has signed a contract with the NKMNOELL-REEL consortium formed by NKMNoell Special Cranes GmbH, Germany and REEL S.A.S., France (part of Groupe REEL) for the design, certification, manufacturing, testing, installation and commissioning of the four cranes that will be used to assemble the Tokamak, as well as the Tokamak cargo lift that will move the casks containing components. The budget of the contract is in the range of EUR 31 million and it is expected to run for five years.

The cranes will be located within the Tokamak Building and the Assembly Building and will operate like a pair of safe hands to move the heavy components between the two areas and position them during assembly with extreme precision. The consortium will deliver two 750-ton cranes that, in tandem, will lift up to 1,500 tons during assembly, two 50-ton auxiliary cranes, and the Tokamak cargo lift.

Sophisticated engineering combined with advanced safety lifting and remote handling technologies are some of the elements that describe the nature of the work undertaken by the two companies.

How will the cranes work?

The four electric overhead travelling cranes will move between the Assembly Building and the Tokamak Building, which is divided in two areas housing the Tokamak and a crane hall above the machine.

The major heavy lifting requirements shall be met by the two 750-ton cranes. Each will be equipped with two trolleys carrying a single 375-ton hoist each. In total, the four 375-ton hoists will provide a maximum lifting capacity of 1,500 tons—the weight of 187 London double-decker buses. The cranes shall be capable of working in tandem to provide a fully synchronized lift and precise positioning. Two auxiliary cranes of 50-ton capacity will be used for other lifting activities, working independently of one another.

Which components?

The principal purpose of the Tokamak crane system is to lift and receive heavy components, support assembly operations, move the cryostat components, and transport the assembled vacuum vessel sectors and other major components. When the Tokamak machine becomes operational there will be no further planned use for the cranes. The 750-ton cranes will remain parked and electrically isolated while the 50-ton cranes will continue to be used in the Assembly Building.

How will the Tokamak cargo lift work?

The Tokamak cargo lift shaft will be located in the Tokamak Building with connecting doors to the Hot Cell. The lift will carry the casks that contain machine components. The cask is 3.7 metres high by 2.7 metres wide and 8.5 metres long—the approximate size of a London double-decker bus, weighing 60 tons when empty. Automated transfer systems and high tech remote handling systems will be deployed to transfer the casks between the various levels of the Tokamak Building and the Hot Cell by remote control. All components involved in the transfer need to be integrated in a seamless manner.

Bracing for a busy September

The summer recess at ITER (the site will be closed the week of 12-18 August) will be followed by a flurry of activity.

On 6 September, on the initiative of Günther Oettinger, European Commissioner in charge of Energy, representatives at ministerial level of the seven ITER Members will convene at the ITER Headquarters to review the main progress accomplished. This will be the second time in the project’s history that the highest-level government representatives of the seven ITER Members meet; the last time was 21 November 2006, on the day after the signature of the ITER Agreement.

Ten days later, the first technical tests will be performed on the ITER Itinerary. Organized jointly by Agence Iter France (AIF) and the DAHER Group, the operation will consist in verifying that the engineers’ calculations agree with the reality of travelling the whole length of the Itinerary (104 km) with a convoy that mimicks the most exceptional ITER loads — 800 tons in weight, 40 metres in length, 9 metres in width, and 11 metres in height.

The „measurement campaign,” as it is officially called by AIF, will be performed at night negociating the 16 roundabouts and crossing the 30 bridges that punctuate the Itinerary. The vehicle — an 88-axle self-propelled platform — will remain stationary during the day in order not to interfere with the heavy summer traffic. The public will be able to share in the spectacular event from two specifically designed viewing areas, one in Berre l’Etang where the platform will be stationed on 16 September and one in Peyrolles where it will arrive two days later.

In order to confirm that the organization among all involved entities is appropriate, a complete dress rehearsal, with all the logistics of an actual Highly Exceptional Convoy, will be organized in the following months. The first supersized ITER components (the US-manufactured drain tanks) should be delivered on site in June 2014.

As it has for the past six and a half years, Newsline will continue to report on all the events, large and small, that make the daily life and history of ITER.

We’ll be back with more news on 26 August!

India will participate in upper port plug manufacturing

ITER-India and the ITER Organization signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the Common Manufacture of Port Plugs on 16 July 2013 during the Unique ITER Team week at ITER. This MoU enables the participation of India in the common manufacture of the upper port plug that includes the Generic Upper Port Plug (GUPP) and applicable customizations. ITER-India is responsible for providing Upper Port No. 9 Integration components, of which Upper Port Plug No. 9 is one of the components.

The main functions of the upper port plug are to hold the diagnostics in position, shield diagnostics from neutron streaming and act as the first closing boundary at the vacuum vessel port flange. This upper port plug will be a stainless steel structure of nearly 6 metres in length and a little more than 1 metre in width and height, weighing approximately 25 tons.

Registration now open for MIIFED 2013 in Monaco

Whether you are an engineer full of ideas, an industry player looking for global business opportunities, or a fusion researcher wanting to keep up-to-date on the latest ITER achievements and developments, the 2013 Monaco ITER International Fusion Energy Days (MIIFED) offer an excellent opportunity for exchanging views and experiences, while forming valuable international business relationships.

MIIFED will be held on 2-4 December 2013 in the Principality of Monaco, under the high patronage of H.S.H. Prince Albert II.
This international conference will present the latest progress of the ITER project and also the major scientific and technological developments in the field of fusion and energy worldwide. The aim is to encourage synergies between energy-related research and technology developments.

Together with the exhibition, the different conference sessions will facilitate learning, networking and partnering with other research actors.

The following high level speakers have already accepted to contribute to MIIFED 2013:
His Serene Highness Prince Albert II
Yukiya Amano, Director-General, IAEA
Bernard Bigot, Chairman, CEA
Jean-Jacques Dordain, Director-General, European Space Agency
Charles Elachi, Director, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, USA
Masako Inoue, Director, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Japan
Madhukar Kotwal, Member of the Board, Larson & Toubro, India
Sir Chris Llewellyn Smith, former Director-General, CERN
Umberto Minopoli, President, Ansaldo Nucleare, Italy
Osamu Motojima, Director-General, ITER Organization
John Parmentola, Senior Vice-President, General Atomics, USA
Hideyuki Takatsu, Chair of the ITER Council
Maria Van der Hoeven, Executive Director, International Energy Agency

Click here to register online.


An Associated Laboratory in fusion was established earlier this month between the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and the French Commission of Atomic Energy (CEA) to develop cooperation on two long-pulse tokamaks, EAST and Tore Supra, soon to be equipped with an ITER-like tungsten divertor — the project WEST.

The creation agreement was signed on 3 July by Prof Li, director of the Institute of Plasma Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences (ASIPP) and Gabriele Fioni, director of CEA’s Physics Science Division, CEA, at the French Embassy in Beijing. French nuclear counselor Pierre-Yves Cordier hosted the signing ceremony, with André Grosman, deputy director of the Institute of Magnetic Confinement Fusion Research (IRFM/CEA) and consular assistant Shunming Ding. 

The associated laboratory has been created to develop cooperation on CEA’s long-pulse tokamak WEST* and ASIPP’s EAST, particularly in the fields of actively cooled, metallic plasma-facing components; long-duration plasma operation in an actively cooled, metallic environment; long-pulse heating and current drive; ITER technology support; and the preparation of „Generation ITER” (see this issue’s Of Interest entry) in all of the above-mentioned areas.

Xavier Litaudon and Yuntao Song are appointed as the associated laboratory’s co-directors. They will be responsible for leading and coordinating the performance of the projects under the Associated Laboratory Agreement.

„I am enthusiastic about the CAS/ASIPP-CEA collaboration,” said Prof Li after the signature. „The cooperation between EAST and WEST will be good for all fusion communities.”

As a first step, ASIPP has already sent two young researchers to IRFM to work for one year on WEST component design and engineering.

* WEST = W (tungsten) environment for steady state tokamak

Toroidal field coils: strand production passes 400 tons

„Toroidal field strand procurement is going rather well,” reports Arnaud Devred, who heads the Superconductor Systems & Auxiliaries Section at ITER. „We are on schedule.”

Manufactured by suppliers in six ITER Domestic Agencies—China, Europe, Japan, Korea, Russia and the USA—production of niobium-tin (Nb3Sn) superconducting strand for ITER’s toroidal field coils began in 2009 and has now topped 400 tons.

That’s more than 80,000 kilometres of strand—enough to go around the world twice at the Equator.

Worldwide capacity has had to ramp up significantly to meet the Project’s demand. There are eight qualified suppliers for ITER, including three that are new to the market (one in China, one in Korea and one in Russia). In 2011 and 2012, these eight suppliers, together, turned out over 100 tons annually.

„One hundred tons per annum represents a spectacular increase in the worldwide production of this multifilament wire which was estimated, before ITER production, at a maximum of 15 tons per year,” says Devred. „As you would expect, the price has come down, and this 'surge’ in production for ITER may well open up new markets.”

Eighteen toroidal field coils will be produced for ITER plus a nineteenth (a spare). That’s approximately 420 tons of strand, give or take a bit of spare material planned by each Domestic Agency. The production curve will begin to flatten in 2013 (see graph above) as contracts are brought to a close in several Domestic Agencies.

Devred estimates the market value of the toroidal field strand procurement at over EUR 200 million.

„It has been very satisfying to see this procurement unfold and to watch our international collaboration develop at every step in the process,” says Devred. „In addition to the sheer scale of this procurement, what is also remarkable is the quality control and quality assurance that we have been able to set into place.”

Four of the ITER suppliers are using a production technique called internal tin, while another four are using a bronze process. „It has been up to us to demonstrate that we can control both types of production within technical requirements,” explains Devred, „We weren’t sure of ourselves since this is the first time there has been such a large-scale production of internal tin. Test data shows that we can do it effectively.”  

Quality testing for ITER calls for statistical process control on critical parameters, systematic low-temperature measurements on strands, and regular low-temperature measurements on full-size conductors (25 percent of toroidal field conductor unit lengths are tested). This testing data is stored, like manufacturing data, in ITER’s conductor database, which is currently fed by approximately 150 users, including suppliers and Domestic Agencies. Some 350,000 individual objects are stored in this web database—created to monitor the quality assurance/quality control processes of the conductor Procurement Arrangements.

Devred credits the „early days” with setting up the processes and systems that are proving to work today for conductor procurement: before the signature of the first ITER Procurement Arrangement, the specifications for ITER conductors were written by a committee made up of worldwide experts in large conductor procurement. Very tight quality control was developed that imposes many control points at each stage of fabrication verified by the Domestic Agencies and the ITER Organization. „I believe this will be the key to our final success," says Devred. "I am confident that what is coming off of the manufacturing lines is as good as can be made.”

Read more on how strand is produced in Newsline 140.

Thirty four and counting

It was foreseen by the authors of the ITER Agreement, signed in 2006 by the seven ITER Members.

As a research organization, the ITER Organization may conclude scientific collaboration agreements with other international organizations and institutions in the interest of promoting cooperation on fusion as an energy source.

For ITER, collaboration agreements keep ITER scientists and engineers in close touch with work going on in precise domains relating to fusion science and technology; for the laboratories and institutes, they are an opportunity to collaborate with the fusion community’s most advanced experiment.

Since January 2008, the ITER Organization has signed 34 scientific collaboration agreements and another 4 are currently in the preparatory stages. A common thread amongst these agreements is the training of young researchers.

„In the coming years, I envision more and more of this type of scientific exchange for the ITER Organization,” says the Director-General of the ITER Organization, Osamu Motojima. „I would like to open ITER’s door to younger people who will in fact take on a lot of the responsibility for fusion in the future. ITER will be the foremost research laboratory for magnetic fusion. Scientific collaboration agreements enrich the experience of our scientists, and provide training for the next generation of fusion scientists. The ITER Organization is a Centre of Excellence in this area.”

Under these scientific collaboration agreements, the ITER Organization and research institutes can cooperate in academic and scientific fields of mutual interest. „Some of the ideas for collaboration come from our scientists. We have compiled a database of agreements signed by the ITER Organization so that when we’re approached, we can inform them whether we already have an agreement with the institute in question,” says Anna Tyler of Legal Affairs.

Typically, the agreements cover the following type of collaboration: joint supervision of students working on Master’s or PhD theses; joint training and exchange of young scientists, engineers, interns and experts; joint research projects (particularly in plasma physics); and joint seminars.

Collaboration agreements have been signed with laboratories and institutes in Austria , China France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Korea, Monaco, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, Japan,  and the UK—the most recent to date was signed just last month with the Department of Civil and Industrial Engineering at the University of Pisa (Italy).

David Campbell, head of ITER Plasma Operation Directorate, has been able to see the practical benefits of such exchanges. „Because we are aiming to develop ITER as centre of excellence in fusion research, such agreements allow us to develop scientific and technology exchanges with leading fusion research institutions around the world, building a network of fusion research activities which not only supports the preparations for ITER operation, but also contributes to the longer-term realization of the potential of fusion energy.

One of the more exciting aspects of the collboration agreements relates to the training activities and the opportunities they provide for younger researchers to participate in the ITER Project, according to Campbell. "The transfer of knowledge between generations is a key element of the scientific enterprise and an integral component of the development of ITER as an international centre of fusion research.”

Plasma seeking plasma

It has been an unusual July so far in Provence. Thunderstorms have broken over the site almost every afternoon, causing work to be stopped until the storm front moves on.

Storms over the ITER platform do not come unannounced: when one approaches, the French storm forecast agency Metéorage (a subsidiairy of Météo-France) sends an alert to security personnel, who activate the appropriate siren. Depending on the distance of the incoming storm, the siren sounds an „orange alert,” stopping only the heavy activity, or a „red alert,” requiring full site evacuation.

This spectacular bolt of lightning was captured last Wednesday from a fifth floor window in the ITER Headquarters building after a red alert was sounded.

Lightning is a high current electric discharge in the air that generates a ramified column of plasma. This specific bolt might have been looking for its kindred—the plasma that will be created within the ITER vacuum vessel. The place was right but the time some seven years too early.

Packed for India, then China

In a nondescript warehouse some 30 kilometres from the ITER site, instrumentation components destined for the Tokamak’s magnet systems are being prepared for a long journey.

Carefully arranged in their cardboard boxes, dozens of components—cables, connectors, sensors, signal conditioners—are being taped, wrapped into thick heat/humidity insulation aluminium foil and placed into a robust wooden crate.

The crate is going to India, where an ITER Organization contractor will install about 20 different types of electronic components into three cubicles and make sure that everything is operational. Once completed and tested, the cubicles will be shipped to ITER China to be used for the tests of prototype current leads, which must be qualified before actual series production begins.

For the components shipped on this occasion, the Magnet Division has relied on the help of CODAC Division engineers who have prepared a cubicle including a sub-system responsible for the investment protection during the tests.

„This place acts like a buffer,” explains ITER Coil Instrumentation engineer Felix Rodriguez-Mateos. „This is where we store the instrumentation components that we have developed, or bought off the shelf when industry has developed a solution that we consider satisfactory. The components are verified and reconditioned before being sent to the Domestic Agency in charge of their qualification or integration into prototypes and mockups.”

Contrary to the large majority of ITER components that are procured and delivered to the ITER Organization „in-kind” by the Domestic Agencies, the totality of magnet instrumentation (for feeders, coils and structures) is provided by the ITER Organization by way of „fund procurements.”

The ITER Organization buys (or develops) the needed components, has them installed by a contractor or directly by the Domestic Agency concerned. It is then the Domestic Agencies’ responsibility to validate the assembly procedures in prototypes or mockups prior to entering actual production. (In a later phase, in a lab installed for ITER, the ITER Organization will test assembly procedures for the systems it is responsible for.)

The complex logistics involved in sending the component-packed crates around the world are handled by the DAHER Group as part of their framework contract with the ITER Organization. „We never send anything before every problem, customs-related or other, is solved,” says DAHER’s Ines Bollini, who is present every time a crate leaves the warehouse. „There can be no improvisation…”

Every other week or so, a crate leaves the warehouse for a foreign destination. Its content is as important for ITER success as the giant components being manufactured throughout the world.

Adressing concerns, providing clarifications

The complexity of ITER—not only of its science and technology but also of its governance and legal framework—leaves room for many a misunderstanding.

This was amply demonstrated last Wednesday 3 July during the public meeting that the Local Commission for Information (CLI) had organized in the neighbouring village of Vinon-sur-Verdon.

The CLI is the official citizens’ watchdog group that acts as an interface between the ITER Organization and the local population. Anything that the public feels it should know falls under the CLI’s jurisdiction. And there are many things that, quite legitimately, the public wants to know about ITER.

Since it was established two and half years ago, the CLI has focused on nuclear safety issues, which has led to a fruitful dialogue between the 42 CLI members and ITER’s Department of Safety, Quality & Security.

Lately, the focus has shifted from nuclear safety to the economic and social impact of the ITER project. And at last Wednesday’s public meeting in Vinon, questions about the planned arrival of some 3,000 workers on the ITER worksite dominated the (heated) debate.

Where will the workers come from? What accommodations have been prepared for them? How will they commute to the ITER worksite?

Certain groups have long voiced concern over the legal status of the ITER  workers. Recently, too, in blogs and articles published in France, the worry has been expressed that they will be underpaid and deprived of social protection.

As was made clear by the presentations given by the ITER Organization, Agence Iter France, Vinci (which leads the consortium that will build the Tokamak Complex) and representatives of the French authorities, these worries and concerns are totally unfounded.

All workers on the ITER site, whatever their nationality or that of the company employing them, will be subjected by law to French labour regulations and to the collective agreements (convention collective) that govern specific branches. This is the case now on the ITER site, as it will be the case when the number of workers doubles, triples and quadruples.

Addressing another point of concern—that ITER will be built by mainly foreign workers—figures were provided that showed that of the 3,000 workers expected, the majority will be recruited in France. Ten to twenty percent only will originate from the rest of Europe. (Statistics from another large construction project in France—the European Pressurized Reactor (EPR) in Flamanville—confirm these projections.)

During the meeting, misunderstanding was also prevalent over worker transport and accommodation. Considering the difficulty of finding decent housing at a reasonable price in Provence and the already heavy traffic on the roads around ITER, the local population is legitimately preoccupied by the peak in construction activities on the construction site.

Not all of the 3,000 workers will be looking for accommodation, however, as a significant proportion of workers will be hired locally through companies that subcontract to the main consortiums.

Estimations range from 1,500 to 2,000 workers needing accommodation—still a high number but, as Vinon mayor Claude Cheilan noted, „this is not an unbearable load considering that the population pool around ITER numbers 200,000.”

Working closely with mayors all around ITER, Agence Iter France has conducted a survey of available housing and identified 19 locations where accommodation solutions could be developed within 30 minutes of ITER. Transportation to and from work will be organized, and rationalized, by the companies operating on the ITER site, who have a contractual obligation to provide it to the workers.

The steady rise in the construction workforce expected at ITER clearly presents organizational challenges that must be addressed and explained to the public. That’s one of the lessons from last Wednesday’s public meeting.

A visit to Mitsubishi’s Futami plant

Of the 19 toroidal field coils that will be produced for ITER (18 for Tokamak assembly, plus one spare), 9 will be procured by Japan.

The Japanese Domestic Agency has contracted with four major Japanese and Korean companies—Mitsubishi Heavy Industry, Japan (main contractor, coil case manufacturer #1); Mitsubishi Electric Corporation, Japan (winding pack manufacturer #1); Toshiba, Japan (winding pack manufacturer #2); and finally Hyundai Heavy Industry, Korea (coil case manufacturer #2 ).

Two weeks ago, participants to the Unique ITER Team (UIT) activities that followed the Twelfth ITER Council in Japan (19-20 June) had the opportunity to visit Mitsubishi Heavy Industry’s Futami facility near Kobe, where the first toroidal field coil will be wound and integrated.

Installation of the winding equipment at the Futami facility should be completed in September, allowing for dummy winding to proceed until the end of the year. Double pancake dummy winding should begin in early 2014.

The visit of the winding workshop and a discussion on the schedule presented by Mitsubishi Heavy Industry left the ITER guests with „a strong feeling of confidence,” says Head of IO-DA Coordination Songtao Wu.

First design review within Test Blanket Module program

Last week the ITER project—and the worldwide fusion community—celebrated yet another premiere: the first conceptual design review within the Test Blanket Module (TBM) program, a key technology development paving the way to fusion power. It was not yet the turn of the tritium-breeding test modules to be assessed, but that of the components required for hosting them.
During its operational phase, ITER will draw upon the global (civil) inventory of tritium, currently estimated at 20 kilos.

But future fusion power stations would have to create their own supply of tritium. Part of ITER’s mission is to test different tritium breeding concepts proposed and developed by the Members … concepts that will enable future fusion reactors to produce their fuel within the machine (tritium self-sufficiency) and at the same time extract the heat produced by the fusion reaction and convert it into electricity.

While six different tritium breeding concepts—the Test Blanket Modules—are currently in their pre-conceptual design phase, a group of experts lead by ITER Senior Engineer Guenter Janeschitz last week concluded the first design check of the modules’ frames and housings, as well as the dummy modules that will be needed to substitute for the actual TBM sets in order to close and seal the port plugs in the case of delayed delivery or in case replacement is required. Mario Merola, in charge of ITER’s in-vessel components, called the design review „a significant step forward toward the goal of testing tritium breeding technology.”

The current strategy foresees that the dummy TBM sets and the frames shall be made of water-cooled 316-L(N) steel (ITER grade), a special metal that guarantees reduced activation when exposed to neutrons, no ferromagnetic effects and adequate mechanical properties. To reduce maintenance time, the replacement of a TBM will be performed „off-line,” meaning that the entire port plug (with its TBM sets, plus frame) will be removed, stored in the Hot Cell, and replaced by a new plug with a new set of equipment. Delivery and installation of the six Test Blanket Systems is planned during the machine’s first shutdown period following First Plasma.

„We looked at the design concept from all possible different angles and the requirements have been clearly identified,” the Chairman Guenter Janeschitz stated in the panel’s close-out session, praising the high level of preparation of the review. „A significant effort was made in the presentations to cover, in a quite comprehensive manner, systems requirements, design analysis, interface requirements and manufacturing aspects—therefore, the objectives of the design review were achieved. However, a few issues such as the potential contamination of the port flange, the still-insufficient shielding performance, the attachment of the TBM sets or their dummies to the frame structure, and the expected thermal stresses these components could be exposed will have to be further considered during the post-conceptual design phase.”

Caps and gowns…in France?!?

Beginning at age 11-12, when they enter the class of sixième, and throughout their secondary studies until age 17-18, the life of a French student is entirely focused on passing the baccalauréat exam.

For more than two centuries, baccalauréat—from the Latin „laurel crown”—has been both a ritual of passage and the indispensable key to higher education.

The long road to the „bac,” however, ends in a rather lackluster fashion: anxious students wait for their name to appear on a list (either on the Internet or posted at the entrance of their lycée) and either rejoice or lament … and that’s the end of it. No graduation ceremony, no caps and gowns, no party—just names on a list.

However this year, one school in France decided that the passing of the bac deserved something better than the usual impersonal notification. The International School of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur in Manosque, attended by some 500 „ITER children,” had good reason to celebrate in style: 27 seniors, among them the first students in France to sit for the European bac, and all of them passed.

Parents and friends who attended the ceremony on Saturday 6 July were witness to a very unusual event in France: young bacheliers wearing anglo-saxon style gowns and tossing their cap into the air amidst cheers and applause.

„We wanted to celebrate all of our graduates and have a formal moment together before they all head off in a different direction,” explains international school Director Bernard Fronsacq.

The young graduates, he adds, „now have a very strong academic base. But in organizing this event, they have also acquired something that is very important for their future: they have learned to work as a team. We are all very, very happy.”

Are we really seeing the end of the tunnel?

Well, not exactly …
The opening shown in this picture, protected by plastic, is part of the path that will lead from Headquarters to the ITER Control Building. Once extended, the tunnel will take operators to the basement level of the Control Building, from where stairs or a lift will lead to the Main Control Room. Under the room’s high ceiling (7 metres), work stations for some 100 operators, engineers and researchers are planned. A glass-walled viewing gallery will offer visitors a panoramic view … and a sense of what it is like to work at harnessing the energy of the stars.

2nd batch of Russian TF conductors en route to Italy

The superconductors for the ITER magnet system are among the longest-lead production items for the project; the first five Procurement Arrangements concluded by the ITER Organization between late 2007 and mid-2008 concerned the conductors for the toroidal field magnet system.

The Russian Domestic Agency is responsible for 20 percent of toroidal field conductor procurement and 14 percent of poloidal field conductor procurement. Production is ongoing according to the schedule of the Procurement Arrangements.

On 25 June, the second batch of toroidal field conductor unit lengths started on their way from the premises of the Kurchatov Institute in Moscow to the city of La Spezia, Italy, where the winding of ten toroidal field coils will take place.

Demonstrating the attachment of Russian industry to fulfill its contractual obligations on time, two 415-metre production lengths of niobium-tin (Nb3Sn) conductor for toroidal field side double-pancakes were loaded onto trucks at the Institute. This latest shipment follows the delivery of four conductor unit lengths to Europe in October 2012, including a copper dummy and a 100-metre qualification length.

Seven similar units lengths have passed all of the tests stipulated in the Procurement Arrangement and meet ITER Organization requirements; they will, in turn, be shipped as well.