Last week, 16-20 September, the fusion community convened in Barcelona, Spain for the International Symposium on Fusion Nuclear Technology (ISFNT). More than 750 participants gathered at the Palau de Congressos to be brought up to date on developments in the field of fusion technology and materials and on the construction of ITER—the „symbol and example of global cooperation to tackle a global energy problem,” according to Pere Torres, Secretary of Enterprise and Competitiveness of the Generalitat de Catalunya, as he opened the symposium.
The ISFNT is recognized as one of the main international gatherings on fusion energy with a clear focus on reactor-relevant technology. In its 11th edition last week, the symposium took a close look not only on the current state-of-the-art technology related to ITER, but also dared to look forward to the possible design, requirements and safety aspects of future DEMO reactors and power plants.
The road forward, it seems, is not yet clearly delineated. Different concepts were presented; some countries, like China, seem to even have more than one iron in the fire. Complementing these discussions, a special fusion Roadmap Panel—moderated by prominent fusion representatives—tried to narrow down the key issues on the way to a fusion reactor.
Dedicated workshops addressed future reactor-relevant technologies such as ceramic breeder blankets or the treatment of beryllium; a half-day industrial workshop was set up to provide companies with updated information on the current procurement status of ITER and forthcoming opportunities; no less than 161 posters gave lots of opportunity to exchange and connect. And this is what the ISFNT is all about. In the words of Pere Torres, „This event contributes to the collaboration amongst researchers and allows for the sharing of knowledge.”
The conference closed with a presentation by South Korea as host to the next ISFNT from 14-18 September 2015 on the island of Jeju.
In less than one year the capacity of ITER Headquarters will have increased to about 900 desks, from 550 currently, following the award of the extension construction contract signed in July with a French consortium (Vinci). Drilling to investigate the soil and rock of the land parcel near the west end of the ITER Headquarters, where the 35-metre extension will be added, began last week.
The extension will provide much-needed additional space for the ITER Project team: projections show that during the peak of construction there will be more demand for offices than can be accommodated in the current ITER Headquarters building or existing pre-fabricated structures.
Work should progress rapidly on the extension once the worksite has been secured and temporary contractor offices are in place. During the month of October, excavation and levelling operations will begin. Foundation pouring will be carried out in November and December and—beginning early in the new year—the structure of the five-storey building will rise at the rate of approximately one level every three weeks. The entire building will be standing in May 2014.
The design and plans for the 3,500 m² extension were provided by the firm of local architect Rudy Ricciotti, who was the principle in the team that conceived the original project—the 20,000-square-metre Headquarters that was handed over to the ITER Organization in October 2012. The tender offer launched in March by the ITER Organization was concluded on 26 July with the award of the contract to Travaux du Midi/Dumez Méditerranée (Vinci).
From the exterior, the extension will look like a carbon copy of the original, although important cost-saving measures were put into place to respect the strict budget. Employees with desks in the new extension will take the last elevator in the main building to arrive at their offices (there will be no elevator in the extension, although the space for an elevator shaft will be maintained on the exterior of the building in case it becomes necessary to add this feature in the future). Choices were also made on the finishing materials that resulted in important cost savings.
The priority during the tendering and negotiation phase for this contract was to respect the budget and the schedule. The EUR 7.5 million budget for the extension (which includes the design, construction and the addition of an extra parking level in the main ITER lot) will be offset by charging existing and future contractors who use office space in the ITER buildings.
Employees will notice changes to their work environment in the weeks and months to come. The tall fence that will be erected around the extension building site will reduce the road in front of Headquarters to one lane, with alternating traffic lights for the shuttle buses that travel between office buildings. Also, the large bay windows that terminate the west-end corridors in the main Headquarters building will soon be replaced by solid walls, with soundproofing to reduce construction noise.
„Clauses were negotiated into the contract to make noise reduction a priority on this worksite,” says Erwan Duval, Facility Management Officer. „We have some latitude—for example the loudest operations can be scheduled before the arrival of employees in the morning. We are also fortunate that the heaviest works will be over by the time windows are opened again next spring.”
The completed extension is planned for delivery in July 2014.
The ITER Itinerary test convoy, featuring an 800-metric-ton trailer replicating the weight and dimensions of ITER’s most exceptional loads, has successfully completed its four-night journey, arriving at the ITER construction site at 4:45 a.m. on Friday 20 September.
The 46-metre-long trailer, with its dummy load of 360 concrete blocks, was escorted by a large squadron of police officers and followed by support vehicles and technical personnel. It had completed the journey from Berre L’Etang near the Mediterranean Sea to the ITER site over four nights.
Large-scale public works were carried out by France as Host to the ITER Project along the 104 kilometres of the ITER Itinerary between 2008 and 2011 to widen roads, replace or reinforce bridges and modify intersections in preparation for the exceptional size and weight of some of the ITER components.
The test campaign was conceived to monitor key points along the Itinerary. Measurements collected as the convoy passed over bridges and negotiated its way through towns and intersections will be carefully analyzed in the weeks to come. But already, the Itinerary has demonstrated its conformity with the rigorous technical specifications of ITER’s most exceptional loads.
Organized by Agence Iter France in close collaboration with French authorities; implemented by ITER’s global logistics service provider DAHER; and financed by the European Domestic Agency for ITER, Fusion for Energy, the test mockup simultaneously replicates the largest and the heaviest of the actual loads that will be transported for ITER: 600 metric tons (plus the 185-metric-ton trailer), 33 metres long, 9 metres wide and 10 metres tall.
For the ITER Organization—responsible for the construction and operation of ITER—the successful arrival of the Itinerary test convoy is a major milestone.
The ITER full-W divertor design goes to great lengths to make sure that there is no possibility—on any of the many thousands of high heat flux handling elements—of an edge sticking up (for example, as a result of mechanical misalignment) that could overheat and begin to melt under the relentless bombardment these components receive during high power operation. However ITER’s size means that it will have the capacity to reach a value of stored energy in the plasma more than a factor of 10 higher than the largest currently operating tokamak, JET (EU). When some of this energy is released in a rapid burst (for example due to very transient magnetohydrodynamic events such as ELMs), some melting is possible—even if all edges have been hidden by clever design.