Where vessels are born

As General Manager of the marketing and sales department at Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI), B.K. Chung has seen many a vessel come off the production line. In Ulsan, Korea the company’s giant shipyard puts out more than one hundred large ships per year (tankers, container ships, etc.) and accounts for 15 percent of the world’s shipbuilding capacity.
However of all the vessels that the company produces, one is unique. It is a vessel that will never take to the sea, one that will remain anchored for some thirty years amid the hills of Haute-Provence: the ITER vacuum vessel.

Within the scope of its in-kind procurement to the ITER Project, it is Korea’s responsibility to produce and deliver two of the nine sectors (#1 and #6) and 35 of the sets of ports that form the ITER vacuum vessel. (Korea will also manufacture toroidal field coil structures on behalf of ITER Japan.)
Following the contract signature in 2010 and the production of real-size mockups in 2011, HHI launched the fabrication of the actual components in October 2012. It plans to have all four segments (upper, inboard, equatorial and lower) of the two vacuum vessel sectors complete by 2016, then welded and ready for shipping to the ITER site in 2017.
Although the company has acquired considerable experience in cutting, forming, machining, welding and drilling steel structures—and although it is not new to fusion, having manufactured the core components of the KSTAR Tokamak in the early 2000s—the production of sectors for the ITER vacuum vessel presents some unique challenges.

„It is a real challenge for us to overcome the difficulties of welding, non-destructive examination and tolerances due to the very unique shapes of the components,” explains Byung-Ryul Roh the general manager of the Nuclear Power Department in HHI’s Industrial Plant & Engineering Division. „However, the R&D acquired on the mockups has provided our engineers with all the necessary technologies.”

The ITER vacuum vessel, which forms the first standing barrier between the nuclear plasma and the environment, is one of the main ITER Safety Important Class (SIC) components. It is also an ESPN component (équipement sous pression nucléaire, equipment under nuclear pressure) as defined by the French nuclear safety regulations that ITER observes. As such, it is an extremely demanding piece of high technology.
The „ITER-grade” steel that is used in vacuum vessel fabrication (supplied by Industeel France, formerly Creusot-Loire) requires specific welding techniques. Welding distortion has to be kept to a minimum, tolerances are very tight, and sophisticated non-destructive examination techniques must be implemented with utmost care and precision. Adding to these difficulties, ITER—with all of its organizational complexity—is very different from HHI’s „normal” clients.

However daunting the challenge, the feeling in Ulsan is one of confidence. Carrying out the work for KSTAR added precious fusion expertise to the company’s 40 years of experience and no one here doubts that the difficulties will be overcome.
Twenty months have elapsed since the company began high-pressure water jet cutting the 2 x 6 metre, 60 millimetre-thick steel plates that constitute the raw material of the ITER vacuum vessel. Press forming followed, then heat treatment to release the tension inside the metal, machining, welding (five different plates for the upper segment) and drilling (75 holes for the inner shell of the upper segment alone, counting 11 hours to drill a single hole).
This long and painstaking process to produce the inner shell of Sector #6 to demanding ITER specifications will be replicated for all of the vacuum vessel components that Korea is responsible for. But that’s not all.

Because seven other vacuum vessel sectors will be manufactured by Europe, HHI must also take into account the issue of interfaces. „We’ve had meetings with European manufacturers but it is not sufficient. What we need now is detailed discussions on a regular basis,” says Chung.
Although the ITER contract is the equivalent in value of two supertankers, ITER activities occupy a very small place within the huge HHI Ulsan shipyard and represent only a portion of the company’s sales. „It is small yes,” agree Chung and Roh, „but it is very significant for the fame of our company.”
Observing a large and strategic ITER component slowly taking shape in a workshop some 10,000 kilometres away from the ITER site is a stirring experience. It may only be one small piece of the vacuum vessel—still, it’s a towering presence in the giant hall, one that dramatically conveys the industrial dimension of the ITER Project.

View the different stages of the fabrication process here.

Attending to the needs of newly arrived expats

For almost ten years she helped expatriates from France to settle in China. Now she will help the integration of ITER expats in France.
After finishing high school Zhen Chen, newly appointed Staff Welfare & Assistance Officer in the Human Resources Division, studied French in Bejing for four years and then worked at the renowned Alliance Française for two. To put her language skills to practice and get a taste of France and its cultural subtleties she then spent a year in Paris. 

And France has remained a leitmotif in Zhen’s life ever since.

Back in Bejing she was asked to be part of the team that started up the Chinese subsidiary of Dalkia, a French company specialized in energy services. In 10 years Dalkia China, initially a small-scale company with just a couple of employees, grew into a full-scale operation of 1,700 people. Zhen played a key role in managing the human resources aspects of this rapid growth and the quick and efficient integration of many French expats in their new life and work.

Her experience in dealing with the challenges and needs of newly arrived expats will be very helpful at the ITER Organization, which is constantly managing new staff arriving from its Member states. In her newly created position within the Human Resources Division, one of her main responsibilities will be to set up a Staff Welfare Program, which will provide services to staff to help them improve their work-life balance. She will also work on a program to help newly arrived staff to quickly settle in and understand the ITER Project and its organization. 

Another important part of her job will be to manage the contacts between the ITER parents and the international school. In her new role, Zhen will work in collaboration and consultation with Agence Iter France’s Welcome Office and the ITER Staff Committee.

And of course Zhen will be her own test case when it comes to experiencing first-hand what it is like to be new at ITER and in Provence. „So far, as a newcomer I find people at ITER very open and supportive,” she says. „The multicultural atmosphere with all those different nationalities and their diverse perspectives makes for a very stimulating and instructive environment.” Early next year Zhen’s husband and four year old son will join her in Manosque to make her integration in Provence complete.

Diagnostics experts converge at Headquarters

The International Tokamak Physics Activity (ITPA) Topical Group on Diagnostics (Diagnostic TG) held its 25th meeting at the ITER site from 15-18 October. The group has a wide remit, starting from advising the ITER Organization on diagnostic requirements, passing through proposing, planning and reporting on joint experiments on diagnostic techniques and analysis, and culminating with supporting ITER operation and advancing diagnostics for DEMO and future reactors.

At the meeting, chaired by Yasunori Kawano, extensive progress was reported on mirror cleaning techniques for optical measurements. This type of technology will be deployed for the first time in ITER, where the extended plasma burn times (4700 hours) combined with the high energy bombardment of the first-wall components can lead to rough mixed-metal build-up on the mirrors. Progress was also made in understanding and reducing the impact of wall reflections. For all-metal wall machines such as ITER, these can distort or even mask the signals from optical diagnostics.

A discussion on escaping alpha particles produced in the fusion burn resulted in the launching a new activity for further investigation, including a proposed new method. Measurements and techniques for dust, tritium and erosion were discussed in a special session. These measurements are needed so ITER can plan its operation and maintenance well within regulatory limits and to gain understanding on the way to DEMO.

A new joint experiment for the systematic comparison of Charge Exchange Recombination Spectroscopy and X-ray Imaging Crystal Spectroscopy was presented. These diagnostics measure ion temperature and plasma rotation—both parameters necessary to steering the machine.

The group also discussed progress with neutron calibration during a special two-day ITER Organization workshop. This is an important area for ITER, both for regulatory compliance and to reduce the uncertainties in extrapolating ITER performance to DEMO.

This was the first meeting of the Diagnostic TG to be held at ITER Headquarters, and the first to make use of remote participation in the auditorium. It was combined with a one-day progress meeting of ITER Organization Diagnostics Division. „Participation was better than average, with all parties represented and good progress in key areas reported,” said Chair Kawano.

The group’s next meeting is planned for the first week of June 2014, in Korea.

Record building contract awarded by Europe

The European Domestic Agency for ITER, Fusion for Energy, has concluded a EUR 530 million contract for Tokamak Complex building services with a Franco-German consortium comprising Cofely Axima, Cofely Ineo and Cofely Endel (part of the GDF Suez Group) and the M +W Group GmbH.

This is the largest contract ever awarded for the ITER Project by Europe, which is responsible for the construction of 39 scientific buildings and dedicated areas on the ITER platform.

The building services contract covers the design, supply, installation and commissioning of the mechanical and electrical equipment for the Tokamak Complex plus the surrounding buildings—a total volume of 97,200 m3. Scope will include an HVAC system (Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning) powerful enough to treat 1,000,000 m³ of airflow/hour, Instrumentation & Control (I&C) systems, power supplies, interior and exterior lighting, gas and liquid networks, state-of-the-art fire detection and extinguishing systems (2,000 fire detectors), pipe fittings, and handling equipment with various interfaces to buildings and systems.

The contract signature follows on the heels of the main Tokamak Complex construction contract signed last December and which was kicked off this year. Under this latest contract, the works necessary for the installation of ITER’s high-tech Assembly Phase equipment will get underway.

Read the full story on the Fusion for Energy website.

Paving the way for tritium breeding

Last week, the committee in charge of the governance of the Test Blanket Module Program (TBM Program) convened at ITER Headquarters for its tenth meeting. The TBM Program Committee meets twice a year to review the implementation in ITER of these in-vessel components and their associated ancillary systems charged with testing viable techniques for the "breeding" of tritium necessary for the fuelling of future fusion power reactors. The Committee’s findings are reported to the ITER Council.

The main objectives of the meeting were to verify the status of the short-term steps planned in the present ITER Baseline and to identify the actions needed to achieve them on time. The most important milestones identified were the signature of the six TBM Arrangements and the organization of Conceptual Design Reviews for the six different Test Blanket Systems, which are scheduled for the second half of 2014, or early 2015.

An important agenda item was to reach agreement on the details of the early procurement of the connection pipes for the Test Blanket System. These connection pipes belong to the six Test Blanket Systems and should therefore be procured by the relevant ITER Members. A document dealing with the administrative and financial arrangements for the procurement of those pipes has now been agreed upon and will be recommended to the ITER Council for endorsement.

The tenth TBM Program Committee noted the good progress in the design development performed by the ITER Organization and in the R&D activities carried out by all seven ITER Members. The main milestones in relation to the activities planned for 2014 and 2015 were verified and confirmed by the group.

A further item discussed was the preparation of the Radwaste Management Agreement necessary to the definition of how radwaste related to the Test Blanket Systems will be dealt with during ITER Operation and later decommissioning. In this respect, the activities to be performed by the Test Blanket Program Working Group on Radwaste Management have been clarified and addressed.

The TBM Program Committee noted the progress made in this area. However, a significant amount of work is still necessary to complete the analyses. The Program Committee charged the Test Blanket Program Working Group (TBP-WG) to define in detail all the actions needed from the disassembly of the Test Blanket Modules and the Test Blanket Systems up to their disposal; to define the models estimating tritium inventory and out-gassing and to homogenize the received data with the objective of identifying cost drivers; and to perform a preliminary estimation of the costs related to the main actions (temporary storage, transportation, and disposal).

To address the need of wider involvement on the part of the ITER Organization in the Working Group activities, the tenth TBM Program Committee nominated Jaap van der Laan as Working Group Vice-Chair.

Further reading: News on development work for the European Test Blanket System was published this week on the Fusion for Energy website.

For the assembly cranes, integration is key

If one excludes such monsters as the Taisun crane at the Yantai Raffles Shipyard, in Yantai China, capable of lifting 20,000 tons, the ITER assembly crane, with a lifting capacity of 1,500 tons, can be counted among the strongest in the world.

The ITER assembly crane—actually two 750-ton cranes working in tandem—will provide synchronized lift and millimetre-scale positioning for the ITER Tokamak components. The system will be complemented by two smaller 50-ton auxiliary cranes.

In July, the European Domestic Agency Fusion for Energy awarded the contract for the design, certification, manufacturing, testing, installation and commissioning of the four cranes to a German-French consortium, NKMNOELL-REEL, formed by NKMNoell Special Cranes GmbH, Germany and REEL S.A.S., France. The contract, worth approximately EUR 31 million, also includes the 120-ton capacity Tokamak cargo lift that will move activated components from the Tokamak to the Hot Cell facility during the Operation Phase.

The Final Design Review for the assembly cranes, which started off at ITER on Monday 30 September with the presentation of the design, generated only minor comments.

However the review, chaired by ITER’s Central Engineering and Plant Directorate head Sergio Orlandi, strongly stressed the necessity of integrating the cranes in respect to the wider context—a „double” integration taking decommissioning requirements into consideration in the crane system design, and integrating the crane system into the structures of both the Assembly Building and the Tokamak Complex Building (two constructions that differ in almost all aspects).

„Decommissioning the installation once the ITER scientific program is completed some thirty years from now is the responsibility of France,” explains Sergio. „However, it is rational for the ITER Organization to design a system that will be used for both the assembling of the machine and for its dismantling. To me, integration for both phases is the key point. And this, as the design review pointed out, can be done with later minor refurbishing”

The design review also addressed what Sergio calls „a critical point”: the connexion between the Assembly Building and the Tokamak Complex whose combined length will be travelled by the cranes as they move from one building to the other to position the pre-assembled components of the ITER Tokamak.

Central to the connexion challenge are the seismic joints that must allow for the progressive settlement of the 360,000-ton Tokamak Complex. „After five or six years,” explains Orlandi, „the building will have 'sunk' some 7 to 10 millimetres relatively to the Assembly Building which is much lighter. This is normal but it is something we have to take into consideration.”

We are still two years away from the beginning of assembly operations. „The crane is a very good crane. We have absolutely no worry about it. But integration has to get deep into our culture. Integration will insure that we have a safe and functional behaviour of the whole system in all conditions.”

ITER advisory board gives green light for technical changes

During its 15th meeting, the ITER Council Science and Technology Advisory Committee (STAC) paved the way last week for two important technical decisions that will have positive impact on the performance of the ITER machine and on its scientific schedule.

Pending the adoption of the STAC proposal by the ITER Council next month, the ITER divertor will be equipped with tungsten (W) targets right from the start of operations, and two in-vessel coil systems (the ELM control and the vertical stability coils), will be in the ITER Baseline.

„This STAC meeting was a very significant one,” David Campbell, director of the Plasma Operations Directorate, told the staff assembled in the ITER amphitheatre on Thursday, only one hour after the meeting had concluded. „Two important technical decisions were made. These positive recommendations came after many years of hard work at the ITER Organization and in the Domestic Agencies, supported by a wide range of scientists and engineers in the Members' communities. I think that we should feel very pleased that we were able to bring these technologies to a level of maturity to convince the STAC.”

The decision to go ahead with the full tungsten divertor is based on the successful testing of tungsten prototype modules at the high heatflux ITER Divertor Test Facility in St. Petersburg, Russia, and on the encouraging experimental results of a controlled shallow melting of the W divertor recently experienced on JET.

„Based upon the detailed assessments reported in the two preceding meetings, the STAC believes that the technology and physics bases of the carbon and tungsten divertor options have reached the level where it is possible to decide on the Baseline strategy of the first ITER divertor,” reads the STAC-15 report. The STAC thus recommends the use of W targets for the first ITER divertor and, „in order to make this strategy robust enough,” further recommends that „the ITER Organization continues, together with the fusion community, the R&D in the technology and physics related to the W divertor (…).”
On the subject of in-vessel coils, the STAC was pleased with the „considerable progress” made on the design and prototype development. The conductors for both ELM and vertical stability (VS) coils have been manufactured and the bending, forming and winding trials are being performed successfully at the Institute of Plasma Physics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (ASIPP).

Anna Encheva, the responsible engineer for ITER’s in-vessel coils, reported that the completion of the prototypes is expected by the end of this year, with the testing assessment scheduled for March 2014. Some technical challenges remain to be solved, such as the brazing of the joints to the coils and to the feeders and brazing of multiple supports to the conductor.

STAC-15 also looked into the progress being made in the nuclear load analysis of the toroidal field coils and in the various heating systems, especially the good feedback provided by the ELISE facility and its valuable input into the design of SPIDER, the test bed for ITER’s neutral beam ion sources.

The STAC recommended that the ITER Organization, in close collaboration with the Domestic Agencies, make an all-out effort to stem the slippages in the schedule and develop credible recovery plans.

The advisory board also stressed the need for the rapid development of a reliable Disruption Mitigation System for ITER on the basis of improved modelling and dedicated experiments, recommending that ITER „allocate adequate resources” for the development of such a mitigation system.

At the end of the all-staff meeting, David Campbell took the opportunity to thank the outgoing STAC Chairman, Joachim Sanchez, "for all his hard work in leading the advisory board through a lot of thorny issues in the last two years, and for his talent for bringing the group of experts to agreement." His successor will be announced by the Thirteenth ITER Council convening 20-21 November.

EU awards engineering contract for poloidal field coils

The first of a number of work packages for the manufacturing of ITER’s poloidal field coils has been signed by the European Domestic Agency, Fusion for Energy (F4E).

The Engineering Integrator contract was awarded to ASG Superconductors (Italy) in August 2013. As Engineering Integrator, ASG will be responsible for issuing a manufacturing plan for ITER’s poloidal field coils that defines the manufacturing layout and workflow, including manufacturing drawings and procedures for the production of all the poloidal field coils to be produced in the on-site Poloidal Field Coils Winding Facility. The manufacturing plan, developed in compliance of rigorous Quality Assurance, will establish the control of manufacturing activities and the production schedule.

ASG will also support F4E in the procurement of the tooling and equipment for component manufacture and supervise the manufacturing and cold test activities. A team of approximately 20 engineers will work under the contract, worth approximately EUR 27.5 million.

Europe is responsible for the fabrication and testing of ITER poloidal field coils 2-6 (poloidal field coil 1 will be supplied by Russia). Coils 2-5 will be manufactured and tested in Europe, while poloidal field coil 6 will be manufactured in China and cold tested in Europe. Cold testing will involve cooling the coils to low temperatures (80 K) in order to reproduce the thermal stresses that will be experienced during ITER operation.

In addition to the Engineering Integrator contract, work packages are under preparation by F4E to cover the tooling, site and infrastructure, manufacturing and cold testing of the poloidal field coils. Focus will now be on implementing the Engineering Contract and negotiating the next procurement, which is for the tooling necessary for winding operations.

Read more on F4E’s website.

Standing easy

In a small warehouse in Peyrolles, about 10 km south of the ITER construction site, a key access structure for ITER in-vessel assembly is currently undergoing trials. It’s a 30° degree prototype of ITER’s in-vessel staging: a structure made of aluminium grating, that will enable the assembly workforce to install components and tooling on the inside of ITER’s vacuum chamber.
While Michelangelo had to rely on a shaky wooden structure to paint the frescoes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, the people in charge of mounting ITER’s in-vessel components to walls of the steel structure will have something more robust. Four levels of staging will be installed during the assembly process to provide access to all interior surfaces.

The staging has been designed to allow safe, fast and easy access to four levels inside the vacuum vessel. Its modular design will be adaptable to the different tasks that will take place in parallel in the vessel.

The staging will be used mainly for man access, but the structures have been designed to be strong enough to also support machinery and equipment such as weld sets and manual hoists. The staging can accommodate 70 workers at the same time during assembly. However, the number of persons at the same time in the vessel will be determined by the safety officers.
On the 7th of October, at the CSTI workshop in Peyrolles, where the prototype was manufactured, a small delegation from the ITER assembly team visited the company to test the installation of the staging and accept the prototype.

Step by step, the delegation witnessed a 10° section extended to form the 30° prototype. Staging support beams were lifted by custom designed handling tools and positioned on adapters that—in situation—will be attached to the vacuum vessel wall via blanket support housings. The beams in place, the grating panels were then lowered one by one with the help of the same handling tools. This is the sequence of tasks that, within the vacuum vessel, will be repeated to form a full 360° section of staging.

For Mark Norman, who led the design work for ITER, the requirements to produce a design that was safe, lightweight, modular and adaptable to vacuum vessel tolerances was „quite a challenge” for the machine assembly design team. „The prototype shows that a good compromise was achieved and that the final design will provide a safe working environment to carry out the many installation tasks.” Witnessing prototype assembly was also the occasion to highlight some potential problems with the supply of the floor panels, according to Myriam Le Page, Technical Engineer within the Assembly Section.

The fabrication of the full staging floor is part of a package of in-vessel assembly tools for which the tender process is ongoing.

A "true engagement" to bring about a sustainable future

Shortly after World War I, Daniel Dunlop, a visionary working in the British electricity industry, decided to bring together leading energy experts for a World Power Conference to discuss the energy issues of the day.

Held in London in 1924, the First World Power Conference attracted 1,700 delegates from 40 countries. The meeting was so successful that those attending decided to establish a permanent organization to pursue the dialogue on a regular basis.

From those auspicious beginnings can be traced the origin of the 22nd World Energy Congress (WEC), which gathered more than 6,000 delegates last week in Daegu, South Korea.

In a little under 90 years the „energy issues of the day” have changed drastically. During the early years, the World Power Conference (the name was changed to World Energy Congress in 1968) was all about assessing the „power resources” of the world and presenting the „inventions” that would help to exploit them.

In the last quarter of the twentieth century as the WEC focused on the fluctuations of the oil market, new players entered the field (nuclear), new preoccupations surfaced (the environment) and energy—due to economic, political and technological concerns—became a societal issue.

The 22nd edition of WEC aimed to focus attention on another drastic change in the global politics of energy. What is at stake today is the very future of our planet. „Energy security is one of the biggest issues that humankind faces,” insisted Korean Prime Minister Jung Hong-won in his opening address. „Depletion of natural resources, environmental pollution, and climate change pose an actual threat to people’s lives.”

As WEC delegates debated the options for "Securing Tomorrow’s Energy Today," fusion was, for the first time, included in the official agenda. In a dedicated session on fusion, experts—ITER Director-General Osamu Motojima and former MAC chair Gyung-Su Lee among them—argued that fusion could significantly contribute to the energy mix of the future.

"After ITER success around 2030, we can start the DEMO national projects. DEMO could produce energy by 2040 and feed fusion power to the grid," said Osamu Motojima.

As the curtain fell on the 22nd edition of WEC on Thursday 17 October, the „true engagement” called for by WEC Chairman Pierre Gadonneix to bring about „a sustainable energy future for people throughout the world” was virtually signed.

Below are excerpts from keynote speeches and interviews from the 22nd edition of WEC.

On general energy issues

Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary General:
„Energy is the golden thread that connects economic growth, environmental health, social fairness and opportunity.”
Park Geun-hye, President of the Republic of Korea:
„We are now faced with the biggest challenge ever in relation to energy on a global scale […] but if we gather our wills together, there must be a way and a solution.”

Jung Hong-Won, Prime Minister of the Republic of Korea:
„Energy security is one of the biggest issues that humankind faces, with a depletion of natural resources, environmental pollution, and climate change posing a threat to people’s lives.”
Maria van der Hoeven, Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA):
„Right now, a population four times the size of the US lives without access to electricity, holding back global economic development. Tackling this problem is a moral imperative, and we cannot afford to ignore it.”
Khalid A. Al-Falih, President and CEO of Saudi Aramco:
„The inevitable, massive [global] growth in demand for electricity means nuclear will still form a significant part of the electricity generation mix.”
Dan Roderick, President and CEO, Westinghouse:
„If you want energy security you can’t do it better than with nuclear.”
Yukiya Amano, Head of the International Atomic Energy Agency
"There will be an increase of nuclear power globally, but Asia will be at the centre of that, especially China, India and South Korea. Seventy new nuclear power reactors are being built at the moment—50 of them in Asia—in addition to the more than 430 already in operation worldwide."

On Fusion

Osamu Motojima, Director-General, ITER Organization:
"After ITER success around 2030, we can start the DEMO national projects. DEMO could produce energy by 2040 and feed power to the grid."
G.S. Lee, former President of the National Fusion Research Institute of Korea, former ITER MAC Chair:

„What makes fusion completely different is that it’s a knowledge-based energy, not a resource-based energy.”
Minh Quang Tran, Director-General of the Centre for Plasma Physics at Ecole Polytechnique, Lausanne, Switzerland:

„We have the talent and the resources. What we need now is the political commitment, but in parallel, not sequentially […] We have arrived at the moment that Lev Artsimovitch had anticipated when he said, back in the 1970s, that fusion would be available when society needs it. Well, society needs fusion now.”
Nebojsa Nakicenovic, professor of energy economics at the Vienna University of Technology:
„Fusion is both disruptive and inspirational—after all, it’s about taming the stars… I’m convinced that fusion will change the whole energy paradigm by the middle of the 21st century.”

Down to the detail

The current schedule for the assembly of the ITER Tokamak contains 27,000 lines.

And that schedule will expand further as the assembly planners at the ITER Organization work with engineers to structure the activities around construction work packages and further define the steps of the procedures.

Beginning in late 2014, each day in the Assembly & Operations Division will begin with a coordination meeting where the previous day’s progress in assembly and installation is reviewed and the work plan for the day ahead adjusted. Participating in these meetings will be the assembly planners and managers, ITER and Domestic Agency system responsible officers, assembly staff, the Site Manager (responsible for the overall organization and safety coordination of site works) and, over time, the construction managers for each of the six independent worksites.

But we’re not there yet.

First, the 27,000 Tokamak assembly activities have to be reviewed line by line—a task of epic proportions—to make sure that each activity is consistent with the latest designs on the one hand and the overall schedule on the other.  This task falls to ITER’s assembly planners, a small team of experts from the construction industry working with Steve Gilligan (Assembly & Operations Planning responsible officer) and Debbie Cox (planning lead within the Machine Assembly & Installation Section, led by Bob Shaw).

„We are currently progressing with defining and planning the hundreds of construction work packages that will make up the complex assembly of the ITER Tokamak,” says Steve. „Each one must be reviewed for consistency with the assembly sequence that is being developed through detailed engineering studies before it can be included in the specifications of assembly contracts and finally executed in the field by a construction contractor.”

Major assembly framework contracts are being planned for the execution of works and for all the necessary support services; within these „umbrella” contracts detailed work packages will be issued based on the actual delivery dates of components and on construction progress. Even to prepare for the works, there are 10,000 tasks planned—engineering studies, mockups, trials, and the preparation of contracts, some of which need to be in place by mid-2015.

It is also necessary to elaborate a management plan for site works that defines roles and responsibilities, the management of work execution, cost control and other key factors such as logistics, materials, storage and expediting, with safety a prime consideration at all times.

Last May, the ITER Organization presented an overarching construction site management strategy to ITER’s Management Advisory Committee (MAC) and since then has been moving forward to develop a detailed strategy and implementation plan.

The Assembly & Operations Division is using industry-standard tools to manage planning—Primavera (for scheduling), Intergraph (for construction management) and most recently Cleopatra, dedicated cost estimating software that can handle high-level conceptual estimates based on limited information right down to accurate estimates based on detailed engineering designs.

„We were looking for a better and more structured way to manage budgeting and costs,” explains Steve. „The complexity of Tokamak assembly and state-of-the-art fusion technology makes it challenging to perform effective cost management. With our new software, we expect to achieve cost efficiencies.”

For example planners and engineers may reserve three months for the sub-assembly of vacuum vessel sector 6 for example, but it may take less. That would be an opportunity to redirect resources to another area, potentially reducing cost and schedule. „As planners we have to analyze both the risks and the opportunities of every activity and identify, in advance, appropriate responses or eventual workarounds.”

This type of detailed planning is a critical pre-requisite to meeting the ITER schedule. With their new software, planners will be revisiting the cost estimate for the five-year assembly phase based on the latest industry rates, the mature ITER design and the integrated work packages for plant systems—information that will feed directly into the detailed scheduling work underway currently at the ITER Organization and the Domestic Agencies.

Benchmarking activities at other tokamaks and at large construction projects have taught the ITER planners one important lesson, according to Steve: Do not underestimate the scale of engineering preparation and planning required for the assembly and installation works to be performed safely and in conformity with regulatory requirements.

In terms of complexity, ITER is more comparable to a large EPR reactor than it is to one of the existing tokamaks. „ITER will have to install bulk commodities such as power cables, valves, and piping on a massive scale in multiple facilities—that leads to complexities of scale and complexities of organization that have not been seen before in fusion. We may have as many as 20 contractors from the ITER Organization and Domestic Agencies working at any one time in the Tokamak Building during assembly—it’s absolutely huge. That’s what we’re trying to get ready for.”

WEC: tackling the "energy trilemma"

For ninety years since the establishment of the World Energy Congress (WEC), global energy issues have revolved around national politics, technology, the economy and—over the past four decades—the price of the oil barrel. Today, as can be felt here in Daegu, Korea, where the 22nd edition of WEC opened this Sunday, there’s an added urgency to the matter: discussing energy in 2013 is discussing the future of our planet.

„Energy is a daunting challenge that must be addressed by the international community,” said Korean Prime Minister Jung Hong-won as he spoke to some of the 6,000 delegates from 140 countries who have assembled here until Thursday. „It is vital that we form a coherent, long-term framework within which to plan and implement future investments,” added WEC Chairman Pierre Gadonneix, the former CEO of the French utility company Electricité de France.

Never before has energy been so high on the agenda of world leaders. Every nation and the world as a whole must face what WEC has identified as the „energy trilemma” of the decades ahead—energy security, energy accessibility and environmental sustainability.

While WEC is about self-promotion, where the largest companies, state-owned power operators, ministries and regulatory agencies compete for the largest and most spectacular exhibition stand, it is also about inventing a vision and drawing scenarios for the future. Gadonneix said he expected „true engagement” from the many policy makers present here in Daegu.

Now, can tomorrow’s scenarios include fusion as a significant contributor to the energy mix and as an answer to the energy trilemma?

Early Monday 14 October, during a session entitled „Fusion: Betting on a different future?” participants ITER Director-General Osamu Motojima, former President of the Korean National Fusion Research Institute (NFRI) Korea Gyung-Su Lee and Minh Quang Tran, Director-General of the Centre for Plasma Physics at Ecole Polytechnique, Lausanne (Switzerland) replied yes—provided political commitment matches the talent and resources that fusion can already command and provided too that, once the DEMO stage is reached, the competition jumps in to accelerate the passage to fusion commercialization.

„ITER is a power amplifier,” said Director-General Motojima. „DEMO will be a money amplifier …”

Several experts drew an interesting parallel between fusion and the Apollo project in the 1960s. For Nebojsa Nakicenovic, a professor of energy economics at the Vienna University of Technology, „the fusion challenge is much bigger than that of Apollo fifty years ago. It’s like going from the first flight of the Wright brothers to the first commercial jet.”

_To_64_Tx_Director-General Motojima suggested  a more poetic image: „Then, people could look at the Moon and dream of walking, which created massive support for Apollo. The Sun is another dream but you can’t look at it for more than a couple of seconds…”

He also pointed out another connection between the two projects: „Helium 3 was discovered in great quantity in the rocks that were brought back from the Moon. And Helium 3 is the future fuel of fusion…”
View more images of the two first days of WEC here.

Ready to launch the prototype: HTS current leads

High Temperature Superconductor (HTS) current leads are the components that transmit the large currents from room-temperature power supplies to very low-temperature superconducting coils. HTS current leads use a short segment of high temperature superconductor that can sustain much higher current densities than even good conductors such as copper, allowing the reduction of the material cross-section and the related heat conduction by about tenfold. Power and installation cost savings with HTS current leads are estimated at approximately 20 percent of the total heat extraction capacity of the ITER cryoplant.

The current leads for the ITER Tokamak have come a long way: from the original 60 kA proposals from the Japan Atomic Energy Research Institute (JAERI) and European partners (KIT’s "demonstrator"), to the first prototypes fabricated and tested in China at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Institute of Plasma Physics (ASIPP), and now on to the presentation of the HTS current lead mockups at the 12th HTS working group meeting that took place in ASIPP (Hefei, China) held last week from 10-11 October.

The HTS working group, which brings together experts from institutes in Japan (NIFS), Europe (CERN), China (ASIPP) and the ITER Organization, has been supporting the development of the HTS current leads for ITER since 2008. Yuntao Song, the project manager for the ITER feeders at ASIPP, gave the 12th working group a warm welcome, stressing that „the HTS current lead team in ASIPP has spared no effort and no expense to deliver the HTS mockups on time.”

The current lead mockups presented this week were fully endorsed by the working group, thereby giving ASIPP and China the ITER Organization stamp of approval for the manufacturing process and technology for the 60 large-scale HTS current leads that ITER will need.

„The development and manufacture of the HTS current lead for ITER goes significantly beyond the present state-of-the-art of those used for the Large Hadron Collider or the stellarator project Wendelstein 7-X,” says Arnaud Devred, leader of the Superconductor & Auxiliaries Section at ITER. „Thanks to the hard work and dedication of the young team at ASIPP and the support provided by the ITER Organization and its experts, a significant milestone has been achieved, paving the way to the manufacture and testing of prototypes of each HTS current lead type.”

Procurement Arrangement specifications required that, following the development of the designs of ITER’s three types of current leads, targeted trials of specific features were required from each supplier to prepare fabrication and testing of prototype units in ASIPP. Five different types of mockups were made to develop the most critical technologies in preparation of series manufacturing (insulation, electron beam welding, heat exchanger manufacturing, low temperature superconductor end assembly, and instrumentation).

To ensure the high standards of quality required for these Quality Class 1 components, significant preparation was mandated by the ITER Organization; the fabrication and testing of the mockups was the final stage in qualifying the design and procedures. (Many of the procedures required extensive testing on sub-features of the mockups.)

In preparation for mockup manufacturing, 80 quality documents had been submitted by each of the suppliers; these were reviewed by the ITER Organization and the HTS working group. This documentation represented the basis against which the actual manufacturing process had been assessed by the suppliers' quality assurance staff. The ITER Organization dispatched quality inspectors to the suppliers to witness the most critical operations.

„This was the first Manufacturing Readiness Review for one of the main magnet systems and represents a clear step forward for ITER Construction,” commented Neil Mitchell, Magnet Division head, with satisfaction. „In this two-day face-to-face meeting we were able to confirm the quality of manufacturing development and our readiness to launch the prototype.”

Manufacturing can begin on acceleration grid power supplies

Part of the Neutral Beam Test Facility, the SPIDER test bed is designed to finalize the development of the ion sources required for the ITER neutral beam injectors and to test all essential aspects of the diagnostic neutral beam accelerator.

Together with MITICA, a full-scale test of ITER’s heating neutral beam injector, SPIDER will help resolve challenging physics and technology issues and validate concepts before the neutral beam system is built at ITER. Europe, Japan and India are contributing components to the Neutral Beam Test Facility, which is under construction in Padova, Italy.

On 29-30 August, the Indian Domestic Agency (ITER India) hosted the final design review for the acceleration grid power supplies for SPIDER and also the diagnostic neutral beam. The acceleration grid power supplies for both systems are similar with respect to their technical specifications (system rated for 96 kVDC, 75 A) and intricacies. However, one will be installed at the Neutral Beam Test Facility (SPIDER), while the other will be installed directly at ITER to power the diagnostic neutral beam.

Under separate Procurement Arrangements, India is responsible for the design, procurement, supply, installation and integration of the acceleration grid power supplies for SPIDER and the diagnostic neutral beam. To fulfil its commitment, ITER India concluded a Memorandum of Understanding with a leading manufacturer in India—the Electronics Corporation of India Ltd (ECIL). Under this arrangement, ITER India has placed contracts for design, manufacture, supply and testing.

Late August, experts from India’s Institute of Plasma Research, the manufacturer ECIL, industry and ITER India participated in the final design review, with the remote participation of experts from the ITER Organization, the European Domestic Agency, the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE) and Consorzio RFX (host to the Padova test facility).

The review panel appreciated the untiring efforts of all involved in the development of the design. Only one category 1 chit and 13 other category chits were raised during the final design review; experts gave very useful suggestions that will be taken into account by ECIL. The closure of the final design review on 16 September with the resolution of the category 1 chit and ten others now paves the way for initiating manufacturing activities.

"We" must supersede "I"

Competitive cyclists develop stamina, discipline and determination—all strengths that will assist ITER Chief Engineer Joo-Shik Bak as he takes on new and additional responsibilities as head of the Project Control & Assembly Directorate.

„ITER is changing phases,” said the newly named Director, „and we need to change too. After years of focusing on completing the design, we are now transitioning to manufacturing and very soon to assembly and installation. The work we do now to prepare for assembly is of extreme importance.”

The Project Control & Assembly Directorate was created by the ITER Director-General earlier this year to direct resources to preparing for this critical phase of ITER construction, for which the ITER Organization has full responsibility. „We are determining now how to treat assembly in the most efficient manner. As a first-of-a-kind project it’s not easy to capture industry experience. We need to think now about how best to select the most capable contractors for assembly works.”

Joo-Shik, who has been acting director for the Directorate since March, already has the experience of building four large-scale projects in Korea. „Based on my previous experience, I know that our success in this endeavour will be based on two principles: working together and keeping our promises.”

„Together,” he explains, „we can achieve what no one person could achieve alone. In a project, the 'we' must supersede the 'I’—that is to say that the team is more important than any one person, including myself.”

And for him, the notion of „promise” is best expressed by the Chinese character for the word, which is made up of two faces—confidence and binding. „It means that we make promises that we can keep and we keep the promises we make. We have many important decisions to make together as a team.”

Before coming to France for ITER, Joo-Shik was a ranked cyclist in his age category and it’s an activity that he enjoyed in Provence … before a serious accident slowed him down last June. „It used to help me release work-related stress and wind down on weekends.” Now, recuperating from a broken shoulder and a broken collar bone—and with his additional responsibilities—Joo-Shik will be sticking a little closer to the office.

Another step towards powering the ITER facility

Colleagues from US ITER, ITER Korea, and the ITER Organization gathered in Ulsan, South Korea on September 25-27 at the premises of Hyundai Heavy Industries to participate in the Manufacturing Readiness Review for the ITER Steady State Electrical Network (SSEN) High Voltage Substation Transformers.

This successful review is a crucial step towards powering the ITER facility.

The four transformer units, each rated 400/23.1kV, 75MVA, serve to connect the ITER site’s 400kV Prionnet substation, operated by the French operator RTE, to the ITER SSEN AC distribution system. The SSEN, together with the PPEN (Pulsed Power Electrical Network), provides all electrical power to the ITER facility.

The SSEN provides power to all of the conventional „steady” loads of ITER, including the cooling water systems, the cryoplant, and all other loads demanded by the site infrastructure up to and including the HVAC and lighting of the buildings. The PPEN provides power to the „pulsed” systems of ITER, including the magnet power supplies and plasma heating systems. Considering the critical role of SSEN, the quality and reliability of the transformer units is key to the high availability of ITER operations.

The four units will be delivered one at a time, with the first arriving at ITER in the fall of 2014 and the last in early spring of 2015. The relatively early delivery needs of the SSEN 400kV substation components, including the transformers, is based on the need for power delivery from the SSEN substation beginning in the fall of 2015 to provide for the gradually increasing level of power required at the site during the ITER system commissioning phase.

Following the review resolution process, Hyundai Heavy Industries will submit a revised documentation package that will reviewed and approved by US ITER and the ITER Organization; then, a Manufacturing Release will be issued and fabrication will begin.

Hyundai Heavy Industries is among the leading power transformer manufacturers in the world, with an annual production capacity of 120,000 MVA, and unit ratings up to 765kV and 1500MVA. The transformer manufacturing facility is part of the massive Hyundai industrial complex located adjacent to Ulsan harbor.

The ITER Organization was represented by Joel Hourtoule, head of the Electric Power Distribution Section, and Supriya Nair, the Technical Responsible Officer. Following the tradition of good cooperation within the ITER Electrical Engineering Division, Jong-Seok Oh, the ITER Korea power supply technology team leader, attended the review to facilitate communication between review participants and to gain experience relevant to transformer procurements for the ITER AC/DC converter system. Additional participants from US ITER included Ajoy Das, the lead engineer from the URS Corporation (under contract to PPPL) serving as the SSEN Engineering Support Subcontractor, and Paul Russman, a seasoned power transformer consultant who has served clients at over 25 design reviews at the Hyundai Heavy Industries Ulsan factory. 

Measuring up: the challenges of blanket alignment

There are carefully laid plans, and then there’s reality.

In the world of CATIA design models, the alignment of the ITER in-vessel components such as the blanket will proceed smoothly, without variances or deviation to trouble the horizon. Onto the nine welded sectors of the vacuum vessel, 440 blanket modules will be attached just so, respectful of tolerances of approximately 10 mm globally and nominal gap requirements between adjacent modules (both vertically and horizontally) of +/- 4 mm.

But engineers know that variances from design parameters will occur during manufacturing and construction. Weld shrinkage during vacuum vessel assembly will introduce variation, for example, and as a result the as-built picture of the vacuum vessel will differ from nominal models … with repercussions for all the assembly tasks that follow.

ITER’s in-vessel components have thus been designed to be adjustable. Manufactured in plants around the world and shipped to ITER, several thousand components will be customized during assembly to achieve the demanding tolerances allocated to in-vessel systems. For the blanket, composed of massive steel shield blocks that carry the plasma-facing first wall panels, alignment will be achieved by customizing approximately 4,000 interfacing components.

Central to identifying the variances—and defining customization requirements—are sophisticated optical metrology techniques.

„To have first-wall panels aligned within a relative step tolerance of 5mm, the shield blocks must first be precisely installed,” says David Wilson, responsible officer for alignment and metrology for ITER. Each of the 440 blanket shield blocks will be bolted in four positions to the vacuum vessel wall. „Our challenge will be to machine the shield block’s customizable components —the flexible cartridges (which house the bolts) and the key pads so that together they compensate for variation in the vacuum vessel.”
Metrology engineers will begin by surveying the as-built geometry of the vacuum vessel and comparing the results to nominal CAD models to determine variances to be compensated via the shield block interfaces.

To do so, the four cartridges from every shield block—1,760 in all—will be positioned by hand in their corresponding housings on the vacuum vessel. Identifiable through coded targets, they will aid the metrology software to „make sense” of a multitude of images taken by photogrammetry cameras. Thousands of other retroreflective metrology targets—over 20,000—will be distributed on the surface of the cartridges and keys so that viewing cameras are able to identify the axis of each cartridge, the planes that interface with the shield block components and even the rotation of the screwed-in components that, once machined, must be returned to the same location.

_To_63_Tx_”It’s not simple,” says David. „But by querying the position and orientation of the cartridges and keys against corresponding interface coordinate frames on the shield blocks, we will be able to determine customization parameters for cartridges and key pads. How much material needs to be removed? What adjustments should be made in the surface plane or height? What location and angle for the access hole for the bolt that will fix the shield block to the vacuum vessel wall?”

The shield block cartridges and key pads will then be sent off site for customization.

„We know how the complete process will work,” says David, who works closely with other colleagues from Assembly and Operation. „But as a proof-of-principle, we conducted a trial for one complete blanket assembly last year. On a prototype built by the UK firm AMEC —complete with pre-built vacuum vessel interfaces—we confirmed the steps and feasibility of the blanket alignment through five complete iterations.”

Metrology surveys will be conducted at every stage of the in-vessel component assembly process. Once machined, the cartridges will be re-surveyed in their in-vessel position to qualify the process. Another survey will be carried out after the shield blocks are installed and still another following the assembly of the first-wall panels.

„We have established the flow chart of events, from surveying the as-built vacuum vessel to determining customization parameters to evaluating the alignment of components at every stage,” says David. „And we have just chosen a contractor to study the survey requirements for in-vessel component interfaces and develop a measurement scheme to meet them. Alignment tolerances are very demanding and therefore the measurement system selected must by extremely robust and accurate.”

The twelve-month In-Vessel Survey Development contract signed in October with G2 Metric (Toulouse, France) includes the definition of camera locations and positioning strategy, online process monitoring, target designs, data alignment processes, analysis and reporting, and customization definition. As part of this contract, software shall be developed to manage the complete process from receipt of survey data through to the delivery of customization parameters.

„This is an important step for metrological processes,” concludes David. „Other in-vessel components will require similar surveying and customization as part of their assembly process and we will certainly learn from the development work accomplished for the blanket.”

More factory than mere "workshop"

„Nine months, precisely,” says Cryostat Section Leader Bharat Doshi with a large smile. „The Cryostat Workshop was conceived in May and we are expecting  delivery in February…”

As the 22-23 September Manufacturing Readiness Review demonstrated, the „baby” is in very good health, growing fast and strong. Joint efforts by the Indian Domestic Agency and contractors Larsen & Toubro, Spie Batignolles TPCI, Currie & Brown  were visibly appreciated by the review panel made up of representatives from the ITER Organization and ITER-India, who acknowledged that the building’s construction design fulfilled requirements.

About half of the steel columns are already in place; in the coming weeks they will double in height to attain 27 meters, adding a new and distinctive feature to the ITER platform.

„The Cryostat Workshop—110 metres long, 44 metres wide and 27 meters tall—will be comparable to an Airbus hangar,” says Bharat. „It will be a large steel structure with slightly positive pressure inside, equipped with a huge, motorized, airtight door (15 x 33 m) for the passage of the preassembled cryostat sections.”

The steel structure will be rather light, but sturdy for a building this size. Approximately 500 tons of steel will go into the trusses, beams and columns. „The strength of the local winds (for example, the Mistral) as well as heavy loads have been taken into consideration,” adds Bharat.

A large 200-ton goliath crane (also called a gantry crane) capable of travelling the whole length of the building will be solidly anchored into the floor. The crane, whose components will come from Italy, will be installed after the closing of the roof.

When it’s up in all its length and breadth in February, the temporary Workshop with its dull-grey livery will be the second industrial building on the ITER platform. For few years, the Workshop—actually more a factory than a workshop according to Bharat—will host the assembly, welding and testing of the ITER cryostat sections.”

The „baby” will not have to wait long for its first large toy: the lower cryostat components are due to be delivered on site in  2015.