Council takes important technical and managerial decisions

Seven years to the day after the signature of the ITER Agreement at the Elysée Palace in Paris on 21 November 2006, the ITER Council concluded its Thirteenth Meeting last Thursday.

Braving an improbable episode of snowy weather, senior representatives from the seven ITER Members had gathered in the fifth-floor Council Chamber for two days (20-21 November) to discuss Project progress under the chairmanship of Hideyuki Takatsu from Japan.

With the sixth full year of operation for the ITER Organization drawing to a close, it was reported that all major contracts for on-site civil works have been awarded. The manufacturing of key components is also progressing steadily within the ITER Member industries; in 2014 the first completed components will be shipped to the ITER site by the Members.

_To_67_Tx_The Council responded to an internal, biennial independent assessment that urged changes in both Project management and governance. The Council agreed with the assessment’s findings, which indicated that the Project faces challenges including schedule delays that need to be addressed immediately. To this effect, an action plan will be presented in mid-January and will be evaluated at an Extraordinary Meeting of the ITER Council in early February 2014.

Council also made two important technical decisions, approving ITER Organization proposals to commence operations with a full tungsten divertor and to include the in-vessel coils, which will improve plasma stability, in the ITER Baseline.

Taking advantage of the presence of delegates from all of the ITER Members, three Procurement Arrangements were signed during or just after the Council meeting: the third Complimentary Diagnostics Procurement Arrangement for the Integration Engineering of Upper Port #9 with India; the Blanket Shield (50%) Procurement Arrangement with China; and the Blanket Shield (50%) Procurement Arrangement with Korea (see the article on the blanket shield in this issue).

The next regular meeting of the ITER Council is scheduled for 18-19 June 2014 in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

Click here to view the photo gallery of the Thirteenth ITER Council.
Read the full Press Release in English and in French.

EAST tokamak strengthens basis for ITER’s success

Recent experiments performed on the EAST superconducting tokamak in the Institute of Plasma Physics in Hefei, China have demonstrated the sustainment of high temperature plasmas in the so-called H-mode confinement regime over a record timescale of more than 30 seconds, as reported in the journal Nature Physics. The achievement of H-mode plasmas and their long-time sustainment will be key to the success of the ITER Tokamak and marks „another advance in fusion,” says article author William Morris in his commentary. The long-pulse H-mode plasmas in the EAST tokamak have been achieved by heating the plasma with radio-frequency waves, such as lower hybrid waves.

While performing the recent experiments, the Chinese scientists led by Jiangang Li and Houyang Guo and their international collaborators from Germany, USA, France and the ITER Organization discovered that the application of lower hybrid waves had a strong and beneficial effect that reduced the repetitive energy releases by the plasma, which are characteristic of H-mode plasmas.

These energy releases are caused by „plasma outbursts” known as Edge Localized Modes (ELMs) and resemble solar flares. ELMs will have to be controlled in the ITER Tokamak because they cause the erosion of the plasma-facing components and significantly reduce their lifetime.

Experiments at EAST have shown that the effect of lower hybrid waves on the ELMs is due to the presence of electric currents at the edge of the plasma driven by these waves. These currents cause magnetic field „wrinkles” to appear in the external surface of the plasma, which otherwise has a smooth doughnut shape.

This innovative approach intrinsically provides a flexible control tool for ELMs over a broad operation space, and may open a new avenue for achieving steady-state high performance plasmas in future fusion devices if issues regarding its extrapolability to ITER and future tokamak reactors can be successfully resolved.

The use of small scale modifications of the edge magnetic field created by a set of coils external to the plasma to control ELMs was developed at the DIII-D tokamak in the USA and subsequently demonstrated worldwide in other tokamak experiments. It is now one of the two ELM control schemes considered for ITER. The recent results from EAST are the first to demonstrate this approach by modifying the edge magnetic field with currents created in the plasma itself without the need for external coils, thus confirming the universality of the physics mechanism leading to the control of ELMs by the approach adopted for ITER. Lower hybrid waves are being considered for ITER as an upgrade to be implemented after plasma operation commences.

Furthermore, the EAST experiments have demonstrated that driving local currents in the edge plasma by lower hybrid waves has some potential advantages with respect to the use of external coils in achieving ELM control. The use of lower hybrid waves not only facilitates ELM control over a large range of currents in the tokamak plasma, but also increases the area of the tokamak interior components over which the plasma deposits its energy in stationary conditions. This potentially offers a new means for heat flux control, which is a key issue for next-step fusion development.

EAST has ITER-like magnetic configurations and heating schemes, and will be one of the world’s first magnetic fusion devices to address physics and technology issues facing high-power, long-pulse operation in high confinement regimes, thus providing a very timely test bed for ITER.

Follow these links to further reports on the recent EAST experimental results: Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), Ars Technica, and FZ Jülich (in German).

Historic signatures for the blanket system

Following the successful Final Design Review for the ITER blanket in April 2013, the first of seven Procurement Arrangements for the blanket system were signed last week between the ITER Organization and the Chinese and Korean Domestic Agencies.

China and Korea will share the procurement of the blanket shield blocks—the „backside” of the 440 blanket modules that support the plasma-facing first wall and provide neutron shielding for the vacuum vessel and coil systems. These thick steel blocks, weighing up to 4 tons a piece, also have to accommodate interfaces with other components and in particular a large number of diagnostic systems. For this reason there are a total of 28 major design variants and 150 or more minor design variants.

„Last week’s signatures were the culmination of several years of design and R&D effort on the part of the ITER Organization and the Domestic Agencies,” says Rene Raffray, Blanket Section Leader. „Working together with the ITER Organization as part of the Blanket Integrated Product Team (BIPT), the procuring Domestic Agencies have been fully involved in the design since the start.”

The first phase of Procurement Arrangement execution will be the call for tender to be launched in China and Korea to manufacture the first shield block prototypes based on procurement specifications and 3D drawings/2D assembly drawings provided by ITER.

 „It has taken a lot of hard work, but it is rewarding and a credit to all those at ITER and in the Chinese and Korean Domestic Agencies who contributed to the achievement of these important milestones on time,” says Raffray. „They are the latest in a list of on-time Blanket accomplishments that includes successfully going through the different system design reviews, and which have in great part been possible through active collaboration among the ITER Organization and the procuring Domestic Agencies within the BIPT framework.”

Lessons to learn from JET operation

Nuclear safety specialists from the European tokamak JET and ITER met in November to discuss the possible ways in which the practical experience of one experimental device could serve the planning stages of the other.

At JET, where 3,000 installable items and 16,000 tiles have been replaced inside the machine to equip JET with same materials mix chosen for ITER (beryllium and tungsten), the experiments underway since August 2010 are of interest not only to the ITER physicists, but also to the nuclear safety group at ITER.

„A more systematic collaboration between our teams could only be beneficial for ITER,” stresses Joelle Elbez-Uzan, head of ITER’s Nuclear Safety, Licensing & Environmental Protection Division. „We have many lessons to learn from JET operation and design. Collaboration would allow us to extrapolate important parameters for the safety analysis of ITER, in complement to our established safety case.”

Joelle and her team are interested in all of the ramifications of operation with the ITER-like wall in JET, from the characterization and management of beryllium and tungsten dust, to in-vessel tritium retention and inventory, implications for worker safety during maintenance, and finally waste management.

„JET is the only European tokamak that has already injected tritium into its vacuum vessel,” stresses Joelle „and the JET team is planning a deuterium-tritium campaign beginning in 2017 or 2019 depending on the selected scenario. Their safety considerations—for machine design, fabrication and operation—are much like ours.”

During the meeting, potential areas for collaboration were discussed and agreed; in the coming months the ITER team will define and prioritize its specific needs. The type of collaboration to establish also remains to be defined.

„Our colleagues at JET are very open to sharing their experience with us—there are clearly areas of mutual interest. Capitalizing on JET’s experience in the domain of nuclear safety will be extremely valuable for ITER.”

An early Thanksgiving for US Member Day

For Americans, Thanksgiving is a holiday that evokes family, a generously proportioned meal full of the flavours and colours of autumn, and an afternoon football match.

On Friday 22 November, a little ahead of the official date, the American members of staff shared some of the culinary traditions of Thanksgiving with their ITER colleagues. In a cafeteria festooned with flags and photographs and cheered by the music of the ITER band, the ITER community tasted corn chowder, turkey with stuffing and cranberry sauce, green beans, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and apple or pumpkin pie.

Two distinguished guests joined the festivities: US Consul Diane Kelly from Marseille, and Ed Synakowski, Vice Chair of the ITER Council and Associate Director for Fusion Energy Sciences at the Department of Energy (Office of Science). As a commemorative slideshow played in the background, both had words to share on the legacy of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, America’s 35th President assassinated 50 years earlier on 22 November 1963.

Celebrated each year on the fourth Thursday in November, Thanksgiving traces its origins back to the difficult conditions of the early settlers to the northeast coast of the United States. After a gruelling ocean crossing, the small group of Pilgrims that established the Plymouth colony (now Massachusetts) had little time to prepare for the harsh winter in New England and no knowledge of local fauna and flora. Half of the settlers died during the first winter.

In the spring, the early settlers were taught to fish and hunt locally as well as grow corn and distinguish edible plants from poisonous ones by a Native American. To celebrate the colony’s first successful harvest and to give thanks for assistance received, the settlers invited their Native American allies to a feast that lasted three days.

The modern-day Thanksgiving holiday has evolved considerably from its humble beginnings. Celebrated every year since President Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving Day a national holiday in 1863, some 51 million turkeys (approximately one for every six people) are consumed every year on this day, and countless bushels of sweet potatoes, green beans and cranberries.
Click here to view the photo gallery of the US Day at ITER.

How far would you go for fusion?

Some people are ready to go to extremes to express their passion for fusion. Like this prominent ITER staff member who proudly sported a tie during Council week with a pattern illustrating the deuterium-tritium fusion reaction. Next? Perhaps a fusion triple product head scarf …

Council takes important decisions

Seven years to the day after the signature of the ITER Agreement at the Elysée Palace in Paris on 21 November 2006, the ITER Council convened for the thirteenth time in its history.

Braving an improbable episode of snowy weather, senior representatives from the seven ITER Members convened in the firfth-floor Council Chamber for two days (20-21 November) to discuss Project progress under the chairmanship of Hideyuki Takatsu from Japan.

The Council noted that all major contracts for on-site civil works, a crucial milestone for the Project, have now been signed. The seven Members reported that the pace of manufacturing of key components is also progressing steadily within their respective industries.

The Council responded to an internal, biennial independent assessment that urged changes in both project management and governance. The Council agreed with the assessment’s findings, which indicated that the Project faces challenges including schedule delays that need to be addressed immediately. To this effect, an action plan will be presented in mid-January and will be evaluated at an Extraordinary Meeting of the ITER Council in early February 2014.

The Council made two important technical decisions, approving ITER Organization proposals to commence operations with a full tungsten divertor and to include the in-vessel coils, which will improve plasma stability, in the ITER Baseline.

Click here to view the photo gallery of the Thirteenth ITER Council.
Read the full Press Release in English and in French.

Nearing the final design for in-vessel coils

Research and development activities for the ITER in-vessel coils have been successfully completed at the Chinese Institute of Plasma Physics (ASIPP) and the manufacturing of two prototype coils—one equatorial Edge Localized Mode (ELM) coil and a 120° segment of a Vertical Stabilization (VS) coil—is underway.

Unlike ITER’s large superconducting magnet systems, the ELM and VS coils which make up the In-Vessel Coil (IVC) system will be located inside the ITER vacuum vessel. Two ring-shaped VS coils will be located at the top and bottom of the vessel and an array of 27 ELM coils will be attached to the vessel walls at the upper, equatorial and lower levels where they will face high thermal and electromagnetic loads.

The design, fabrication and assembly of the in-vessel coils pose a number of unique challenges.

„The in-vessel coils have gone through many iterations since 2008, when a team at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) began work on the design and analysis of these challenging components,” explains Anna Encheva, responsible engineer for the in-vessel coils. „We are now close to finalizing the design. The final step is the completion of the prototype manufacture, development of suitable manufacturing and testing procedures and techniques to ensure manufacturability of the coils for ITER, and the resolution of the technical issues associated with the prototype manufacturing.”

The complex shapes of the coils—large radius bends and a multiplicity of turns, bends and bumps for the VS coils and sharp radius bends for the ELM coils—make manufacturing particularly demanding. Innovative techniques are under development for the joining (brazing) of a large number of joints. The qualification of these techniques is one critical issue that remains to be resolved for the in-vessel coils.

A number of integration challenges are also specific to the in-vessel coils. „During ITER Assembly, the installation of the VS coils is one of the first activities to be performed after the welding of the vacuum vessel sectors,” says Anna. „We will face tight assembly tolerances and a very crowded environment. We will need special welding equipment, capable of working simultaneously on the three segments of the VS coils. Interfaces with other components, such as the blanket modules and manifolds or diagnostics, have also created some very demanding requirements.” In close association with the Machine Assembly & Installation Section, the in-vessel coil team is currently launching welding and brazing qualification activities.

_To_66_Tx_In-vessel coil prototype manufacture will be completed this year by ASIPP within the framework of a Task Agreement signed with ITER in 2011. All mechanical and electrical tests are scheduled to be completed by March 2014. ASIPP subcontracted part of the work, principally design and analysis, to PPPL. „The development of the in-vessel coils has been a team venture, undertaken by two experienced laboratories and a core team at the ITER Organization that leads and supervises the work and looks after the integration and interfaces, as well as assembly and installation, the schedule and procurement,” emphasizes Anna.

The progress and positive results of in-vessel coil development work were reported to last month’s Science and Technology Advisory Committee (STAC), which expressed its satisfaction and recommended the inclusion of the coils into the ITER Baseline.

The ITER Organization team is now preparing for the in-vessel coil Final Design Review scheduled for March 2014. „We’re fixing all the major interfaces (power supplies, cooling water, blanket modules, vacuum vessel), monitoring the progress of the Task Agreement, and preparing for the in-cash procurement of the system,” explains Anna. „We are working to a tight deadline—our system must be installed and assembled in 2019.”

Cryopump redesign saves time and money

Last week a team of international experts put the ITER final design of the neutral beam and MITICA facility cryo-sorption pump under scrutiny in a thorough review. This comes before the ITER Organization releases the „build to print” design for the first pump to be manufactured for the Neutral Beam Test Facility Facility (NBTF) in Padua, Italy.

„The pump is an essential part of the ITER neutral beam system and can pump with speeds of up to 4.7 million litres per second,” reports Matthias Dremel, vacuum pumping engineer at ITER. „This cryopump, which will be the world’s largest cryo-sorption pump, has been challenging in engineering terms to design.”

Vacuum Section Leader Robert Pearce agrees. „In a period of about one year the pump has been completely redesigned at ITER in order to produce a design which can be manufactured in a shorter time and at significantly reduced cost. Overall we have a higher integrity design which will save more than two years in the manufacturing schedule and around EUR 25 million.”
The independent review panel of six experts was chaired by Alan Kaye, former Chief Engineer of JET. More than 40 engineers participated in the review which included representatives of the European and Indian Domestic Agencies, RFX Padua and industrial specialists. The reviewers commended the excellent work of the Vacuum Section design team, expressing appreciation for the high standards and also for the innovation of the novel design which solved all key issues. The review panel was united in its positive endorsement of the design.

The Vacuum Section now has the green light to start the preparation of the procurement of the first pump which is to be used in the Neutral Beam Test Facility in Padua, Italy.

Fusion electricity production in practical terms

In a few weeks, on 31 December 2013, the European Fusion Development Agreement known as EFDA will come to an end. It will be reborn as a consortium called Eurofusion. ITER Newsline talked to EFDA/JET leader Francesco Romanelli about the reasons for the reorganization and the implications for the European fusion landscape.

Can you share with us the reasons for the reorganization of the fusion landscape in Europe?
The main reason for this step is to adapt to the challenges of the ITER era. The transition is somewhat similar to what happened within the EURATOM program in the early 1970s when it was discovered that the T3 Tokamak in Russia was producing a temperature of 1keV — a major breakthrough at that time. The decision taken then by the fusion community, the European Commission and the heads of the laboratories was to streamline the European fusion program along the tokamak line and to go for a large common facility in Europe.

That was the time when the design of the JET facility was kicked off. We are now in a somewhat similar phase. We need to cope with the fact that, ten years from now, ITER will be in operation and we will then have to proceed rapidly on the preparation of a demonstration fusion power plant.
It sounds like the new consortium is more focused on delivering electricity?

We are still in the research phase, but yes, we need to prepare ourselves—with a sufficient sense of urgency—for the production of electricity from fusion. This is why we are implementing our program through a project-oriented approach along the recommendations and the priorities set up in the new European fusion roadmap.
The roadmap was developed by EFDA following the recommendations of a panel set up by the Director General of the European Directorate-General for Research and chaired by Albrecht Wagner. The Panel examined the strategic orientation of fusion research including the role of JET in support of ITER. Its main recommendation is to substantially restructure the European fusion program in order to cope with the challenges coming up with the start of ITER.
So what does that mean precisely? What will change?

What will change is that there will no longer be baseline support for the labs. We are setting up the program around a number of work packages that involve either the exploitation of major devices in a campaign-oriented approach—as we did and as we will continue to do with JET—or specific projects that reflect the roadmap mission.
I expect that this system will give to all the present EFDA members the possibility of participating to the activities of the system taking advantage of each laboratory’s expertise. In addition to this, the consortium is going to support activities on what we call „enabling research” in order to support the basic understanding of the plasma processes. We are also willing to invest a substantial amount of resources on preparing the new ITER generation of scientists on the undergraduate, PhD and postdoctoral level.

We are now finalizing all open issues with the goal of implementing the roadmap on 1 January 2014. So, to summarize, we are about to put fusion electricity production into very practical terms.

CLI hails ITER "openness and transparency"

„Transparency” is an obligation in France when it comes to nuclear installations. In 2006, a law was passed to ensure, among other things, the rights of citizens to access dependable information on issues related to nuclear activities.

The 2006 law on Transparence et sécurité nucléaire (TSN) significantly extended the role of the Local Commissions for Information (CLI), the citizens watchdog groups that were established in 1981. It enabled the CLIs to request from nuclear installations any documents deemed pertinent, or call on independent laboratories to proceed with environmental and health investigations.

As is the rule for every nuclear installation in France, a CLI was established four years ago to monitor ITER activities. Its members (representatives from local government, environmental groups, trade unions, businesses and health professionals) have been closely associated with the progress of the Project.

Senior management from ITER visits the CLI at general assemblies and other scheduled meetings to present updates and provide clarification on any questions the CLI members may have.

On 24 October, for the first time in the PACA region, two CLI members participated in an inspection of the ITER worksite carried out by the French nuclear safety authority (Agence de sûreté nucléaire, ASN).

The event was considered significant enough for the ITER CLI to issue a press release, acknowledging the ITER Organization’s „policy of openness and transparency” and a „spirit of collaboration” that had already been noted in 2011 on the occasion of the licensing process submitted to Public Enquiry.

„The presence of CLI observers at an inspection,” reads the press release, „confirms [ITER’s] policy of transparency toward the CLI and, in a larger sense, toward the inhabitants of the [PACA] region.”

Read the CLI press release (in French) here

Two devices, 30 years of progress

The visitors’ room at the National Fusion Research Institute (NFRI) in Daejeon, Korea offers one of the most dramatic illustrations of the progress accomplished by fusion research and technology over the past 30 years.

Standing behind mock-ups of ITER and KSTAR, a small, partially rusted device attracts attention. The device looks old although it isn’t really: the Seoul National University Tokamak (SNUT-79) operated between 1982 and 1992.

The contrast between SNUT-79, Korea’s first significant step into fusion research, and KSTAR, the large superconducting tokamak that entered operation in 2008, is striking. Although the two machines are only twenty years apart they seem to belong to totally different worlds—as if the Wright brothers’ Flyer was parked next to an Airbus A380.

It is a small walk from the visitor’s room to the large hall that houses the KSTAR Tokamak. The machine, more than 10 metres in diameter, is impressive, remarkably squat and compact. Having just completed its 2012 campaign, it now stands idle. „The machine is undergoing an important overhaul,” explains Hyung-Lyeol Yang, the Tokamak Engineering Division head at the KSTAR Research Center. „Several key hardware components are being modified and upgraded in preparation for the next campaign.”

Since KSTAR produced its First Plasma on 15 July 2008 it has accumulated close to 9,500 discharges, of which the longest lasted 24 seconds. As stated the 5th KSTAR Program Advisory Committee (PAC) last April, the machine „has produced far better results than originally envisioned.

KSTAR operation is due to resume in July 2014. „We will mainly try to achieve H Mode at mega ampere plasma current level, H-mode for long pulses (~50s), and also perform several ITER-related physics experiments including further investigation into ELM suppression by enhanced performance of the in-vessel coils,” according to Yang.

While acting partly as a test bed for ITER, KSTAR is also paving the way for a Korean DEMO. Not far from the KSTAR Hall, in the brand new NFRI building, a plaque affixed next to an office door reads „DEMO Technology Division.” Some twenty people are already at work there, preparing the next-step fusion device—an industrial demonstrator that will open the way to commercial exploitation of fusion energy.

Industry delivers first converter prototype in China

In an important step toward powering the ITER poloidal field magnets, Chinese industry delivered the first poloidal field AC/DC converter bridge and external bypass to the Institute of Plasma Physics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (ASIPP), where it will be part of the ASIPP test platform that mimics the site configuration at ITER.

Present on 25 October to witness the arrival of the first poloidal field AC/DC converter bridge and external bypass were colleagues from ITER’s Coil Power Supply Section and the ASIPP team.

China is responsible for the procurement of all 14 poloidal field converters that will provide controllable current/voltage to ITER’s six poloidal field coils. The system is challenging to design and fabricate, in particular due to an unprecedented power level and short circuit current and a highly specific operation mode.

The fabrication contract was awarded by ASIPP at the end of 2011. As a component to be built from scratch—and quite unlike the traditional converters used in industrial applications—it was a challenging task. Thanks to the joint efforts of ASIPP engineers and the manufacturer, following a manufacturing design review in 2012 production and manufacturing went smoothly. The converter bridge and bypass successfully passed routine tests at the factory, as witnessed by Chinese Domestic Agency and ASIPP representatives.

The first converter bridge and bypass, together with another three bridges and some auxiliary systems, will serve as the system prototype. Operational test runs on the ASIPP platform will permit the verification of the units’ performance and provide experience and data for future series production.

Integrated Modelling experts get hands-on experience

For three days last month, representatives from all seven ITER Members came together at ITER Headquarters for the 5th meeting of the Integrated Modelling Expert Group (IMEG). The group meets regularly to help guide the ITER Integrated Modelling (IM) program and to act as an interface between Member physics modelling programs and the ITER Organization.

The aims of the ITER IM program are to meet the needs of the ITER Project for accurate predictions of ITER performance and for efficient control of ITER plasmas; to support the preparation for ITER operation; and, in the longer term, to provide the modelling and control tools required for the exploitation phase of ITER.

At the meeting chaired by Lang Lao (US), each of the Members had the opportunity to update the assembly on their respective programs before hearing about progress within the ITER Organization. Since the 2012 meeting, the ITER Organization has now established an Integrated Modelling prototype framework. Called the Integrated Modelling & Analysis Suite (IMAS), this framework comprises various elements including the ITER Physics Data Model that is designed to be used for both experimental and simulation data—a significant step compared to existing machines. The rules and guidelines that underpin the Data Model have undergone extensive review and will now be used to derive specific elements (Interface Data Structures) of the Data Model that are used to pass data between physics codes running in an Integrated Modelling workflow.

On the final day of the meeting, an introductory training session was prepared which gave the IMEG members the opportunity to gain some hands-on experience with the IMAS prototype. The expert group commended the ITER Organization for the progress made on the IMAS Framework, on the first physics workflows demonstrating a Plasma Simulator (based on modular prescribed and free-boundary transport simulations) and on the associated program documentation. They were also keen to encourage wider access to the IMAS Framework and further training opportunities as the framework is further developed.

More information on the ITER IM Program, how to get involved, or how to contribute to its development can be obtained by contacting

At the border of art, engineering and industrial prowess

For the past 12 months, the European and Japanese Domestic Agencies and the ITER Organization have been engaged in a common procurement project for the production of 19 toroidal field coils (including one spare).

Europe (with the procurement responsibility for ten coils) and Japan (with responsibility for nine coils plus nineteen encasing coil structures) collaborate through regular meetings that bring together representatives of the ITER Organization and industrial suppliers to resolve common toroidal field coil system issues and to manage the interfaces and tolerances between the winding packs and the coil structures.

ITER’s 300-ton, 14-metre high toroidal field magnets will be the largest and most powerful superconductive magnets ever manufactured.

„Throughout all the phases of toroidal field coil fabrication—from process qualification, to the start of series production, to the delivery of the coils—professional teams around the world are endeavouring to harness the most mature industrial technologies in order to solve problems in real time and develop the best compromises and solutions,” says Arnaud Foussat, ITER’s Toroidal Field Coil Section leader.

During a recent visit to Japan, ITER representatives attended a toroidal field coil progress meeting at Mitsubishi Heavy Industry’s Futami production site. Large efforts have made by Mitsubishi Heavy Industry and Mitsubishi Electric Corporation (MELCO) to keep to and control the planning of the production of the first dummy regular superconducting double pancake winding. The latest progress meetings have demonstrated that, in order to share knowledge and limit production risks, regular communication between the various toroidal field coil manufacturers and the ITER Organization’s toroidal field team that owns the design is essential.

The real-scale dummy double pancake winding will be the last qualification step before the start of first-of-series double pancakes. Seven double pancakes will constitute one toroidal field winding pack. Winding toroidal field conductor into the complex geometry of double pancake windings is achieved through the very precise control of successive turns within a few tens of ppm using dedicated and accurate automated tooling for winding and bending.

Such short-series industrial prototype realization is of similar complexity to the high technology world, where resources consistently deliver breakthrough innovations requiring technical re-adaptation and effective project tracking. „As project managers, we need to focus on managing constant flux, fabrication steps, re-planning and shifts in design direction through tight interaction with suppliers and allocating resources as needs shift.”

Continued close collaboration with the procuring Domestic Agencies and their suppliers will be the key for fast iterations, quick and nimble planning, and successful tracking to monitor converging goals on the toroidal field coil challenges that lay ahead such as integration and commissioning.

A centralized approach for cooling water piping

The ITER Organization and the US Domestic Agency have signed two agreements that will permit a more cost- and time-efficient procurement and integration process of the Tokamak Cooling Water System (TCWS) piping as well as the completion of the final design of the largest TCWS components such as the pressure vessel, pumps and heat exchangers. The agreements, signed on 31 October, describe the transfer of responsibility from the US Domestic Agency to the ITER Organization for the execution of the design, procurement and pre-assembly of TCWS piping and the completion of the final design of the system.

In 2009 the ITER Organization and US ITER signed the Procurement Arrangement for the TCWS. While the global responsibility for this procurement remains unchanged, the agreements signed last week allow TCWS piping to become part of one centralized procurement for all ITER piping equipment—some 60 km of pipes (1,700 tons), approximately 4,000 valves and 400 tons of pipe supports.

„This centralized approach permits the ITER Organization to occupy the role of unique design authority and Nuclear Operator in its interfaces with the French Nuclear Regulator (ASN), thereby mitigating the risk for potential impact on cost and schedule for procurement and assembly,” explains Giovanni Dell’Orco, Cooling Water System Section leader. Another important advantage he sees is the option now to have the pre-assembly and pre-testing of the system performed in a local workshop, which will simplify the final assembly on site.

As for the largest TCWS components, they will still be manufactured under US Domestic Agency responsibility and delivered to the ITER site. However, their design will be finalized and their integration overseen by the ITER Organization. „We hope that by doing it this way the integration of these systems will be facilitated, given the stringent safety requirements and the complexity of the interfaces with many clients.”

The next important steps are to agree on a project plan for the Cooling Water System centralized piping procurement and the TCWS final design, and to organize periodic meetings for the coordination of these activities. 

First Manufacturing Database inputs cleared

The first inputs into the Manufacturing Database for magnets were cleared by the ITER Organization in October—an important milestone on the road to magnet production.

The release concerns the acquisition of raw material (18 HTS tape unit lengths) for the fabrication of  HTS current leads, the components that will transmit current from room-temperature power supplies to very low-temperature superconducting coils.

Raw material acceptance is just the first in a long series of control points, or „hold points,” that are part of the specifications included in every Procurement Arrangement signed between the ITER Organization and the Domestic Agencies. The traceability of each one of these steps, and the quality assurance and quality control (QA/QC) documents that go with them, must be ensured during the fabrication of the ITER magnets systems—not only the coils, but also the feeders, magnet supports and instrumentation.

Thanks to an in-house collaboration between the ITER Magnet Division and the Project Information System Section (IT), a web-based application under development since 2012 is now available to monitor the magnet Procurement Arrangements as well as the contracts concluded directly by the ITER Organization.

„Building on the success of the Conductor Database that enabled the efficient monitoring of strand/cable/jacket/conductor production," explains Arnaud Devred, section leader for Superconductor Systems & Auxiliaries, "we have developed a Manufacturing Database for the other magnet Procurement Arrangements underway and the direct contracts for magnet instrumentation.”

„The idea is to simplify the work of the Domestic Agencies and their suppliers, and provide the traceability and transparency that are required by ITER Organization quality procedures. By centralizing the data and the documents needed for clearing each hold point, and by storing the information in a user-friendly manner, we eliminate innumerable paper and email exchanges.”

The Magnet Manufacturing Database (see schema) keeps track of the properties, reports and certificates associated with each step of the manufacturing process. Technical information on raw materials, records on procedures such as welding and testing, inspection certificates, final product documentation and shipment information can all be stored and accessed in the database.

Implementation of the database was premiered in China and for some of the magnet instrumentation contracts. „We hope that it can be deployed in the same collaborative manner for all magnet fabrication,” stresses Arnaud.

Outside of the Magnet Division, other ITER Organization groups have shown interest in the Manufacturing Database as a model for monitoring complex Procurement Arrangements.