Planning and scheduling an enormous task


How does one review the preparations for the assembly and installation of several million pieces on a first-of-a-kind machine such as ITER? The first step is to bring together 14 experts from a variety of backgrounds—nuclear plant construction, fusion machine assembly, cryogenic plant, large-scale project management, building construction, system engineering and more.

This is what happened at the Château de Cadarache near ITER last week from 9 to 13 December.

The ITER Organization presented to a review panel its approach to planning and scheduling this enormous task, considering the design of the systems to be installed, the physical and practical constraints, the processes to be followed and the identified risks. Installation engineers from the Assembly & Operations Division are combining their knowledge with colleagues from the technical departments responsible for designing each system and are currently working with construction planners in order to estimate the time needed for each step of the assembly.

The Indian Domestic Agency also presented its plan for the work it will do on site to build the critical cryogenic piping and storage systems.

Adding in the crew of workers needed for each assembly or installation task, the result is a „resource loaded schedule” which is stored in Primavera (P6) software to calculate the overall time and resources needed. The totality of this information is the ITER Organization Integrated Assembly & Installation Plan—or, „How To Build a Tokamak.”

The realism of this plan is critical to forecasting when the ITER machine will be turned over to operation and the beginning of its experimental phase.

The review panel digested a huge amount of information in a very short time during some very intensive sessions. They asked searching and challenging questions, analyzed the information given to them and by the end of the week had already given a positive initial report to ITER senior management and the Assembly & Operations Division.

A final report will be issued in January, at which time the ITER Organization will draw upon the panel’s valuable comments and recommendations as it moves forward to complete the final plan in time for work to start in 2015.

Correction coils: first-of-series fabrication to begin




The ITER correction coils are an integral part of the ITER magnet system, forming a layer of coils inserted in between the toroidal and poloidal field coils. Some of them, such as the six bottom correction coils, will be among the first components to be installed during assembly thus requiring early delivery to the ITER site.

On 4 and 5 December, the correction coil manufacturing line in China underwent a thorough check-up to assess whether it is now ready for the long marathon of correction coil manufacture. This critical examination was carried out by a group of „doctors” from Europe, Japan, USA and China under the chairmanship of Michel Huguet, former director of the ITER Naka site during the Engineering Design Activities for ITER. This first Manufacturing Readiness Review was organized by the ITER Organization and held at ASIPP (Hefei, China), the institute that was awarded the responsibility of correction coil manufacture by the Chinese Domestic Agency following the signature of the Procurement Arrangement in May 2010.

Four years ago, in November 2009, the Final Design Review was held in Hefei for this component. Since that time, a new manufacturing line for the correction coils was designed, manufactured or procured, and commissioned by ASIPP, including the winding line, the resin system for vacuum pressure impregnation (VPI), and the laser welding system for case enclosure. All the manufacturing drawings have been designed and approved, the qualification of various manufacturing processes has begun, and the winding qualification is finished.

The qualification items falling into the scope of the review included the winding of the 10 kA niobium-titanium (NbTi) conductor; the helium inlets and outlets which will provide supercritical cooling at 4.5 K; the terminal joints connecting the coil to the feeders; the glass-polyimide insulation and its impregnation by epoxy resin; the terminal service box hosting piping and insulating breaks; and the stainless steel case enclosing the winding-pack. The requirements and deliverables for each one were presented by Li Hongwei, the Technical Responsible Officer at ITER China, and the qualification work was presented by Wei Jing and her team at ASIPP.

The review panel commended both for the quality of their presentations, fully impressed by the achievements of the R&D and qualification activities. In particular, conductor winding has successfully passed all qualification examinations, opening the way for the winding of the first-of-series ITER correction coil with real superconductor in 2014.

A visit of the correction coil manufacturing workshop allowed the review panel the chance to see the various mockups built for the qualification of the manufacturing procedures, including the insulated side correction coil dummy double pancake and the bottom correction coil dummy double pancake (above right) ready for impregnation, as well the correction coil case models (above left).

Entering a new era


As the ITER Project evolves and becomes more „concrete,” ITER Communication has to evolve too. Over the end-of-year holidays and into January, we’ll be stopping the publication of Newsline. This longer-than-usual break will allow us to take the time to develop some new communication tools and refresh the ITER website. Our aim is to reach a wider audience with high quality information.

Many ITER visitors often call on us to devote more resources to public communication, reaching out not only to the fusion community but also to the public, to young people and to the business world. The argument given is nearly always the same: too many people do not know about ITER at all! Public awareness is a key factor for the success of the Project as a whole. As public interest increases we have to develop the tools to answer their questions and concerns.

Last week we launched a new magazine in French (an English version will follow). Through a journalistic approach, it aims to popularize the science and technology behind and beyond ITER. Ahead, we’ll be taking a fresh look at the public website to make it more attractive and up-to-date. And we’ll be simplifying Newsline production to make it more reactive, punctual and comprehensive.

The ITER Project is entering a new era and so is its public communication. Best wishes for the New Year to all of you!

Indian giant faces the challenges of a "unique object"



Over its 75 years of existence, the Indian conglomerate Larsen & Toubro Ltd. has built solar and nuclear plants, ports and airports, supertankers and submarines and even the Mangalyaan rocket that blasted off to Mars a little more than a month ago.

Now, the company’s Heavy Engineering division has launched the fabrication process of an object that does not resemble anything it has previously produced: the ITER Cryostat, the largest high-vacuum pressure chamber ever built, a component that is very large (30 x 30 metres), very heavy (3,800 tons) and of mind-boggling complexity.

Larsen & Toubro Ltd. of course does not lack experience in large, heavy components or machinery. And in terms of complexity a Mars-bound rocket can probably compete with a tokamak cryostat. Still, there are challenges in the fabrication of this unique component that the company has never faced.

„One of the major challenges is to manage the interaction between the designers and the manufacturer,” explained M.V. Kotwal, the president of the company’s Heavy Engineering division as he sat for an interview with Newsline at MIIFED 2013 in Monaco. „Some parts of the cryostat are frozen, others are not and this is something we are not accustomed to. In a situation like this, we need a constant and very smooth communication.”

The ITER Cryostat is „a huge assembly” and the industry needs to know precisely, and much ahead of time, what the final object will be like. „This is a concern more than a challenge, but we need to understand what the interfaces will be and for this, we also need a strong communication with the other manufacturers. In this kind of project, you definitely need to bring people together…”

Manufacturing the ITER Cryostat, even for a company as experienced as Larsen & Toubro Ltd., requires the development of new technologies. „Our engineers and technicians master about 6,000 welding techniques for different materials. But the ITER Cryostat is so 'special’ that we’ll need to develop a couple more…”

The ITER Cryostat being one of the major Safety Important Component (SIC) in the ITER installation, drastic regulations apply. „We have experience with the US safety codes, but we haven’t been exposed, yet, to the French safety requirements that ITER observes. In this context, we will have, for instance, to develop metrology and specific ultrasonic inspection techniques. We have to adapt to ITER standards.”

Larsen & Toubro Ltd. also has to design specific machinery, fitting both the demands of the component and the space available in the workshop. „The machine has to be brought to the component, and not the other way around as is customary…but this is something we have experience in: we did it for India’s fast breeder nuclear reactor.”

In Hazira, on the north-western coast of the country where Larsen & Toubro operates one of its large engineering workshops, the first load of raw material has arrived. This will allow the fabrication of the first of a series of mock-ups that will be used to qualify the welding process.

„A well-made product is no good if it is not delivered well,” claims the Larsen & Toubro Ltd. promotional video that M.V. Kotwal presented at MIIFED. During the long journey from Hazira to Saint-Paul-lez-Durance, the 54 „modules” that make up the four major assemblies of the ITER Cryostat (Top lid, Upper cylinder, Lower cylinder and base section) will travel inside specially designed „packing cages”.

Delivery of the first modules on the ITER site is expected in less than two years.

They are building the physics basis for ITER


For the past 13 years, a group of some 350 physicists throughout the world has been working to integrate knowledge and data for the ITER Project.
 
The International Tokamak Physics Activity (ITPA) was established in 2001 under the auspices of the International Atomic Energy Agency. In 2008, the seven ITPA „Topical Groups” and their Coordinating Committee passed under the umbrella of ITER.
 
Last week at ITER, the ITPA Coordinating Committee met for the 16th time to review and discuss the experiments performed in 2013 in support of ITER and to examine the proposals for the following year.
 
Newsline seized the opportunity to sit with Yutaka Kamada who has chaired the ITPA Coordinating Committee since December 2010. (Dr Abhijit Sen of the  Institute for Plasma Research, India will take over as Chair of the Coordinating Committee on 1 January 2014.)

How does the ITPA work?

ITPA is principally a group of physicists, and some engineers also, working in different fusion labs around the world and contributing to the establishment of a broad physics basis for ITER and what lies beyond — the DEMO project and future industrial fusion power plants.
How does this translate concretely?

Presently, ITPA coordinates 56 „joint experiments” in different tokamaks throughout the world. Suppose something interesting happens in ASDEX (Germany) for instance. We’ll propose to reproduce it on, for instance, KSTAR (Korea) … and then we extrapolate to ITER. This is the main idea: scaling towards ITER through extrapolation.

Experiments are not all, however. Theory and simulation play a large role in building knowledge and data into ITER.

How do you choose your research priorities?

There are topics with some urgency attached to them and others that are more long-term concerns. The divertor material issue certainly fell into the first category and for two years we concentrated on it, asking the different topical groups to assess the advantages and disadvantages of tungsten. Eventually we recommended the use a tungsten divertor. And in October the ITER STAC agreed with this recommendation, leading the ITER Council, on 20-21 November, to endorse the Director General’s proposal to commence ITER operations with a tungsten divertor, rather than a carbon-fibre divertor that would have been replaced during the second phase of operations

Before this, it was ELM control that kept us busy…

What are the present priorities, now that the divertor issue is closed?

In the „urgency” category, it is certainly disruptions. In the longer-term, it is steady-state operation. And of course, continuous physics research, which is our core activity.

A very concrete milestone




In the cold, predawn hours of Wednesday, 11 December, concrete pouring began for the basemat of the Tokamak Complex, the suite of buildings that will house the ITER fusion experiments as well as diagnostic and tritium management systems.

„We are all very happy and may I say relieved to have reached this important and visible milestone for the ITER Project,” said Laurent Patisson, leader of the Nuclear Buildings Section who had signed off the night before on the final documents clearing the way for operations to begin. „This is the beginning of B2 basemat slab realization, and as I savour the moment I measure all of the work and effort that it has taken to reach this point.”

The first concrete began flowing at 6:24 a.m. under powerful spotlights and in the presence of observers from the ITER Organization and the European Domestic Agency, F4E. Over the long day, teams divided into two shifts directed the concrete from the trucks above into the rebar and formwork of a 550 m² segment in the northwest corner of the Seismic Pit, at the location of the future Diagnostic Building. This first „plot” is one of 15 that must be poured over the next six months to complete the B2 slab.

Pouring at such early hours, and during the winter months, require some special measures to maintain the temperature of the concrete at a minimum level—heated water and gravel at the concrete batching plant and tents and hot air blowers at the worksite. In all, 15,000 cubic metres of concrete and 4,000 tons of reinforcement will be necessary for the B2 slab, which will act as a single foundation for the three buildings of the Tokamak Complex (Tokamak, Diagnostic and Tritium buildings).

„The concrete qualified for the B2 basemat has been the object of particular care,” specifies Laurent, „answering to the rigorous requirements of a nuclear facility in terms of stability, water permeability and gas confinement.” Over qualification 20 tests have been run by the contractor GTM Construction on the concrete formulation.

In the coming months, additional rebar will be added to the central area of the B2 slab. „In the context of design consolidation we have refined the rebar arrangement under the Tokamak Building,” explains Laurent. The building contractor will realize a mockup of the new arrangement to test and qualify the proposed concrete.

„For the realization of the B2 slab we are relying on the experience and methodology of the contractors (GTM Construction) who already carried out the first works in the Seismic Pit, including the basemat, seismic columns and retaining walls,” says Laurent. „Up to now we have been working on paper. We’re all eager to get to the next level and see the B2 slab take shape.”

The remapping of the energy landscape


Good news from the energy front is not all that frequent. However at MIIFED 2013 in Monaco last week, Pierre Gadonneix had some to share. „The good news,” said the president of the World Energy Council in his closing address, „is that the world’s energy resources are sufficient to feed mankind’s growing appetite.”

The world energy landscape has undergone considerable change and the energy map has been redrawn. „Peak oil” is now a thing of the past. „There is no shortage of fossil fuels in sight,” assured Gadonneix. „The continued discovery of new resources and the emergence of new technologies […] have already significantly increased available resources and this trend could continue.”

Over the past three years, major production and consumption flows have been altered. Thanks to oil and shale gas exploitation, the US is now on the road of self-sufficiency. Last November, for the first time in decades, it has exported more barrels of oil than it imported. The country has now overtaken Saudi Arabia as the world’s biggest oil producer—something that was unthinkable one decade ago …

In parallel the Middle East, which for almost one century was almost exclusively an exporter, has recently become a key consumer. And Asia, with its huge, hungry and fast-growing markets, is already „the key driver for fixing the world market price of energy commodities like oil, gas and coal.”

„There are some myths that need to be revisited,” warned Gadonneix. The imminence of peak oil, long taken for granted, is one. The potential contribution of renewables in the future energy mix is another. „Although the contribution of renewables will increase from 15 percent today [including hydropower] to 20-25 percent in 2050, there will still be a significant increase in fossil fuel production and consumption.” It is clear that the contribution of renewables will not be enough to meet the world’s hunger for energy.

As worldwide energy demand is likely to rise 36 percent by 2030 and to double by 2050 (with 93 percent of growth driven by emerging countries) and as demand for electricity will have doubled between 2000 and 2030, greenhouse gas emissions are not on the right track to meet the objective of limiting global warming to an increase of 2 °C, according to Gadonneix.

„In all scenarios developed by the World Energy Council or the International Energy Agency (IEA), emissions are increasing at a rate which is more coherent with four degrees of global warming than with two.”

The energy „trilemma„—energy security, energy accessibility and environmental sustainability— will not be solved easily. „There’s a clear need for better governance at both national and international levels,” insists Gadonneix. „The world needs improved coordination on energy and climate issues in order to drive the patchwork of national policies towards the ultimate sustainability goal.”

Central to the preoccupations of the president of the World Energy Council and former president of the French utility firm EDF (2004-2009) is the necessity to extend this global governance to safety for all sources of energy, and not only nuclear. „In the post-Fukushima world,” he says, „this goal is achievable with reasonable effort by building on existing institutions.

ITER, in his view, is „a very good example of long-term vision and international cooperation.” The project „truly shows that securing tomorrow’s energy demands vision and investment now.”

Korea has completed Nb3Sn strand production


At the end of November, Korea became the first Domestic Agency to complete the production of niobium-tin (Nb3Sn) strand for ITER’s toroidal field conductors.

Nb3Sn strand is the basic building block of ITER’s large magnets, the key element that makes them superconducting. Superconductivity is essential to pursuing fusion energy generation because superconductors consume less power and are cheaper to operate than conventional counterparts, while carrying higher current and producing stronger magnetic field. Six Domestic Agencies (China, Europe, Japan, Korea, Russia and the US) are responsible for procuring over 400 tons of toroidal field conductor for ITER.

The Korean milestone was validated late November with the approval the Authorization To Proceed Points (ATPPs) by the ITER Organization for the final batch of strand billets. (A billet is the smallest traceable production unit of strand.) In order to assure quality and full traceability for ITER, the manufacturing information and test results of every billet are registered electronically in the Conductor Database, and then reviewed by the procuring Domestic Agency and finally given approval by the ITER Organization to proceed to next step. Remarkably, 2 038 individual Korean billets passed the thorough review by the Korean Domestic Agency and ITER.

The Korean share of toroidal field strand procurement amounts to 93 tons (20 percent of toroidal field strands). The manufacturing contract was awarded to Kiswire Advanced Technology (KAT), which began producing in 2009. To have completed the manufacturing in four years is an impressive rate of production considering that, worldwide, the production of Nb3Sn strand before ITER did not exceed 15 tons per year.

„The toroidal field conductor Procurement Arrangement with Korea is a good example of an ITER success story,” states Arnaud Devred, who is responsible for the Superconductor Systems & Auxiliaries at ITER. „The close collaboration of the Korean Domestic Agency and the ITER Organization to monitor execution enabled both parties to address production issues in a timely and effective manner. This milestone is all the more remarkable in that the strand supplier KAT was new to the business when the contract was launched, but managed to adapt to the world-class standards imposed by the Procurement Arrangement.”

TEXTOR: The end of an era


The Forschungszentrum Jülich research center in Germany reported last week on the shutdown of the TEXTOR tokamak after thirty years of operation. Jülich plasma physicists are now refocusing their efforts on investigating materials science and the challenges associated with continuous operation. We reproduce the full press release below.

Jülich, 5 December 2013 — For thirty years, the results produced at Jülich’s large-scale device TEXTOR have considerably advanced international fusion research. Yesterday at 18:00, a plasma discharge provided science with data for the very last time. Now that TEXTOR has been shut down, Jülich fusion research will turn its full attention to material issues and problems associated with continuous operation — and thus to the remaining hurdles on the way towards environmentally friendly and safe power plants generating energy based on the principle of the sun’s fire.

"TEXTOR was immensely important in helping us to gain the knowledge that we have today of how fusion works," says Prof. Ulrich Samm, director at the Institute of Energy and Climate Research — Plasma Physics. If it proves possible to harness nuclear fusion — the fusion of atomic nuclei — to generate energy, then mankind will have access to an almost inexhaustible source of energy.

Since 1983, the Tokamak EXperiment for Technology Oriented Research (TEXTOR for short) has provided a whole series of scientifically outstanding results. For example, in 1989, boronization was developed and tested at Jülich as a method of coating vacuum vessel walls, and subsequently implemented by all other fusion experiments throughout the world. In 1991, Jülich scientists implemented controlled radiation cooling at TEXTOR. This method allows the hot hydrogen plasma of up to 10 million degrees Celsius to be reduced to a temperature at the edge regions that the wall materials can withstand. Recently, tests and optimizations of wall elements made of tungsten contributed to the decision to use this metal in the international fusion reactor ITER, which is scheduled to go into operation in the south of France by 2020.

TEXTOR was primarily built and used to study the interactions between plasma and the vacuum vessel wall. With respect to plasma temperature and plasma density, the experiment was unable to reproduce the real operating conditions of a fusion power plant. TEXTOR was too small to do so. The device was also not suitable for exploring the problems associated with continuous operation. „And yet continuous operation is the remaining hurdle on the way towards a fusion power plant for electricity generation. Now that TEXTOR has been shut down, we will direct our full attention to overcoming this challenge,” says Samm.
Jülich plasma physicists emphasized the new focus on the altered issues with a symbolic act. Yesterday, after TEXTOR’s last plasma discharge, they pushed a button in its control centre: the control monitors then no longer showed the interior of the TEXTOR vacuum vessel, but images of the Jülich plasma generator PSI and other materials research set-ups. After all, the continuous operation of a fusion power plant will only be possible if suitable materials are available.

Jülich fusion researchers have been preparing for the shift in their research priorities for quite a while. For example, in March of this year, Forschungszentrum Jülich appointed Prof. Christian Linsmeier from the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics, Garching — an acclaimed materials researcher — second director of the subinstitute. In addition, the plasma physicists have been expanding their research activities outside of TEXTOR: at the very end, only 15 % of the laboratory space was dedicated to the large-scale device. Jülich fusion researchers will also continue to work at international and European installations, particularly at the largest existing fusion experiment — JET in the UK. In addition to ITER and DEMO, the reactor generation after ITER, they are putting their expertise to good use at the Wendelstein 7-X stellarator in Greifswald — an alternative reactor type.

The dismantling of TEXTOR, which contains some 600 tonnes of metal, will take more than three years.

See the original text in English and in German.

Larsen & Toubro awarded cooling water contract

The head of the Indian Domestic Agency, Shishir P. Deshpande, has announced that the contract for the final design and procurement of ITER’s Component Cooling Water, Chilled Water, and Heat Rejection systems has been awarded to the Indian company Larsen & Toubro (L&T) Ltd, the company also retained for the manufacture of the ITER cryostat. 

Together with the Tokamak Cooling Water System (procured by the US), the Component Cooling Water, Chilled Water and the Heat Rejection systems will remove the enormous amounts of heat generated by the tokamak and its auxiliary systems.

This important milestone is a direct result of the diligence, cooperative attitude and flexibility of the Indian cooling water team, supported by the ITER Cooling Water Section. Following the contract award Giovanni Dell Orco, Cooling Water Section Leader, congratulated both groups: „This milestone is indeed a major accomplishment and a tribute to the hard work and perseverance of you all.”

Larsen & Toubro is one of the largest and most respected companies in India’s private sector and among the top five engineering, construction and manufacturing companies in the world. The company will execute the cooling water contract from its Chennai office in southern India.

From 25-30 November, ITER cooling water staff attended kick-off meetings held in Chennai and Ahmedabad. A significant result of those meetings was agreement on an aggressive schedule to accelerate delivery of the buried cooling water piping on site, whose installation is due to begin next year.

20 years ago, a DT shot heard around the world


Tensions rose in the US Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) as the seconds counted down.  At stake was the first crucial test of a high-powered mixture of fuel for producing fusion energy. As the control-room clock reached „zero,” a flash of light on a closed-circuit television monitor marked a historic achievement: a world-record burst of more than 3 million watts of fusion energy—enough to momentarily light some 3,000 homes—fueled by the new high-powered mixture. The time was 11:08 p.m. on Thursday, 9 December 1993.

„There was a tremendous amount of cheering and clapping,” recalled PPPL physicist Rich Hawryluk, who headed the Tokamak Fusion Test Reactor (TFTR), the huge magnetic fusion facility that produced the historic power. „People had been on pins and needles for a long time and finally it all came together.” It did so again the very next day when TFTR shattered the mark by creating more than six million watts of fusion energy.

The achievements generated headlines around the world and laid the foundation for the development of fusion energy in facilities such as ITER to demonstrate the feasibility of fusion power. The results delivered „important scientific confirmation of the path we are taking toward ITER,” said physicist Ed Synakowski, a PPPL diagnostics expert during the experiments and now associate director of the Office of Science for Fusion Energy Sciences at DOE. „I felt an important shift in the understanding of fusion’s likely reality with those experiments.”

The breakthroughs proved the practicality of combining equal amounts of the hydrogen isotopes deuterium and its radioactive cousin tritium—the same combination that will be used in ITER and future fusion power plants—to form the superhot, charged plasma gas that fuels fusion reactions. The deuterium-tritium (D-T) mix produced some 150 times more power than a reaction fueled solely by deuterium, long the stand-alone ingredient in tokamak experiments, or „shots.”

„This was the first test with equal parts D-T and it was technically quite challenging,” said Michael Zarnstorff, a task-force leader during the experiments and now deputy director for research at PPPL. „What we did marked a huge advance in integrating tritium into fusion facilities.”

Gained insights included precise measurement of the confinement and loss of alpha particles that fusion reactions release along with energetic neutrons. Good confinement of the alpha particles is critically important since they are to serve as the primary means of heating the plasma in ITER, and thereby producing a self-sustaining fusion reaction, or „burning plasma.”

Read more on the PPPL website.

World fusion community gathers in Monaco


A little kingdom by the sea was the capital, this week, of the world fusion community. For the second time in three years, representatives of the ITER Organization, the ITER Domestic Agencies, international fusion labs and industry gathered for three days in the Principality of Monaco at the invitation of His Serene Highness Prince Albert II to confront their experience and explore the many facets of the industrial activities which are developing within the ITER Project.

The Monaco ITER International Fusion Days (MIIFED) are one of the offshoots of the partnership that was established in January 2008 between the ITER Organization and the Principality of Monaco, a small,  independent state of 30,000 inhabitants located on 200 hectares (500 acres) between Nice, on the French Riviera, and the Italian border. This periodic conference, attracting a wide international audience, is organized to spotlight the status of the ITER Project and ITER-related research.

Prince Albert II greeted the 350 participants to MIIFED 2013 on Monday 2 December by emphasizing that it was his country’s tradition of „sensitivity to energy and environmental issues” that had convinced him five years ago to participate in the ITER Project. In addition to the MIIFED conference, in the frame of the Monaco-ITER Partnership Arrangement the Principality finances five post-doctoral researchers at ITER every two years.

The five current Monaco Fellows, present at the conference, were able to discuss their areas of activity with the Prince and thank him directly for his support of their research.

ITER Director-General Osamu Motojima also expressed his gratitude to Prince Albert II „for his continual support of the ITER Project and his enduring generosity.” In his opening remarks, the ITER Director-General stressed that the ITER Project is now entering its industrial phase. „It is from you,” he said to representatives of industry from around the world, „that we have to learn in order to prepare the industrial and commercial future of fusion energy.”

The first day of the conference—under the theme of „The Global Energy Landscape”—featured keynote lectures from Maria Van der Hoeven, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), and Yukiya Amano, Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) (see quotes below).

In the afternoon, ITER Council Chair Hideyuki Takatsu presented the status of ITER, and Chris Llewellyn-Smith, director of energy research at Oxford University and former ITER Council Chair (2007-2009) explored the world’s future energy needs („With and Without Fossil Fuels”). A round table later gathered representatives of the seven ITER Members and of Agence Iter France for a wide survey of national energy policies and roadmaps to fusion energy.

All presentations converged from very different starting points to similar conclusions: fossil fuels will remain dominant for a few decades to come, and conventional nuclear energy still has a bright future ahead (especially in Asia where the energy demand is growing the fastest).

And as for fusion energy, most experts agreed that it will not reach the grid before 2050. However, assured Chris Llewellyn-Smith, „it won’t be too late…”

The MIIFED 2013 conference concludes on Wednesday, 4 December.
 
Below are excerpts from keynote speeches
delivered at MIIFED 2013
 
His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco:

„It is my country’s sensitivity to environmental issues which triggered our decision to participate … in the ITER Project.”
„And it is a great pleasure for us to offer young researchers an opportunity to pursue their studies for two years in the ITER laboratories … [With] every new class we take the full measure of their motivation and commitment.”
Osamu Motojima, Director-General, ITER Organization:

„[The highly sophisticated ITER components] present tremendous opportunities for industry at large. As ITER drives technological development, it contributes to stimulate the strategic capabilities of the companies involved in the Project.”

„As representatives of industry, large or small, you have a lot to contribute to ITER and, beyond ITER, to the future of fusion research. It is you who tackle the very concrete issues of making real components — very complex components! — out of our designs. It is from you that we have to learn in order to prepare the industrial and commercial future of fusion energy.”

„The men and women of ITER, coming from these 35 nations, are inventing a new and never-before-experimented way of working together. They are already setting an example for all future large-scale international collaborations.”

Maria Van der Hoeven, Executive Director, International Energy Agency:
„The shifted energy demand is not matched by a shift in the energy mix. The fossil fuels’ share is still what it was 25 years ago.”

„Fusion has the potential to be a game changer for the next generation […] Earning public acceptance is key.”

„[When we get the real results, around 2050] fusion’s timeline from discovery to initial development will not be that different from the timeline of other energy sources.”

„We need more awareness [of fusion] at the political level.”

Yukiya Amano, Director-General, International Atomic Energy Agency:
„Fossil fuels will continue to play a central role in the many years to come.”

„Global use of nuclear power is set to increase. There was an assumption that Fukushima would be a major obstacle to the development of nuclear energy. This has been proven wrong. There are presently 70 nuclear power plants under construction, mainly in Asia. In 2013 only, construction started on nine plants and in two new countries, Belarus and the United Arab Emirates. This is very different from what happened after Chernobyl, when two years elapsed without construction.”

„ITER is one of the most complex engineering projects in the world. But I have faith in the ingenuity of human beings.”
 
Click here to view more pictures of MIIFED 2013.

Six area managers to smooth integration

Suppose you’re building a Formula 1 car. You have the best engine ever, the best steering, braking and shock absorber systems, the best frame and a perfectly streamlined body. But now comes the hard part: in order to win the race, you need to have perfect integration of these different elements.

With ITER, it’s the same. The ITER systems supporting the Tokamak will be spread out over several buildings. In order to produce a fusion plasma, the ultimate aim of ITER, all of these elements must cohabit and work in harmony, without clashes. The installation must run like a perfectly assembled and finely tuned race car.

„In all large installations or complex devices, integration is always key,” says Design Integration Section Leader Jean-Jacques Cordier. „What is unique to ITER is the density and variance of the systems which implies a very strict management of the space available, not only in order to position the system components but also to allow for their future assembly and maintenance.”

ITER is not only large and complex, it is also a nuclear installation „Safety rules are particularly stringent, and it is vital to observe and respect them during implementation. As ITER is the first fusion installation to be licensed as a nuclear installation, we need to propagate the safety requirements so that they become a culture that permeates every action we take.”

Integration has always been a preoccupation within the ITER Organization. The Office for Central Integration and Engineering was established in June 2009; a Building Integration Task Force was set up two years later; and, recently, a team of Building Integration Area Managers was assembled and invested with redefined responsibilities and extended authority.

„Integration is something that is often a source of conflict,” says Cordier, „and understandably so. It is sometimes hard for the person responsible for one system to accept that it has to be changed to make room for another system. 'Why should I modify my system when you can adapt the building?’ And vice-versa … you always hear these sorts of arguments.”

The new area managers should facilitate a smoother implementation of the integration process in line with the ITER Project integrated schedule. Following two new recruitments there are now six area managers, all with strong experience in the design and construction of nuclear installations and large experimental devices.

Their redefined responsibilities are considerable. The area managers will assess the status of configuration and the functionality of all systems and structures in their area of jurisdiction (machine and Tokamak Pit, port cells, Tokamak Building, etc.) up to the delivery of the building and systems; they will make sure that space management requirements are satisfied; and they will take care of functional interfaces … all within the requirements of the Preliminary Safety Report (Rapport préliminaire de sûreté, RPrS).

„The area managers have been chosen for their versatility, their capacity to mediate between conflicting parties and interests and their strong nuclear safety culture,” stresses Cordier. „In the near future, when the equipment installation phase begins, area managers will act as full integration support to the now centralized construction management.”

In addition to the six specialists already operational, four additional building integration engineers will join ITER early next year to assist them. The team will then be complete and ready to coordinate the integration of systems inside of the buildings and between buildings within the installation. With authority…

Final design review for central solenoid


An important milestone was recently passed on the road to the fabrication of ITER’s central solenoid by the US Domestic Agency, which has the responsibility for procuring the six modules that make up the central solenoid as well as the structure and the necessary assembly tooling. Since the signature of the Procurement Arrangement in March 2010 for this key component of the magnet system, the US ITER Project Office has been concentrating on the development of the design and the preparation of the manufacturing of the central solenoid modules.

Two years after chairing the Preliminary Design Review (PDR) in September 2011, Michel Huguet—former director of the Naka centre during ITER’s early Engineering Design Activities phase—was given the responsibility of chairing the central solenoid’s Final Design Review (FDR), which was held from 18 to 20 November at the US ITER Project Office with the attendance of magnet experts from Europe, Japan and the US.

It was a hard rush for the central solenoid team led by Wayne Reiersen (US) to provide all the required documentation in time for the review, including manufacturing drawings, analyses and R&D reports. Their high quality presentations gave an in-depth description of the design and of the supporting analyses and R&D and 3D prints allowed a better understanding of the geometry. A significant number of chits were issued by the review panel that will result in a few design modifications, but no category 1 chit, which should enable completion of the final design within a few months. Submission for review and approval of a revised 3D CAD model of the central solenoid is planned for February 2014.

In July 2011, General Atomics (San Diego, California) was awarded a contract to manufacture the six central solenoid modules. A visit of the manufacturing workshop located in Poway, California was organized after the design review on 21 November by John Smith, central solenoid project manager at General Atomics. The visitors saw the large manufacturing hall—nearly empty for the moment but ready to receive the components of the module manufacturing line in the next six months. The fabrication of a mockup module is scheduled to begin by the end of May 2014. Three dummy conductor lengths (see image) have already been delivered to Poway and will be used for the commissioning of the winding line. Manufacturing trials are also ongoing to address delicate processes like manufacture of helium inlets, joints or application of turn (see image) or ground insulation.

Conductor schedule respected in Russia

Keeping time with the production and delivery schedule for ITER’s toroidal field magnets, Russian industry has shipped its second batch of toroidal field conductor for the year to the European winding facility in La Spezia, Italy.

After a first shipment of two 415-metre regular production lengths of niobium-tin (Nb3Sn) superconductor in June, it was the turn of three 760-metre production lengths to be loaded onto trucks on 25 November for the long voyage to Italy.

At the La Spezia facility, machines will unspool and straighten the conductor before shaping the continuous, 760-metre conductor lengths into a D-shaped double pancake. The pancakes will then be heat treated at over 650°C, electrically insulated and finally transferred into the grooves of the stainless steel radial plates to form a double pancake module.

The Russian Domestic Agency is responsible for 20 percent of toroidal field conductor procurement. Production is ongoing according to the schedule of the Procurement Arrangements. Nine 760-metre and two 415-metre spools have been manufactured and tested and are scheduled to be shipped to Europe at the beginning of next year.