Tracking every speck of dust

From 12 to 14 February the ITER Diagnostics Division hosted a three-day workshop on erosion, deposition, dust, and tritium diagnostics which was attended by about 30 international experts. The aim of the workshop was to define the relevant suite of diagnostics that will be necessary in the ITER machine.

In ITER, the amount of dust and tritium allowed inside the vacuum vessel is limited by the technical prescriptions from the Regulator. Dust is produced either from the gradual erosion of the plasma-facing first wall elements and the re-deposition of this material inside the vacuum vessel, including some tritium, or alternately by transients, like disruptions which can produce dust in a more concentrated way.

The decision to use tungsten instead of carbon as divertor target material has reduced the expected dust production by one to two orders of magnitude, so that the dust accumulation is expected to stay significantly below the limits. The workshop included presentations and discussions on the safety limits; newest modelling and experimental results (mainly from JET’s ITER-like wall); and the proposed diagnostics, including worldwide experience with similar systems.

Measuring overall erosion, the potential source of dust, is the job attributed to the In-Vessel Viewing System. Dust on the vacuum vessel floor will be examined by endoscopes. Further information will be gleaned by analyzing sampling bins in which dust accumulates. Infrared viewing will allow the identification of dust and deposits on hot surfaces; laser methods will determine the thickness of deposits. Vacuum cleaning combined with mechanical cleaning using the Multi Purpose Deployer (MPD) is an option being considered to manage the dust.

The evaluation of the physics models requires higher resolution from the diagnostics systems than necessary for assuring the conformity with the limits.  For a carbon divertor it had been assumed necessary to measure even during discharges to follow the erosion of the divertor target; with a tungsten divertor, this need has disappeared, which simplifies the diagnostic designs. The main measurement for the tritium amount in the vacuum vessel is provided for by accurate accounting in the Tritium Plant. Supporting in-vessel methods include laser methods and samples.

During the workshop recommendations were also made for useful operations in the non-active phase of ITER. These recommendations include the removal of an entire divertor cassette for detailed investigation, the use of the MPD to sample dust and deposits from inside the vacuum-vessel and the conduction of some gas-fuelling experiments with careful accounting of how much of it is retained in the wall.

Aix-Marseille University signs agreement with ITER

It took three generations of physicists to bring fusion research to the point of building ITER. It will take another to bring fusion-produced electricity to the grid and many more to build and operate the fusion plants of the future.

Training the physicists, engineers, lawyers and administrators who will carry out this immense task is one of the major preoccupations of the fusion community.

With this objective in mind, the ITER Organization and Aix-Marseille University signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Wednesday 26 January aimed at promoting cooperation and exchanges between both institutions.

„Aix-Marseille University and the ITER Organization have two essential traits in common. Both are young and turned towards the future,” said University president Yvon Berland as both parties were preparing to sign the agreement in the ITER Council Chamber.

Although the academic history of Provence goes back to the 15th century, it is only in 2012 that the region’s three public universities were federated into a new entity, the Université d’Aix-Marseille.

With an enrollment of 72,000 students in arts and languages, law and political science, economy and management, science and technology, and health, Aix-Marseille University is presently the largest French-speaking university in the world.

„After more than eight years of presence in Provence, ITER now belongs to this region,” said ITER Director-General Osamu Motojima at the signature ceremony. „The partnership that we are engaging in today is of special significance to us.”

Building on a collaboration that began in 2007 with the organization of the ITER International Summer School, the agreement signed on Wednesday with provide a legal framework for the exchange of young scientists and engineers and the implementation of joint research projects in a number of areas such as fusion science, law and social and human sciences.

„In reality,” added DG Motojima, „we will do much more than that. By collaborating to make fusion energy a feature of everyday life, we will strongly contribute to a more peaceful world. I know of very few tasks that could be more meaningful, more rewarding and more worthy of our dedication.”

Managing construction works from the Contractors Area

In the latest video released by the European Domestic Agency for ITER, we tour the area of the ITER worksite—the CA2 (for Contractors Area 2)—that will be host to all of the construction companies or consortiums that have been awarded building or power supply installation contracts.

In this 3,500-square-metre zone on the southwest corner of the platform, individual lots have been allocated to the companies for offices, workshops, equipment storage and comfort facilities. The VFR consortium already occupies a three-storey office building—its „command centre” for managing the construction of the Tokamak Complex plus eight other auxiliary buildings including the Assembly Building, whose walls will begin to rise in May/June of this year. Other companies will be moving in soon to create their office complexes.

The CA2 area is also host to a worksite canteen with a capacity to serve 1,500 meals per day, an onsite infirmary that is open 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., and offices for the Architect/Engineer ENGAGE and health and safety protection firm Apave.

In 2015, with over 2,000 people working to erect the buildings and facilities that make up the scientific installation, ITER will be one of the busiest construction sites in Europe.

Watch the video here.

Editor’s Note: All those who knew Nicolas Robic, Apave’s Health and Safety Coordinator for European Domestic Agency activities on the ITER worksite, will be particularly moved by his appearance in this video.

The largest pulsed electromagnet ever built

To initiate and maintain plasma current, ITER requires a giant solenoid—which will be the largest pulsed electromagnet ever built. The 1,000 metric ton solenoid located in the center of the ITER tokamak will have 5.5 gigajoules of stored energy and be about 18 meters, or 60 feet, tall.

The Oak Ridge National Laboratory US ITER team leading the central solenoid development and fabrication has developed a firm basis for the design and achieved a number of key milestones in the last six months, including a final design review in December 2013. Authorization to proceed to manufacturing is expected in May 2014 from the project’s coordinating body, the ITER Organization.

„The central solenoid development has followed a unique process,” said David Everitt, the CS system manager. „We brought the fabricator, General Atomics in San Diego, on board early to help with manufacturing review and development. As the CS design progressed, the fabricator has been taking our design, prototyping it and providing feedback.”

That approach has helped US ITER resolve a number of engineering challenges. Not only is the central solenoid unusually large and powerful, but it also is tightly integrated into the ITER magnet system.

ITER uses a magnetic confinement approach to contain 100 million degrees Celsius plasmas within carefully defined magnetic fields. In some locations, there will be only 10 mm of space—the width of a thick pencil—between the massive central solenoid and a 13 meter, or 45 foot, tall „D”-shaped toroidal field magnet.

Wayne Reiersen, the US ITER magnet systems team leader, noted that  „the actions proposed in the final design review report are thoughtful and provide us with excellent feedback on the central solenoid design and path forward. We will really benefit from this review.”

Overall, the final design review confirmed that the central solenoid design is well supported by analysis and by research and development.

The solenoid will be composed of six stacked modules, each made of conductor wound into pancake-like layers. An individual module weighs more than 110 metric tons. The manufacturing process for the modules of the central solenoid will take 16—24 months per module. Each module, plus a spare, must be fabricated and tested at full current, 45 kA, and 4 degrees Kelvin, or about minus 269 degrees C, to ensure that the magnets are ready to perform in the  superconducting environment of the ITER machine.

The modules will be fabricated with a just-in-time process. As each shipment of conductor is received, it will immediately enter the winding station to be formed into pancakes. The module fabrication process culminates approximately two years later when the module passes final testing and is shipped to France. Everitt added, „Building the central solenoid is all about timing. At any one time, we can have four or five modules moving through the production process.”

A central solenoid mock-up module, which will verify the production process, is planned for completion in summer 2015, with sample conductor winding activities beginning in summer 2014.

The mock-up module will be made at 40 percent of the actual ITER module height and will not be superconducting. The mock-up is a way to commission the central solenoid work stations, the insulation method and the overall process. All of the modules are scheduled for completion by February 2019 to meet the international ITER schedule.

Read the rest of the article on US ITER web site.

French police chief takes in actual dimension of project

As Director-General of the French police force, Claude Baland oversees more than 145 000 active police officers throughout the national territory.

„I’ve been following the ITER Project closely for many years,” he said after having visited the worksite on Thursday 20 February. „It is a beautiful venture and it was very important for me to see it with my own eyes and take in its actual physical dimension.”

Mr Baland’s interest in ITER is not that of a national police chief only. As a geography , his original profession, he confides that he is fascinated by issues such as how ITER fits into its surrounding territory; what kind of cultural interaction the project generates within its local environment, and what kind of professional, social and cultural practices men and women coming from 35 nations develop.

ITER Director-General Osamu Motojima, DDG Carlos Alejaldre and members of the Department for Safety, Quality & Security happily responded to these questions

Although he is a very busy man, the Director-General of the French police force would gladly, as he confided, „apply for an internship at ITER if [he] had more time.”

A cooperation with Italy’s largest engineering school

With an enrollment of close to 40,000 students, Politecnico di Milano is the largest technical university and engineering school in Italy.

The Politecnico designed and operated the country’s first nuclear research reactor in the late 1950s and has since accumulated a large expertise in nuclear-related technologies.

A recently built, state-of-the-art laboratory will enable Politecnico scientists and students to access the most technologically advanced equipment. And this of course, is of interest to ITER…

On 21 January the Rector of Politecnico di Milano, Giovanni Azzone, and the Director-General of the ITER Organization, Osamu Motojima, signed a Memorandum of Understanding to promote cooperation and exchange between the two institutions.

Potential areas of collaboration include the joint supervision of MsC or PhD theses; joint training and collaboration of young scientists and engineers; the exchange of technical and scientific data; joint research projects, particularly in the field of cryogenics,  and electrical and nuclear engineering.

„It is a great opportunity for both our institutions,” says the head of the ITER Central Engineering and Plant Directorate Sergio Orlandi. „What is at stake, beyond the technical and scientific cooperation aspects, is the creation of a new, strong generation for fusion.”

In the field of cryogenics, for instance, cooperation with Politecnico di Milano should be extremely fruitful. „Cryogenics knowledge is not generated by universities,” stresses Sergio. „When you need experts for ITER, you hire them from CERN, Air Liquide or other private companies… We need to develop academic studies in cryogenics in order to answer the needs of fusion research and, ultimately, industry.”

New step forward for ITER’s poloidal field converters

Following the successful commissioning of the ITER power supply test facility at the Institute of Plasma Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences (ASIPP) last December, another exciting step forward has been made in the procurement of ITER’s poloidal field converters.

The short circuit tests on the ITER poloidal field converter bridges and external bypass were accomplished successfully on 8 January 2014. In a series of stringent tests, partially witnessed by technical staff from the ITER Organization and the Chinese Domestic Agency, the soundness of the design and manufacture of these key components was demonstrated.

These tests included the short circuit withstand test, the dynamic current balance test, the prospective fault current test with the intervention of electronic protection, the FSC test with the intervention of electronic protection, and the FSC test without the intervention of electronic protection. The novelty of the component design created specific requirements, far different from similar tests performed in the past. The series tests were characterized by high test current (up to 430 kA) and complicated prospective waveform. Efforts from the engineers from the AC/DC converter team at ITER China resulted in the successful conclusion of all required type tests.

These positive test results—which demonstrate that manufacturing can fully meet the design requirements of the ITER poloidal field converters—pave the way for series production to begin.

Signatures in the wings of Council

With representatives from the seven ITER Members gathered for last week’s extraordinary ITER Council meeting, it was the perfect opportunity to finalize the signatures on four agreements, each one representing a step forward in ITER Construction.

The first agreement signed increases ITER Organization property by 10 hectares. When the ITER Organization and the Host Organization CEA signed the Site Support Agreement in November 2009 it was specified that „… the Host Organization shall make available through a specific act to the ITER Organization an area of land,” consisting of approximately 181 hectares. On 6 July 2010, around 100 of the 181 hectares were transferred the ITER Organization by notarial deed. This year the ITER Organization requested the transfer of a second portion of land from CEA—approximately 10 hectares—in order to prepare a storage/logistics platform for the storage of ITER components as well as for the unpacking and repacking necessary for assembly activities.

The second agreement marks the kick-off for the design and procurement of the first Test Blanket System, a vital step on the way to tritium self-sufficiency. A reliable and efficient „breeder blanket” technology will be necessary for heat transfer and fuel generation in future fusion power plants and ITER will provide a unique opportunity to test the mockups of these breeding blankets, called Test Blanket Systems, in a real fusion environment. Among the key milestones along the road to procurement are the signing of six specific TBM Arrangements that correspond to the formal implementation of six Test Blanket Systems in ITER.

Almost 20 years after the establishment of a first ITER Test Blanket Working Group, and not quite two years after the endorsement of the generic TBM Arrangement by the ITER Council, the ITER Organization and the Chinese Domestic Agency signed an arrangement last week for the design, manufacturing, transport and delivery of a Helium-Cooled Ceramic Breeder test blanket system to the ITER site by 2021. This is the first of six TBM Arrangements expected be signed in the course of the year.

Also signed last week was a Procurement Arrangement with the Russian Domestic Agency for the enhanced heat flux first wall panels for the ITER Blanket System. The signature opens the way for the fabrication of these key components that, as they directly face the plasma, will have to withstand the highest heat flux of the machine (up to 4.7 MW/m2). The Russian Domestic Agency will procure 171 enhanced heat flux first wall panels (plus 8 spares), for installation in the upper and outboard regions of the vacuum vessel. As the first Procurement Arrangement signed for blanket first wall panels, this was a milestone event; two further Procurement Arrangements for this system will be signed in 2015 with China (for the remaining enhanced heat flux first wall panels) and Europe (for the normal heat flux panels).

Finally, a document was signed with the United States relative to the supply of materials for the ITER plant’s steady state electrical network (400 kV gantries for the overhead lines of the steady state electrical network and metal structures to support the 400kV electrical equipment gantries and structures). Although the provision of this equipment had originally been assigned to the United States, it was later agreed by all parties that there were advantages to procuring the same gantry and structures as those used by the French electricity transmission network RTE for the Prionnet substation. As of last week’s agreement, the scope has been transferred to the ITER Organization.

Big yellow crane, right on time

Right on time! On Wednesday 12 February, nine months after construction began on ITER’s on-site Cryostat Workshop, the first elements of the workshop’s gantry crane were delivered to the ITER site.
Manufactured in Italy by Danieli Centro Cranes, the gantry crane will be assembled on site from six 12-metre-long beams bolted together to make a twin beam assembly that carries a motor trolley lifting device.

Once installed, it will stand 18 metres high and be able to travel by rail the entire length of the huge workshop (~100 meters).

With a lifting capacity of 200 tons (plus an auxiliary 50-ton hook) the crane will be used to lift and handle the 54 cryostat segments that will arrive from India. After welding, these segments will form the four cryostat sections that will enclose the ITER Tokamak.

The temporary Cryostat Workshop is the only building on the ITER platform that is not under European construction responsibility. The large steel-framed building stands on a small football-field-sized parcel (50 x 120 m) that has been made available to the Indian Domestic Agency.

As part of the cryostat manufacturing contract awarded in 2012 by ITER India to Larsen & Toubro, the Indian manufacturer is also responsible for on-site assembly. Larsen & Toubro awarded a contract to SPIE Batignolles for the construction of the Cryostat Workshop.

Jülich to develop plasma core measuring system

The German research institute Forschungszentrum Jülich has announced that it will lead a consortium of European partners to design a measuring system for ITER. The consortium has signed a Framework Partnership Agreement with the European Domestic Agency (F4E) to develop the ITER core plasma Charge Exchange Recombination Spectroscopy (CXRS) diagnostic.

This measuring system will help determine the composition and temperature of the plasma in the vacuum vessel. The Framework Partnership Agreement will run for four years with an F4E contribution of EUR 4.9 million.

Once designed by the consortium, the core plasma CXRS system will be procured by F4E and assembled into an ITER vacuum vessel port plug.

The CXRS diagnostic views a region of the ITER plasma illuminated by a high-energy beam of neutral hydrogen particles injected into the plasma by a companion device being constructed by ITER’s Indian partners. Collisions with particles in the fusion plasma produce visible light whose wavelength and spatial distribution allow conclusions to be drawn on various properties of the plasma. The measurements provide information that is crucial for sustaining the fusion reaction.

The design of the CXRS diagnostic device is being performed by physicists and engineers from the Jülich Institute of Energy and Climate Research (IEK-4) and by their colleagues at Jülich’s Central Institute of Engineering, Electronics and Analytics (ZEA-1) as well as by European partners: Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT); universities of technology in Budapest (BME) and Eindhoven (TU/e); the Dutch Institute for Fundamental Energy Research (DIFFER); and CCFE in the UK. Contributing third parties include the Spanish CIEMAT centre and the Hungarian Wigner-RCP institute.

Read the full Press Release from the Forschungszentrum Jülich here.

Who invented fusion?

Visitors to ITER often ask: „Who discovered (or invented) fusion?”

There are several ways to answer this question. The simplest and most obvious (although a bit frustrating) would be to say that Nature herself invented fusion.

One hundred million years after the Big Bang, the first fusion reaction was produced in the ultra-dense and ultra-hot core of one the gigantic gaseous spheres that had formed from the primeval hydrogen clouds. Thus the first star was born, followed by billions of others in a process that continues to this day.

Fusion is the dominant state of matter in the observable Universe. In the solar system we inhabit for example, 99.86 percent of its total mass (the Sun) is in a state of fusion.

The shining of the Sun and the glittering of the stars were to remain an inexplicable wonder until the early years of the 20th century. In 1920, British astrophysicist Arthur Eddington (1882-1944) was the first to suggest that stars draw their apparent endless energy from the fusion of hydrogen into helium. Eddington’s theory was first published in 1926—his Internal Constitution of the Stars laid the foundation of modern theoretical astrophysics.

_Img_2_It took another theoretician, an expert in the relatively new science of nuclear physics, to precisely identify the processes that Eddington had postulated. The „proton-proton chain” that Hans Bethe (1906-2005) described in 1939 gave one of the keys to the mystery. Bethe’s work on stellar nucleosynthesis won him the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1967.

As Eddington, Bethe and others were watching the stars (a major discovery is rarely the work of a single individual), New Zealand-born physicist Ernest Rutherford (1871-1937) was exploring the intimate structure of the atom. The winner of the 1908 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Rutherford understood what tremendous forces could be unleashed from the atom nucleus. In a famous 1934 experiment that opened the way to present-day fusion research, he realized the fusion of deuterium (a heavy isotope of hydrogen) into helium, observing that „an enormous effect was produced.”

His assistant, Australian-born Mark Oliphant (1901-2000), played a key role in these early fusion experiments, discovering tritium, the second heavy isotope of hydrogen, and helium 3, the rare helium isotope that holds the promise of aneutronic fusion.

By the eve of World War II, the theoretical framework was established. Fundamental science still needed to be explored (and the exploration was to take much longer than expected) but fusion machines were already on the drawing board.

Although the first patent for a „fusion reactor” was filed in 1946 in the UK (Thomson et Blackman), it is only in 1951 that fusion research began in earnest. Following a claim by Argentina—later proven a prank—that its scientists had achieved „controlled thermonuclear fusion,” the US, soon followed by Russia, the UK, France, Japan and others, scrambled to develop a device of their own.

In May 1951, a mere two months after Argentina’s false claim, American astrophysicist Lyman Spitzer (1914-1997) proposed the „stellarator” concept that was to dominate fusion research throughout the 1950s and 1960s until it was dethroned by the more efficient tokamak concept born in the USSR.

The rest is history as we know it: less than one century after Eddington’s theoretical breakthrough, ITER is being built to demonstrate that the power of the Sun and stars can be harnessed in a man-made machine.

Work on central rebar resumes

Designing the rebar arrangement for the concrete slab that will support the Tokamak Complex has proved an exceptionally challenging task.
The complexity has been at its peak in the centre of the Tokamak Complex worksite at the location of the future Tokamak Building, where orthoradial (circular) and orthogonal (right-angled) rebar arrangements interface.

In June 2013, as work was beginning on the first 2 layers of rebar out of 16, it appeared that the design in this area needed to be consolidated. Eight months later, the new design was accepted by all parties and rebar laying resumed on this all-important central area on 20 January 2014 .
Completing the complex rebar arrangements will take a few months.

Concrete pouring operations in the central area of the Tokamak Building will follow shortly afterward.

Installation of accelerator begins in Rokkasho

The International Fusion Materials Irradiation Facility (IFMIF) in Rokkasho, Japan will house a state-of-the-art accelerator capable of creating the kind of high-powered neutrons that will interact with first wall materials in future demonstration and commercial fusion power plants.

The accelerator’s technological feasibility is being tested through the design, manufacturing, installation, commissioning and testing activities of a 1:1-scale prototype accelerator known as LIPAc (Linear IFMIF Prototype Accelerator), whose aim is to generate a 140 mA deuteron beam at 100 keV.

Following months of preparatory work, LIPAc activities have reached an important milestone. The deuteron injector—designed and manufactured at CEA Saclay in France as one of the voluntary contributions to the IFMIF project from France—passed acceptance tests and was shipped to Rokkasho last year. In November 2013 a joint team of European and Japanese engineers unpacked the injector components and proceeded with pre-installation activities under the guidance of Raphael Gobin and Patrick Girardot, experts from CEA. The first phase was completed at the end of the year and the installation phase has been initiated under the monitoring of the European Domestic Agency’s Broader Fusion Development Department based Garching, Germany. The aim is to complete the assembly of the accelerator components and begin testing by early 2017.

IFMIF is part of the Broader Approach Agreement signed between Europe and Japan. The role of the European Domestic Agency for ITER is to coordinate the European IFMIF activities supported by the voluntary contributions of Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Switzerland. Its main responsibilities are the integration and follow‐up of activities conducted by European groups working on the three projects of IFMIF: the prototype accelerator, the test facility and the target facility.

You can read the original article and find out more about the Broader Approach here.

Radial plate production is launched

Manufacturing has begun for the 70 large D-shaped radial plates that will hold the conductor in place within ITER’s toroidal field coils. Following the prototype and machining trial stages, manufacturing has been launched at CNIM Industrial Systems (France) and SIMIC Spa (Italy); each firm is responsible for producing 35 radial plates.

To fulfil the contract from the European Domestic Agency, CNIM has renovated its Brégaillon industrial site and added a brand-new 3,000 m² production hall close to the sea to facilitate the transportation of the large components. The new building is fully air-conditioned to keep equipment at a constant temperature during its final machining. A 9 x 36 m portal machining centre is ready to machine two radial plates simultaneously to a precision of several tens of microns, according to Jean-Claude Cercassi, CNIM Commercial Development Manager. Work is progressing quickly now that the first batches of raw material have been delivered. „The stainless steel segments have been machined and we are about to start with the electron beam welding,” Cercassi explains, an activity made possible by the installation of a dismountable vacuum chamber.

SIMIC Spa built a new industrial building in Porto Marghera to accommodate the production of the radial plate prototype, with brand new facilities and tooling in order to support the production of the radial plates. A massive portal machine has been installed that will operate in addition to one used for the machining of the prototype. SIMIC Spa’s Marianna Ginola explains. „The manufacturing phase of the radial plates is the most exciting part of our contribution to the Project. Our new building is ready, new tooling is in place. The production of the radial plates has started! This is a turning point for the Project because the design starts taking shape and the impressive milling machine that SIMIC has invested in is put into operation. Our expertise will be fully deployed to deliver these key components.”

The first radial plates are scheduled to be completed in July, when they will be transported by sea to La Spezia (Italy) to be fitted inside the ITER toroidal field coils at a facility run by ASG Superconductors. After producing a second batch five weeks later, CNIM and SIMIC Spa are expected to accelerate production to the rate of one plate every four weeks.

To learn more about the manufacturing of toroidal field coil components click here.

To read the original story on the Fusion for Energy website, click here.

Feels like "coming home"

This week, the ITER Organization welcomes Mary Erlenborn who is taking up duty as the new Director for General Administration. For Mary this will be a sort of déjà vu: some 22 years ago, in 1992, she joined the ITER team in San Diego where she directed the Joint Work Site’s multi-faceted business office activities, including procurement, budgeting, reporting, facilities and resource management.

During those days, the ITER Project was taking shape during what was called the ITER Engineering Design Activities phase. There were three ITER Joint Work Sites distributed around the globe—Garching, Germany, with almost 70 staff; Naka, Japan with 80 staff at its peak; and finally San Diego, with more than 90 employees.

When the San Diego site closed in 1999 it was Mary who returned the facility keys to the landlord. „That was a sad moment,” Mary recalls. „Those seven years were a very special time in my life. They have left a warm spot in my heart.”

Mary’s career has taken her from her hometown of Dwight, Illinois, to Chicago and then to California where she worked as an audit manager for Deloitte followed by 17 years with the Science Applications International Corporation—a  ten-billion-dollar Fortune 500 scientific, engineering and technology applications company.

Until her appointment as head of General Administration for the ITER Organization in France she served as the Chief Financial Officer for the San Diego Data Processing Corporation.

Now she’s about to open a brand-new chapter as she and her husband Tom are beginning a new life in old Europe. A few weeks ago she spent a couple of days at ITER Headquarters to breathe the French air, to introduce herself to staff and to get prepared for what she calls „a big challenge.” 

„I know it is not going to be a smooth ride,” she says. But having spoken to a lot of people during her two-day visit she feels confident. „I am very impressed by everyone’s knowledge and commitment, and by their desire for success. And success is what we need. I am an environmentalist! We need solutions besides fossil fuels!”

Bringing talented young researchers into ITER

The partnership between the ITER Organization and the Principality of Monaco, launched in 2008, has provided an invaluable framework within which young scientists and engineers have had the opportunity to work closely with some of the world’s leading fusion researchers at the forefront of fusion energy R&D, and to carry out advanced research in support of the ITER project.

The young researchers who have joined ITER under the Monaco/ITER Postdoctoral Fellowship Program so far have come from a wide range of backgrounds in terms of nationality and academic training. The program encourages applicants from all of the ITER Members (and the Principality of Monaco) and it has been successful in achieving this goal: the 7 Members are represented within its alumni — and a random list of alma mater includes University of Alaska, Beijing Institute of Technology, University of Hamburg, Kyoto University, University of Madras, Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, Seoul National University…etc..

The program aims to attract not only graduates who have trained in one of the specialist areas of fusion science and technology, but also those with qualifications beyond the conventional boundaries of the international fusion program: ITER (and fusion research) benefits by bringing talented young researchers with relevant skills into the project, while the postdoctoral fellows themselves have the opportunity to test themselves against the many challenges of the ITER project, to experience the pleasures of working in its international environment and, ultimately, to decide whether a career in fusion research suits them.

At the ITER scale, fusion research depends heavily on applying advanced technology and so the postdoctoral program is as much about providing a route for young engineering graduates to apply their knowledge to the design and development of ITER’s components and systems, as it is about exploring the latest ideas to explain the complex behaviour of burning plasmas.

Engineering research projects undertaken by earlier groups of postdoctoral fellows have encompassed the development program for ITER’s superconductors, advanced control techniques and the design and development of sophisticated plasma facing components, while science research projects include studies of advanced plasma measurement techniques, development of time-parallel computational techniques, non-linear analysis of plasma stability, and plasma transport in the scrape-off layer. The postdoctoral fellows have contributed to advances in fusion science and technology in many areas of the ITER project.

Meanwhile, a new set of challenges awaits the next group of fellows who will be taking up appointments at ITER in the autumn of 2014 …

For more details on the 2014 Monaco/ITER Postdoctoral Fellowship Program click here.

Visits on the rise: 15,000 in 2013

With over 7,000 visitors in 2013, the newly formed ITER Visit Team has been busy welcoming and accommodating visitors since taking over visit coordination tasks last year from the Joint Visits Team (a joint venture between ITER Organization, Agence Iter France and the European Domestic Agency Fusion for Energy).

Agence Iter France has refocused its activities on school visits, welcoming over 8,000 schoolchildren in 2013 for a specially adapted program on fusion and site biodiversity.

While the ITER website has often been the first point of contact for the public and the fusion community, it is during an ITER visit that visitors get a chance to put a „face” to the Project. The purpose of the visits is to educate the public on fusion basics, acquaint them with the current status of the Project and take them on a tour of the construction site.

_To_69_Tx_The ITER Visit Team welcomes visitors of all backgrounds—from fusion experts to professionals, government delegations and the general public—drawing on the participation of many ITER staff members who volunteer their time as well as logistics support from Agence Iter France and Fusion for Energy. 

From the 10 year old hearing about fusion for the first time, to the fusion experts finally seeing their research come to fruition, each ITER visit is specially tailored. Common questions range from „When will we have commercial fusion reactors?” and „How much does the ITER Project cost?” to „Where do we get tritium?” and „Why do we need it?”

The number of visitors has been steadily increasing since 2007, with over 65,000 cumulative visitors to the site (14,820 in 2013). School visits account for 53 percent of the visits in 2013, with the general public coming in at 21 percent and professionals making up the third largest category of visitors at 9 percent. 

To reserve your visit at ITER, please visit or email

Where cold and warm worlds meet

The enormous ITER superconducting magnets will operate at only four degrees above absolute zero and will be powered by converters located in buildings outside the Tokamak Complex. The connection of these cold magnets to the room-temperature electrical busbars is implemented through a unique series of components where the cold and warm worlds meet—the high temperature superconducting current leads.

The prototypes of these leads will be cooled down and powered for the first time at the ASIPP Institute in Hefei, China during the second half of 2014. The ITER Magnet and Control System Divisions have worked together for the last two years on the design and construction of the instrumentation, control, and interlock systems that will be necessary to safely perform these tests.

This joint effort reached its first milestone last December when the Factory Acceptance Test of the control system for the lead tests was successfully completed on the premises of Tata Consulting Services (TCS) in Pune, India. Staff from ITER as well as Indian engineers from TCS and Chinese scientists from ASIPP have worked last year to get the control system ready for delivery on time.

These tests represent an important milestone not only for our colleagues in the Magnet Division but also for the CODAC and interlock teams at the ITER Organization. The design of this control system is fully based on the hardware and software solutions developed by these teams during the last years and the tests are a very useful opportunity to prove their performance and identify any potential improvements. Last but not least, this project has shown how two ITER Divisions in two different Directorates can make a success out of a common endeavour.

The cubicles shown above were packed in Mumbai for a flight to China in the coming days, where they will be commissioned and finally connected to the equipment under testing conditions.