OF INTEREST: Puffing hydrogen for self-protection

Researchers of the FOM Institute DIFFER have discovered that the wall material of a fusion reactor can shield itself from high energy plasma bursts. The wall material tungsten seems to expel a cloud of cooling hydrogen particles that serves as a protective layer. The research team publishes their results on 24 March 2014 in the journal Applied Physics Letters.

[…] The heart of a fusion reactor like ITER contains an extremely hot plasma, from which short, intense energy bursts rain down on the reactor wall. In ITER, the tungsten wall will face powerful discharges of several gigawatts per square meter, several times per second.  However, researchers at FOM Institute DIFFER discovered that under some conditions less than half of that incoming energy actually hits the surface.

The physicists used their linear plasma experiment Pilot-PSI to show that the tungsten surface shields itself from the blast by expelling a cloud of cooling hydrogen particles. This is the first time that fusion researchers see the energy pulses and the wall react to each other at this level of detail.

Caption: Hydrogen plasma in DIFFER’s linear plasma generator Pilot-PSI. Credit: Fundamental Research on Matter (FOM)

Read more on DIFFER website



OF INTEREST: 14 Million Yomiuri readers will hear about ITER

​With a combined morning and evening circulation of more than 14 million, the Japanese daily Yomiuri Shimbun is number one among the world’s biggest selling newspapers.

Last Friday 21 March the Yomiuri dispatched one of its science reporters, Kyoichi Sasazawa, to the ITER site. The reporter met with ITER Director-General Osamu Motojima and ITER DDG Carlos Alejaldre and visited the ITER construction site. "In Japan, knowledge of fusion needs to be improved," he observed.

The article he’s preparing will be published in Japan in late April and will also appear in the English edition of the Yomiuri.

Caption: DG Motojima and Yomiuri science writer Kyoichi Sasazawa take in the Tokamak Pit view from the Assembly Hall slab.


OF INTEREST: 25 years ago: "The scientific fiasco of the century"

​Twenty five years ago, University of Utah scientists announced a discovery that touched off a worldwide sensation.

"Basically, we’ve established a sustained nuclear fusion reaction by means which are considerably simpler than conventional techniques," said Professor Stanley Pons on 23 March 1989. He was describing an experiment on the Utah campus that sent waves of optimism around the globe.
Some thought so-called "cold fusion" would solve the world’s energy problems and lead to widespread peace and prosperity. But it wasn’t long before those hopes crumbled. At least one prominent scientist later denounced it as "the scientific fiasco of the century."

Read more here. 

OF INTEREST: Making synthetic diamond crystals in a plasma reactor

​Diamonds are highly sought after as jewelry and as a form of capital investment. They are also prized by the research community, but not because of their brilliance or symbolic significance — it is their physical properties that make these gems precious to scientists. Diamonds are extremely hard, have unrivaled thermal conductivity and have a broadband spectral transparency that stretches from ultraviolet to far infrared, making them the ideal material for a host of different applications. Consequently, there is a large market for synthetic diamonds: they can cut through steel as if it were paper, dig their way through the earth on the tips of drilling heads, are used as scalpels in operations and can act as bio-electrochemical sensors for detecting substances such as DNA.

Read more here.

OF INTEREST: Indian community celebretes Holi festival

​Holi Hai!!  

Holi, the Indian festival of colours (also known as the festival of love), is a celebration of the arrival of Spring. The festival symbolizes happiness and brings together families and friends for delicious food and lots of fun.
On Sunday, 16 March near Manosque, nearly 50 people—ITER staff from India, friends and families—gathered to celebrate this most colourful holiday.




OF INTEREST: Completed conductor leaves Russia

Two spools of completed toroidal field conductor left the premises of the Kurchatov Institute in Moscow, Russia, this week for transport to La Spezia, Italy. The spools each contained 760 metres of niobium-tin superconductor that will be integrated into regular double pancakes for the powerful D-shaped ITER toroidal field coils at a winding line in La Spezia, Italy (ASG Superconductor).

In addition to the winding stage, the pancakes will be heat treated, electrically insulated and transferred into the grooves of stainless steel radial plates. At the end of the coil manufacturing process, the completed toroidal field coils will be transported to ITER.



OF INTEREST: Busy days in China

During a recent visit to China, ITER Director-General Osamu Motojima met with high-level representatives of government and had the opportunity to visit some of the factories where fabrication is underway on components within the Chinese scope.

On March 5, 2014, Vice Minister Jianlin Cao of MOST, head of the Chinese delegation to the ITER Council, received the Director-General and colleagues Ju Jin, ITER Deputy Director-General, Sachiko Ishizaka, Secretary to the ITER Council, and members of the Project Control Division for an exchange of views on recent developments in the ITER Project. The following day, the ITER Director-General visited the headquarters of China National Nuclear Corporation in Beijing, meeting with Chief Engineer Zengguang Lei and ITER Management Advisory Committee (MAC) Chair Jiashu Tian.
During his three-day stay he was also able to pay visits to Western Superconducting Technologies in Xi’an City, the company responsible for the manufacturing of ITER superconducting strand, and Nantong Shenhai Science and Industrial Technology, responsible for the surface-plating of ITER niobium-tin and niobium-titanium superconducting strands.  

OF INTEREST: More than a year in Provence

​In the Spring issue of InFusion, a publication from the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE), Mike Walsh, Head of ITER Diagnostic Division an Neill Taylor, former Division Head, Nuclear Safety and Analysis, reflect on their experience at ITER.  

Read it here (p.12-13).



OF INTEREST: World’s largest energy initiative comes to Wollongdong

​One of the people responsible for the manufacture of the magnet system at the heart of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), a collaboration of thirty five nations intended to prove the viability of fusion power, presented a special guest seminar to staff and students at the Australian Institute for Innovative Materials.

Dr Arnaud Devred, Superconductor Systems and Auxiliaries Section Leader, ITER-International Organization, is responsible for the in-kind procurement of the superconducting Cable-In-Conduit Conductors which are expected to cost around $US1 billion, about half of the ITER magnet system cost.

 Read the whole article here.

OF INTEREST: What’s the Moon Worth?

​Without the moon, we probably wouldn’t exist.  In that sense, the moon’s value is infinite — but what if you wanted to put a dollar amount on that rock? Most scientists think the rock is made up of elements like iron and magnesium, but the most valuable part of its structure may be Helium-3. Hard to find on Earth, the isotope can power nuclear fusion reactors, a potentially mammoth answer to future energy needs.


Read the full article here.




OF INTEREST: Dhiraj Bora on fusion

Dhiraj Bora, present Director of the Institute for Plasma Research, Gujarat and former ITER Deputy-Director General, explains what a fusion reaction is, what conditions it requires, and what hurdles scientists face in achieving it.

Read ​Prof. Dhiraj Bora’s interview here.


NEWSLINE: How 3D printing changes the design process

ITER has been called a puzzle of a million pieces. US ITER staff at Oak Ridge National Laboratory are using an affordable tool—desktop three-dimensional printing, also known as additive printing—to help them design and configure components more efficiently and affordably.
’Now for pennies instead of tens of thousands of dollars, we can have impact right away with 3D printing. It lets us see what the part actually looks like,’ says Kevin Freudenberg, an engineer who supports the US ITER magnets team and has led the project’s use of 3D printing. 'On 3D CAD (computer-aided design) displays, you can’t feel the shape of an object. You just see it. Many people have trouble seeing 3D projections or find them tiresome to view over time. With the 3D printed objects, you can run your finger over the surface and notice different things about the scale and interfaces of the component.’
The fusion engineering design process has long relied on mock-ups and prototypes. Full-scale models cast or machined from metal and other materials continue to have value and will still be a part of the US ITER development process, as will 3D computer modelling; however, the affordability and accessibility of desktop 3D printing offers a number of advantages.
Freudenberg said that 3D printing helps mitigate risk: 'The models show complexity and help us catch issues earlier in the process.’
A normal part of the engineering process is the identification of interferences or design problems before a component is finalized. Mark Lyttle, an engineer working on the pellet injection and plasma disruption mitigation systems for US ITER, observes, 'It’s a lot more time consuming and expensive when you find that mistake in a metal prototype than it is in a 3D printed component. 3D printing is very low-cost. With metal, you may have to start over if you can’t re-machine it.’
Gary Lovett, a designer with US ITER, adds, 'If you can correct one design and make one revision, you’ve basically paid for the printer. It’s so much more informative, especially if you have assemblies to put together.’
The printed components are also shifting how manufacturers interact with the ITER designs. Freudenberg recalls, 'We went to a vendor meeting recently. We looked at line drawings for a minute, and then the vendors spent hours looking at and discussing the 3D parts. Most of the meeting was spent talking about the parts. Having something in your hand that is tactile can show what machine processes and best practices to use in manufacturing.’
Some components, such as the 13-metre-tall central solenoid, must be printed at 'toy’ scale; others can be printed at actual size. Even handling objects at toy scale is useful, as it brings massive components into the hands of engineers and manufacturers and provokes useful analysis.
Lyttle explains, '3D printing helps you look at the design and see specific parts, like an O ring that needs more space around it to sit properly. On the computer screen, you could miss that."
’On the screen, some components don’t look especially bulky,’ Lyttle adds. 'But when you make it in metal, it will be a hunk of material that is too heavy and hard to handle. When you have a physical model, it is easier to spot opportunities to save material and make the design more efficient and the manufacturing less expensive.’
Printing the component also helps engineers check the interfaces for possible collisions. 'You can put it together, move it a bit and visualize how it’s going to be built. You can see problems like a weld you can’t get to or a screw head that is inaccessible,’ Lyttle says.
Read the whole article on US ITER website.

NEWSLINE: Driving the ITER gyrotrons

When it comes to measuring the overall efficiency of a fusion reactor—how much power output can it produce for a given power input—it’s important to know that a large part of the electrical energy inputted into the machine is used to power the gyrotrons. The gyrotrons will heat the plasma through a technique called Electron Cyclotron Resonator Heating (ECRH). In ITER, the radio frequency sources for the ECRH system will be composed of 24 gyrotrons procured by Russia (8), Japan (8), Europe (6) and India (2) for a total combined heating power of 24 MW.
Directly associated to the performance of the gyrotrons are their high voltage power supply systems. These power supplies convert the grid voltage to the appropriate high voltage levels required for the gyrotrons (55kV-110A). Not only must the power be provided with the highest efficiency but power rise and fall times must also be extremely short in order to properly trigger or shut down the gyrotrons, which will ensure that such very expensive devices are well protected against any damage such as arcs building up inside the gyrotron itself.
The contract for the design, manufacture, installation and commissioning of the power supply systems of the European and Russian gyrotrons was recently awarded by the European Domestic Agency Fusion for Energy to Ampegon, a Swiss SME based in Turgi, near Zurich.  'The power supplies are a critical element of the energy transformation chain for the ITER machine. We are very proud to contribute with this significant subsystem and be part of the world’s largest fusion project,’ said Ampegon CEO Josef Troxler at the signature ceremony on the 17 December 2013.
’Ampegon’s contribution to ITER’s power supplies will make an important contribution to the overall energy efficiency rate of the machine,’ added Michel Hübner, Switzerland’s Industry Liaison Officer for ITER. 'I am pleased that Fusion for Energy has entrusted a Swiss company with its expertise to manufacture this highly challenging equipment. This is the first contract awarded to a Swiss SME and I hope that more will follow.’
This latest contract is the sign of the strong relationship between the ITER Project and industry, according to Fusion for Energy Director Henrik Bindslev. 'ITER offers a vast range of business opportunities to small, medium and larger companies. This latest signature proves yet again that SMEs have a role to play to the most ambitious international collaboration in the field of energy.’
Ampegon is a highly specialized company in the field of high power radio frequency (RF) engineering. As a leading manufacturer of high power AM/DRM broadcasting transmitters, high power RF amplifiers, regulated high voltage modulators and power supplies for more than 75 years, Ampegon has significant experience and know-how in the field of RF amplification, power electronics and fast signal processing.
— With Michel Hübner, Switzerland’s Industrial
Liaison Officer for ITER, and the European
Domestic Agency Fusion for Energy.
Read the full news on the contract signature at Fusion for Energy.

NEWSLINE: Springtime construction boom

Construction works are booming at ITER — not only on the platform where work on a large workshop for the assembly of the cryostat and on the foundations for the Tokamak Complex are progressing visibly, but also near the road at the main entrance; at the 'unfinished’ end of the Headquarters building   and, soon, on a new ten-hectare parcel that was recently made available to the ITER Organization by the neighbouring research centre CEA.
The ongoing works reflect the growing needs of the ITER Project.
The vacant plot of land between the entrance road and the visitors’ parking lot is being transformed into a 6,000-square-metre storage area for ITER components (such as large drain tanks, electrical transformers and pipes ) before they are assembled in the machine.
ITER Building and Site Infrastructure is currently investigating the need for additional temporary structures as some of the components may require specific storage environments. Work is scheduled to be completed by April 2014.
In the parking lot nearby, 320 bays are being added in order to increase the overall capacity to more than 600 cars. Good news for the owners of large vehicles: the new bays will be 2.5 metres wide, 20 centimetres more than the legal minimum; eventually, all bays will be enlarged to meet this generous standard. The existing enter/exit ramps will also be enlarged.
These works on the parking lot are directly linked to the ongoing construction of the ITER Headquarters extension — an added 'West Wing’ that will accommodate 350 ITER staff and contractors  presently hosted in buildings one kilometre away.
The 3,500-square-metre extension (5 storeys high, 35 metres long) will share the same architectural features as the existing building. It is scheduled to be handed over in September.
In July 2010, approximately 100 hectares of land, belonging to CEA, were officially made available to the ITER Organization for the duration of the ITER Agreement, which officially ends on 24 October 2042. On Friday 14 February, an amendment to the 2010  notarial deed provided for an additional 10 hectares of land located south of the ITER site and used as a Spoil Disposal Area during site preparation and the first excavation works.
On this plot of land, the ITER Organization is  planning to build a logistics platform for the unpacking, storage, re-packing, testing, maintenance and pre-fabrication of ITER components. The platform will include a 12,000 square metre warehouse and a 10,000 square metre outside storage area.
A call for tender for the design and construction was launched in October last year. The contract is expected to be awarded next month and construction should be completed in the second semester of 2015.
(With Sabina Griffith and Wouter Van Baren, BSI)