OF INTEREST: Top Ten Reasons for ITER

​As climate change becomes a serious national security threat, we must look to the future for a clean, safe and sustainable source of energy for our future. The ITER experiment will be the largest ITERexperimental tokamak nuclear fusion reactor, located at Cadarache, France. Through ITER, we can find solutions to control fusion energy, so that it can be commercialized to provide the world with a sustainable energy source. This project was born in 1985 in hopes of peace through energy cooperation between the superpowers of the Soviet Union and the U.S.

Today, its members include China, the European Union, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea and the United States of America. With recent controversy over the mismanagement of the ITER structure, the U.S. has reevaluated its position in funding the ITER project. If the U.S. withdraws from the project, we will fall behind in energy research and will not be able to reap theITER numerous benefits that ITER offers. Below I state the top ten reasons why ITER is beneficial for the United States

Read more on Peak Oil website.

OF INTEREST: Could Knots Unravel Mysteries of Fluid Flow?

Spaghetti-thin shoelaces, sturdy hawsers, silk cravats — all are routinely tied in knots. So too, physicists believe, are water, air and the liquid iron churning in Earth’s outer core. Knots twist and turn in the particle pathways of turbulent fluids, as stable in some cases as a sailor’s handiwork. For decades, scientists have suspected the rules governing these knots could offer clues for untangling turbulence — one of the last great unknowns of classical physics — but any order exhibited by the knots was lost in the surrounding chaos.
 
Now, with deft new tools at their fingertips, physicists are beginning to master the art of tying knots in fluids and other flowable entities, such as electromagnetic fields, enabling controlled study of their behavior. 'Now that we have these knots, we can measure the shape of them in 3-D; we can look at the flow field around them,' said William Irvine, a physicist at the University of Chicago. 'We can really figure out what the rules of the game are.'

 

Read more on Quanta Magazine website.

OF INTEREST: Tony Donné appointed EUROfusion programme manager

On April 23 the General Assembly of European Fusion Research Units appointed Tony Donné as Programme Manager for the consortium EUROfusion, which is currently being set up. EUROfusion is to succeed the European Fusion Development Agreement (EFDA) as the umbrella organisation of Europe’s fusion research laboratories. With fusion energy, scientists from dozens of European institutes and universities are working to recreate the power source in the heart of the sun as a sustainable energy source on Earth. At the moment, Tony Donné is head of the fusion physics theme at the Dutch Institute for Fundamental Energy Research (DIFFER). Starting 2 June, he will manage EUROfusion’s excecution of the European Fusion Roadmap, which aims to realise commercial energy from fusion.

Read the announcement on DIFFER website.

OF INTEREST: JET to shoot for nuclear fusion record

The Jet experiment in Oxfordshire was opened in 1984 to understand fusion – the process that powers the Sun.
Prof Steve Cowley told the BBC a go-ahead to run Jet at maximum power would allow scientists to try for the record by the end of the decade.
This could bring Jet up to the coveted goal of "breakeven" where fusion yields as much energy as it consumes.
Fusion is markedly different from current nuclear power, which operates through splitting atoms – fission – rather than squashing them together as occurs in fusion.
"We’re hoping to repeat our world record shots and extend them," Prof Cowley, who is director of the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy – which hosts Jet, told BBC News.
"Our world record was from 1997, we think we can improve on it quite considerably and get some really spectacular results. We’re winding up to that and by the end of the decade we’ll be doing it."
 
Read more on BBC News website

OF INTEREST: Calming Plasma’s Stormy Seas

For decades, controlled nuclear fusion has held the promise of a safe, clean, sustainable energy source that could help wean the world from fossil fuels. But the challenges of harnessing the power of the sun in an Earth-based nuclear fusion reactor have been many, with much of the progress over the last several years coming in incremental advances.

One of the key technical issues that has puzzled physicists is actually a common occurrence in fusion reactions: plasma turbulence. Turbulence inside a reactor can increase the rate of plasma heat loss, significantly impacting the resulting energy output. So researchers have been working to pinpoint both what causes this turbulence and how to control or even eliminate it.
Now simulations run at the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) have shed light on a central piece of the puzzle: the relationship between fast ion particles in the plasma and plasma microturbulence.
Read the whole article on NERSC website.

IMAGE: Inspectors in the heart of the web

On Thursday, 24 April, inspectors from the French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) carry out an inspection of ongoing reinforcement work on the Tokamak Complex basemat slab. They are pictured inspecting the very centre of the rebar web that will support the future Tokamak Building.

NEWSLINE: When fusion was almost there

Fifty years ago, in 1964, human beings believed in progress. Manned space capsules were routinely sent into space, a revolutionary supersonic commercial airliner was nearing the prototype stage, the computer mouse had just been invented, and the official decision had been taken to build a cross-Channel tunnel.
 
Nothing epitomized this optimistic and conquering mood more than the 1964 New York World’s Fair. Dedicated to 'Man’s Achievement on a Shrinking Globe in an Expanding Universe," the huge exhibition showcased and exalted the promises of mid-twentieth century technologies. Fusion energy was present, staged and dramatized in the spectacular Progressland pavilion by General Electric and the Walt Disney Studios.
 
General Electric had entered fusion research as early as 1956, at a time when physicists such as Amasa S. Bishop, director of the US program in controlled fusion (Project Sherwood), were convinced that 'with ingenuity, hard work, and a sprinkling of good luck, it even seems reasonable to hope that a full-scale, power-producing thermonuclear device may be built within the next decade or two.'
 
In April 1964, the 'next decade' had arrived and, with the help of Disney’s design experts, General Electric produced the Nuclear Fusion Demonstration, one of the Fair’s most exciting attractions.
 
Here’s how it was described in the New York World’s Fair Official Guide: 'In the first demonstration of controlled thermonuclear fusion to be witnessed by a large general audience, a magnetic field squeezes a plasma of deuterium gas for a few millionths of a second at a temperature of 20 million degrees Fahrenheit. There is a vivid flash and a loud report as atoms collide, creating free energy (evidenced on instruments).'
 
The 'fusion bangs,' which occurred every 4-6 minutes, were loud enough to leave a lasting impression on the visitors. 'After a countdown, brilliant flashes of light and a loud popping crack would signify that GE was successful in tapping into the nuclear science of sun building,' writes a Disney historian. 'Clerical workers who staffed the pavilion soon grew accustomed to the loud explosions emanating from the dome.' Many years after Progressland had closed and moved to Disneyland, they still had a vivid  memory of the experience.
 
Where did these 'loud popping cracks' come from? Certainly not from the 'collision of atoms' in the fusion installation (a theta-pinch fusion device) that stood on a plinth at the centre of a large amphitheatre. More probably, they emanated from the discharging of the capacitor bank that fed power to the device.
 
The Fusion Demonstration left many visitors convinced that fusion-generated electricity was at hand, which of course did not reflect the actual state of fusion research. As General Electric reviewed its corporate involvement in fusion one year later, it concluded that 'the likelihood of an economically successful fusion electricity station being developed in the foreseeable future is small.'
 
In order to hasten the 'foreseeable future,' fusion physicists needed to delve more deeply into the complexities of plasma behaviour. And they did: contrary to General Electric’s pessimistic conclusion, the decade that followed the 1964 World’s Fair was one of spectacular progress not only in fundamental physics but also in fusion technology.
 
With the advent of the tokamak—a Russian concept soon adopted by the worldwide fusion community—and an understanding of the scaling laws that rule energy confinement, researchers were able to dramatically improve performance. The 'foreseeable future' was back; in 2014, it is closer than ever.

NEWSLINE: Rendez-vous in Seoul

The first Asian ITER Business Forum (IBF Korea/14) will take place in Seoul, Korea, from 1 to 4 July 2014.
 
This event aims to develop industrial partnerships and business relations between industries involved in the ITER Project, fusion and beyond. It is organized by the Korean Domestic Agency for ITER with the participation and support of the ITER Organization, the European Domestic Agency Fusion for Energy (F4E) and the other Domestic Agencies.
 
IBF Korea/14 will provide industries with updated information on ITER status, procurement procedures and forthcoming calls for tender (2014-2015). There will be special focus placed on the procurement status of the ITER Domestic Agencies and on their main suppliers (manufacturing status and potential needs in terms of partnerships, subcontractors, local support).
 
This event will include an industrial conference, one-to-one meetings (pre-reserved on line) and an optional program of technical tours. We hope you will take this opportunity to make business contacts with European or Asian companies involved to the ITER Project and your core business.
 
We look forward to seeing you at IBF Korea/14 in Seoul. 

NEWSLINE: Spider webs of steel

Imagine a spider web made of steel threads that are 40 millimetres in diameter. Now imagine a structure that is built from 16 of these spider webs superimposed and you will have an idea of the complexity of the rebar at the centre of the Tokamak Complex Seismic Pit.
 
Spiders spin their web out of instinct. Rebar workers follow detailed execution drawings that result from a long chain of calculations that includes load and stress definition, safety requirements, code crunching and, eventually, the engineers' interpretation.
 
The process begins quite naturally with the definition of the buildings that the structural elements will support. How big are they? How much do they weigh? And what safety functions—such as protection against radiation, confinement, seismic isolation—must they fulfil?
 
But above and beyond the weight of the building itself, equipment loads must be taken into consideration—for example the 23,000 metric tons of the Tokamak proper or the giant neutral beams injectors—as well as forces resulting from cryostat thermal shrinkage, possible seismic events, and normal or accidental vertical displacement of the Tokamak during operation.
 
’Safety provisions are also part of the calculations,' stresses Laurent Patisson, who heads the Nuclear Buildings Section. 'In some areas such as in the Tokamak support zone, safety provisions of 150 percent for what we call category IV events, such as the reference earthquake, have to be considered.'
 
In an average building, loads are measured in decanewtons. In the Tokamak Complex, meganewtons are used. These units describe the force required to give an acceleration of one metre per second to a mass of one thousand tons … every second.
 
Computing this impressive and voluminous data into models gives rebar design specialists the quantity of steel necessary to guarantee the robustness and safety of each edifice. 'The code tells us how much steel by linear metre of concrete is required, but it doesn’t say much about how the rebar should be arranged,' explains Laurent. 'This is for the structural analysis engineer from Engage to determine.' (Engage is the European consortium that was awarded the Architect Engineer contract for the construction of the Tokamak Building.)
 
More than 4,000 metric tons of rebar will go into the Tokamak Complex foundations, the B2 slab, with steel density at its highest in the central, circular area that will support the ITER machine (one fourth of the total rebar).
 
The design work on this section was particularly demanding—the rebar arrangement must meet the required steel density while preserving the constructability of the slab. In simple terms: however dense the rebar, some access has to be preserved for the nozzle of the concrete pumps and the concrete vibrating tools.
 
The Rebar Minutes Drawings produced by the structural analysis engineer have now been refined by a draftsman and communicated to the contractor in charge of the actual laying of the rebar. Based on the detailed Construction Design Reinforcement Drawing, the contractor will implement its own methodology and techniques, validated by Engage.
 
’The European Domestic Agency, the ITER Organization and a specialized contractor implement all the necessary controls,' adds Laurent. 'Site surveillance reports are produced twice a week by ITER’s Building and Site Infrastructure Directorate and soon, it will be done daily.'
 
Rebar workers are now proceeding. However for the most complex area of the rebar arrangement, where orthoradial and orthogonal arrangements meet, a last trial is being implemented on the 150 m², 1:1-scale B2 slab mockup located to the west of the Seismic Pit. 'We need hands-on experience of the difficulties inherent to this type of interfacing,' says Laurent.
 
Spiders definitely have it easier…
 

NEWSLINE: Three days for diagnostics

The fourth annual All Diagnostic Domestic Agency meeting took place at ITER Headquarters in mid-March, attended by diagnostic heads from the Domestic Agencies and members of the ITER Diagnostic Division.
 
During the three-day meeting, attended by approximately 20 people, sessions were held to highlight progress made on diagnostic systems since last year, address issues related to the coordination of design development and system integration (in particular in the ports), and to encourage communication between the Domestic Agency teams and the ITER Organization.
 
Characterized by lively debate and sometimes disagreement, participants felt that the three days had been 'invaluable' and that the informal style permitted the generation of new ideas. Each session was chaired by representatives from a different Domestic Agency along with a co-chair from the ITER Diagnostics Division; this organization, launched last year, has proven very successful.
 
Papers presented at each session were followed by Q&A sessions. The wide range of topics covered served to keep all aware and facilitated better understanding of important diagnostics issues such as the freezing of interfaces to synchronize diagnostic development schedules. A number of key actions—often addressed by joint ITER Organization-Domestic Agency work teams during the meeting—were agreed and plans were made to ensure implementation, with good firm outcomes.
 
Paul Thomas, director of the ITER CODAC, Heating & Current Drive Directorate, opened the meeting with encouragement for all and pointed out key diagnostic issues for 2014. He also commented about the good team spirit and encouraged everyone to keep up the good work. Michael Walsh, Diagnostics Division Head, complimented all for the significant progress made in the last year.
 
Once again, this face-to-face meeting helped engender and foster excellent team spirit and reinforce the links within all diagnostics teams.

OF INTEREST: 7th ITER International School

The 7th ITER International School will be held on 25-29 August 2014 at ITER on the first day and downtown Aix-en-Provence on the second. The focus this year will be on "Highly parallel computing in modelling magnetically confined plasmas for nuclear fusion."

This subject has an interdisciplinary character: high-performance computing is a key-tool for facing problems in different fields of magnetically confined fusion. It is one of the main subjects for achieving the expected results in the future ITER reactor.

The ITER International school aims to prepare young scientists for working in the field of nuclear fusion and in research applications associated with the ITER Project.

The first ITER school was organized during July 2007 in Aix-en-Provence, and was focused on turbulent transport in fusion plasmas. Five different editions have followed: 2008 in Fukuoka, Japan (magnetic confinement); 2009 in Aix-en-Provence (plasma-surface interaction); 2010 in Austin, Texas (Magneto-Hydro-Dynamics); 2011 in Aix-en-Provence (energetic particles); and finally 2012 in Ahmedabad, India (on radio-frequency heating).

More information here.

 

OF INTEREST: A short guide to fusion energy

​​In theory, it’s possible to shoot some energy at hydrogen and get even more energy back. The process is called thermonuclear fusion, and if we could ever get fusion power to work — a big if — we’d never have to worry about our energy problems again.
It’s not a completely crazy notion. Nuclear fusion already takes place in the sun’s core, after all. And the promise of fusion power has led researchers to try their best for decades upon decades. Occasionally, they even make some advances — as happened this past winter, when scientists got closer to fusion power than ever.

Trouble is, the scientific and technical hurdles ahead are still enormous — in fact, we still don’t have a full grasp on what all the hurdles might be. Still, the potential pay-off is so massive that countries have sunk billions and billions of dollars into fusion research.

So here’s a guide to how far humanity has come on thermonuclear fusion — and how far we still have to go.

Read more on Vox website.

IMAGE: State of play on the worksite

Looking northwest across the site in April: in the foreground, on-site assembly facilities for the poloidal field coils (left) and the cryostat (right); in the distance, ITER Headquarters is growing by 35 metres to the left; and in the centre, three cranes indicate the location where work is advancing on the foundations for the Tokamak Complex.