OF INTEREST: Charity begins at CERN

There is a mantra in the fund-raising world: big donors like to support big ideas. And ideas do not come much larger than at CERN, Europe’s particle-physics laboratory near Geneva in Switzerland. Now the organization — which uses its particle smasher to probe the fundamental structure of the Universe — has registered a charitable foundation to raise funds for its educational, technology-transfer and arts activities.

CERN is not the only big institution to go after donations to fund projects that fall outside the core research remit. The trend is on the rise among large European research organizations. The European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, Germany, is shifting its fund-raising focus from industry sponsorship to private donations. And ITER, the international nuclear-fusion experiment being built in Cadarache, France, is devising a way to deal with the offers of donations that it already receives. What nobody yet knows is the fruit these efforts will bear — whether individuals really want to donate heftily to scientific charities that are not focused on medical solutions.

For CERN, there is no better time to form a charitable foundation, says Matteo Castoldi, head of its development office. CERN’s Large Hadron Collider, and the discovery of the Higgs boson, has 'captured the public imagination' as much as the Apollo missions did in the 1960s, he says. The organization is already taking advantage of this, 'but there is much more we could do, and that’s where the foundation comes in'.

CERN director-general Rolf-Dieter Heuer stresses that such funding will not replace the institute’s core budget, paid for by member states. Instead, the proceeds are aimed at activities that this funding cannot stretch to: school projects, the development of medical spin-offs such as proton therapy (the use of proton beams to kill cancer cells), and meeting the huge demand for general-interest and science-related visits. But if a donor has an explicit desire for their gift to go towards research, CERN would consider this, adds Heuer.​

Read the full article on the Nature website.

OF INTEREST: New video on toroidal field coil manufacturing

A new video released this month by the European Domestic Agency takes us to the heart of the toroidal field coil manufacturing process. At the ASG Superconductor facility in La Spezia, Italy, a prototype double pancake—the building block of the seven-layer toroidal field coils—has now been through all of the stages of manufacturing, from winding to laser welding. The camera guides us all along the process, from station to station, with close up shots of the technologies involved.
You can view the video here or visit the European Domestic Agency website for more information.

OF INTEREST: Change at the helm of the JT-60 Super Advanced tokamak project

On 1 July 2014 Hiroshi Shirai took over from Shinichi Ishida as project leader of the Satellite Tokamak Programme project in Japan—JT-60SA. 

As a project conducted under the Broader Approach Agreement between Europe and Japan, the Satellite Tokamak Programme is upgrading the JT-60U tokamak in Naka, Japan to the advanced superconducting tokamak JT-60SA, re-employing the site buildings, auxiliaries, neutral beams, and some power supplies to support the exploitation of ITER and to promote research and development towards the next-stage device, DEMO.

Hiroshi Shirai was the group leader of the ITER Project Promotion Group in the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) Tokyo office from 2007 to March 2014. In 2012 and 2013 he was the chairman of the ITER Council Preparatory Working Group (CPWG) and also took on the role of Broader Approach Steering Committee Secretariat from June 2007 to October 2011.

Trained as a theoretical plasma physicist, he has been away from Naka for more than ten years. 'Some aspects of R&D activities have changed significantly during this period: JT-60 was shut down and dismantled, and then the JT-60SA project started up quickly and is now in the assembly phase. I will have to catch up with the ongoing activities here in a short time. Thanks to the assistance of the Project Team members I am accommodating myself to the new work environment. Coordinating to keep the schedule of this project is quite a demanding task, but the Project Team and I are dedicated to fulfilling our responsibilities.'

Shinichi Ishida, JT-60SA project leader since 2007, recalled on his departure the problems of the early years "The project had developed significant problems in terms of cost, schedule, performance and management due to very limited human resources. But we achieved a consensus that only a clear and common mission could hold an organization together as a single team and enable it to produce results." During his time in office the project placed almost all the procurement arrangements of JT-60SA. Mr Ishida will continue to support the project from his new role at the JAEA Naka site in coordination for the management of fusion R&D, including the ITER Project and Broader Approach activities.

For more information, please see the JT-60SA newsletter.

OF INTEREST: ITER discussed at US House of Representatives subcommitee

On Friday 11 July, the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology’s Subcommittee on Energy held a hearing to discuss the progress and future of the ITER international fusion project. The US joined the European Union (EU), India, Japan, China, Korea, and Russia to form the ITER Organization, with each country providing resources, personnel, and expertise to move the project forward.
Ranking Member Eric Swalwell (D-CA) of the Energy Subcommittee said in his opening statement, 'Given the critical importance of ITER to determining the viability of fusion as a clean energy source, and the major contributions of US researchers to advancing the science and engineering of the field to this point, I maintain strong support for this project along with the other key components of the broader US-based fusion research program. However, this does not mean we can support an unconditional blank check. The US must maintain vigorous oversight and use every means available with our international partners to contain cost and schedule, all while keeping an unwavering focus on achieving the project’s incredibly important goals for our and the world’s energy future.'
Read more here.

OF INTEREST: Australian Plasma Fusion Research Facility launched

​The search for star power — fusion — has received a major boost with the launch of the Australian Plasma Fusion Research Facility (APFRF) at The Australian National University.

The facility includes Australia’s largest fusion experiment, the newly upgraded H1, which will now be able to heat fusion experiments to temperatures hotter than the core of the sun.

The facility also includes a new machine, MagPIE, which will accelerate research into extreme materials to be used in future experiments involving even higher temperatures and radiation levels.

Senator Zed Seselja pressed the button to initiate a 30,000 degrees Celsius fusion experiment in H1 to conclude the launch. 'This facility and its fine team have a reputation for world-class innovation and research excellence,' Senator Seselja said.


’ITER’s design hinges on experiments being carried out in experiments around the world, such as the Plasma Fusion Research Facility at ANU,' said the Director General of ITER, Osamu Motojima.

Dr Adi Paterson, CEO of ANSTO, said the choice of materials for use in ITER is an active research area, to which MagPIE is already contributing, in collaboration with ANSTO (Australia’s national nuclear research and development organisation), which part funded the project.

’Power plant fusion plasmas present an extreme materials challenge. This facility helps us to test whether prototype new materials can withstand the heat flux damage inflicted by a fusion plasma,' Dr Paterson said.

At the same event a five-year plan for fusion research was launched laying out pathways to Australian ITER involvement and enhancements to national experimental fusion science capabilities.

The upgrade to H1 was made possible through a Commonwealth investment of $7.9 million from the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Scheme (NCRIS) and associated programs.

Read more about ANU and its Plasma Fusion Research Facility here.

OF INTEREST: Russia concludes signatures on two ITER diagnostics

Two additional Complementary Diagnostic Procurement Arrangements were concluded in Russia on 10 July for the delivery of diagnostic systems to ITER. Russian Domestic Agency head Anatoly Krasilnikov signed the documents in the presence of ITER Diagnostics Division head Michael Walsh, who told the Russian staff members and supplier representatives present that 'without diagnostics we won’t see anything in ITER. Diagnostics are the machine’s eyes and ears.' 

In the scope of its commitments to ITER, Russia will manufacture 9 out of the 45 planned diagnostic systems. The latest signatures covered Edge Charge Exchange Recombination Spectroscopy and the H-Alpha diagnostic—both highly sophisticated technical devices designed for the measurement of various plasma parameters. 

–Alex Petrov, ITER Russia

OF INTEREST: EUR 283 million contract to operate JET

A major EUR 283 million contract has been signed between the European Commission and the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE) that enables CCFE to continue to operate JETfor use by the EUROfusion consortium of European fusion research laboratoriesuntil the end of 2018.

CCFE has been operating JET, Europe’s largest fusion energy experiment, for fusion scientists around the continent since 2000. But the new agreement represents the largest-ever single contract to be awarded to CCFE and gives Culham and the European fusion program unprecedented security of funding for five years. This enables future experimental programs and further upgrades to JET to be planned with confidence and secures its position as a science and engineering test bed for its international successor ITER, under construction in France.

CCFE Director Steve Cowley is delighted with the agreement on the contract: 'This is great news for the highly-skilled CCFE staff who work on JET and for the European fusion program. We are determined to make the most of this investment and push JET towards ever-improving performance in the years to come.'
— Nick Holloway
Source: Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE)
See also "JET operation secured until 2018" on the EFDA/JET website.

OF INTEREST: ITER Progress in Pictures

​Aerial views of the ITER platform, close-ups of the steel reinforcement in the Tokamak Seismic Pit, reportage-like images of pouring operations and component manufacturing… nothing illustrates the progress of the ITER Project better than photographs.

These pictures—some which have appeared in the publications ITER Newsline and ITER Mag and others that you’ll be discovering for the first time—have been assembled in a 45-page photo book titled ITER, Progress in Pictures.
This new ITER communication tool will be updated at least once a year. A pdf version is available here or in the Miscellaneous section of the ITER website’s Publication Centre.

OF INTEREST: ​Russian toroidal field conductor deliveries reach half-way point

Three toroidal field conductor lengths left the Kurchatov Institute near Moscow, Russia for the ASG Superconductor plant in La Spezia, Italy on Friday 4 July. This delivery marks the halfway point in the shipment of Russian toroidal field conductor production lengths to the European winding facility.

Following this latest shipment (two 760-metre unit lengths and one 415-metre unit length), 14 unit lengths of toroidal field conductor remain to be delivered under the terms of the Procurement Arrangement signed between the ITER Organization and ITER Russia.

OF INTEREST: ITER Business Forum opens in Seoul

The ITER Business Forum opened yesterday in Seoul attended by more than 200 companies, half of them coming from the Asian continent (China, Korea, India and Japan.)

In his video address ITER Director-General Osamu Motojima stressed the "essential part" that industry plays in the ITER Project. "And by 'industry' I mean all industry," he said, "not only the large international companies that are familiar with big projects, but also the small and medium-sized firms that drive economic growth and technological innovation in most countries today."

The ITER Business Forum continues until 4 July, with thematic sessions on the different ITER components and plant systems and presentations from industry.

Pictured: European Union Ambassador Tomasz Koslowski adressing the audience at the first plenary session on 2 July.

OF INTEREST: ITER worksite: 2014 milestones

A number of building projects will be kicking off on the ITER site in the months to come. 

In this video, Laurent Schmieder, Site, Buildings and Power Supplies Project Manager for the European Domestic Agency, explains the different types of works that are planned, and how the construction of the Tokamak Complex and a number of surrounding buildings will get underway simultaneously, and the challenge of organizing such a busy worksite.

Watch the video here ​on the F4E website. 

OF INTEREST: Fusion: energy of the future? (live stream)

After 60 years of fusion research, are we any closer?

This was the question asked during a 90-minute episode of the US science series ’NEXT: People | Science | Tomorrow' (KPCC Southern California Public Radio) that aired on 30 June.

Guests William W. Heidbrink, professor of physics and astronomy in the School of Physical Sciences at the University of California, Irvine; John Parmentola, senior vice president of General Atomics' Energy and Advanced Concepts Group; and Ned R. Sauthoff, director of the US ITER Project Office, Oak Ridge National Laboratory joined host Mat Kaplan for a tour of fusion science, the ITER Project and the outlook for fusion energy.
You can watch the live stream here.