OF INTEREST: Fusion reactor at the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab will be operational again after $94 M upgrade

 

Princeton – Tucked away from major roadways and nestled amid more than 80 acres of forest sits a massive warehouse-like building where inside, a device that can produce temperatures hotter than the sun has sat cold and quiet for more than two years.

 
But the wait is almost over for the nuclear fusion reactor to get back up and running at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory.
’We’re very excited and we’re all anxious to turn that machine back on,’ said Adam Cohen, deputy director for operations at PPPL.
 
The National Spherical Torus Experiment (NSTX) has been shut down since 2012 as it underwent a $94 million upgrade that will make it what officials say will be the most powerful fusion facility of its kind in the world. It is expected to be ready for operations in late winter or early spring, Cohen said.
 
Read more on the NJ.com website.

OF INTEREST: Fusion reactor at the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab will be operational again after $94 M upgrade

 

Princeton – Tucked away from major roadways and nestled amid more than 80 acres of forest sits a massive warehouse-like building where inside, a device that can produce temperatures hotter than the sun has sat cold and quiet for more than two years.

 
But the wait is almost over for the nuclear fusion reactor to get back up and running at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory.
’We’re very excited and we’re all anxious to turn that machine back on,’ said Adam Cohen, deputy director for operations at PPPL.
 
The National Spherical Torus Experiment (NSTX) has been shut down since 2012 as it underwent a $94 million upgrade that will make it what officials say will be the most powerful fusion facility of its kind in the world. It is expected to be ready for operations in late winter or early spring, Cohen said.
 
Read more on the NJ.com website.

OF INTEREST: Figuring out the way to make really clean energy

FOR years, scientists just down the road from Oxford have been quietly working at the forefront of a project that could change the world.

But fusion power is the best invention you have probably never heard of.
That may sound like a bold claim, but Prof Steve Cowley, chief executive officer of the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy, is convinced that it is the only solution to a fast-approacing world energy crisis.
He has been working at the science centre since 2008, but the project — the Joint European Torus (JET) — has been under way since 1982. Its aim: to create the conditions of a star on the Earth, producing clean, cheap energy for us to power our televisions, kettles and lightbulbs.
Read more on the Oxford Mail website.

OF INTEREST: Bridging the gap to IFMIF

Culham Center for Fusion Energy, in a consortium with UK universities and Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, is developing a concept for a large neutron source to test materials for future fusion power plants including the proposed prototype, DEMO, that will follow the ITER project.

If approved, the FAFNIR project would give the designers of DEMO crucial data on materials with which to build the machine. It would also serve as a bridge to the planned International Fusion Materials Irradiation Facility (IFMIF), which is expected to play a similar role for the first generation of commercial fusion reactors.
Fusion scientists and engineers are increasingly focusing on materials research as attention turns to designs for reactors that will put power on the electricity grid. The extremely fast neutrons produced by fusion reactions in tokamaks carry an energy of 14 million electron volts (MeV) — about 70 times more than photons in hospital x-ray equipment — and pose a threat to the tokamak’s structures. The neutrons cause damage within the structure of the material which leads to swelling through the creation of voids. Effects such as embrittlement and hardening of the metal caused by accumulation of helium and hydrogen gases produced by transmutation (transformation of one element into another) mean that special materials must be developed that can stay the course throughout the reactor’s lifespan. As a result of transmutations caused by the neutrons, radioactive elements are produced within the tokamak components, so choosing materials that will shed their radioactivity quickly is another priority for safe decommissioning.
 
Read more on CCFE web site.

EVENT: ITER Games 2014

The fourth edition of the ITER Games, the friendly sporting event for people working on the ITER Project and residents of Saint Paul-lez-Durance and Vinon-sur-Verdon, will be held on 13 September 2014 in Vinon (staff and contractors: sign-up through the ITER intranet).

NEWSLINE: Why would financiers support ITER?

Daniel T. Allen has been involved with finance and international business development for almost a quarter century. He is president of Aliier, the international financial firm running Aliier Passport™, which provides fund managers an open architecture regulatory umbrella for access into global financial markets. Mr. Allen speaks at numerous conferences and has spoken at both the NYSE EURONEXT and NASDAQ. He is passionate about sustainability as well as environment, social and governance (ESG) investing issues and has written a number of articles. We first met Mr Allen at the Monaco ITER International Fusion Energy Days in Monaco (December 2013) where he looked at fusion from the financial angle (’Why would financiers support ITER?’).
 
As a financier, can you tell us why you are interested in fusion?
 
The world today is experiencing dramatic changes in lifestyle, standards of living and technological growth. Emerging markets are developing ever more rapidly and the United Nations is predicting the global population will hit around 8.9 billion by 2050 and possibly 12 billion by 2100. All of this will dramatically increase energy demands. If nothing changes, a doubling of our population will double our energy demands—but of course the fact is that much of the world is becoming rapidly more sophisticated and technology continues to advance with increasing numbers of energy-devouring gadgets. Realistically, energy demands by 2100 will likely be three to five times what they are today. Energy, along with water and climate change, will likely be the primary financial drivers of our world going forward.
 
The estimates that I have seen indicate that, at best, wind and solar may have the potential to eventually meet about 50 percent of today’s global energy requirements after a sustained investment, for decades, of many trillions of dollars. The problem of course is that we cannot afford it; plus, we don’t need to cover just half of today’s energy requirements, we need to cover all of tomorrow’s energy requirements of several times more than we use today.
 
As I look across the technological landscape, the most exciting and most promising technology on the horizon for actually solving the energy problem is unquestionably fusion. Safe, industrial-scale, relatively cheap compared to the vast sums being put into other alternatives … and it should, if the public is educated, avoid some of the public relations challenges some technologies have faced.
 
During your presentation in Monaco, you made some very strong statements such as, 'I personally believe that the fusion effort will set the course for the rest of human history.’
 
That’s right. I firmly believe that a visionary leader, knowledgeable in the fusion approach, could get a commercial fusion reactor design ready for production in ten years. Boeing spent $32 billion on the Dreamliner and every year we are spending many times that on other 'alternatives’ such as wind and solar. Fusion will make every nation energy independent and that makes it an incredibly disruptive technology. A true shift in energy away from fossil fuels will have major impacts on a number of industries. If electricity could be made abundant enough, we might be able to shift to a hydrogen economy.
 
To plagiarize from Nike a bit, we need to "just do it." We need for a modern statesman somewhere in the world to step forward. Just as there was a call for the building of the Panama Canal, a Manhattan Project, or the Apollo Project, there needs to be a clarion call for mankind to conquer the technology of fusion. Not in thirty years or even twenty. We need to set ourselves to doing it in ten years. In 1961 when Kennedy addressed Congress and set a goal of putting a man on the moon by the end of that decade, many in the scientific community thought that he was crazy. In 1969, Neil Armstrong stood on the moon. In ten years, 2024, if we decide to just do it, mankind will be standing on a brave new world weaning itself from a long addiction to fossil fuels. The message that needs to start emitting from the fusion community is that it is time to get serious and the fusion community is ready.
 
On the other hand, you had some strong messages to the fusion community, saying that something needs to change fundamentally in the way fusion is portrayed to the public?
 
I think it is very important that fusion proponents 'go to the street.’ Brilliant fusion scientists speaking with brilliant fusion scientists makes for fascinating conversation, but it doesn’t move the ball forward. I read one estimate that the US alone spent a trillion dollars, public and private, developing wind and solar from 2000 to 2010. That happened because the public was engaged, social media was engaged and those programs are widely supported politically. What would have happened to fusion, if during the same period, those resources had gone into fusion? As I said before, I think we need to change the way we think and speak about fusion. Fusion needs to get done and, frankly, should have already happened. Perhaps it is time to go to social media, talk shows, widely read non-scientific publications and talk about what could happen if the support was there. It is critically important that the vision be painted for people.
 
When will fusion appear on the radar screen of financiers? And how might this impact the fusion endeavour?
 
Perhaps it is because I read too much Heinlein, Asimov, Clarke and Sagan as a child that I am such an early supporter of the fusion effort but I do think fusion is already starting to hover on the edges of the consciousness of the broader financial world. Climate change and geopolitical threats to the energy status quo are making a transition away from our current energy profile an imperative. The biggest obstacle to fusion being on the radar screen, frankly, is that most people outside of the science community, and some within for that matter, simply do not believe that it is possible. Again, if you actually believe in the technology, embrace the possibility and tell us what you believe can actually be done and momentum will build. Personally, I would like to see a broad call for fast-tracking the process and having a commercial design ready by 2024.

NEWSLINE: Teamwork results in successful commissioning of control system

Exactly one year after the first technical coordination meetings took place in the offices of Tata Consulting Services (Pune, India) between the engineers of the ITER Magnet and Control Divisions and their colleagues from the Chinese Institute of Plasma Physics (ASIPP), a fully operational control system was delivered and commissioned early July in Hefei, China.
 
The system will be in charge of operating the test bench facility under installation at ASIPP that will test all the high temperature superconducting current leads of the ITER magnet system that are under the responsibility of the Chinese Domestic Agency.
 
The ITER superconducting coils will operate at temperatures 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 providing the power is implemented by a series of one-of-a-kind components called high temperature superconductor (HTS) current leads.
 
The control system commissioned in July will be used from September on to cool down the first HTS lead prototypes manufactured by ASIPP and simulate the same scenarios that these critical components will experience when ITER operates.
 
The components of the control system were developed in Europe, using expertise from research institutions such as CERN. The whole system was assembled and tested at Tata Consulting Services and—at the beginning of this year—was finally delivered to China where it took up its final position in the cryogenic team’s control room at ASIPP.
 
This has been an excellent opportunity to validate the modern hardware and software solutions chosen by the ITER Controls Division to build CODAC and the central interlock systems. The conception and construction of the control system was the occasion to identify potential issues and to optimize their design using real field experience and the very useful feedback from the engineers involved on this project.
 
The system has now been fully handed over to our ASIPP colleagues in Hefei but, of course, the Magnet and Control teams from ITER will continue to provide remote and on-field support throughout the entire test campaign which will extend through the coming years.
 
’This is a very good example on how effective collaboration at the technical level between different ITER divisions, a contractor in India and ASIPP can overcome issues related to the complex ITER Organization and converge to deliver technical solutions that serve everybody’s interests,’ said Arnaud Devred, leader of the Superconductor Systems & Auxiliaries Section.

NEWSLINE: A divertor test bed next door

It must have felt almost like coming home for Jérôme Bucalossi as he walked down the stairs of the ITER amphitheatre on his way to the speaker’s podium. Many of his former colleagues from the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) had come to welcome the head of the WEST project to present the project that aims to support the ITER divertor strategy.
 
WEST, the acronym for 'Tungsten (W) Environment in Steady-State Tokamak,’ was officially launched in March 2013 to contribute key insight into the steady state operation of a tungsten divertor and its impact on plasma performance. The divertor—a crucial tokamak component—must handle the highest thermal and particle loads in the vessel with up to 20 MW/m2. The decision to equip ITER with a full tungsten divertor brings new challenges both in terms of industrial series production for the actively-cooled tungsten components and in terms of operation. The WEST project was thus launched to address these issues and to minimize associated risks.
 
WEST is a modification of the French Tore Supra tokamak, which will transform it into an X-point divertor device. Tore Supra is the only European tokamak combining superconducting toroidal magnetic field coils, actively water-cooled plasma-facing components, and adequate additional heating systems. Thus it will be capable of testing the technologies used for the ITER high heat flux components in relevant plasma conditions. 'With WEST we will be able to mimic the particle fluence of ITER nominal pulses in a few days of operation,’ Bucalossi said.
 
An integral part of the international fusion community, the WEST platform will be run as a user facility—open to all the ITER partners. The research program was only recently presented at a dedicated workshop in Aix-en-Provence.
 
A first short pulse ( ~10 sec) experiment is scheduled for early 2016 with a few ITER-like actively cooled 30 sectors complemented by inertial cooled sectors made of graphite with W coating. Two years later, the next experimental campaign foresees an actively cooled divertor equipped with 456 ITER-like plasma-facing units. This setup, Bucalossi stressed, will then allow 'experiments à la carte’ for the study of material grades, geometry and the behavior of damaged components.

NEWSLINE: Experts gather in China to review key power supply components

An important milestone was reached this summer for ITER’s power supply components, with the successful completion of the Final Design Review for ITER’s reactive power compensation and harmonic filtering system.
 
This unique system, responsible for fast-acting reactive power compensation on the high-voltage electricity transmission network, will stabilize the power grid and provide the required quality of electrical power to operate ITER. Its main role will be to regulate the reactive power flow and control the voltage variation and current/voltage harmonic distortion of the 66 kV busbars in ITER’s pulsed power electric network.
 
One of the largest reactive power compensation and harmonic filtering systems in the world, it will include three identical 250 Mvar units (at 66 kV and 50 Hz). The Chinese company RXPE (Rongxin Power Electronic) was awarded the procurement contract in December 2011, after the Chinese Domestic Agency concluded a Procurement Arrangement with the ITER Organization in April of the same year. The Procurement Arrangement covers system design, manufacturing, factory tests, inspections, delivery, installation, assembly and site tests.
 
At the Institute of Plasma Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences (ASIPP) in Hefei, an 80 Mvar test platform has been installed that will also serve to test Chinese-manufactured AC/DC converters. A type test of the single-phase thyristor valve—one of the main components of the reactive power compensation and harmonic filtering system—has been carried out to verify performance in accordance with the specifications of the Procurement Arrangement.
During the Final Design Review held in Beijing at the Chinese Domestic Agency from 30 July to 1 August, interface requirements were carefully checked and clarified, key electrical design parameters were evaluated, Factory Acceptance Tests (FAT) and Site Acceptance Tests (SAT) were fully discussed, and site installation procedures and tooling were investigated.
 
The ITER Organization technical team, including external experts, reviewed all of the documentation in advance before its official submission to make sure that the key points of the design were presented clearly and precisely.
 
’Thanks to the great collaborative effort between the ITER Organization and Chinese Domestic Agency teams, we have successfully finished the Final Design Review,’ said the review Chair Ivone Benfatto, who leads the Electrical Engineering Division at ITER. 'We appreciate your effort and the extensive preparations for the Final Design Review. The work is challenging, but I believe that if we combine our collective wisdom we can achieve our common goal.’