OF INTEREST: 28th Symposium on Fusion Technology (SOFT 2014) gets off to a start

The leading event worldwide for the exchange information on the design, construction and operation of fusion experiments—and on the technology for present fusion machines and future power plants—gets off to a start on Monday 29 September in San Sebastián, Spain.

In front of the 800 scientists, engineers, developers, manufacturers and students taking part in the week-long event, ITER Director-General Osamu Motojima presented the "Progress and planning of ITER" in one of the first introductory sessions.

The symposium, organized by the Spanish Research Centre for Energy, Environment and Technology (CIEMAT), continues through Friday 3 October with oral and poster presentations, industrial and R&D exhibitions, and an ITER Industrial Infoday on Tuesday 30 September.

OF INTEREST: CERN: 60 years of peaceful collaboration for science

On Monday 29 September, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, CERN, celebrated its 60th anniversary with an event attended by delegations from 35 countries.

Founded in 1954, CERN is the largest particle physics laboratory in the world and a prime example of international collaboration, bringing together scientists of almost 100 nationalities. CERN’s origins can be traced back to the aftermath of the Second World War, when a small group of visionary scientists and public administrators on both sides of the Atlantic identified fundamental research as a potential vehicle to rebuild the continent and to foster peace in a troubled region.

Today, CERN is the largest particle physics laboratory in the world and a prime example of international collaboration, bringing together scientists representing almost 100 nationalities.

A full report and videos are available at the CERN website.

OF INTEREST: The CERN-ITER collaboration

​In November 2006, the last LHC dipole and quadrupole cold masses arrived at CERN, signalling the end of the industrial construction of the major components of the new 27-km particle collider (CERN Courier October 2006 p28 and January/February 2007 p25).

The LHC then entered the installation and the commissioning phases. In the same month, at the Elysée Palace in Paris, the ITER Agreement was signed by seven parties: China, the EU, India, Japan, Korea, Russia and the US. The Agreement’s ratification in October of the following year marked the start of a new mega-science project — ITER … that in many respects is the heir of the LHC.

Both machines are based on, for example, a huge superconducting magnet system, large cryogenic plants of unmatched power, a large volume of ultra-high vacuum, a complex electrical powering system, sophisticated interlock and protection systems, high-technology devices and work in highly radioactive environments.

Read more on the CERN website.

OF INTEREST: Helium 3: How it all began

​The University of Wisconsin Fusion Technology Institute, founded in 1971, has been a leader in fusion and plasma physics research, with a broad range of basic science, engineering, and applications programs.

The Institute has done pioneering experimental work using advanced helium-3 fuel to produce fusion energy. Dr. Kulcinski is the Director of the Institute, Associate Dean for Research in the College of Engineering, and Grainger Professor of Nuclear Engineering. He has led a scientific team which has doggedly pursued, and tirelessly promoted, research into the advanced fusion fuels, such as helium-3, which will create the energy for the future.

OF INTEREST: Entering the Low Carbon age

For its fourth edition, the Low Carbon Earth Summit confirmed its role as a major annual event attracting an international audience concerned by—and involved in—the issue of sustainable development. About 1,000 participants from all over the world, two Nobel Laureates, and a hundred of presenters were present from 21 to 23 September in Qingdao, China; from a quantitative point of view the event was clearly successful.

And from a qualitative point of view as well, as the conference convincingly showed that we have entered a new age. Many examples of technological developments were presented that result or will result in a net decrease in carbon emissions.

The diversity of low-carbon initiatives around the world is absolutely impressive. Adaptation and mitigation of climate change are now embedded at all levels at the society (technology, law, education) and in all countries. In Australia, for example, the government has begun approaching groups that will be affected by the rise in ocean level to explore the possible actions. In China, Oxfam is conducting pilot projects in rural areas in order to evaluate the resilience of the food system and the vulnerability of the poorest to climate change. Legislation and law also need to be adapted. Studies conducted in several countries by the Swedish lawyer Peter Lohmander show that forests can be exploited in a sustainable way provided that regulations are modified. Many initiatives have been taken across all countries in educating people and raising public awareness. Hence the diversity of the participant’s profiles: there are not many conferences today where you can find at the same table a lawyer, an economist, a farmer, a physicist and an entrepreneur.

Against this backdrop, I presented ITER as a genuine disruptive and innovative technology that is likely to change the course of our civilization.

As the world’s most populated country and a key economic actor, China was obviously the focus of many discussions. During the opening session two Nobel Prize winners in economics, Edward Prescott (2004) and Sir Christopher Pissarides (2010), showed that the future of the Chinese 'economic miracle’ will depend on the government’s capacity of reforming the country’s economic institutions and significantly deregulating its services industry.

In this respect, said Sir Christopher, China has a historical opportunity 'not make the same mistake as many European countries.’ The 2010 Nobel Prize winner added that he saw 'China’s opportunities in the globalized world as high technology manufacturing. Its research system is now mature enough to really start innovating.’

-Michel Claessens, head of ITER Communication & External Relations

OF INTEREST: ​Second delivery of components to ITER

On 18 September, three trucks arrived from Italy loaded with equipment for ITER’s Steady State Electrical Network (SSEN). The high voltage disconnectors and earthing switches were procured by the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), which serves as the SSEN engineering support subcontractor to the US Domestic Agency, and manufactured by the Italian branch of Alstom.

OF INTEREST: US plans for future of fusion research

​As the international ITER project to develop an experimental nuclear fusion reactor eats into research budgets around the world, an advisory panel to the US Department of Energy recommends mothballing at least one of three major experiments and focusing on research necessary to bring ITER online.

The Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee (FESAC) released its report on 22 September at a meeting in Gaithersburg, Maryland. The document outlines a 10-year plan for US nuclear fusion research for various budget scenarios, the most optimistic of which calls for 'modest growth’.

Nuclear fusion offers the potential for producing practically limitless energy by smashing heavy atoms of hydrogen into helium inside a burning 100-million-kelvin plasma and capturing the energy released by the reaction — but scientific and engineering challenges remain.

The report says the US should focus research initiatives on the biggest impediments to ITER’s donut-like design, called a tokamak — how to control the writhing plasma at the reactor’s core, and understanding how it interacts with surrounding material in order to engineer walls that can maintain the reaction.

Read more on Nature web site.


OF INTEREST: Sandia magnetized fusion technique produces significant results

Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories’ Z machine have produced a significant output of fusion neutrons, using a method fully functioning for only little more than a year. At the heart of Sandia National Laboratories’ Z machine, Matt Gomez, left, presents an idea to Steve Slutz, right, while Adam Sefkow looks on. (Photo by Randy Montoya) Click on the thumbnail for a high-resolution image.

The experimental work is described in a paper to be published in the Sept. 24 Physical Review Letters online. A theoretical PRL paper to be published on the same date helps explain why the experimental method worked. The combined work demonstrates the viability of the novel approach.
’We are committed to shaking this [fusion] tree until either we get some good apples or a branch falls down and hits us on the head,’ said Sandia senior manager Dan Sinars. He expects the project, dubbed MagLIF for magnetized liner inertial fusion, will be 'a key piece of Sandia’s submission for a July 2015 National Nuclear Security Administration review of the national Inertial Confinement Fusion Program.’
Inertial confinement fusion creates nanosecond bursts of neutrons, ideal for creating data to plug into supercomputer codes that test the safety, security and effectiveness of the U.S. nuclear stockpile. The method could be useful as an energy source down the road if the individual fusion pulses can be sequenced like an automobile’s cylinders firing.
Read more on Sensors online web site.

OF INTEREST: ​Cryostat Workshop ready for equipment

On 8-9 September the final acceptance meeting was held for the Cryostat Workshop. This 5,500-square-metre building will be the theatre for the assembly of the four main cryostat sections from 54 smaller segments manufactured in India.
As the contractor chosen by the Indian Domestic Agency for the construction and assembly of the ITER cryostat, Larsen & Toubro Limited is also in charge of the on-site cryostat worksite. The company awarded the construction contract to the French company SPIE Batignolles TPCI, who began work just over a year ago, in June 2013.
’Larsen & Toubro (L&T) takes pride in having completed the temporary workshop before the contractual delivery date,’ a company statement read. 'This was possible due to the positive and collaborative efforts by all of the teams involved: SPIE Batignolles TPCI, Danieli (crane contractor), Currie & Brown (engineering), Apave (health and safety protection), ITER India and the ITER Organization. Larsen & Toubro is thankful to all of these teams for their role in achieving this feat.’

OF INTEREST: PPPL provides insight to how magnetic reconnection energizes plasma particles

​The process of magnetic field line reconnection, in which the magnetic field lines in a plasma snap apart and violently reconnect, transforms magnetic field energy into particle energy. Little was known about this phenomenon that is known most prominently in the form of solar flares on the surface of the sun. The subsequent geomagnetic storms on earth have demonstrated how much energy can be released by magnetic reconnection.

In the research conducted on the Magnetic Reconnection Experiment (MRX) at PPPL, scientists measured experimentally the amount of magnetic energy that turns into particle energy. They showed that reconnection converts about 50 percent of the magnetic energy in the plasma, with one-third of the conversion heating the electrons and two-thirds accelerating the ions.

The findings also suggested the process by which the energy conversion occurs. According to the researchers, reconnection first propels and energizes the electrons, which creates an electrically charged field that becomes the primary energy source for the ions.

Read more on FuseNet and News at Princeton websites.

OF INTEREST: Cosmic hybrid

​A weird type of 'hybrid’ star has been discovered nearly 40 years since it was first theorized — but until now has been curiously difficult to find.

In 1975, renowned astrophysicists Kip Thorne, of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena, Calif., and Anna Żytkow, of the University of Cambridge, UK, assembled a theory on how a large dying star could swallow its neutron star binary partner, thus becoming a very rare type of stellar hybrid, nicknamed a Thorne-Żytkow object (or TŻO). The neutron star — a dense husk of degenerate matter that was once a massive star long since gone supernova — would spiral into the red supergiant’s core, interrupting normal fusion processes.
Read more here. Access the scientific article here

OF INTEREST: ITER’s Arnaud Devred receives IEEE award

On 11 August, during the opening session of this year’s Applied Superconductivity Conference in Charlotte, North Carolina (US), ITER’s Arnaud Devred received the IEEE award 'for continuing and significant contributions in the field of applied superconductivity.’

The prestigious prize delivered by the IEEE Council on Applied Superconductivity was awarded for his 'many and significant contributions to the field of large scale applications.’ 
’I am indebted to many people, who have inspired me and made me the person I am today,’ said the head of the ITER Superconductor Systems & Auxiliaries Section in his acceptance speech. 'One of my greatest privileges—and rewards—is that throughout my carrier I have been able to meet and work with great people. First in Europe, then in the US and Japan, and now from all around the world. Therefore, I would like to share this award with my numerous collaborators in China, Europe, Japan, Korea, Russia and the United States, and, in these times of heightened political tensions, it is my wish that we can keep working together in the same open and peaceful manner—our little contribution to making the world a better place to be.’

OF INTEREST: Latest ITER Games draw close to 250 competitors

Last Saturday 13 September, the fourth edition of the ITER Games attracted a crowd of close to 250 competitors and their supporters for an all-day sports event including football and tennis competitions, a cross-country run, a kayak race and a petanque tournament. For the participantspeople working for the ITER Project, club members from the local sports associations, and their families—this was another opportunity to meet, compete and share … all ways to strengthen ties between ITER and its environment. (Photo AIF-AP)

OF INTEREST: FuseNet PhD Event in November

This year’s FuseNet PhD Event will take place on 1820 November in Lisbon, Portugal.

Organized by the University of Lisbon under the umbrella of the FuseNet Association and with the financial support of EUROfusion, the PhD Event brings together PhD students working in the field of fusion science and engineering. The aim of the event is to enable students to disseminate their research, develop a network of contacts and learn from each other’s experiences.

The Event is open to all PhD students involved with research in nuclear fusion research and who are registered at a European university or a FuseNet member university.
The deadline for applications is 15 October 2014 (financial support is available). More information on the event and the application procedure can be found on the FuseNet website

OF INTEREST: World’s largest metals research consortium to be established with EUR 1bn funding

The world’s largest research consortium in the field of metals research and manufacturing is to be created by European industry in the form of Metallurgy Europe. The R&D program has recently been selected as a new Eureka Cluster and will bring together over 170 companies and laboratories from across 20 countries. Funding for the project has been stated as EUR 1 billion over seven years.

The European Powder Metallurgy Association and a number of other European organizations such as the European Space Agency (ESA), European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, the Institut Laue-Langevin and the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy are reported to be providing their expertise and innovation to this initiative.

Read more on the Powder Metallurgy Review website.

OF INTEREST: Hutch Neilson in Germany to pave way for US participation in Wendelstein 7-X

​Hutch Neilson, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory’s (PPPL’s) head of Advanced Projects, is saying 'auf wiedersehen’ to the lab for the next nine months as he travels to Greifswald, Germany, where he will be paving the way for future US researchers to participate on the Wendelstein 7-X (W7-X) program as the experiment begins preparing for operations next year.

David Gates, a principal research physicist and the stellarator physics leader at PPPL, will be serving as Interim Head of Advanced Projects in Neilson’s absence.

Neilson’s new position comes after the US Department of Energy and the European Atomic Energy Commission signed an agreement in June establishing a long-term partnership with the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP) and PPPL, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Los Alamos National Laboratory. The agreement names PPPL as the lead institute for the US collaboration on the W7-X.

Read more on the PPPL website.