Korean contract advances neutral beam ports

The Korean Domestic Agency signed an important contract in July for the fabrication of neutral beam port in-wall shielding with Korean supplier Hyundai Heavy Industries Co., LTD (HHI). Through this contract, installation of the in-wall shielding into the port stub extensions will begin in mid-2015 with fabrication completed by early 2016. Hyundai Heavy Industries is also manufacturing two sectors of ITER vacuum vessel as contractor to the Korean Domestic Agency, as well as seventeen equatorial ports and the nine lower ports

The vacuum vessel’s neutral beam ports are composed of a connecting duct, port extension, and port stub extension. The spaces between the inner and outer shells of the port extension and port stub extension are filled with preassembled blocks called in-wall shielding. The main purpose of in-wall shielding is to provide neutron shielding for the superconducting magnets, the thermal shield and the cryostat.

In order to provide effective neutron shielding capability with the cooling water, 40-millimetre-thick flat plates (steel type 304B4) are used in almost all areas of the volume between port shells.

In-wall shielding is composed of shield plates, upper/lower brackets and bolt/nut/washers. Pre-assembled 368 in-wall shielding blocks will be assembled into the neutral beam port extension and port stub extension during port fabrication, while 160 field joint in-wall shielding blocks will be assembled after field joint welding on the ITER site. The total net weight of all neutral beam in-wall shielding approximates 100 tons.

Ki-jung Jung, Director-General of the Korean Domestic Agency, commented during the signature: „ITER Korea takes very seriously the demands of the vacuum vessel schedule and quality requirements by ITER.”

CLI hears Nuclear Regulator’s report on inspections

Since January 2012, the French Nuclear Safety Regulator (Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire, ASN) has performed five inspections of the civil works on the ITER construction site.

Last Thursday 30 May at ITER, the results of these inspections were presented to the participants in the plenary session of the Local Commission for Information (CLI)—the citizens watchdog group that monitors ITER activities in accordance with the French 2006 Transparency and Nuclear Safety Act.

ASN considers that the organization of the ITER worksite is robust and efficient. In 2012, however, the Regulator noted that there was still room for improvement in the management of „non-conformities”—the small and inevitable deviations from blueprints that occur in construction works.

On a few occasions last year ASN observed that the „notification process” from the moment a deviation is identified by the contractor until a non-conformance report is processed by the ITER Organization needed to be optimized.

Following this remark, the ITER Organization took the necessary measures to ensure that procedures are observed throughout the chain of suppliers and contractors. In its last inspection to date (25 April 2013), ASN noted „a real improvement of the principles adopted and imposed by ITER [to its contractors] in the management of non-conformities.”

Although it is not an obligation, the ITER Organization has accepted that one or two CLI members be included as „observers” in one of the upcoming ASN inspections. Both the ASN and the CLI expressed their appreciation to ITER Director-General Osamu Motojima for this expression of the Organization’s commitment to openness and transparency.

ASN will continue to scrutinize the ITER installation throughout its lifetime and into dismantlement.

"Cooperation will make this project successful"

Following closely on the heels of the Science and Technology Advisory Committee, STAC, which convened at ITER Headquarters from 14-16 May, the ITER Council’s management advisory body, the Management Advisory Committee, MAC, met from 21 to 23 May to examine strategic management issues such as schedule, cost and the implementation of plans for installation and assembly, testing and commissioning.

Close to fifty experts from the seven ITER Members were present in the Council Chamber of the Headquarters Building to address the charges from the last ITER Council (IC-11, November 2012) as well as the additional charges that resulted from the special meeting of the MAC in March.

As at the last meeting, the schedule remained the focus of discussion. MAC recognized the efforts of the ITER Organization and the Domestic Agencies that have resulted in improvement, particularly on the critical systems and components, and made further suggestions.

In the all-hands meeting that followed the closing session of the MAC, the ITER Director-General Osamu Motojima told the hundreds of staff members assembled, „At the conclusion of three days of discussion, I can tell you that the MAC was a productive one for us. We can draw up an action plan today, based on the recommendations from the MAC experts. As a Unique ITER Team we have made intense efforts to improve schedule performance and to implement the related corrective measures. We can and will keep this positive schedule trend.”

In break-out sessions over the course of the three days, MAC Chair Ranjay Sharan, from India, had time to comment: „Issue-based solutions are being found, one after another. The most important thing is that collaboration has increased and the Unique ITER Team (UIT) is working. We may be only in the initial stages … the UIT has yet to give concrete results … but we understand one another’s problems better. I want to insist on this: cooperation is the tool that will make this project successful.”

The report and recommendations formulated by the 15th meeting of the Management Advisory Council will be discussed at the next meeting of the ITER Council, which will take place in Tokyo, Japan from 19-20 June 2013.

How can we help?

How can we help? It was this one sentence—or rather question—addressed to ITER Director-General Osamu Motojima after his welcome address that explained why communication officers from the seven ITER Domestic Agencies, the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, and from 25 European fusion associations had made their way from the different ends of the world to the ITER Headquarters last week.

The dissemination of information about the latest developments in the field of fusion research and of course the progress of the ITER project are the daily job of the communication officers working in the ITER Domestic Agencies in Oak Ridge, Hefei, Seoul, Barcelona, Moscow, Tokyo or Gandhinagar, or in one of the many fusion research facilities joined under the roof of the European Fusion Development Agreement (EFDA). For the first time since the start of the ITER Organization, the EFDA Public Information Network met on the ITER premises in southern France to exchange ideas and opinions and to discuss appropriate communication tools.

Altogether, with more than 40 people present—dedicated to spreading the word about fusion—an impressive tool in itself.

Periodic review for Test Blanket Module Program

The ninth meeting of the ITER Council Test Blanket Module (TBM) Program Committee took place on 25-26 April.

The TBM Program Committee meets twice a year to review the implementation of TBM program—including the Members' Test Blanket Systems and the ITER Organization’s TBM integration activities—and to report to the ITER Council. The Program Committee reviews the status of the TBM-related activities within the ITER Organization, TBM design and R&D progress within the ITER Members, and the status of corresponding milestones.

The main objectives of this ninth meeting were to define the short-term steps that need to be performed in order to keep to the present Baseline schedule for the TBM Program as well as possible corrective actions which should be pursued in case of delays. Participants noted that the TBM Program schedule is closely linked to that of several ITER components (e.g., nuclear buildings); therefore, the coherence of the schedules needs to be continuously monitored.

Among the key milestones for the TBM Program are the signing of the six specific TBM Arrangements (TBMAs) that correspond to the formal implementation of each Test Blanket System in ITER. Following the endorsement of the generic TBM Arrangement by the ITER Council at its last meeting in June 2012, each ITER Member with responsibility for a TBM System (denoted a „TBM Leader”) has started the preparation of the draft of the corresponding specific TBMA and evaluated a realistic date for its signature by the Director-General and the designated ITER Member representative. These dates, ranging from January to December 2014, were reviewed and noted by the Committee.

The first component delivery associated with the TBM Program is expected as early as 2016: the Test Blanket System connection pipes will connect the components located in the TBM equatorial port cell to the components located in other rooms of the Tokamak Complex via the corresponding shaft and/or the corridor. These connection pipes belong to the six Test Blanket Systems and should therefore be procured by the relevant ITER Members. The TBM-PC agreed, in principle, to transfer responsibility for this procurement to the ITER Organization since it is advantageous to implement a common and unique procurement. The corresponding scope of the compensation, in terms of finance and human resources, was also agreed.

The TBM Program Committee also took note of the status of the activities of the Test Blanket Program Working Group (TBP-WG) on Radwaste Management. Its Chair, PK Wattal, reported on the work performed by the ITER Members to evaluate the expected volume and characteristics of the radwaste and on the corresponding classification performed by Agence ITER France, the official entity which the Host State has charged with the future management of ITER radwaste. Issues associated with the transporting of irradiated TBMs to the owner countries were also addressed.

The outcomes of this ninth meeting of the Test Blanket Module (TBM) Program Committee will reported to the ITER Council meeting in June.

Commr. Busquin was key in Europe’s bid for ITER

ITER owes a lot to a few individuals who, at decisive moments in the project’s history, made decisions that changed the course of events.

Philippe Busquin is one of them. In 2001, as European Commissioner for Energy (1999-2004), he played a key role in pressing the Commission to commit itself to actually realizing ITER.

„I took the responsibility to launch ITER,” he recalls. „At the time, the European effort to develop fusion was quite diluted amongst several associations. ITER was still a paper project and I felt it was high time to get on to the experimental phase.”

2001 was a defining year for ITER. A new design for the Fusion Energy Advanced Reactor („ITER-FEAT”) had been approved by the ITER Council; Canada had proposed to host the installation; local governments in Provence were mobilizing to promote the Cadarache site… For Busquin, the time was ripe to take action.

„As a nuclear physicist, I could measure what was at stake with fusion; as a politician, I knew Europe had to be daring. And I was optimistic…”

Two years later, in 2003, Europe had two sites to offer to ITER—one in Vandellòs, Spain; one in Cadarache, France. Busquin considered at the time that this „double offer” was proof of Europe’s determination to host the project.

As he stood above the Tokamak Seismic Pit, one decade later, the former European Commissioner felt profound satisfaction and a sense of pride.

„I was standing close to where we are now, with French Research Minister Claudie Haigneré and all the people who worked so hard to make ITER happen here—of course the landscape was quite different but I can still recognize the place.”

Philippe Busquin, now retired from public affairs (but still active in promoting collaboration between industry and the academic world) took some time from a vacation with his wife and son to meet ITER Director-General Osamu Motojima and visit the ITER site last week.

As for the future of ITER, he is as optimistic in 2013 as he was in 2001. „With ITER we are working at the limits of about every available technology,” he says. „We cannot begin to imagine the benefits of such a venture. But the project is also a first in terms of international governance and management. In this respect also, what we are learning will have huge consequences for the future.”

To do business with ITER, Toulon was the place to be

Panjawani Rajkumar, the vice president of cryogenic system specialist INOX CVA, came all the way to Toulon, France from Vadodara in the Indian state of Gujarat. His company is in the process of bidding for an ITER contract and what he was looking for last week, at the ITER Business Forum, was a partner company, or companies, to complement his tender offer.

If INOX CVA wins the contract it will need to team up with a company that will install its workshop on, or close to, the ITER platform. It will also need a partner to enforce quality control and on-site safety. „If we get the contract, we will be working under French regulation. Rather than training Indian personnel, it is more efficient to have a partnership with a French company that is familiar with national practices and regulation.”

Panjawani Rajkumar was one of 718 participants (from 386 companies, universities or research institutions) from 24 countries that attended the third ITER Business Forum held on 21-22 March in the Mediterranean port of Toulon.

As in Nice in 2007 and in Manosque two and a half years ago, the ITER Business Forum (IBF) in Toulon aimed at providing international industry with updated information on the status of ITER, the procurement process, and the calls for tender planned for the coming years.

The third edition of IBF was organized by the Industrial Liaison Officers Network of the European Domestic Agency for ITER (Fusion for Energy), the Toulon Tourist Office, and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Var département, with participation and support from the ITER Organization, Fusion for Energy and Agence Iter France. Representatives of the ITER Domestic Agencies were also present.

For anyone interested in doing business with ITER, IBF was definitely the place to be. In his welcoming address, ITER Director-General Osamu Motojima summarized what could be expected from the two-day meeting: „You will have opportunities, both formal and informal, to meet with representatives of the ITER Organization, Fusion for Energy and other institutions involved in ITER,” he told participants.

„These representatives will provide you with a better understanding of our project, of the machine we are building and of the procedures we are implementing. This meeting will also be an opportunity, for you, to develop collaborations, combine skills and create synergies that will benefit us all.”

Fusion for Energy Director Henrik Bindslev, who also addressed the IBF participants, stressed the importance for Europe to „increase competences and capacities […] in fusion and outside fusion. We want you to find opportunities in fusion and in ITER. That is what this Forum is about.”

And that is exactly what the IBF participants did. As Panjawani Rajkumar met with representatives of French companies, Pierre Janotton, an engineer with Belgium’s Centre Spatial de Liège—one of the world-leading institutes for space technology research and testing—was connecting with potential partners in the field of cryogenics, surface treatment and optics.

„You can draw several parallels between the conditions in space and the conditions in the ITER machine,” says Janotton. „We have a long experience in space and we made a first incursion into fusion recently by providing equipment to test the JT-60SA superconducting magnets. Of course we would like to have contracts with ITER and add our little stone to the project edifice, and this is the place to get the information and find the partners.”

Like Rajkumar and Janotton, the 718 participants in IBF left Toulon with dozens of contacts and several prospective partnerships. They brought home a better understanding of what ITER is about and a clearer perspective of the project’s economic weight. The local daily Var Matin summed it up in its Friday morning headline: „ITER: a four-billion-euro market for industry.”

53 mayors who are also "partners"

There are more municipalities in France than in all of Europe combined.

Every village, however sparsely populated, is a municipality in its own right and every municipality follows the same procedure to elect its municipal council every six years: at its first meeting, the new municipal council elects the mayor, or „First Magistrate.”

Whatever the size of the constituency, madame or monsieur le maire is a major figure in the administrative organization of French society.

ITER was honoured, on Monday 11 March, to welcome no fewer than 53 mayors from neighbouring municipalities—from the smallest (Valavoire, pop. 32) to the largest (Sisteron, pop. 7,500).

Led by Daniel Spagnou, mayor of Sisteron and president of the Association of Mayors of the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence département, the 53 mayors were given a presentation on ITER by Director-General Osamu Motojima and a quick round-up by Agence Iter France director Jerôme Paméla.

„You are our partners in this scientific venture,” DG Motojima told the mayors. „Once ITER has demonstrated the technical and scientific feasibility of fusion energy it will be your responsibility, as representatives of the people, to decide on the next steps that will be taken.”

Monday 11 March was the second anniversary of the Great East Japan earthquake, tsunami, and resulting nuclear accident at Fukushima—Director-General Motojima insisted during his talk on the fundamental differences between fusion and fission in terms of safety. „A Fukushima-like accident cannot happen in a fusion installation,” he stressed.

In 2003, the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence département (pop. 160,000) pledged EUR 10 million to the ITER project. It turned out to be a sound investment: to date, companies based in the département have benefitted from contracts amounting to EUR 29 million.

From concept to concrete reality

The Unique ITER Team (UIT), introduced six months ago by ITER Director-General Osamu Motojima following discussions with the ITER Members, started off with a symbolic seating arrangement: at last August’s Special Management Advisory Committee (MAC) meeting, the heads of the seven ITER Domestic Agencies sat with ITER Organization management and not, as had been customary, with the MAC members.

Only a small change in protocol, perhaps, but one conveying a much larger meaning: the ITER Organization and the Domestic Agencies share the same goal, and only an integrated team resolutely pulling in the same direction can address the common challenge of schedule recovery.

As the heads of the seven Domestic Agencies and their closest collaborators convened for five days last week at ITER, participating in more than 75 meetings and countless open and candid discussions and exchanges, it was obvious that the Unique ITER Team had evolved from „concept” into a very concrete reality, rich in content and strong in personality.

Most striking was the atmosphere of these meetings and discussions—something akin to the spirit of a sports team or the enthusiasm of a group of explorers setting out for an exciting voyage.

„In coordinating an international project as large and as complex as ITER, communication is essential,” says Ned Sauthoff, the head of the US Domestic Agency. „And true communication requires more than just exchanging through 2D video. In agreement, as in disagreement, an in-person meeting gives you a much better sense of the other person’s reaction. It improves the interpersonal relationship and enables trust.”

His European colleague, recently appointed F4E Director Henrik Bindslev, is of the same opinion. What is at stake beyond the agenda of each meeting, he says, is „creating relationships” and forming what he calls „professional friendships.”

Drawing from his experience as chairman of the European Energy Research Alliance (2010-2012), Bindslev is convinced that „if people get along at the top, it’s easier to build cohesion between their respective teams.”

Shishir Deshpande, head of ITER India, considers that the 20-odd meetings that he participated in with the ITER Organization were "very useful in identifying many critical issues which pose a risk to schedule. The outcome of the UIT week has exceeded our expectations. Both the planned meetings and those we could arrange on the spot facilitated a speedy decision-making process.”

For Anatoli Krasilnikov, head of ITER Russia, the UIT meeting was „definitely useful.” Although he spent only two days at ITER last week—”Russia has fewer interfaces than other Domestic Agencies,” he explains—he particularly appreciated having, like the other Domestic Agencies, a permanent office at his disposal in the ITER building.

„We have demonstrated that UIT works,” assures Eisuke Tada, the head of the Japanese Domestic Agency. „It was perceptible: we were happy to be together, sharing, discussing and, most important, deciding. UIT significantly improves communication, not only between the ITER Organization and the seven Domestic Agencies, but also between the Domestic Agencies themselves.”

Of course, the UIT is just getting underway. „This second UIT week was much better than the previous one in January,” says Luo Delong, head of the Chinese Domestic Agency. „We’ve taken decisions, but we need to take more.”

For Kijung Jung, head of the Korean Domestic Agency, „the UIT is a very sound investment to recover the project’s schedule. It promotes mutual trust, understanding and confidence. Spending a whole work week with your colleagues helps you understand their difficulties—and helps them understand yours. UIT is an improved management tool which translates directly into keeping the project within schedule and cost.”

View a selection of UIT pictures here.

ITER is well underway

The Eleventh ITER Council convened last week at the ITER site for a two-day meeting that brought together the high-level representatives of the seven ITER Members.

As approximately 100 people took their places in the solemn setting of the new Council Room, Director-General Osamu Motojima welcomed the participants, adding, „I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Members, in particular Europe, the Host Party, and Agence ITER France for providing the project with the ITER Organization Headquarters building where staff is nearly fully installed.” 

The Council noted the strong measures that have been taken by the ITER Organization and the Domestic Agencies to realize strategic schedule milestones and to develop new corrective measures for critical systems such as buildings, the vacuum vessel, the cryostat, and the superconducting magnets. Delegates urged further corrective actions to improve schedule execution and to seek additional savings.

Delegates welcomed the integrated project management approach proposed by the ITER Organization to enhance collaboration between the ITER Organization and the Domestic Agencies, an approach, according to Director-General Motojima, to „cooperate even more closely for the implementation of ITER.”

The ITER Council also celebrated the recent major licensing milestone for ITER, the strong pace of construction activities at the ITER site, and the manufacturing activities well underway in all ITER Members.

The next ITER Council meeting is scheduled to take place in Japan in June 2013.

Click here to view the photo gallery of the Eleventh ITER Council
Read the Press Releases in English and in French.

"ITER is well underway"

The Eleventh ITER Council convened last week at the ITER site for a two-day meeting that brought together the high-level representatives of the seven ITER Members.

As approximately 100 people took their places in the solemn setting of the new Council Room, Director-General Osamu Motojima welcomed the participants, adding, „I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Members, in particular Europe, the Host Party, and Agence ITER France for providing the project with the ITER Organization Headquarters building where staff is nearly fully installed.” 

The Council noted the strong measures that have been taken by the ITER Organization and the Domestic Agencies to realize strategic schedule milestones and to develop new corrective measures for critical systems such as buildings, the vacuum vessel, the cryostat, and the superconducting magnets. Delegates urged further corrective actions to improve schedule execution and to seek additional savings.

Delegates welcomed the integrated project management approach proposed by the ITER Organization to enhance collaboration between the ITER Organization and the Domestic Agencies, an approach, according to Director-General Motojima, to „cooperate even more closely for the implementation of ITER.”

The ITER Council also celebrated the recent major licensing milestone for ITER, the strong pace of construction activities at the ITER site, and the manufacturing activities well underway in all ITER Members.

The next ITER Council meeting is scheduled to take place in Japan in June 2013.

Click here to view the photo gallery of the Eleventh ITER Council
Read the Press Releases in English and in French.

Celebrating Europe and the Licensing Decree

The ITER community had two events to celebrate last Friday 23 November: first, the granting of the ITER Organization’s nuclear licensing decree, which was the subject of an all-hands meeting in the morning, and second—ITER Member Day. This third ITER Member Day of the year was the occasion to visit the culture and traditions of Europe, in the airy setting of ITER’s brand-new cafeteria with a capacity for 1,000.

„Today, we should celebrate together the milestone that has been achieved,” said Director-General Osamu Motojima in his opening presentation in the ITER amphitheatre. „ITER is now formally a nuclear operator, and the first fusion device that qualifies as a nuclear installation.”

For the crowd assembled, Deputy Director-General for Safety, Quality & Security Carlos Alejaldre had the following words: „Those of us who have been working for fusion for a long time have always said that fusion is safe, but up to now there had never been an independent evaluation of that safety. For the first time, an independent body of experts has come to the conclusion—and made the official recommendation—that 'You have the green light to go ahead, because you have shown that your project is safe.'”

On 10 November, the French government published Decree 2012-2048 authorizing the creation of the ITER nuclear facility. Coming as it did after a very long and difficult examination process, lasting for over two years, the decree represents a landmark achievement—for ITER, of course, but not only. „My personal view,” said DDG Alejaldre, „is that this licensing milestone is also an important achievement for the fusion development program. We are beginning to talk about the next step after ITER; the implications of the event that we are celebrating today will be felt long into the future.”

To put the event in perspective, he told the audience, „Imagine for one moment that the ITER project didn’t get the decree … What would have happened? Everything would have been stopped.”

The positive conclusion of ITER’s licensing process is indeed cause for celebration, marking the end of long, thorough and sometimes gruelling examination process. „The Nuclear Safety Authority in France is one of the most, if not the most, demanding in the nuclear world, and certainly one of the most prestigious,” stressed DDG Alejaldre. „To have succeeded in our endeavour is a consequence of everybody in this room, and also of people not in this room today.”

Before the crowd convened for the buffet lunch waiting just a few doors away, he reminded the ITER community that ITER’s new status comes with responsibility. „This decree is a binding contract between the French state and the ITER Organization as nuclear operator. It is a contract that we cannot break.”

Click here to view more pictures of EU Day celebration

A family reunion

In mid-January 2009, communication between the „old” ITER Headquarters (presently building B 82) and the ITER offices located inside the CEA enclosure was made considerably easier by the opening of a Rotogate in the CEA fence—from that moment on, a driving distance of some two kilometres was transformed into a bucolic walk of a couple of hundred metres.

Last Friday 16 November, as the last offices on the CEAwere being vacated by ITER employees who had been assigned new offices within the ITER site, the Rotogate rotated for the last time.

For ITER Director-General Osamu Motojima, the event was significant. „This last passage through the Rotogate is a great opportunity to affirm the ITER Organization’s independent responsibility as a nuclear operator.” It was also the occasion to express ITER’s gratitude toward CEA Chairman Bernard Bigot, CEA-Cadarache Director Maurice Mazière, and Agence Iter France Director Jérôme Pamela, whose „great friendship, contribution and support” will not be forgotten.

As the Rotogate turned behind the last ITER staff member (CODAC network administrator Nicolas Pons), a new chapter opened in the history of the project. For the first time since the Joint Work Site opened in Cadarache in December 2005, the whole ITER family was „home at last.”

Corrective actions are now in place to accelerate ITER construction

Last Wednesday, ITER Director-General Osamu Motojima called for an all-hands meeting in the Headquarters' brand-new amphitheatre in order to brief the ITER Organization staff on the outcome of the recent meetings of the projects scientific and managerial advisory committees. To this memorable event, Director-General Motojima had invited both the present and former chairmen of the Management Advisory Committee, Ranjay Sharan and Bob Iotti.

At the outset, the Director-General presented the conclusions of the 14th meeting of the project’s Management Advisory Committee (MAC) that had taken place on 29-31 October. The MAC had acknowledged the intensive work done by the ITER Organization in collaboration with the seven Domestic Agencies since the special MAC meeting held in August. Required schedule recovery actions have been taken and the collaboration between the ITER Organization and the Domestic Agencies has been intensified through the establishment of the Unique ITER Team.

„However, the MAC recognized that further and intensive efforts are necessary,” MAC Chair Ranjay Sharan explained. „The variances will have to be minimized by parallel working approaches and innovative methods. The MAC will closely monitor these approaches.”

„Yes, there are issues,” Iotti admitted, „but we are working closely together to resolve them.” Of great concern: the delays related to six super-critical items—the buildings, the vacuum vessel, the poloidal field coils, the toroidal field coils, the central solenoid conductor and the cryostat.

Two other essential issues were the focus of this 14th MAC meeting: the rules for further distribution of credits amongst the ITER Members as proposed in the „MAC-10 Guidelines,” and the proposal for a simplified assembly plan with the intention to recover some of the time slippages. „Based on the different feedback we received to this plan, the MAC suggests that the project remain focused on the normal step-by-step assembly strategy, but that it evaluate options to reduce risks and the time required for the assembly and the transport of components in order to provide more confidence in the dates for First Plasma and Deuterium-Tritium operation,” Sharan said.

As for the technical assessment, the Science and Technology Advisory Committee (STAC) commended the ITER Organization and the ITER Domestic Agencies on significant progress made, especially in the manufacturing of ITER magnets. More than 350 tons (73,000 km) of niobium-tin (Nb3Sn) strand for the toroidal field conductor have been produced so far, corresponding to approximately 75 percent of total amount needed. Also, approximately 65 tons of poloidal field conductor strand (25 percent of supply) have been produced.

The STAC noted that—with the exception of the poloidal field coils—there are currently no new major delays in the critical path due to magnets. The STAC further complimented the ITER Organization’s comprehensive report on remote handling and the good progress that has been made in developing a strategy for the installation, maintenance and potential repair of the first wall and the divertor.

„Take pride in what you have accomplished so far,” and, „Work in cooperation with others as team,” were the final comments from Bob Iotti and Ranjay Sharan respectively.

"The beginning of a new era"

Upon his arrival at ITER, on Thursday 11 October, ITER Director-General Osamu Motojima was greeted by the assembled staff at the entrance of the new Headquarters Building.

DG Motojima, who was accompanied by his wife Kaoru, had been attending the 24th Fusion Energy Conference in San Diego (USA) and this was his first official contact with the new building.

Having missed the thrill of the move on Monday, the ITER Director-General was eager to discover his new office and the spectacular worksite view it commands. Rather than the bucolic view of the rolling hills of Haute-Provence, he had chosen the „platform side” in order to follow the daily progress of construction.

One could have stayed a long time just enjoying the view and imagining the huge Tokamak Complex rising 55 metres high, but the ITER machine was rolling and a Project Board Meeting (PBM) — the first to be held in the new building — was scheduled to begin.

Addressing the PBM participants and the personnel who had briefly joined them for the occasion, DG Motojima stressed the symbolic importance of the moment. „What we are witnessing today,” he said, „is the beginning of a new era. ITER is now 'at home' in this new building and I wish to express my appreciation to all who have made this moment possible: France and Europe, who have contributed this building to the ITER project, and also our colleagues in Building and Site Infrastructure (BSI) and in IT, who have successfully managed the moving operations and will continue to do so in the weeks to come.”

ITER Deputy Director-General Rem Haange and Head of the Directorate for General Administration Jiu Jin, also addressed the audience, conveying the same message: as staff and machine will soon stand face to face, moving into the new Headquarters building is indeed a turning point in the long history of the ITER project.

In Liège, a royal visit to the ITER stand

On Monday, 24 September, the 27th „Symposium on Fusion Technology” opened its doors in Liège, in the presence of His Royal Highness Prince Philippe of Belgium.

The „SOFT” conference is an important gauge for measuring the progress being made in the development of fusion energy. In its last edition in 2010, it attracted more than 1,200 participants, beating its own record — thus showing the increasing interest in the field.

As he visited the ITER stand, Prince Philippe expressed a strong interest in the project which was presented to him by ITER Director-General Osamu Motojima and Director of the Energy Directorate at the European Commission Hervé Pero.

ITER, as the spearhead approach to fusion energy, will be once more in the centre of the discussion in Liège. the ITER Director-General will be amongst the key-note speakers summarizing the status of the project, followed by representatives from various departments reporting on the latest developments in key design issues.

In two special satellite meetings the ITER Vacuum Team will present the ITER approach to vacuum quality and standards.

And, last but not least…don’t miss a visit to us at the ITER stand to watch the latest videos showing the manufacturing progress around the world and  of course— to get your free tokamak doughnut! 

Symposium on Fusion Technology (SOFT)
24 — 28 September 2012
Palais des Congrès
Esplanade de l’Europe 2
4020 Liège

ITER and China to promote scientific cooperation

The ITER Organization and the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) of the People’s Republic of China have signed a Memorandum of Understanding aiming to promote the scientific and technological cooperation between the world-spanning network of laboratories and institutes engaged in fusion research.

On 13 August, during his recent visit to Beijing, ITER Director-General Osamu Motojima and Vice-Minister CAO Jianlin signed the Memorandum. China is one of the seven founding Members of the ITER Organization and MOST is steering the country’s national scientific and technological development.

The agreement comprises „the exchange of and training of scientists, engineers, specialists, administrators and project managers with regard to mega science projects for agreed periods of time; the organization of seminars and workshops; and the exchange of information and data on scientific and technical activities taking into account the Intellectual Property rules of the ITER project.” 

Cryopumps: fewer, cheaper and no less efficient

In the pre-2001 design, when ITER was to be nearly the size of Saint-Peter’s Basilica in Rome, 16 cryopumps were to be accommodated at the divertor level of the vacuum vessel.

Cryopumps have the essential function of removing impurities and helium ash from the plasma, enabling the plasma to continue to burn and produce fusion power.

The requirements for vacuum pumping are linked to the plasma fuelling rates—even in the „smaller” ITER these had to be maintained. Design developments in cryo-pumping allowed the machine to be optimized with ten cryopumps in 2001 and eight in 2003.

Eight cryopumps has been the Baseline design figure until recently, when the ITER Director-General proposed to simplify the divertor ports of the machine and remove all „T-shaped” branch ducts. This left only five or six positions where cryopumps could be placed.

This bold proposal was quite a challenge for the ITER Vacuum team. „Let’s say our creativity was strongly stimulated…” recounts ITER Vacuum Section Head, Robert Pearce. „A five-pump solution was proposed, but this was considered rather risky for the goals of achieving ITER’s fusion power mission.”

Following discussions at the Science and Technology Advisory Council in November 2011 and at the Ninth ITER Council later that month, a much improved solution was found: there would be six divertor cryopumps in ITER doing the job that was originally assigned to sixteen.

„Basically, improvements in the cryopumping system design over many years have allowed the cryopumps to sit in bigger housings, enabling them to pump longer and store more gas and impurities,” says Robert. The new housings are „simpler” and have a volume of greater than 14 m3, as compared to 8 m3 in 2003. As the pumping configuration at the bottom of the machine (divertor level) was changed, it became possible to make improvements that resulted in the easier integration of other systems.

„We think that the overall six-pump solution is better in the end: we now have six identical systems. Operations are made simpler and the performance of the system is as good previously,not affected,” conclude Robert and his Vacuum team.

Considering that each branch duct and cryopump is a multimillion-euro component, the savings for the ITER project are considerable.