Work begins to extend ITER Headquarters

In less than one year the capacity of ITER Headquarters will have increased to about 900 desks, from 550 currently, following the award of the extension construction contract signed in July with a French consortium (Vinci). Drilling to investigate the soil and rock of the land parcel near the west end of the ITER Headquarters, where the 35-metre extension will be added, began last week.

The extension will provide much-needed additional space for the ITER Project team: projections show that during the peak of construction there will be more demand for offices than can be accommodated in the current ITER Headquarters building or existing pre-fabricated structures.

Work should progress rapidly on the extension once the worksite has been secured and temporary contractor offices are in place. During the month of October, excavation and levelling operations will begin. Foundation pouring will be carried out in November and December and—beginning early in the new year—the structure of the five-storey building will rise at the rate of approximately one level every three weeks. The entire building will be standing in May 2014.

The design and plans for the 3,500 m² extension were provided by the firm of local architect Rudy Ricciotti, who was the principle in the team that conceived the original project—the 20,000-square-metre Headquarters that was handed over to the ITER Organization in October 2012. The tender offer launched in March by the ITER Organization was concluded on 26 July with the award of the contract to Travaux du Midi/Dumez Méditerranée (Vinci).

From the exterior, the extension will look like a carbon copy of the original, although important cost-saving measures were put into place to respect the strict budget. Employees with desks in the new extension will take the last elevator in the main building to arrive at their offices (there will be no elevator in the extension, although the space for an elevator shaft will be maintained on the exterior of the building in case it becomes necessary to add this feature in the future). Choices were also made on the finishing materials that resulted in important cost savings.

The priority during the tendering and negotiation phase for this contract was to respect the budget and the schedule. The EUR 7.5 million budget for the extension (which includes the design, construction and the addition of an extra parking level in the main ITER lot) will be offset by charging existing and future contractors who use office space in the ITER buildings. 

Employees will notice changes to their work environment in the weeks and months to come. The tall fence that will be erected around the extension building site will reduce the road in front of Headquarters to one lane, with alternating traffic lights for the shuttle buses that travel between office buildings. Also, the large bay windows that terminate the west-end corridors in the main Headquarters building will soon be replaced by solid walls, with soundproofing to reduce construction noise.

„Clauses were negotiated into the contract to make noise reduction a priority on this worksite,” says Erwan Duval, Facility Management Officer. „We have some latitude—for example the loudest operations can be scheduled before the arrival of employees in the morning. We are also fortunate that the heaviest works will be over by the time windows are opened again next spring.”

The completed extension is planned for delivery in July 2014.

Successful test of the ITER Itinerary

The ITER Itinerary test convoy, featuring an 800-metric-ton trailer replicating the weight and dimensions of ITER’s most exceptional loads, has successfully completed its four-night journey, arriving at the ITER construction site at 4:45 a.m. on Friday 20 September.

The 46-metre-long trailer, with its dummy load of 360 concrete blocks, was escorted by a large squadron of police officers and followed by support vehicles and technical personnel. It had completed the journey from Berre L’Etang near the Mediterranean Sea to the ITER site over four nights.

Large-scale public works were carried out by France as Host to the ITER Project along the 104 kilometres of the ITER Itinerary between 2008 and 2011 to widen roads, replace or reinforce bridges and modify intersections in preparation for the exceptional size and weight of some of the ITER components.

The test campaign was conceived to monitor key points along the Itinerary. Measurements collected as the convoy passed over bridges and negotiated its way through towns and intersections will be carefully analyzed in the weeks to come. But already, the Itinerary has demonstrated its conformity with the rigorous technical specifications of ITER’s most exceptional loads.

Organized by Agence Iter France in close collaboration with French authorities; implemented by ITER’s global logistics service provider DAHER; and financed by the European Domestic Agency for ITER, Fusion for Energy, the test mockup simultaneously replicates the largest and the heaviest of the actual loads that will be transported for ITER: 600 metric tons (plus the 185-metric-ton trailer), 33 metres long, 9 metres wide and 10 metres tall.

For the ITER Organization—responsible for the construction and operation of ITER—the successful arrival of the Itinerary test convoy is a major milestone.

Read the full Press Release in English and in French.

Three cities, two Procurement Arrangements

During the week of 26 August, ITER Director-General Motojima travelled to Russia, visiting three cities and signing two Procurement Arrangements in four days.

Accompanied by Deputy Director-General Alexander Alekseev, head of the Tokamak Directorate, the ITER Director-General began his trip at the Institute of Nuclear Physics in Novosibirsk, where he signed the Procurement Arrangement for Equatorial Port 11 Engineering, for the engineering of diagnostic systems into vacuum vessel Port 11. The Budker Institute will be responsible for the scope of work.

The Budker Institute already plays a key part in the development of high-tech electron equipment, engineering of diagnostic systems into the vacuum vessel ports, and research into the investigation of high-temperature plasma impact on reactor’s first wall materials as well as developing, manufacturing, and testing equipment for the ITER machine.

According to the Head of the Russian ITER Domestic Agency, Anatoly Krasilnikov, equipment development for ITER’s plasma diagnostics engineering will take five to seven years and will require constant interaction with the ITER Project’s other partners. In all, the Budker Institute will develop five engineering systems for ITER’s vacuum vessel ports.

The delegation from ITER also visited the Institute of Applied Physics and the enterprise GYCOM in Nizhniy Novgorod, where gyrotron component manufacturing and assembly are conducted as well as the development of infrastructure equipment such as cryomagnetic systems, measurement and technological devices, and part of the energy sources required for the gyrotrons. Procurement of the ITER gyrotrons is a matter of special pride to the Institute of Applied Physics, because it was here that this device was invented. More than half of existing experimental fusion facilities in the world currently use gyrotrons from Nizhniy Novgorod.

The final destination stop was in Moscow. At Project Center ITER (the Russian Domestic Agency for ITER), Director-General Motojima signed the Procurement Arrangement for the Thomson Scattering diagnostic system, one of 21 systems that Russia will deliver to ITER before 2024.

A huge caterpillar of men and machinery

It’s a short ride for an automobile, but it’s a long, slow haul for a 352-wheel vehicle carrying an 800-ton load.

It is also a very complex and delicate journey. Organizing the test convoy that will travel the 104 kilometres of the ITER Itinerary during the nights of 16-20 September has required a tremendous amount of planning and coordination.

The Itinerary is a EUR 112 million contribution from France to the ITER Project.

In order to bring about the test convoy, an „enormous technical, administrative and regulatory machine” had to be fine-tuned, according to Pierre-Marie Delplanque, a former French navy Admiral , who is in charge of overseeing operations along the ITER Itinerary for Agence Iter France.

In addition to the two main actors—Agence Iter France and logistic services provider DAHER—planning has involved coordinating dozens of authorities representing four départements, government agencies, specialized technical services and local governments.

This four-night campaign of tests and measurements aims at verifying that the loads—and the stresses they cause to the roads, bridges and roundabouts of the ITER Itinerary—agree with engineering calculations. Such a test operation merges the rigor of methodical scientific survey with the challenges of the Highly Exceptional Load (HEL) convoys that will deliver the largest and heaviest ITER components to the site.

As the test convoy progresses from the shores of the Étang de Berre towards the ITER site in Saint Paul-lez-Durance, hundreds of measurements will be taken: manoeuvring space and operational margins will be assessed, stress on the bridges will be appraised and triple-checked, and behaviour of the transport trailer will be closely monitored.

The test convoy has been sized to mimic the most taxing parameters of the most exceptional ITER convoys: heaviest (it will be made of 360 concrete blocks, for a total of 800 tons), longest (33 metres), largest (9 metres) and highest (10.4 metres). (Of course, during the delivery of ITER components no single load will cumulate these dimensions.)

Although a „dress rehearsal” will be organized in the coming months, the convoy will also provide an opportunity to test part of the logistics that will be involved in the actual HEL convoys.

The September convoy, like the 230 convoys that will be spaced over five years for ITER, will travel in a „bubble” containing some 20 vehicles and stretching more than 100 metres along the road.

The 46-metre-long trailer carrying the dummy load will be preceded by French gendarmerie motorcycles, a pedestrian gendarmerie escort leader, guiding motorcycles, a pilot car transporting the Head of Convoy and an emergency tractor to pull the trailer in case of engine breakdown. The transport trailer will be followed by a rear-escort as well as an assistance van and further gendarmerie motorcycles. Additional personnel and vehicles will be mobilized to remove the traffic signs before and after the passage of the convoy.

When actual operations begin, in June 2014, the elite Garde Républicaine motorcyclist, flown down from Paris, will seal the „bubble” that encapsulates and protects the convoy—exactly as it does every summer when the Tour de France travels some 3,500 kilometres throughout the French provinces…

The passage of such a huge caterpillar of men and machinery, hauling a load whose weight is equivalent to two Boeing 747s filled to capacity, will certainly attract large crowds of onlookers. Two dedicated areas have been organized along the Itinerary to accommodate the public.

For the local residents, it will be the first, spectacular, contact with ITER. But as roads are closed, albeit temporarily and only at night, this first convoy may also be perceived by some as a nuisance.

Some 86,000 people live in the small towns and villages located along the ITER Itinerary. And because approximately 200 kilometres of detours will have to be organized to divert regular road traffic (not mentioning the temporary closing of the thruway on two locations), several thousands more will be impacted.

This is the challenge within the challenge: the operation will also be a test of how the local population reacts to the convoys that will become a regular (almost weekly!) fixture for the five years to come.

Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

It’s that time of year again. With the last days of August upon us and a busy September just around the corner, it’s a good time to stop and take measure of the evolution of the ITER Organization. The 2012 ITER Organization Annual Report, just released, recounts one year in the life of the ITER Project—the highlights in every technical department, the organizational challenges faced (and the solutions set into motion), and milestones in construction and manufacturing.

In 2012, the ITER project entered the third year of its Construction Phase. The ground support structure and seismic isolation system for the future Tokamak Complex was completed, work began on the site of the Assembly Building, the ITER site was connected to the French electrical grid, and part of the ITER team—approximately 500 people—moved into the completed Headquarters building.

The year 2012 was also witness to the accomplishment of a major licensing milestone when, in November, ITER became the world’s first fusion device to obtain nuclear licensing.

The project made a definitive shift in 2012 from design work and process qualification to concrete manufacturing and production. To match this important evolution, the 2012 Annual Report introduces a new feature—the last pages of the report (pp. 40-48) are now reserved for reports from the Domestic Agencies. How is the procurement of ITER systems divided among the Domestic Agencies? Where are activities for ITER taking place in each Member? What percentage of work has been signed over by the ITER Organization in the form of Procurement Arrangements? And, finally: What major manufacturing milestones were accomplished in 2012?

The ITER Organization 2012 Annual Report and 2012 Financial Statements are available online at ITER’s Publication Centre.

US-made drain tanks expected on site in mid-2014

Drain tank fabrication for ITER’s tokamak cooling water system is progressing steadily under the leadership of US ITER, which is managed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory for the US Department of Energy. The drain tanks will be among the first major hardware items shipped to the ITER site in France. The US production timing will accommodate the installation sequence for the ITER fusion facility.

Joseph Oat Corporation, a sub-contractor to AREVA Federal Services based in Camden, New Jersey, has begun fabrication activities for four 10-metre-tall, 78 metric ton drain tanks and one 5-metre-tall, 46 metric ton drain tank. Another industry partner, ODOM Industries in Milford, Ohio, is fabricating the ten tank heads as a sub-contractor to the Joseph Oat Corporation.

ODOM will ship each tank head as it is fabricated, and will complete delivery to Joseph Oat Corporation by the end of 2013. Joseph Oat, which specializes in industrial fabrication of pressure vessels and heat exchange technologies, expects to stagger completion of drain tanks throughout the summer and fall of 2014.

„Because the tanks are so large, the ITER Organization will install the tanks one at a time and do so before the neighboring building is constructed,” Chris Beatty, US ITER tokamak cooling water systems engineer, said.

Beatty noted that the Hot Cell building will permanently block access to the drain tanks in the Tokamak Complex once the ITER facility is complete. The tanks, which are built to last 40 years, are expected to perform beyond the duration of the ITER project.

The tokamak cooling water system includes over 20 miles of piping in an intricate network that wraps around the ITER Tokamak. The primary cooling water system is responsible for transferring heat from Tokamak hardware to the secondary cooling system. The tokamak cooling water system also supports operations such as the baking of in-vessel components, chemical control of water provided to client systems, and draining and drying for maintenance.

„There are many ways to cool a reactor, but ITER uses water to cool the internal parts,” said Juan Ferrada, US ITER tokamak cooling water senior systems engineer and technical project officer.

When the water isn’t being used for operations, such as cooling the system through the network of pipes, it can be stored in the four large drain tanks that hold up to 63,000 gallons of water each. Two 78-ton tanks are reserved for normal maintenance and operations. During maintenance, the smaller, 46-ton tank will store coolant for the neutral beam injector that pelts high-energy atoms into the Tokamak to heat the plasma.

The other two 78-ton tanks, known as the safety drain tanks, are primarily used for storage in case water should leak into the vacuum vessel. Because fusion reactions use tritium and the plasma-facing wall is made of beryllium, the safety tanks are designed to hold water with radioactive particles such as dust, tritium and activated corrosion products.

The pressurized, stainless steel drain tanks must meet French regulations, giving these US fabricators the opportunity to gain experience implementing French regulations for nuclear pressure equipment.

„Compliance with French nuclear pressure equipment regulations is new to most manufacturers in the US,” says Glen Cowart, US ITER quality assurance specialist. „In addition, tank fabrication must meet the ITER Organization’s requirements as well as engineering and quality criteria established by AREVA Federal Services and US ITER.”

„We have to make sure our design criteria meet the French regulations so the tanks can be used for ITER nuclear operations in France,” Beatty explains.

Following approved designs, the tanks are being fabricated out of stainless steel plates. Typical plates are 2.7 metres wide and nearly 10 metres long, with each plate weighing over 8.5 tons. The design requires that each tank have two hemispherical heads—comprised of a curved top cap and a base, fabricated from six segments (called petals) that are welded together. Joseph Oat has begun bevelling and welding the plates, and rolling them into a cylindrical shape. The caps and base will then be welded to the cylindrical body to form the approximately 6-metre-diameter tanks.

Although the drain tanks are simple equipment from an engineering standpoint when compared to many parts of ITER, their sheer size and weight, in addition to being the first set of US ITER-provided equipment fabricated under the French nuclear regulatory framework, make the fabrication and delivery process extremely demanding.

„Even moving the plates is time consuming,” Beatty said. „It takes about an hour to move them from the bevelling machine to where they will be welded. Once they’re welded, the plates are even larger, so it can take half a day just to flip them over.”

Once the tanks are completed, approved for nuclear pressure safety and delivered to the ITER site in France, they will pose one more challenge: Positioning the heavy tanks inside the Tokamak Complex. To meet this challenge, plans are already in place for using specialized air pads to manoeuvre the tanks to their permanent home in the ITER facility.
See the original article on the US ITER website.

Registration now open for MIIFED 2013 in Monaco

Whether you are an engineer full of ideas, an industry player looking for global business opportunities, or a fusion researcher wanting to keep up-to-date on the latest ITER achievements and developments, the 2013 Monaco ITER International Fusion Energy Days (MIIFED) offer an excellent opportunity for exchanging views and experiences, while forming valuable international business relationships.

MIIFED will be held on 2-4 December 2013 in the Principality of Monaco, under the high patronage of H.S.H. Prince Albert II.
This international conference will present the latest progress of the ITER project and also the major scientific and technological developments in the field of fusion and energy worldwide. The aim is to encourage synergies between energy-related research and technology developments.

Together with the exhibition, the different conference sessions will facilitate learning, networking and partnering with other research actors.

The following high level speakers have already accepted to contribute to MIIFED 2013:
His Serene Highness Prince Albert II
Yukiya Amano, Director-General, IAEA
Bernard Bigot, Chairman, CEA
Jean-Jacques Dordain, Director-General, European Space Agency
Charles Elachi, Director, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, USA
Masako Inoue, Director, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Japan
Madhukar Kotwal, Member of the Board, Larson & Toubro, India
Sir Chris Llewellyn Smith, former Director-General, CERN
Umberto Minopoli, President, Ansaldo Nucleare, Italy
Osamu Motojima, Director-General, ITER Organization
John Parmentola, Senior Vice-President, General Atomics, USA
Hideyuki Takatsu, Chair of the ITER Council
Maria Van der Hoeven, Executive Director, International Energy Agency

Click here to register online.

Adressing concerns, providing clarifications

The complexity of ITER—not only of its science and technology but also of its governance and legal framework—leaves room for many a misunderstanding.

This was amply demonstrated last Wednesday 3 July during the public meeting that the Local Commission for Information (CLI) had organized in the neighbouring village of Vinon-sur-Verdon.

The CLI is the official citizens’ watchdog group that acts as an interface between the ITER Organization and the local population. Anything that the public feels it should know falls under the CLI’s jurisdiction. And there are many things that, quite legitimately, the public wants to know about ITER.

Since it was established two and half years ago, the CLI has focused on nuclear safety issues, which has led to a fruitful dialogue between the 42 CLI members and ITER’s Department of Safety, Quality & Security.

Lately, the focus has shifted from nuclear safety to the economic and social impact of the ITER project. And at last Wednesday’s public meeting in Vinon, questions about the planned arrival of some 3,000 workers on the ITER worksite dominated the (heated) debate.

Where will the workers come from? What accommodations have been prepared for them? How will they commute to the ITER worksite?

Certain groups have long voiced concern over the legal status of the ITER  workers. Recently, too, in blogs and articles published in France, the worry has been expressed that they will be underpaid and deprived of social protection.

As was made clear by the presentations given by the ITER Organization, Agence Iter France, Vinci (which leads the consortium that will build the Tokamak Complex) and representatives of the French authorities, these worries and concerns are totally unfounded.

All workers on the ITER site, whatever their nationality or that of the company employing them, will be subjected by law to French labour regulations and to the collective agreements (convention collective) that govern specific branches. This is the case now on the ITER site, as it will be the case when the number of workers doubles, triples and quadruples.

Addressing another point of concern—that ITER will be built by mainly foreign workers—figures were provided that showed that of the 3,000 workers expected, the majority will be recruited in France. Ten to twenty percent only will originate from the rest of Europe. (Statistics from another large construction project in France—the European Pressurized Reactor (EPR) in Flamanville—confirm these projections.)

During the meeting, misunderstanding was also prevalent over worker transport and accommodation. Considering the difficulty of finding decent housing at a reasonable price in Provence and the already heavy traffic on the roads around ITER, the local population is legitimately preoccupied by the peak in construction activities on the construction site.

Not all of the 3,000 workers will be looking for accommodation, however, as a significant proportion of workers will be hired locally through companies that subcontract to the main consortiums.

Estimations range from 1,500 to 2,000 workers needing accommodation—still a high number but, as Vinon mayor Claude Cheilan noted, „this is not an unbearable load considering that the population pool around ITER numbers 200,000.”

Working closely with mayors all around ITER, Agence Iter France has conducted a survey of available housing and identified 19 locations where accommodation solutions could be developed within 30 minutes of ITER. Transportation to and from work will be organized, and rationalized, by the companies operating on the ITER site, who have a contractual obligation to provide it to the workers.

The steady rise in the construction workforce expected at ITER clearly presents organizational challenges that must be addressed and explained to the public. That’s one of the lessons from last Wednesday’s public meeting.

First design review within Test Blanket Module program

Last week the ITER project—and the worldwide fusion community—celebrated yet another premiere: the first conceptual design review within the Test Blanket Module (TBM) program, a key technology development paving the way to fusion power. It was not yet the turn of the tritium-breeding test modules to be assessed, but that of the components required for hosting them.
During its operational phase, ITER will draw upon the global (civil) inventory of tritium, currently estimated at 20 kilos.

But future fusion power stations would have to create their own supply of tritium. Part of ITER’s mission is to test different tritium breeding concepts proposed and developed by the Members … concepts that will enable future fusion reactors to produce their fuel within the machine (tritium self-sufficiency) and at the same time extract the heat produced by the fusion reaction and convert it into electricity.

While six different tritium breeding concepts—the Test Blanket Modules—are currently in their pre-conceptual design phase, a group of experts lead by ITER Senior Engineer Guenter Janeschitz last week concluded the first design check of the modules’ frames and housings, as well as the dummy modules that will be needed to substitute for the actual TBM sets in order to close and seal the port plugs in the case of delayed delivery or in case replacement is required. Mario Merola, in charge of ITER’s in-vessel components, called the design review „a significant step forward toward the goal of testing tritium breeding technology.”

The current strategy foresees that the dummy TBM sets and the frames shall be made of water-cooled 316-L(N) steel (ITER grade), a special metal that guarantees reduced activation when exposed to neutrons, no ferromagnetic effects and adequate mechanical properties. To reduce maintenance time, the replacement of a TBM will be performed „off-line,” meaning that the entire port plug (with its TBM sets, plus frame) will be removed, stored in the Hot Cell, and replaced by a new plug with a new set of equipment. Delivery and installation of the six Test Blanket Systems is planned during the machine’s first shutdown period following First Plasma.

„We looked at the design concept from all possible different angles and the requirements have been clearly identified,” the Chairman Guenter Janeschitz stated in the panel’s close-out session, praising the high level of preparation of the review. „A significant effort was made in the presentations to cover, in a quite comprehensive manner, systems requirements, design analysis, interface requirements and manufacturing aspects—therefore, the objectives of the design review were achieved. However, a few issues such as the potential contamination of the port flange, the still-insufficient shielding performance, the attachment of the TBM sets or their dummies to the frame structure, and the expected thermal stresses these components could be exposed will have to be further considered during the post-conceptual design phase.”

1,129 pages on "the greatest challenge of this century"

„Humans do not live by bread alone.” With these words begins Fusion Physics, published in 2012 by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

In the first chapter the book makes the case for the development of fusion as an energy source. „How is humankind going to produce the vast amount of energy it needs?” asks authors Predhiman Kaw and Indranil Bandyopadhyay from the Indian Institute of Plasma Research in Gandhinagar—two names that are also closely associated with the ITER project. Kaw and Bandyopadhyay lead a long list of prominent authors that, together, have compiled the latest on the fusion art. At over 1,100 pages, this publication provides an unparalleled resource for fusion physicists and engineers.

The idea for the book was born during preparations for the 2008 IAEA Fusion Energy Conference in Geneva. „I was considering how to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 2nd Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy,” writes Minh Quang Tran who, alongside Karl Lackner and Mitsuru Kikuchi, edits this fusion encyclopedia. „The intention was to be tutorial at Master’s degree level to cover fusion physics and technology.”

_To_55_Tx_Dedicated chapters focus on the physics of confinement, the equilibrium and stability of tokamaks, diagnostics, heating and current drive by neutral beam and radiofrequency waves, and plasma-wall interactions. While the tokamak is the leading concept for the realization of fusion, helical confinement fusion and in a broader sense other magnetic and inertial configurations are also addressed in the book. Available in printed form is the first volume on fusion physics; a second volume focusing on the technological challenges is in progress.

Further reading: Newsline issues 131 and 230 
To order or download (34.15 MB) the book, please click here.

Robert Aymar receives top superconductivity award

Robert Aymar, former director of the ITER project (1993-2003) and director-general of CERN (2004-2008), has been selected to receive the IEEE Max Swerdlow Award for Sustained Service to the Applied Superconductivity Community (2012) for his technical and managerial leadership at CERN and ITER and for the use of superconducting magnet technology in high energy physics and fusion energy projects.

The award will be presented on 15 July 2013 during the opening session of the 23rd International Conference on Magnet Technology (MT-23), which will be held this year in Boston, USA. The award consists of an engraved plaque, an honorarium of USD 5,000 and an inscribed medallion made of niobium—the metal most commonly used in superconductor applications.

The award citation recognizes Aymar for sustained service to the applied superconductivity community that has had a lasting influence on the advancement of the technology and for leadership in the development of many large-scale superconducting magnet systems such as Tore Supra, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and ITER. The award also recognizes his role in directing research for the next-generation devices beyond the LHC and ITER, in chairing numerous committees for the promotion of academic research, and in organizing workshops related to applied superconductivity and large-scale superconducting magnets.

Following his studies at the prestigious Ecole Polytechnique in Paris, Aymar joined the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission CEA in 1959. Early in his career he focused on fundamental research in plasma physics and applications for controlled thermonuclear fusion.

In 1977, he was appointed director of the Tore Supra project in Cadarache (France) dedicated to research on the magnetic confinement of hot plasmas towards steady-state operation. He oversaw the project from conceptual design, through construction, and up to its operational kick-off in 1988 when he became head of the CEA’s Department of Fusion Research.
In 1990, he was appointed director of the Division of Fundamental Research in Natural Sciences at CEA, running a wide range of basic research programs including astrophysics, particle and nuclear physics, condensed matter and climatology, as well as thermonuclear fusion.

Aymar took charge of the international research program to prepare for ITER construction in 1994. He then spent five years as the Director-General of CERN, from 1994 on, overseeing the construction and launch of the LHC.

Since January 2009, Aymar has served as a Senior Scientific Advisor to the Chairman of the CEA.

The IEEE Max Swerdlow Award for Sustained Service to the Applied Superconductivity Community has been presented to a total of 11 individuals in the past 12 years by the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) Council on Superconductivity. Within the applied superconductivity community worldwide, this award is considered the premier distinction for the recognition of technical service in the field.

Additional information is available at

ITER presented at France’s "energy transition" debate

Earlier this year, France launched a wide national debate on energy transition. The aim is to prepare the ground for a new law to be passed in 2014 which will define quantitative objectives for each energy source and allocate specific means and funding to reach these objectives.

The debate is currently organized in the French départements through local initiatives such as public conferences, exhibitions and meetings. André Dorso, national secretary of the National Debate initiative, explains the importance of public consultation: „It is the first time that a national debate is organized in a decentralized way. This is because the regions do not have the same needs and there are significant regional disparities in energy supply. Also, the energy transition is not a mere technical issue. It is also related to public attitude and human behaviour.”

On 29 May, a conference was organized in Troyes (near Paris) by the Syndicat Départemental d’Energie de l’Aube, which owns and manages the energy infrastructure of the Department. The conference was attended by 400 representatives of the cities and local governments. Several presentations described the current energy situation, as well as forecasts and plans for 2030 and beyond. According to ADEME’s optimistic projections, the total energy consumption in France, currently at 151 Mtoe (million ton of oil equivalent) is expected to go down to 123 and 82 Mtoe, respectively in 2030 in 2050. At the same time, renewable energies are expected to provide 35 percent of the total needs by 2030.

The ITER Organization was invited to present the status of the ITER project at the conference. A specific presentation was prepared, aimed at a non-specialist French-speaking audience. While I stressed from the outset of the presentation that no commercial development of fusion is expected before 2040 the contribution of ITER to the discussion was appreciated. Once more I was able to observe that, although France is host to ITER, a large part of the French population discovers the project through our presentations.
The people I spoke with after the conference were enthusiastic and impressed by the project, its scale and its objectives. They appreciated our efforts to reach a non-scientific public. This is, in my opinion, a key communication objective as it is crucial that ITER be endorsed by the local, and national, community.

Download the general ITER presentation (in French) here.

Back in India, but keeping a foot in ITER

After five years as Deputy Director-General (DDG) and Director of the CODAC, Heating & Diagnostics Directorate at ITER, Dhiraj Bora returned to the Institute for Plasma Research in Gandhinagar, India in December 2012. In February, he was appointed Director General of the Institute. Newsline recently asked him to say a few words about his return to India, and his vision of the ITER project.
How does it feel being back in India after five years in France? Has there been a period of re-adaption?
I feel good to be back at the Institute for Plasma Research (IPR) in India after six years at the ITER Organization. Working style here is not exactly the same however; therefore, I needed a bit of time to readapt. I am also trying to implement some of the good practices from ITER.

Is there anything you miss about France?

Oh yes, my family and I miss a lot of things. As ITER is in its Construction Phase, life at work was different and hectic and I enjoyed that. Aix-en-Provence is such a nice place to live and interact with people that we will always miss that life.

Looking back upon your time at ITER, what were the most important moments for you—those you will remember, good or bad …

Learning to manage an international group of experts in the ITER Directorate for CODAC, Heating & Diagnostics was a very important experience for me. The good and the bad all came together for me at my farewell party last December: I was leaving colleagues with whom I shared all my time for six years, but I was happy to receive so many words and gestures of good will and appreciation for what I had accomplished in the CHD Directorate. 

Does now being on the „outside” change your perception of ITER? Do you feel that the outside world has a clear idea of the ITER project—its scope, stakes and challenges?

No, my perception of the project hasn’t changed although I am now looking in from the outside. ITER is a unique project and the outside world still needs to understand the differences and complexities of executing such an international scientific project, as compared to any other large project. More people like myself returning from the ITER Organization and continuing still to support fusion and the project should be able to recount these differences to the public to further strengthen their support for the project.

You have recently been appointed Director General of the Indian Institute of Plasma Research, a familiar place to you. How do you see your position there and what are your main priorities as DG?

I have grown with the Institute for the last thirty years. It is the premier institute of India for fusion research and my priorities will be to help the national fusion program grow faster and increase our contribution to the international program.

You will be back at ITER as a Council member. What do you expect from this new ITER-related mission?

As a Council member from India, my priority will be to support activities at the ITER Organization to keep the construction completion date within the parameters  of the 2010 Baseline. I hope to help the ITER Organization in completing design work in all possible ways.

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.

First hardware afloat from China

On Thursday 25 April, the morning silence at the Institute of Plasma Physics (ASIPP) in Hefei, China, was broken by the noise of a high powered trailer. Inside the superconductor shop of ASIPP, workers were busy preparing to load the 737 metres of dummy conductor for ITER’s Poloidal Field Coil number five (PF5)—this represents the first delivery from China to the ITER construction site in France.
According to the Procurement Arrangement signed between the Chinese Domestic Agency and the ITER Organization, China will fabricate 64 conductors for ITER’s poloidal field coils, including four dummy conductors for cabling and coil manufacturing process qualification. ASIPP is responsible for all the poloidal field conductor fabrication in China. The fabrication of the PF5 dummy was completed in by ASIPP in 2011.
„This is the very first batch of ITER items to be shipped from China to the ITER site in Cadarache," said Luo Delong, Deputy Director-General of ITER China. Before, conductors for the toroidal field coils had been shipped to Japan and Europe. "This milestone is a further step for the ITER project. According to our schedule, we will now start massive production of conductors this year. Our goal is that all procurement items from China be supplied consistent with the ITER schedule and with ITER quality requirements.”

According to the shipment schedule the PF5 dummy conductors, which left Shanghai on 30 April, will arrive at the ITER site on 5 June.

Complex logistics do not intimidate "Kevin"

Three months ago, Yanchun Qiao experienced a drastic change is his environment: moving from Shanghai (pop. 23 million) to Manosque (pop. 22,000), he left a megalopolis that never sleeps for a small town that closes down every weekday at 7:00 p.m. „I arrived on Sunday. It was very strange. It took me some time to realize that shops systematically closed on Sundays and Mondays.”

Yanchun has adapted. „You just need to buy food in advance for the weekends. This is a bit foreign for someone from China, especially someone from Shanghai, but it’s manageable.” However, closing early and remaining shuttered two days a week has its advantages: „It is a lot quieter here, and I find it’s not unpleasant at all.”

Since graduating from the Shanghai-based China Europe International Business School (a joint operation of the Chinese government and the European Commission) Yanchun has always worked for multinational  companies: he began his career at CHEP, an Australian logistics handling and equipment-pooling service company and later joined Maersk, the Denmark-based logistics giant. In both cases he was based in Shanghai, with a lot of travel worldwide.

Yanchun has come to ITER to manage the framework contracts pertaining to the transport and logistics of the ITER Organization components that Domestic Agencies will begin shipping in 2014. The complexity of the task doesn’t intimidate him. It is „quite similar” to what he did for nearly three years at Maersk. „Basically,” he says, „it’s a coordination job.”

_To_51_Tx_Yes but. „Working for the ITER project is not like working in a commercial context. At ITER, between the ITER Organization and the Domestic Agencies, it is a bit like at the United Nations. There is no direct subordination; no 'order’ that can be given … which means you need strong communication and lots of diplomacy.”

Complexity is in the nature of logistics. „There are always lots of entities involved, lots of details to deal with. In my previous jobs it was sometimes even more complicated: at Maersk, at times, I had to deal with some 50 business units. At ITER, we have only seven…”
Well, eight—if you count the French leg of the voyage. Once the components have been safely unloaded at Port de Marseille, Fos, another journey will begin—quite short as compared to the distance some of the components will have travelled by then, but complex and delicate.

The 136-kilometre Itinerary (including the crossing of the Étang de Berre by barge) that leads from Marseille-Fos harbour to the ITER site is not always direct, either geographically or administratively. As the convoys carrying the heavy exceptional components travel along the specialized ITER Itinerary, they will cross or impact dozens of administrative districts and involve several public or private entities.

Although the ITER Organization does not deal directly with the French authorities—this is the mission of Agence Iter France—it is part of Yanchun’s responsibility to keep a close eye on the ongoing processes: the improvements that are still needed on some portions of the Itinerary; the finalization of the conventions with the different entities involved, and the „big challenge” of the technical test (see box) that will be organized in September.

„Realizing the technical test in September will not impact the components delivery schedule,” says Yanchun — or should we say „Kevin,”, the nom de guerre Yanchun chose when he entered the China Europe International Business School. „I adopted the name for the convenience of communication. 'Kevin’ is a simple as possible and works in many languages and countries…”

Even in France, where the name 'Kevin’ was totally unknown and unused before the 1980s and suddenly became one the most popular given names in the following decade.

Green light for ITER’s blanket design

After three days and 29 presentations, a comprehensive design review with probably the largest participation in the history of the ITER project was completed last week. More than 80 experts from the ITER Organization, Domestic Agencies and industry attended the Final Design Review of the ITER blanket system.

„The development and validation of the final design of the blanket system is a major achievement on our way to deuterium-tritium operation—the main goal of the ITER project,” Blanket Integrated Product Team Leader (BIPT) and Section Leader Rene Raffray concluded at the end of the meeting, obviously relieved at the success of this tremendous endeavour. „We are looking at a first-of-a-kind fusion blanket which will operate in a first-of-a-kind fusion experimental reactor.”

The ITER blanket system provides the physical boundary for the plasma and contributes to the thermal and nuclear shielding of the vacuum vessel and the external machine components such as the superconducting magnets operating in the range of 4 Kelvin (-269°C). Directly facing the ultra-hot plasma and having to cope with large electromagnetic forces, while interacting with major systems and other components, the blanket is arguably the most critical and technically challenging component in ITER.

The blanket consists of 440 individual modules covering a surface of 600 m2, with more than 180 design variants depending on the segments’ position inside the vacuum vessel and their functionality. Each module consists of a shield block and first wall, together measuring 1 x 1.5 metres and weighing up to 4.5 tons—dimensions  that not only demand sophisticated remote handling in view of maintenance requirements during deuterium-tritium operation, but also an approach to attaching the modules which is far from trivial when considering the enormous electromagnetic forces. 

The first wall is made out of shaped „fingers.” These fingers are individually attached to a poloidal beam, the structural backbone of each first wall panel through which the cooling water will be distributed. Depending on their position inside the vacuum vessel, these panels are subject to different heat fluxes. Two different kinds of panels have been developed: a normal heat flux panel designed for heat fluxes of up to 2 MW/m2 and an enhanced heat flux panel designed for heat fluxes of up to 4.7 MW/m2.

The enhanced heat flux panels are located in areas of the vacuum vessel with greater plasma-wall interaction and they make use of the hyper-vapotron technology which is similar to that used for the divertor dome elements. All panels are designed for up to 15,000 full power cycles and are planned to be replaced at least once during ITER’s lifetime. A sophisticated R&D program is currently under way in Japan for the development of remote handling tools to dismantle and precisely re-position the panels.  

Due to the high heat deposition expected during plasma operation—the blanket is designed to take a maximum thermal load of 736 MW—ITER will be the first fusion device with an actively cooled blanket. The cooling water is fed to and from the shield blocks through manifolds and branch pipes. Furthermore, the modules have to provide passage for the multiple plasma diagnostic technologies, for the viewing systems, and for the plasma heating systems.

Because of its low plasma-contamination properties, beryllium has been chosen as the element to cover the first wall. Other materials used for the blanket system are CuCrZr for the heat sink, ITER-grade steel 316L(N)-IG for the  steel structure, Inconel 718 for the bolts and cartridges, an aluminium-bronze alloy for the pads that will buffer the electromechanical loads acting on the segments, and alumina for the insulating layer. 

The procurement of the 440 shield blocks is equally shared between China and Korea. The first wall panels will be manufactured by Europe (50%), Russia (40%) and China (10%). Russia will, in addition, provide the flexible supports, the key pads and the electrical straps. The assembly of the blanket is scheduled for the second assembly phase of the ITER machine starting in May 2021 and lasting until August 2022. The work will be performed with the help of two in-vessel transporters working in parallel.

In assessing the work presented at the Final Design Review, Andre Grosman, deputy head of Magnetic Fusion Research Institute at CEA and chair of the review panel, enthusiastically commended the BIPT for its achievements since the Preliminary Design Review in December 2011 which were „beyond the expectation of the panel.” He added: „We have singled out the continuity and benefit of the work done by the ITER Organization and the Domestic Agencies within the BIPT framework with a sharing of risk and information among all stakeholders.”

The panel nevertheless pointed out some remaining issues, including a few challenging issues that need to be addressed at the project level. But thanks to the excellent quality of work performed by the BIPT, the ITER blanket design can today be called „approved.” The BIPT can now turn its focus to addressing the feedback received at the Final Design Review, applying the final touches to the design, and preparing for the Procurement Arrangements, where fabrication is handed over to the Domestic Agencies, starting at the end of 2013.

IBF 2013: Galvanizing industry for ITER

One of the principal objectives of the ITER Business Forum is to promote industrial partnerships for ITER in Europe and abroad between primo-contractors to the project (Level 1), and potential subcontractors (Level 2 and beyond). The 2013 edition of IBF, held on 21-22 March in Toulon, attracted over 700 industry representatives from 24 countries.
Two weeks after the event, it’s interesting to step back and assess the Forum’s success. Were the companies that attended already known to the project? The statistics are now in. Of the 386 firms or organizations represented at IBF/13, a third (115) are Level 1 project contractors and another 97 have worked as subcontractors (Level 2, …). When questioned, over 80 percent of companies expressed their objective to become (or remain) primo- or sub-contractors for the project.
We asked participants whether, in their view, the Forum was an efficient medium for companies to form business relationships and partnerships for the ITER project. 

Pascale Dauguet, Scientific Market Manager and International Expert for Air Liquide Advanced Technologies (France): „The exchanges we had with members of the ITER Organization and the European Domestic Agency F4E were fruitful, and gave us a good idea of the current status of the project. IBF/13 also offered our purchasing and project responsible officers the opportunity to meet new potential suppliers. We will now analyze the capacities of these suppliers with a view to optimizing our outsourcing. The contacts we formed are potentially very valuable to us, for our work for ITER but also for other Air Liquide Advanced Technologies projects. Having all of these actors in one place for several days was very useful!”

Kyung-Ho Park, Project Manager for Hyundai Heavy Industries Co., Ltd. (Korea): „It was very significant for the representatives of Hyundai Heavy Industries Co., Ltd. (HHI), the largest industrial company in the world, to be present at the IBF/13, which was quite well organized. HHI is manufacturing two sectors of ITER vacuum vessel as contractor to the Korean Domestic Agency and also the toroidal field coil sturctures (TFCS) which was awarded by the Japanese Domestic Agency. In the progress of manufacturing these core components of the ITER project, HHI has prepared and equipped various facilities and workshops tailored for ITER. HHI has also experienced many trials and errors, which have resulted in the acquisition of important knowhow and technology. We hope this kind of experience and knowhow can be used for project improvement and development in order to achieve expected results in the nearest future.”

Jean-Luc Borel, Regional Director for KSB SAS (Germany): „Now in its third edition, IBF has become indispensable for the actors of the ITER project, especially the industrial companies. We were able to hear the latest on the project from the ITER Organization, from the European Domestic Agency, and from representatives of diverse areas of industry who are potential clients for an equipment supplier like KSB. The information we learned from the presentations was of a practical nature and immediately exploitable in terms of potential opportunities. The IBF/13 event brings together and federates the suppliers engaged in this complex scientific and industrial project. What’s more, the communication tools developed by the French Industrial Committee (C2I) allow us to remain in touch with the project between two editions of IBF. As a potential Level 2 actor of the project, we were favourably surprised by the success and the quality of the one-to-one meetings that we participated in. Two examples: a meeting with an important French group—already a contractor for ITER (and a client of KSB’s for valves )—became the opportunity to learn about current tender offers and opened our eyes to new regional associations. Our exchanges have continued beyond IBF in Toulon, and visits are planned. A second meeting with a group based in the PACA region has resulted in possible pump activities for KSB beyond the scope of ITER. As a last note, I would have to mention the quality of all the informal discussions that I was able to have during IBF/13…"

Michèle Debret, Major Project Commercial Manager for APAVE (France)
: "For APAVE, already heavily involved in the ITER project through contracts with the ITER Organization and the European Domestic Agency, IBF/13 was an excellent opportunity to consolidate and develop our exchanges with industrial companies and institutions working with the project. The event stands out for the following reasons: the quality of contracts, the international dimension of the Forum, the presence of high-level representatives of the ITER Organization and Industrial Liaison Officers, and excellent organization. In effect, a number of the industrial firms present had well-defined expectations for the partnerships they hoped to form for contracts underway or tender offers to come. Our exchanges were oriented toward practical opportunities for doing business together. Also, it is rare to find such an international selection of top industrial companies in one place—our interaction with them was extremely valuable, even beyond the scope of ITER. The movement around ITER is accelerating; component fabrication is underway all over the world. For APAVE, specialized in quality and risk management, important opportunities are ahead. IBF/13 acted as a galvanizer for industry around ITER and we are pleased to have participated.”

Jean-Claude Cercassi, Business Development Manager / ITER & Large Scientific Instruments for CNIM Industrial Systems (France): „IBF/13 was particularly rich in people contacts—the five representatives of CNIM attended quite a number of conferences and obtained more than 40 meetings with ITER actors, partners and potential suppliers. I was impressed by the efficiency of the one-to-one meetings—the subjects were well defined, well prepared and a concrete plan of action resulted from most. It’s true that the ITER project has reached maturity: 3D models are now being replaced by components and companies like CNIM have concrete projects to share and offers to build based on industrial partnerships. The ITER Business Forum has accompanied the project since its beginnings and the maturity can be felt—the conference program was consequential and the business meetings well organized. Perfect! Thanks to its implantation in Toulon and the fact that it was awarded the radial plate contract by the European Domestic Agency, CNIM was in the spotlight during IBF/13—for this I’d like to thank the organizing team. The ITER Business Forum is now a „must” for CNIM, because it contributes directly to the expansion of our activities for ITER and for fusion.”

_To_46_Tx_Ruben Moreno Zubelzu, Business Development, ENSA (Spain): "Participation in IBF/13 was a success for ENSA. After the conferences, the number of contacts with potential subcontractors or potential partners for new business opportunities increased significantly. The contract with ITER has been an opportunity for ENSA to participate in a project with international repercussions, working together with top-level technological companies.”

Thomas MARTY – Project Manager ITER, ASTARE – Engineering Services, Westinghouse Electrique France (France/USA): „This year was the second time I attended the ITER Business Forum. Once again, the event was very fruitful. It was a great opportunity to get an update on project progress and learn about the future calls for tender planned by the ITER Organization but also the European and other Domestic Agencies. Westinghouse had many requests for one-to-one meetings and we were not able to answer all of them positively, although we established several very interesting contacts which I hope will lead to future cooperation around ITER or for the other activities of Westinghouse in France and the rest of the world. The previous IBF in Manosque led us to win the ITER Organization framework contract for design engineering and CAD services. We hope the contacts we have established and the information we have collected this year will also turn into similar achievements. In the context of such an active procurement phase for the project, I think many of this year’s attendees are looking forward to another IBF next year.”