A 30-minute flyover of the Itinerary

Last Friday, under a transparent late-summer Provençal sky, ITER Director-General Osamu Motojima boarded a French gendarmerie Ecureuil helicopter and flew south to reconnoitre the ITER Itinerary.

After a few minutes of stationary flight over the ITER platform for photographs (see this issue’s Images), the three-passenger craft headed along the Durance River Valley to the Pont de Mirabeau, where heavy works were carried out to widen the road and replace the retaining wall dating from 1934 in advance of the passage of ITER convoys.

The helicopter then travelled on to the village of La Roque d’Antheron, before turning south towards Berre L’Etang, point of departure for the test convoy.

And there it was! As the helicopter flew over the salt marshes that surround Berre, the passengers got a quick glimpse of the 352-wheel vehicle loaded with concrete blocks that was being readied for its maiden voyage.

The invitation to flyover the ITER Itinerary was courteously extended by General David Galtier, head of the PACA region gendarmerie. It enabled the Director-General to take in the concrete reality of the Itinerary and the striking beauty of the Provençal landscape in the last days of summer—a half-hour flight that included a vision of the snowy peaks of the Alps, the bald summit of Mont Ventoux, the sparkling Mediterranean coast, and the urban sprawl of Marseille.

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.

Sokendai awards Honoris Causa to Prof. Motojima

On 5 June 2013, ITER Director-General Osamu Motojima was honoured for his long-term achievements as Professor in Plasma Science and education by receiving a degree honoris causa from the Graduate University for Advanced Studies of Japan.

The Graduate University for Advanced Studies (Sokendai) was founded in 1988 as the only university in Japan and throughout the world to offer exclusively doctorate-level training. It is made up of 16 national institutes and organizations such as the National Institute for Fusion Science, the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, and the High Energy Accelerator Research Organization.

The university has the world’s highest level of education, curriculum and syllabus taught by professors who are closely affiliated with research institutes and organizations throughout Japan, providing doctoral students with access to the nation’s premier facilities for mathematical, physical and life sciences, as well as cultural and social studies.

Its Department of Fusion Science, established in 1992, is closely associated with the National Institute for Fusion Science (NIFS) which is home to the Large Helical Device (LHD).

Before coming to ITER, Osamu Motojima held a full-time professorship at NIFS from 1989-2003 in the Department of Fusion Science. In 1998, he took over responsibility for the LHD Program; during his time there the device achieved its first high-temperature plasma. Prof. Motojima continued to direct the LHD Program until April 2003, when he became Director-General of NIFS, crowning nearly twenty years spent within the Institute.

During the ceremony, the university’s President, Prof. Naoyuki Takahata, congratulated all the awarded honorary professors, and thanked Prof. Motojima for coming all the way from France to attend the ceremony, for his long-time contribution at the highest level of responsibility for education in NIFS, and for having supervised many doctoral students (about 20). Prof. Takahata also stressed that this year is the 25th anniversary of Sokendai.

During his acceptance speech, Prof. Motojima said, „It is my great honour to be awarded honoris causa together with my old colleagues. Sokendai is well known throughout the world and I wish it further progress in its contributions to worldwide post-graduate education. ITER has a scholarship program of post-doctoral fellows supported by His Serene Highness Prince Albert of Monaco and has established a good relationship with several universities. It is the necessary condition for the success of the ITER project to have a high level of research and engineering, in addition to supporting education and training for the next generation. I will contribute towards this from now on too."

For the ITER Director-General, 5 June has become a date that he will always remember.

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.

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.”

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.

EUR 83 million contract signed for Liquid Helium Plant

The ITER Tokamak will rely on the largest cryogenic plant (cryoplant) infrastructure ever built. Three liquid helium plants, working in parallel, will provide a total average cooling capacity of 75 kW at 4.5 K and a maximum cumulated liquefaction rate of 12,300 litres/hour.

On Tuesday, 11 December, ITER Director-General Osamu Motojima and the Managing Director of Air Liquide Advanced Technologies, Xavier Vigor, signed the contract for ITER’s three identical liquid helium (LHe) plants. The contract comprises the design, manufacturing, installation and commissioning of the LHe plants, which are adapted to the long-term, uninterrupted operation of the ITER Tokamak. The contract is worth EUR 83 million.

The cryoplant and cryo-distribution system will supply cooling for the ITER superconducting magnets to confine and stabilize the plasma. They will also provide the refrigeration for the cryosorption panels that are necessary to evacuate the helium ashes stemming from the fusion reaction and to assure the required vacuum for the cryostat and the vacuum vessel. All these users require helium cryogen at different temperature levels ranging from 4.5 K, to 50 K and up to 80 K.

The key design requirement is to cope with ITER’s large dynamic heat loads ranging from 40 to 110 kW at 4.5 K mainly deposited in the magnets due to magnetic field variation and neutron production from deuterium-tritium fusion reactions. At the same time, the system must be able to cope with the regular regeneration of the cryopumps.

Manufacturing of the LHe plant main components will start after design finalization in 2014. The first compressor station will be delivered at the end of 2015 and the LHe plants will be ready for the cool-down of sub-systems in 2018.

„This is a major milestone not only for the cryogenic system but for the whole project,” said the Head of the ITER Plant Engineering Division, Luigi Serio. „The contract covers the principal component that will drive the cool-down of the machine, seting the pace toward First Plasma.”

„We are very happy and excited to participate in the great ITER adventure,” Xavier Vigor said. „Be assured that we, the team from Air Liquide, are fully committed to making ITER a success.”

Air Liquide is the world leader in gases for industry, health and the environment, and is present in 80 countries with 46,200 employees. Oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen and rare gases have been at the core of Air Liquide’s activities since its creation in 1902. In 2011, the Group’s revenues amounted to EUR 14.5 billion, of which more than 80% were generated outside France.

ITPA decides on research priorities for 2013

Last week, a key meeting for the implementation of ITER physics R&D took place in the new Council Chamber. The Joint Meeting of the International Tokamak Physics Activity (ITPA) Coordinating Committee and the International Energy Agency Implementing Agreement (IEA IA) on Co-operation on Tokamak Programmes (CTP) is an annual gathering of senior representatives of the ITER Member fusion communities, the ITPA Topical Group leadership and program leaders from the major fusion facilities.

The 56 participants that had travelled from the ITER Members joined 12 from the ITER Organization for the meeting. In his opening remarks, ITER Director-General Osamu Motojima welcomed the participants, outlined the key priorities of the Unique ITER Team in relation to ITER construction, and underlined the major physics R&D needs. David Campbell, director of the Plasma Operation Directorate, gave an overview on the issues of physics R&D that are critical to the design and development of the ITER Research Plan.

Among these priorities are: the understanding and control of Edge Localized Modes (ELMs); disruptions and runaway electrons (and their mitigation); H-mode accessibility; use of all-metal plasma-facing components; the behaviour of tungsten impurities; tritium retention; dust; and power scrape-off layer (SOL) thickness.

The chairs of the seven ITPA Topical Groups reviewed the progress made in 2012 and proposed an experiment plan for 2013, focusing on the urgent issues for ITER. The Chair of Divertor and SOL Physics Topical Group, Emmanuelle Tsitrone, coordinated a special discussion session on the plan for joint research focusing on the comparison of divertors with carbon and tungsten plasma-facing components.

On the basis of high-priority research topics for ITER and the experimental capabilities of current fusion facilities, the facility program leaders decided on the priorities for each proposed experiment within their experimental programs for 2013. David Campbell commented, „I would like to thank ITPA for the continuing support of ITER R&D activities. We regard ITPA as a very important component of the ITER project and a critical part of our physics R&D program, providing a great deal of input to the physics design basis for the completion of the ITER design—a high-priority activity at the moment.”

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

ITER’s divertor remote handling system signed off

On Wednesday 31 October ITER Director-General Osamu Motojima and Jean-Marc Filhol, acting head of the European Domestic Agency’s ITER Department, signed the Procurement Agreement for the Divertor Remote Handling System (DRHS).
The DRHS provides the means for remote replacement of the ITER divertor system. The divertor handling concept relies on the use of heavy remote handling transporters known as „Cassette Movers” and dexterous, man-in-the-loop tele-manipulators. The former are required to achieve high-accuracy transport of the 8-12 ton in-vessel components from their entry point to their operational position in the vacuum vessel. The latter are required to precisely deploy a variety of mobile tools for pipe maintenance, (un)locking of the cassettes from the toroidal rails, (dis)connection of diagnostic cabling, etc.
The DRHS makes use of the remote handling transfer casks to allow safe transport of contaminated/radioactive in-vessel components to and from the Hot Cell.

Due to severe space constraints within the vacuum vessel remote handling port and the lower part of the plasma chamber, it is necessary that cassettes be handled in a cantilevered way. This generates extremely challenging design requirements on the divertor remote handling equipment, both in terms of high mechanical loads and payload position accuracy. The gaps between cassette and vacuum vessel structure may be as small as 12 mm top and bottom at certain points during the transport trajectory.

After operations, the DRHS will be decontaminated, maintained and stored in the ITER Hot Cell facility. Re-qualification/commissioning of the system will take place on full-scale mockups within the Remote Handling Test Facility (RHTF), also to be located in the Hot Cell building.

The ITER team and a number of European institutions have been working on the development of the ITER divertor maintenance concept for more than 15 years. The most challenging steps within the process have been demonstrated at full scale, first within the DTP (Divertor Test Platform) constructed in Brasimone, Italy (ITER 1998 design), and more recently within the DTP2 located in Tampere, Finland (ITER 2001 design). This long concept preparation period is now over and with the signing of the Procurement Arrangement and the engagement of an industrial supplier in the next few months, the task of establishing a fully comprehensive, industrialized set of equipment for the remote exchange of the ITER divertor begins.

"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

2,000 gather in Vienna for IAEA General Conference

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) held its annual General Conference from 17 to 21 September 2012 in Vienna.

Over five days, close to 2,000 high-level governmental representatives from the IAEA’s 155 Member States gathered to consider and discuss a range of topics on the peaceful development of nuclear technologies related to the IAEA’s programs, focusing on nuclear radiation and waste safety; nuclear security; nuclear science; technology and applications; technical co-operation; and improving the efficiency of the safeguard systems.

ITER Director General Prof. Osamu Motojima attended the Conference as one of the Non-Governmental Organizations accredited by the IAEA — an opportunity to raise the profile of fusion and ITER in one of the largest energy gathering worldwide. 

At the opening of the 56th IAEA General Conference, the message from the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, was very clear: „We are also aiming for progress on the critical issue of nuclear terrorism. On 28 September, I will convene a United Nations High-level Meeting on Countering Nuclear Terrorism, which I hope will contribute to strengthening the rule of law in this field.”

In the conference’s opening session, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano focused on major developments in the IAEA’s work. „Today, the Agency is making important contributions to tackling fundamental global problems such as poverty and hunger, energy shortages, cancer and climate change. The Agency provides effective support to enhance the safe and secure use of nuclear energy in Member States.”

According to DG Amano, nuclear energy continues to develop: „When I became Director General three years ago, the talk was of a nuclear renaissance. Then the Fukushima Daiichi accident occurred, raising fundamental questions about the future of nuclear energy throughout the world. Eighteen months after the accident, it is clear that nuclear energy will remain an important option for many countries.”

However, safety is now a major issue for all countries. „The most important lesson that we have learned from Fukushima Daiichi is that we need a much more intense focus on nuclear safety. […] We have expanded the content of IAEA expert peer review services to Member States to include the first lessons learned from the accident. In December, the Fukushima Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety, organized by the Government of Japan and the IAEA, will take place in Fukushima Prefecture. At this conference, we will present a report outlining the conclusions of the international expert meetings held so far. We will also prepare a comprehensive report on the Fukushima Daiichi accident, to be finalized in 2014.”

The IAEA’s Director General stressed the fact that there are 117 States with additional safety protocols and this number is still rising. This is encouraging because the additional protocol is an essential tool for the Agency to be able to provide credible assurance that there is no undeclared nuclear material and activities in a country. Nevertheless, there are still 13 countries without safeguard agreements.

DG Amano asked for these to be brought into force as soon as possible. „The IAEA should remain first and foremost a technical organization, although our work can have important political implications,” he concluded.

The 56th IAEA General Conference also provided Prof. Osamu Motojima with an opportunity to discuss with DG Amano and to meet with several delegations present in Vienna. DG Motojima and Head of the ITER Office of the Director General Takayuki Shirao successively met with M. Bernard Bigot, High Representative for the Implementation of ITER in France; with the representative of the Holy See Monsignor Branach; with Ambassador Toshio Osawa from Japan; with the Head of the Kazakhstan Delegation Mr Chatrikin and with the Ambassador of the Principality of Monaco Claude Giordan.

The ITER project at Forum Engelberg

Celebrating its 20th edition, the Forum Engelberg, a famous encounter of science and spirituality, last week looked at „tomorrow’s energy challenges” – a topic of „utmost importance”, as Abbot  Berchtold Mueller stated in his opening address held at the ancient abbey of Engelberg. For three days this idyllic Swiss mountain village was the picturesque backdrop for scientists, politicians, economists and clerics presenting and discussing various energy technologies, amongst them nuclear fusion.

Nestled in the spectacular snow-capped mountain ranges of central Switzerland, Engelberg has been a famous holiday destination for the rich and famous long before places like St. Moritz and Zermatt appeared on the tourists’ radar screens.

The organizers of the Forum Engelberg proudly pointed out that the conference’s location, the ornate „Kursaal”, was opened in 1902, „at a time when Zermatt didn’t even have a sewage system”.

But the fame of this remote mountain village dates back much further. It is closely related to the Benedictine abbey founded in 1120 which has perpetually been engaged in political and scientific debates. When, in 1989, the idea came up to find a philosophical equivalent to the big science of the Large Electron Positron Collider (LEP), the then largest particle accelerator which had just been switched on at CERN, the location for this event was soon found.

With energy challenges being the focus of the 20th Forum, and with representatives from the solar, hydro, wind and nuclear industries, and from the European Commission, gathered once more in the „Kursaal”, it was ITER Director-General Osamu Motojima who presented the ITER project and the quest to develop fusion energy.