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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.