Plasma seeking plasma

It has been an unusual July so far in Provence. Thunderstorms have broken over the site almost every afternoon, causing work to be stopped until the storm front moves on.

Storms over the ITER platform do not come unannounced: when one approaches, the French storm forecast agency Metéorage (a subsidiairy of Météo-France) sends an alert to security personnel, who activate the appropriate siren. Depending on the distance of the incoming storm, the siren sounds an „orange alert,” stopping only the heavy activity, or a „red alert,” requiring full site evacuation.

This spectacular bolt of lightning was captured last Wednesday from a fifth floor window in the ITER Headquarters building after a red alert was sounded.

Lightning is a high current electric discharge in the air that generates a ramified column of plasma. This specific bolt might have been looking for its kindred—the plasma that will be created within the ITER vacuum vessel. The place was right but the time some seven years too early.

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.

Fun physics at National Science Festival

The annual Science Festival (Fête de la Science) was established in 1991 on the initiative of the then-Minister of Research who considered it important to „take the scientists out of the Ivory Towers of their laboratories and institutions” and engage in a dialogue with the general public.

Twenty-one years later, the Fête de la Science has become a national event that involves millions of participants (close to 100,000 last year in the PACA region only).

Throughout the country, tent villages (Villages des Sciences) are set up in public squares  where scientists perform „Fun Physics” experiments; large scientific projects present their progress in an entertaining and easily accessible fashion; conferences and exhibits are organized in towns and villages, all aiming to communicate the thrill and excitement of scientific research.

As they did last year in Marseille, personnel from CEA Research Institute for Magnetic Fusion (IRFM), Iter France and the ITER Organization participated in the event (this year in Aix-en-Provence), presented the challenges of harnessing fusion energy and answered the many questions of an ever-curious and often fascinated public.


Workshop sheds light on complex ITER legal issues

Last Friday 21 September, the Director-General of the ITER Organization and the President of Aix-Marseille University opened, together, the first ITER Legal Workshop organized by CERIC (International and European Studies and Research Centre of the Faculty of Law of Aix-en-Provence) in collaboration with the Legal Affairs department of the ITER Organization.

This legal workshop was organized around exchange between the academic world and practitioners involved in the everyday life of the ITER Project; it was  a great opportunity to discuss the very complex issues related to the specific legal framework applicable to the project. 
Approaches of the academic world and of practitioners revealed to be complementary and fundamental, and this legal workshop enabled all participants to share and confront their experience and outlook for a better understanding of the law applicable to international organizations such as the ITER Organization.

It was also an opportunity to shed light on all the legal issues related to the creation of the ITER Organization and it helped to analyze ongoing and crucial legal issues the ITER Organization is confronted with on a daily basis. In particular, the discussions focused on the specificity of the law applicable to the ITER Organization (question of conciliation between the status of public international organization and the application of French law in certain fields such as nuclear safety, licensing and protection of the environment).

The morning session was devoted to presentations given by distinguished speakers concerning:
– ITER in the framework of international organizations
– The ITER Project and International Law
– The ITER Organization and the European Union
– ITER and France.

The afternoon was divided into three panels of discussion composed of ITER staff, scholars and practitioners concerning three different aspects of the ITER Organization’s legal framework:
– ITER Staff: Privileges and Immunities
– ITER, nuclear and environmental aspects
– ITER and Intellectual Property rights.

The proceedings of this workshop will be published in order to disseminate the fruitful information shared between all participants. This will be a very important step in writing the legal history of the ITER Project and in spreading information relating to the ITER Legal Framework.

Prior to the workshop, participants were given the opportunity to visit the ITER Site. They were able to see the tremendous progress on the construction and this enabled them to measure the scientific and legal stakes at play and the importance of the ITER Legal Workshop for a better understanding of the ITER Project.

The fact that the workshop was so successful shows the need for further collaboration between the ITER Organization and Aix-Marseille University to explore together legal issues raised by the specific legal status of the ITER Organization.


ITER Games — reloaded

You think that scientists spend their weekends solving equations? And that engineers lean over the drawing table? Wrong! This weekend, with the second edition of the ITER Games, the friendly competition for all those working on the ITER project and residents of Saint Paul-lez-Durance and Vinon-sur-Verdon, called them to the football field and the tennis courts and — for the first time — to the „rapids” of the Verdon river.

Click here to view the image gallery.
Click here to view the article in La Provence (in French).


500 students and a new director at Int’l School

Tuesday 4 September saw the start of another school year at the École Internationale Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur (EIPACA), in Manosque, where students now number 500, some 45 percent of them being "ITER Children".

The newly appointed Director, Bernard Fronsacq personally addressed every class, welcoming them and stressing the important points in their curriculum for the coming school year.

Mr Fronsacq is a 40-year veteran of the French Éducation Nationale administration with a solid international experience. He spent more than 14 years in North America, having been posted in New York, Montreal and Washington, D.C.

In an interview with the regional daily La Provence, the newly appointed director was quoted as saying that he felt „privileged to be posted in a school that serves a major project for the future of mankind […] This adds an extra dimension to my mission — like being boosted by vitamins…”

Financed by the regional government of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur as part of France’s commitment to ITER, the EIPACA opened its doors to elementary school children in October 2009. Junior and senior high school students joined them in September 2010.


Goodbye, Mr Clément

The International School of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, where „ITER children” account for half of the total enrolment, owes a lot to Jean-Paul Clément. As Head of this unique institution—a school that is part of the French public educational system but provides classes in ten different languages—Director Clément had to manage a project that appeared at times as complex and challenging as ITER itself.
Establishing an international school close to Cadarache was part of the French commitment to ITER. Pending the construction of the facility, the International School opened in September 2007 in temporary accommodations in a nearby lycée and eventually moved onto its own beautifully designed campus two years later.

As construction was progressing, it was the Director’s responsibility to establish a curriculum compatible with both the stringent requirements of the French educational system and the demands of the Education ministries of the ITER Members. No simple task …

Director Clément’s mandate has now come to an end. On Thursday, a ceremony was organized at the International School in Manosque to bid him farewell and wish him all the success in his future endeavours.
In his address to Mr Clement, which he chose to pronounce in French, ITER Director-General Osamu Motojima stressed the importance of the International School for the ITER project. „ITER needs to gather talent from all over the world. The existence of the International School is an important factor in the acceptance decision for those with families and school-age children.”

Jean-Paul Clément is leaving the International School of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur for a mission in Laos for the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


ITER TV series resumes

Three years ago, in the spring of 2009, the local TV network Télé Locale Provence (TLP) and the ITER Organization entered into a partnership to produce a series of didactic and entertaining programs about the ITER project.

Six programs were produced in all, each presenting a specific aspect of the project: science, the early works on the platform, safety, the „ITER people,” etc.

The series resumes this Saturday with a program entitled ITER en chantier(s) / The ITER work site(s). Special guests Akko Maas, Laurent Patisson, Ben Slee (F4E), Ken Blackler, Eric Brault (F4E) and Fabrice Simon present the work that has been accomplished over the past year in both the Tokamak Pit and the Poloidal Field Coils Winding Facility.

The program features the usual on-the-street interviews, this time in Vinon-sur-Verdon, where not everyone seems to be aware of what is happening just a few kilometres from their doorstep …

This seventh program will begin airing this Saturday 8:00 am and 12:30 pm. It will be run on average twice daily for two weeks. (More details here.)

TLP is accessible through the TNT Digital Terrestrial Network Channel 21, the FRANSAT satellite, and the Internet „boxes” Orange, SFR and Numéricable.

ITER en chantier(s) can also be viewed on the ITER Organization Youtube channel. The six previous programs are available on the ITER web site video page (go to Video Categories and click on ITER on Local TV).


CODAC control system celebrates first plasma

While the ITER machine itself is still a few years away from its first plasma shot, ITER’s CODAC system recently celebrated its contribution to the first plasma discharge at the Frascati Tokamak Upgrade (FTU) Project in Italy.
As with so many good things in life, the cooperation between the two projects came about by coincidence. During a meeting held in Aix-en-Provence in May 2010, the ITER CODAC team had presented its EPICS project, as well as the first hardware standards to be used in ITER plant control. It soon became apparent that these hardware standards were the same used by the control and data acquisition group in Frascati to upgrade the slow control of one of their major facilities, the Motor Flywheel Generator 1.
The idea to test the slow control architecture developed for ITER on a running device was soon born. The advantages of this collaboration were mutual: the ITER CODAC Section could benefit from a „real world” experiment to test its slow control software suite, while the FTU team would gain expertise on the CODAC software environment and EPICS-based frameworks, permitting a refurbishment of the legacy control system.
The Motor Flywheel Generator 1 is a motor flywheel generator powering the FTU’s 8T toroidal magnet. To give a rough idea of the size of this plant, the plasma current induced by MFG1 is approximately 38 kA, equivalent to the current flowing in about 38,000 apartments. Its control logic can be reasonably isolated from FTU’s supervising control system, making the Flywheel Generator the ideal candidate for this kind of test.

In order to prepare for the test, every component of the Flywheel Generator control system was replaced to comply with ITER CODAC standards, from the controller interfacing the plant—the so-called PLC — to the synoptic panels that operators use to issue commands and monitor the plant activity. Quite obviously, all this work was done in parallel to the already existing MFG1 control in order to avoid unwanted disturbances with FTU experiments. To complete the picture, a new software interface was developed to allow the new system to communicate, when necessary, with the existing FTU control system (typically, during the plasma experiments).

After the first test runs that helped to refine the details, two weeks ago the new MFG1 control system was put online. On 23 May, the ITER CODAC slow control architecture made its debut at FTU, contributing to producing the first ITER CODAC plasma discharge.


Korean school books to bridge the cultural gap

ITER, the world’s largest international research project, is not only a technical and diplomatic challenge. For the employees from more than 27 countries who—together with their families—have moved to southern France, it is also a cultural experiment. How will their relatives settle in this foreign country? How will their children adopt to a new language, a new school system and, finally, a very different curriculum from what they are used to?

„As we are aware of the challenges of living abroad, we are pleased to hand over some 30 Korean school books that shall enable families to measure their children’s scholastic achievements and to catch up with the curricula when they return to their home country one day,” Head of the Korean Domestic Agency, Kijung Jung, said during the small handover ceremony that took place at Manosque’s Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur International School last week.

More than 200 books had been donated last year and the next donation is already in the planning. At the request of some involved mothers, Kijung Jung is likely to have some books on cultural studies and liberal arts in his suitcase on his next trip to Cadarache.


Korean school books to bridge the cultural gap

ITER, the world’s largest international research project, is not only a technical and diplomatic challenge. For the employees from more than 27 countries who—together with their families—have moved to southern France, it is also a cultural experiment. How will their relatives settle in this foreign country? How will their children adopt to a new language, a new school system and, finally, a very different curriculum from what they are used to?

„As we are aware of the challenges of living abroad, we are pleased to hand over some 30 Korean school books that shall enable families to measure their children’s scholastic achievements and to catch up with the curricula when they return to their home country one day,” Head of the Korean Domestic Agency, Kijung Jung, said during the small handover ceremony that took place at Manosque’s Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur International School last week.

More than 200 books had been donated last year and the next donation is already in the planning. At the request of some involved mothers, Kijung Jung is likely to have some books on cultural studies and liberal arts in his suitcase on his next trip to Cadarache.


6th ITER International School to be held in India

The ITER Organization, together with the University of Provence and the Institute for Plasmaphysics in Gandhinagar, India, are glad to announce the 6th ITER International School that will be held in India from 2-6 December 2012. The school aims to prepare young researchers to tackle the challenges of magnetic fusion devices and to spread the global knowledge required for a timely and competent exploitation of the ITER physics potential. This sixth issue of the ITER International School will focus on radiofrequency heating and current drive in plasmas.

"We are very happy and honoured to host the ITER International School in India this year and we aspire to keep the excellent academic standard set by previous schools in this series alive,” says Abhijit Sena, the joint director of the ITER International School and the host of this year’s event. „The theme of 'RF Heating and Current Drive in Plasmas' is rich in content—both physics and technology—and should serve to provide an exciting learning experience for the young participants."

For more information on the 6th ITER International School click here.

Summary:
  * Topic: RF Heating & Current Drive in Plasmas
  * Date: 2-6 December, 2012
  * Location: Institute for Plasma Research, Gandhinagar, Gujarat, India.
  * Website: www.iter-india.org/iis2012
  * Contact: iis.india.2012@gmail.com