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Sub-assembly tools | A 12-tonne beam, a crane and a little push

di, 15/01/2019 - 10:24

There is nothing remarkable about lifting a 12-tonne beam. Except when it happens in the spectacular setting of the ITER Assembly Hall, and the beam needs to be fitted with extreme precision into a structure as monumental as the ITER sector sub-assembly tools.
Towering 22 metres above ground, the vacuum vessel sector sub-assembly tools (SSATs) are formidable handling machines that will be used to pre-assemble vacuum vessel sectors with a pair of toroidal field coils and thermal shield segments before integration in the machine.
The assembly of SSAT-1 began in November 2017 and is now complete. Work on its identical twin SSAT-2 started in September the following year and is now entering its final phase.
Part of Korea's contribution to ITER, the tools are assembled by French contractor CNIM. Lessons learned from SSAT-1 have reduced assembly time for SSAT-2 by approximately one-third.
On Wednesday 9 January, installation operations began for some of the last elements: two 12-tonne beams that stabilize the massive pillars of the machine.
Click here to watch a video of the installation.

Toroidal field coils | First ITER magnet arrives this year

ma, 07/01/2019 - 16:59

A major milepost is projected for 2019 as the first of ITER's powerful, high-field magnets is scheduled to arrive from Japan. Let's take a look behind the scenes at the last-stage fabrication activities that are mobilizing the expertise and skill of heavy industry specialists under the responsibility of Japanese QST, the National Institutes for Quantum and Radiological Science and Technology.
Eleven years after completing the signatures on documents specifying technical and quality control requirements for the supply of nine toroidal field coils, the Japanese Domestic Agency is overseeing the last, spectacular sequences on its first production unit.
The toroidal field coils are the ITER magnets responsible for confining the plasma inside the vacuum vessel using high-performance, internally cooled superconductors called CICC (cable-in-conduit) conductors. Following the completion of the single largest superconductor procurement in industrial history, fabrication of the final coils is proceeding in Japan (9 toroidal field coils plus 10 coil structures to be sent to Europe) and Europe (10 toroidal field coils). Each coil is made up of a superconducting winding pack and surrounding stainless steel coil case.
The list of applicable superlatives is long—the toroidal field coils are the largest and most powerful superconductive magnets ever designed, with a stored magnetic energy of 41 GJ and a nominal peak field of 11.8 T. Together they weigh in at over 6,000 tonnes including superstructure, representing 60 percent of the magnetic array on the machine and over one-fourth of the Tokamak's total weight. They require 4.57 km of conductor per coil wound into 134 turns in the central core, or winding pack, of the magnet. And they have required the longest procurement lead-time of any ITER component, with six out of seven ITER Members involved in the production of 500 tonnes of niobium-tin superconducting strand (100,000 km) required for the toroidal field superconducting cables. The first winding pack to come off the assembly line in Japan is currently undergoing final inspection by the industrial consortium of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries/Mitsubishi Electric Corporation. The final sequence of testing involved high voltage tests, helium leak tests, and finally cryogenic tests, during which the winding pack is inserted into a cryostat (see top photo) and cooled to 80 K (-193 ˚ C) to confirm leak tightness. With the successful end of cold testing, the winding pack is now undergoing post-cold-test helium leak tests and high voltage tests and will soon be ready for assembly with its toroidal field coil case. Five other winding packs are in various stages of production.

The 200-tonne case assemblies are also in series production. After successful fitting tests early last year, two have been delivered to Europe for insertion activities and a third will arrive this month; another completed production unit will remain at MItsubishi for the assembly of the Japanese coil that is due at ITER in 2019. The fitting tests are the most delicate stage in the coil case manufacturing process, demonstrating that sub-assemblies manufactured and welded at different factory sites can be successfully paired with gap tolerances as strict as 0.25 to 0.75 mm along 15-metre weld grooves.

Please see the gallery below for a full update on manufacturing progress.

From the crane | When dusk falls

ma, 17/12/2018 - 20:46

There is a magic moment at dusk when the ITER site lights up and the sky still retains some of the light of day. Details that were washed out by the intense daylight or buried in the deep shade jump to the eye as warm yellowish sodium lights, white halogen and the occasional blue-green glow of a welding torch combine to create an unreal atmosphere.

Although familiar by now, this view has no equivalent in the world. This is a giant tokamak being constructed—a unique venture with unique features that the camera loves to capture.

The walk-around continues in the gallery below.

Tokamak Pit | Big steel elbow in place

ma, 10/12/2018 - 22:01

A cryostat feedthrough delivered by the Chinese Domestic Agency has become the first metal component of the machine to be installed in the Tokamak Pit, in an operation orchestrated over two weeks by the ITER Organization.
An activity that began with the transfer of the component to the vicinity of the Tokamak Complex—and that was pursued as the 10-metre, 6.6-tonne component was introduced into the Pit through an opening in the bioshield roof—has now been concluded through the final positioning of the feeder segment in the building.
In the final lift sequence, the elbow-shaped component was lifted by the monorail crane at the bottom of the Tokamak Pit, rotated above the cryostat crown, and lowered into a slim opening that had been left in the concrete circle in anticipation of this very installation sequence. Positioned on a temporary support tool supplied by the Korean Domestic Agency, technicians used cables to draw the horizontal segment of the feedthrough into the bioshield opening, while the vertical segment fell into place between the crown and the bioshield. (See more detail in the photo gallery below.)
Final adjustments were performed through metrology measurements to fall within +/- 2 mm with respect to the Tokamak Global Coordinate System.
If magnet feeders are the essential lifelines of the ITER magnets—carrying electricity, cryogenic fluids and instrumentation cables—"feedthroughs" are the part of the feeder assemblies that cross through the bioshield and the cryostat. This first completed unit had been delivered last year to the Magnet Infrastructure Facilities for ITER (MIFI) where, as a first-of-a-kind component, it underwent high-voltage tests, leak tests and endoscopic inspection.
Ultimately, the feedthrough will be joined by two other components—an in-cryostat feeder (nearest the vacuum vessel) and a coil termination box (outside the bioshield)—to connect to poloidal field coil #4, one of the two largest of the machine's six poloidal field coils (24 metres in diameter.
"A large number of actors played a critical role in the installation operation that concluded last week," notes Bruno Levesy, Group Leader of the In-Cryostat Assembly Section, with satisfaction. "The Domestic Agencies of China (fabrication) and Korea (tooling), the ITER Organization logistics provider DAHER (transport), European Domestic Agency building contractors, ITER's Construction Management-as-Agent contractor, and the French company CNIM, which won the early works contract in the Tokamak Pit. Giobatta Lanfranco (Construction Team) and Bruno were the most involved staff members of the ITER Organization. "It has been a good practice in coordination for the many activities to come."

Manufacturing | In the cradle of the cryostat

ma, 03/12/2018 - 17:51

On the northwestern coast of India, facing the Arabian Peninsula, Hazira is one of the subcontinent's major industrial hubs. Under the still-blazing autumn sun, the landscape is one of refineries, shipyards, power plants, storage tanks and endless queues of oil and container trucks. It is here, at the Larsen & Toubro Ltd manufacturing complex, that a critical ITER component is taking shape.   Between ocean and mangrove, amidst a world of dust and rust, the Larsen & Toubro Ltd "campus" is like an oasis of green and cool. In the mid-1980s, the mammoth Indian conglomerate drained close to one thousand acres of marshland to establish this multi-facility complex.   Thirty years later, the place is a unique aggregation of manufacturing facilities that turn out offshore oil platforms at the rate of 10 to 12 per year and manufacture ships, submarines, tanks, giant boilers and turbines ...   At one kilometre long, the west campus' special steels and forging facility is one of the largest in the world. In an atmosphere that mixes space-age technology with a 19th century steel mill atmosphere, "manipulators" the size of freight train locomotives slowly move amidst giant furnaces and massive steel ingots laid to cool on sand beds. The facility produces more than 40,000 tonnes of finished forgings annually.   Across the road on the east campus, administrative buildings, fabrication facilities, workshops and port installations cover close to one hundred hectares.   This environment is the cradle of the ITER cryostat, the largest of the Tokamak's components—a giant, leak-tight cylinder 30 metres high and 30 metres in diameter that will act as a "thermos" to insulate the ultra-cold magnets from the environment.   From humble beginnings in the form of ingots that look strangely like truncated Doric columns, to the shining stainless steel segments ready to be shipped to the ITER site, it all happens here.   _To_148_Tx_Since late 2015, segments for the ITER cryostat's base section and lower cylinder have been successively forged, machined, finalized, shipped to the ITER construction site, and assembled and welded in the onsite Cryostat Workshop.   In December 2013, as the first mockups were produced to demonstrate and validate welding and manufacturing sequences and techniques, Madhukar Kotwal, then president of Larsen & Toubro Heavy Engineering, told Newsline that despite the company's accumulated experience in manufacturing nuclear and space components, the ITER cryostat was so "special" that it presented unprecedented challenges, both technical and organizational.   Five years later, the challenges have been met and overcome and the manufacturing of the segments for the "huge assembly" of the ITER cryostat is nearing its end.   In the east campus, inside Medium Fabrication Shop #4, work is now underway on the last two orders that Larsen & Toubro is filling for the ITER cryostat: seven segments of the 490-tonne upper cylinder are packed and ready for dispatch; another two are undergoing finishing works and inspections; a segment prototype for the 655-tonne top lid is in the last stage of fabrication; and various tasks are being performed on the "ribs," "flanges," "knuckles," and "crown" that make up a top lid segment (see further technical detail in the photo gallery below.)   Although 7,000 kilometres and three and a half time zones stand between the Larsen & Toubro teams in Hazira and those on the ITER worksite, communication between them is constant. "We have a conference call every single working day," says Chirag Patel, the Larsen & Toubro project manager for the ITER cryostat and in-wall-shielding (see box). "And we will soon be implementing Wi-Fi-connected viewing goggles that will enable us to have a better visual assessment of the ongoing works in the Cryostat Workshop at ITER."   In the summer of 2019, the 12 top lid segments will be shipped to ITER, marking the end of a formidable industrial venture that has spanned two continents and involved hundreds of specialists in both Hazira and at the ITER site in Saint-Paul-lez-Durance.   Click here to watch the "Made in India" video.  

Diagnostic port plugs | Remote handling confirmed

ma, 26/11/2018 - 21:28

The ITER Organization is putting a number of its planned remote handling activities to the test in a five-year collaboration* with the UK Atomic Energy Authority's RACE facility. The first implementing agreement of the collaboration has concluded successfully.

In a vast workshop in Oxfordshire, after months of fine-tuning, RACE team members successfully carried out two days of demonstrations on a mockup stand that reproduces a small part of ITER—the Hot Cell Complex assembly/disassembly zone where remote maintenance will be carried out on ITER's diagnostic port plugs.

In the presence of ITER Organization witnesses from the remote handling, diagnostics and test breeding blanket sections, the team demonstrated the vertical handling of heavy loads, including removal and insertion to tight tolerances. The goal of the trials was to confirm the compatibility of system designs with planned maintenance solutions, allowing the systems to advance to final design activities and manufacturing.

"For systems requiring remote maintenance and refurbishment it is important that remote handling requirements be taken into account early in the design phase to reduce risk of costly adaptations later," says remote handling engineer David Hamilton, who coordinates the collaboration with RACE. "All participants—ITER Remote Handling as well as ITER system owners—are fully engaged in getting the most value and benefit out of this work."

Many of ITER's diagnostics will be mounted in the port openings of the vacuum vessel, supported within "port plugs" weighing up to 48 tonnes that can be removed from the Tokamak for maintenance. The diagnostic components will be integrated into drawer-like structures—diagnostic shielding modules—each carrying two plasma-facing walls.

Once delivered to the Hot Cell Complex, the port plugs will be supported vertically while maintenance or refurbishment activities are carried out. The task at RACE focused on the insertion/removal of (mock) diagnostic shielding modules from the plug, and the insertion/removal of diagnostic first walls from the shielding modules, using a crane and manipulator arms. The stand faithfully reproduces all the "critical" parts of the operation—the size and weight of the components, for example, and all interfacing features and tolerances as detailed by ITER Organization specifications.

The demonstrations can be considered a full success.

"The trials allowed us to verify that the vertical insertion and removal operations, as planned by ITER, went smoothly, with no hang-ups or jams," confirmed Hamilton. "Useful suggestions were also made during the design, fabrication and operation of the test stand relating to the remote handling compatibility of the components and to planned procedures and tooling; these suggestions will be incorporated as we move forward."

Additional implementation agreements are underway relating to the remote maintenance of the vacuum vessel pressure suppression system; the feasibility of cutting and welding diagnostic first wall cooling pipes; the remote handling of vacuum flanges; synthetic viewing; test blanket module replacement, and—most recently—the maintenance of the first plasma diagnostic service modules.

"Seeing these trials take place at full scale and under realistic remote handling conditions gives us real confidence in the component designs and our proposed remote handling methods." says Jim Palmer, ITER's Remote Handling Section Leader. "There comes a point in any design when paper studies can only tell you so much and the only way to fully validate a remote handling process is to really try it out."

RACE also recently concluded work under a contract with the European Domestic Agency (Fusion for Energy) to test the maintenance of diagnostics inside the European diagnostic shield modules. Please see a full report here.

*According to the terms of the UKAEA-ITER Organization collaboration, RACE will test and evaluate remote handling system designs, and conduct remote handling trials of generic and specific maintenance tasks in order to demonstrate the feasibility of remote handling tasks and provide operational feedback to the system designers.

Vacuum vessel welding | Rehearsing a grand production

di, 20/11/2018 - 10:08

There is a place near Santander, Spain, where one can actually feel what ITER will be like. Although we've seen dozens of drawings and 3D animations, the encounter with a true-size mockup of the ITER vacuum vessel comes as a shock—ITER will indeed be an awesome machine.
Standing as tall as a six-storey building in a large workshop in the outskirts of the city, the massive and complex structure bears no resemblance to anything known. It could be a section of Jules Verne's Nautilus or the slice of an alien spaceship.
Although it represents only a portion of the tokamak's doughnut-shaped vacuum vessel, the mockup of two paired sectors seems to dwarf everything around it. With the exception of sector width (10 degrees versus 40 degrees) it mirrors the future reality of ITER down to the smallest detail.
On this huge stage, a one-of-a kind dress rehearsal is underway. The ITER Organization wrote the script; the Spanish company Equipos Nucleares SA (ENSA) provided the stage and the props. The main act is the story of the welding of the ITER vacuum vessel and ports—one of the longest and most complex sequences of the machine assembly phase, requiring around 200 personnel and at least four years to complete.
The ITER vacuum vessel is made of 9 sectors, each weighing around 420 tonnes and measuring 13 metres in height and 7 metres in width. On arrival at ITER, each sector will be suspended by one of the sector sub-assembly tools to be pre-assembled with two toroidal field coils and panels of vacuum vessel thermal shield. The resulting 1,200-tonne "sector module assembly" will be lowered by overhead crane into the Tokamak pit.
The pit will be a very crowded place by then, with the base and lower cylinder of the cryostat as well as two out of six poloidal field coils already in position (see an animation of the assembly sequences here).
The welding of the vacuum vessel sectors will have to be performed in a very restricted space, with tools operating from the inside the sector only. No access to the outer shell of the vacuum vessel sectors will be possible due to the thermal shield panels surrounding each sector.
These challenging in-pit welding operations are precisely what is being rehearsed on the ENSA mockup in Santander.
The mockup represents the joint between two sectors of the double-walled vacuum vessel, faithfully reproducing the 100-millimetre gap between the outer shells of two adjoining sectors and the larger inner-shell gap (160 mm) that permits a little extra leeway in the case of possible misalignment while allowing the welding tools to reach from the inside through to the outer edge of the component.
Welding filler material alone is not sufficient for filling the gaps, however. Before welding operations can commence, the spaces are closed off by 60-millimetre-thick bands of steel called "splice plates" that will be positioned, one after the other, by a special tool developed by ENSA.
Fifteen inner and 16 outer plates need to be inserted into the gaps between sectors. "We will manufacture them roughly, with extra width, thickness and length, and then reverse-engineer them by precise custom machining to the exact dimensions of the gap," explains Brian Macklin, project manager in the Tokamak Assembly Division and the original responsible officer for the ENSA contract.
Using an ultra-precise laser survey (see video here), each gap will be mapped and rendered as a 3D drawing. The data will then be fed to a high-precision tool that will machine the final plates to the exact dimension and topography of the gap. With the plates in place, the distance between the sectors will be reduced to half a millimetre.
Three large welding robots will then enter the scene, introducing welding heads into the gaps at different locations around the vessel; by operating them simultaneously, the shrinkage caused by the welding process is distributed all around the D-shaped section of the sectors.
"We have now reached the final stage of tool and procedure qualification on the mockup," explains Frantz de la Burgade, ITER group leader for sector assembly and the current responsible officer for the ENSA contract. "Half of the splice plates have been fully welded on the outer shell of the sector and the smoothing of the welds by a weld cap machining tool is ongoing. There are still a few parameters to streamline, such as assessing the importance of the weld shrinkage or detailing a few remaining interfaces with the vessel for the real work."
Amidst the din of ENSA's Special Projects' workshop, Brian Macklin, Frantz de la Burgade and Alex Martin, the ITER group leader for vacuum vessel engineering, observe, question, discuss, and take notes and measurements. Like directors on a set, they make certain that the acts are in conformity with the scripts. The dress rehearsal is now almost over; the actual production should premiere at ITER in the autumn of 2020.
Watch a video of what's happening "Inside the Big "D"."   More technical information can be found in the image gallery below.    

23rd ITER Council | Pace and performance on track

do, 15/11/2018 - 19:04

Working as an integrated team, the ITER Organization and seven Domestic Agencies are continuing to meet the project's demanding schedule to First Plasma in 2025. Pace and performance were confirmed this week at ITER Headquarters by senior representatives from China, the European Union, India, Japan, Korea, Russia, and the United States, who had gathered for the Twenty-Third Meeting of the ITER Council.   Every six months, the governing body of the ITER Organization meets to evaluate project progress on the basis of detailed performance metrics that track manufacturing, construction, and installation activities. The Twenty-Third Meeting of the Council, which took place on 14 and 15 November at ITER Headquarters, was no different. By reviewing the latest reports and indicators on technological and organizational performance, the Council was able to confirm that the project has completed nearly 60 percent of the work scope to First Plasma.
Since January 2016, ITER has achieved 36 scheduled Council-approved milestones, including the completion in August of the concrete crown that will receive the full weight of the machine, and the timely manufacturing and delivery of the first flux loop magnetic sensors for the ITER vacuum vessel.
Project progress is tracked against the 2016 Baseline schedule, which was endorsed by the ITER Council in November 2016 as the fastest technically achievable path to First Plasma, and the Revised Construction Strategy, which has been developed by the ITER Organization to optimize equipment installation in the Tokamak Complex Building.
Specifically, the Revised Construction Strategy brings all installation activities in the critical Tokamak Complex area under the coordination of the ITER Organization, including building services falling under the scope of the European Domestic Agency's TB04 contract for mechanical and electrical installation works.
Instead of planning sequential installation activities in the Tokamak Complex—first TB04 building services, and then the installation of machine components and systems by ITER Organization contractors—the transfer of TB04 installation activities to the ITER Organization through the partial novation of the contract allows significant time to be saved by facilitating early access for ITER contractors and allowing the most efficient integrated assembly sequences to be developed to avoid clashes, dismantling and/or rework.
"I confirm to you that critical transitions lie ahead for the ITER Project--as we move from design, engineering and manufacturing to assembly and installation," said the ITER Director-General Bernard Bigot in his opening remarks to the 23rd ITER Council. "All the large components of the Tokamak will be arriving on site within the three next years, 2019-2021, and in parallel we will be carrying out the first steps to commission and prepare for operation. We believe that we have found the best way to adjust our overall organization to face the challenges of this transition."
The first machine component—part of the magnet feeder for poloidal field coil #4—will be installed in the Tokamak Pit next week.
Read the full press release in English or French.

22nd ITER Council | Project on track for First Plasma in 2025

do, 15/11/2018 - 14:26

The ITER Council, ITER's governing body, met for the twenty-second time on 20 and 21 June 2018 at the ITER Organization in Saint Paul-lez-Durance, France. Council Members approved refinements to the construction strategy which will optimize the installation of components in the Tokamak Complex. With this strategy in place, the project is on track to achieve First Plasma in 2025 while adhering to overall project costs.
Representatives from China, the European Union, India, Japan, Korea, Russia and the United States gathered in the fifth floor Council Chamber for a two-day review of the most recent reports on organizational and technical performance. They agreed that the project continues to sustain its strong performance and fast pace. Since January 2016, ITER has achieved 33 scheduled project milestones, including the recent commissioning of the first experiment of the ITER Neutral Beam Test Facility in Padua, Italy. 
The Council stated that significant progress has also been made on the manufacturing of technologically challenging components such as the vacuum vessel and the toroidal field magnets. They also highlighted progress in the installation of the cryoplant and in the build-up of the magnet power supply and conversion system. Based on their review of the latest performance metrics, Council Members confirmed that project execution towards First Plasma is now over 55 percent complete.
The Council acknowledged the efforts undertaken by each Member to reach approval of the overall project cost through their respective government budget processes. Having completed their internal consultation procedures, China, Europe, Japan, Korea and Russia are ready to approve the 2016 Baseline.
Expressing their resolve to work together to find timely solutions to facilitate ITER's success, Council Members reaffirmed their strong belief in the value of the ITER Project to develop fusion science and technology.
Download the full press release in English and French.

Fusion Doctors | ITER hosts the future

ma, 12/11/2018 - 17:35

For three days last week, the ITER building was brimming with energy, inspiration and enthusiasm. One hundred and thirty-five young fusion aficionados took over the ground floor to exchange with one another and with ITER experts about their common passion: the realization of fusion energy.
For the sixth time, PhD students specializing in fusion energy got together under the umbrella of FuseNet, the association that coordinates European fusion education activities. This year, the event was hosted with the support of the ITER Organization and the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA).
"This great challenge of fusion is what we need you for," said Roger Jaspers of the Eindhoven University of Technology, and the FuseNet program leader, at the outset of the three-day meeting. He advised the students to take full advantage of the gathering—to form networks ("Maybe the future director of DEMO is sitting next to you now!"), broaden their horizons, and see with their own eyes all around that fusion is becoming a reality.
A jam-packed program offered the students insights into some of the more challenging aspects of ITER: plasma-wall interactions, plasma disruptions, the use of beryllium, and tritium breeding. Students also heard about the challenges of the ITER Research Plan and learned about recent developments at Wendelstein 7-X and WEST.
For ITER Director-General Bernard Bigot—a former educator—it was a special treat to stand in front of a big crowd of young scientists and engineers "who have decided to dedicate their career to the quest for fusion energy." Telling the students about recent progress, Bigot said the ITER Project had met the 58 percent completion mark (to First Plasma) in September. "The second half will be very challenging and we will not enjoy the benefit of overtime."
Nearly every speaker referred to the tremendous task the 135 young fusion specialists will face in their professional lives to make fusion energy a reality. For co-organizer Roddy Vann of York University, the added value of the FuseNet event is that the students meeting today will be the people running the ITER control room in 20 years. Guido Lange, co-organizer and researcher from Eindhoven University of Technology, picked up on this theme in his remarks about socio-economic aspects of a future fusion industry. "Breakthroughs to make future fusion devices cheap, fast and tailored need to come out of your hands," he said.
The students did not just soak up information; they also shared their own work either as a poster presentation or in the challenging format of a Pecha Kucha talk.
It seems that some of the students are already contributing to the ITER Project: during the quieter intervals, quite a few ITER experts could be seen studying the posters.
Scroll through the gallery below for impressions from the event.

Newsline 500 | A community newspaper

ma, 29/10/2018 - 16:40

Twelve years ago, men and women from three continents began gathering in a set of prefabricated offices within the premises of CEA Cadarache, one of France's major nuclear research centres. They were the vanguard of the largest international collaboration ever launched, a massive research project that aimed to demonstrate that an artificial Sun could be trapped inside a machine.
Although the ITER Organization had yet to be established, they were the "ITER people" — physicists and engineers, administrators, assistants, accountants...
The original seven had arrived in February 2006. By October, the "team" had grown into a few dozen and formed a community.
As new people kept joining in, as the ITER administrative, scientific and technological structures were being established throughout the world and as social life began developing outside the prefabricated offices, the ITER people, like any community, needed to be informed.
The ITER stakeholders, the researchers in their fusion laboratories and universities, the fusion enthusiasts throughout the world, and the general public shared the same need.
Something unique was happening in southern France: supported by 35 nations, the dream of three generations of fusion physicists was beginning to take shape.
Newsline was established to tell that story. Its first issue, which came out on 18 October 2006, covered most of the topics that were of interest at the time and that continue to be of interest today: news from the recently established Domestic Agencies, a report on a fusion conference, the profile of a new recruit, and the account of a gathering of "family and friends" at the "exact future location" of the ITER Tokamak.
"As we all know, communication and public information play a vital role in a project like ITER," wrote ITER Director-General nominee Kaname Ikeda in his editorial. "I am convinced [...] that throughout its construction and its operation the significance of this project needs to be well understood by the public, and all stakeholders need to be well informed."
Over the past twelve years, through three Director-Generals and four Heads of Communication, Newsline has done its best to fulfil this mission. A monthly publication back in 2006 and 2007, it reached cruising speed in 2008 and has maintained its weekly periodicity ever since.
The publication has evolved. The chronicle of the nascent ITER community progressively gave way to a broader outlook on the fusion world, of which ITER is of course the centre piece.
Over the years, through close to 3,500 articles, a considerable database has been accumulated. Most aspects of ITER science have been explored, the life story of major components had been reported from design through to completion, and progress on the worksite has been covered on a near-weekly basis.
Newsline has travelled to factories and laboratories throughout the ITER world; it has flown helicopters and climbed cranes to take in the full view of the construction site; it has sat through international conferences to report on the latest developments in fusion research, explored historical archives and collected memories of major fusion figures. The Newsline team has used every available means to share and convey the unique nature of ITER, its ambitions, its challenges.
Outside the ITER community, Newsline has approximately 8,000 subscribers worldwide and thousands more access it freely through the ITER website.
Its readership is diverse, ranging from the hard-core fusion scientist to the simple enthusiast. Catching the interest of the former without driving away the latter is the weekly challenge faced by the team.
The Newsline team is not alone in writing Newsline however. Whether spontaneous or solicited, contributions from the fusion community (whether ITER Organization, Domestic Agencies, fusion laboratories or universities) are always a precious asset.
Today, as we put together Newsline 500, we are already hounded by the ever-recurring Monday evening question: "OK, this one's out—but what do we have for the upcoming week?"
To answer this question, we just need to look through the windows to the construction site, exchange a few words with colleagues at the cafeteria or read our emails from partners working around the world—the stories are all there, waiting to be told.
ITER is a vast and fascinating world. Another 500 issues; another 3,500 articles won't be enough to explore it all.

Construction | A new team of problem solvers

ma, 22/10/2018 - 17:44

Integrating the many systems that make up the Tokamak machine is a lot like delivering a clash-free layout for the engine room of a modern nuclear submarine, only on a much grander scale. Introducing the HIT team—a group of engineers, designers and contractors that has been selected to take a hard look at the overall integration of systems in ITER's main nuclear buildings and to propose solutions for clashes and constructability issues.

They have been chosen from engineering and construction departments at ITER, the European Domestic Agency buildings team, contractors, suppliers, and the Domestic Agencies. A core team of about eighty people who, while remaining under the responsibility of their original line management, are sharing office space near the construction site in order to perform "joint integration work"—that is, to ensure that i's have been dotted and t's crossed before the large-scale assembly and installation of plant systems begins in the Tokamak Complex.

Formed in March 2018 by the ITER Director-General, the HIT—for Holistic Integration Team—has been given the role of "collaborative system design integrator," says coordinator Miikka Kotamaki. "We are in charge of delivering a clash-free design and optimized system installation sequences for every area in the Tokamak Complex."
The HIT team works by area (i.e., by building and level), and assesses all available system design elements for completeness, consistency and constructability. The group has developed an "integration lifecycle" that it works through to ensure that all issues have been resolved (see below). "The integration cycle is a kind of 'Snakes and Ladders' template, based on the previously tried-and-tested model of the Buildings Infrastructure and Power Supplies (BIPS) Project Team," says Deputy Coordinator Roger James Holt. "We use it to make sure that all 'ladders' are climbed at the right time and 'snakes' avoided." (More on the integration lifecycle here.)
It was in executing this kind of step-by-step assessment that one part of the HIT team began looking more closely at the passage of services and utilities through the Tokamak Complex walls and floors.
As the massive structure rises, thousands of openings have been left in the civil works for the passage of ventilation, electricity and cooling water. These openings will eventually be backfilled with concrete—but first, "placeholders" must be installed, such as tubes for the future passage of piping or sleeves for electrical cabling.
The initial design concept proposed stainless steel frames to support the placeholders—each one machined off site to match the particular layout requirements of each opening (see diagram, right). "This solution seemed to present a long list of disadvantages," says Caroline Dixon, technical lead for the ENGAGE team developing detail design of the backfilling of the openings. "Each frame had to be custom designed; manufacturing was costly and time consuming; and the weight of the final frames—up to 500 kgs—would have made specialized handling tooling necessary in the Tokamak Complex."
The team concluded that—while the custom-made frame may be justified in particularly complex openings—the majority would be just as well served by a simpler, standardized solution. By benchmarking practices at other large construction sites and working with local industry to adapt a solution for ITER, the HIT engineers arrived at a modular solution with adjustable positioning elements.
"The solution is like modular shelving—lighter and more flexible, easier and cheaper to fabricate and install, and based on standardized elements that can be stored in bulk on site." Provided with a table indicating the exact location of the penetrations that must be reserved in each opening, installation contractors can put together the required support system right in the field.
The flexibility, ease-of handling, and lower cost of the solution clearly convinced ITER Organization management, which recently gave its approval during a monthly review meeting with the HIT team. It was just one demonstration among many of the positive impact the HIT team has had since its formation six months ago.
"This design solution is a concrete example of how the HIT team is identifying and resolving problems associated with the co-existence of numerous services to be located in the same area/room of the Tokamak Complex Building before assembly and installation works get underway," says Bernard Bigot, ITER Director-General. "By taking a high-level view of all plant systems in the Tokamak Complex and executing concurrent engineering activities, the HIT is critical to secure the project's assembly phase schedule and cost."

Media Days 2018 | ITER, from the inside out

ma, 15/10/2018 - 19:40

As concrete and steel structures rise on site and major strides are being made in the fabrication of machine components, interest in the project is growing worldwide. ITER is tangible; it is happening for real. Visitors on site—13,000 last year alone—can bear witness to the progress that is made every day.
But the pace of work on site and finite resources for on-site tours place a limit on the number of individuals ITER can receive. This is why—in addition to its weekly program of visits—the ITER Communication team organizes targeted events such as Open Doors Days for members of the public and annual media events for journalists.
In the latest Media Days event on 10-11 October approximately 30 reporters/camera teams were on site for a full two-day program of events—complete site tour with access to every major building, interviews with the ITER Director-General, and a slate of lectures on ITER's science, technology, international make-up, and status.
All ITER Members were represented at this year's event. Teams came from Agence France Presse (AFP), Al Jazeera (see video), China News Service, Chosun Biz, Corriere della Sierra, The Engineer, the Indo-Asian News Service, Nature, Nature Research, RAI News 24, Sky News and Xinhua News Agency to name but a few.
Stories have already been trickling through; please see the links below. The full list will be kept current on this page (scroll down to "In the Press").   Al Jazeera Chosun Biz Chosun Biz (interview) Economic Times of India RAI News Connaissance des Energies Sakal Times Europe Daily QQ News

Worksite progress | A view from the belfry

ma, 08/10/2018 - 22:14

If ITER were a small town (and in a way it is), crane C5 would be the belfry—the spectacular vantage point from which to take it all in.   From a height of some 80 metres, by the light of a midafternoon in October, buildings, vehicles, lifting fixtures and people at work are revealed in sharp detail.   The small town is booming with activity, its dwellers dwarfed by the giant structures that surround them: to the left, the 60-metre-high Assembly Hall and the circular bioshield ressembling a jewel in its box; to the right, part of the industrial infrastructure (power conversion, cryoplant, electrical switchyard) that will support machine operations.   A sharp eye will notice that Crane C1, rising from the centre of the bioshield and materializing the axis of the ITER machine, stands taller than it used to: the optimized version of the building plan required its extension by approximately 10 metres.   Compared to the view shot from the same location in July, progress on the Diagnostics Building (centre) is spectacular. The building has now reached its final height and most of the work is going on in the lower floors.   The gallery below will tell you more ...

ITER Research Plan | The 400-page scenario

di, 02/10/2018 - 09:19

The ITER Organization has just made publically available the most recent version of the ITER Research Plan, a 400-page document that describes the present vision for operating the ITER Tokamak from First Plasma through high-fusion-gain deuterium-tritium operation.
The ITER Research Plan was initially developed during the ITER Design Review in 2007-2008 in order to analyze the experimental program towards high-fusion-gain deuterium-tritium operation. In the ensuing years it was further elaborated to identify the main lines of physics R&D required to support preparation for ITER operation, and to incorporate elements of the testing program for tritium breeding technology in the fusion environment.
Since 2017—with the collaboration of fusion science experts from the ITER Members' physics communities—the ITER Research Plan has been undergoing revision in order to reflect the revised baseline cost and schedule for the project—Baseline 2016. Baseline 2016 identifies the date of First Plasma as December 2025 and lays out a multi-phase approach to full deuterium-tritium operation in 2035, in which periods of machine operation alternate with shutdown periods for further assembly. This "staged approach" to assembly is considered to represent the best compromise between the desire of all partners to advance quickly, technical constraints (including risk), and the financial constraints of the Members.

_To_143_Tx_With the acceptance of the revised ITER Baseline by the ITER Council in November 2016¹, a study was launched to bring major elements of the Research Plan in line with the framework of the staged approach to ITER construction to ensure that the operation of ITER required to commission ancillary systems was consistent with the phased installation of these systems. Also taken into account were the most recent advances in physics research.

In the staged approach, two main phases are foreseen following First Plasma:

  • Pre-Fusion Plasma Operation — in which the basic controls and protection systems are demonstrated, and the auxiliary heating systems and diagnostics are fully commissioned. (Two operational campaigns are expected.)
  • Fusion Power Operation — in which ITER fusion performance goals are demonstrated. ITER fusion power production goals are the production of 500 MW of fusion power with an energy gain (Q) of Q=10 for >300 s, and in-principle steady-state operation with Q=5. The development of long-pulse inductive plasmas² for fusion technology development is also envisioned. (The ITER Research Plan anticipates at least three operating campaigns to be required to achieve these goals.)
The revision of the ITER Research Plan has involved a re-analysis of ITER plasma scenarios in each phase and the identification of open issues that need to be resolved by physics R&D with support of the ITER Members' fusion communities.
"This revision of the ITER Research Plan was a major effort, spearheaded by my predecessor, David Campbell," said Tim Luce, Director of the Science & Operations Department. "It combines the detailed knowledge of the ITER Organization staff about the ITER facility with expertise from the Members' fusion research programs. We are especially grateful for the delegates who were appointed by the Members to help revise this document. This release is the first time the ITER Research Plan has been publicly available, which we hope will enable a stronger partnership between the fusion community and the ITER Organization to realize the ITER goals."
The Plan will continue to be updated over the years to reflect the results of continuing fusion R&D and the detailed implementation of the staged approach to ITER assembly.
Click here to view/download the "ITER Research Plan within the Staged Approach" from the ITER Technical Reports page of the website.
¹ The overall project schedule was approved by all ITER Members at the Nineteenth ITER Council in November 2016; the overall project cost was approved "ad referendum," meaning that each Member is seeking approval of project costs through respective governmental budget processes.
² An inductive plasma is a tokamak plasma in which the circulating current is sustained using the central solenoid, as opposed to a steady-state plasma in which the plasma current is sustained by heating and current drive sources and plasma-driven processes.

Fusion electricity | Navigating Europe's course

ma, 01/10/2018 - 18:28

Since 2013, the European Roadmap to Fusion Energy has been the fundamental document guiding European priorities in fusion R&D until the ultimate goal—achieving electricity from fusion energy. On the occasion of the release of version 2.0, Newsline asked EUROfusion Programme Manager Tony Donné about the updated document, the role of ITER, and the overall outlook for fusion energy.   What is the rationale behind the new Roadmap?
I always compare the Roadmap with a navigation system. You program your destination and the navigation system finds you the fastest route. Along the way, it takes account of the traffic situation and road conditions and adjusts the route accordingly to get you to your destination as fast as possible. But sometimes there are new roads and highways and you need an update of your navigation system.
Now, six years after the introduction of the roadmap in 2012 we see developments which are really good news for fusion. These were taken into account in the update of the Roadmap. The difference between a navigation system and the fusion roadmap is that the latter is dealing with completely uncharted territory. 
What are the new elements of the Fusion Roadmap?
The European Fusion Roadmap outlines the research and development required to provide the basis for an electricity-generating fusion power plant. This new version is an evolution, not a revolution. In the first Roadmap we took DEMO (the DEMOnstration power plant) as the end point. We were—and still are—aiming at having electricity from fusion as fast as possible. But we didn't look at how we would get from DEMO to a commercial fusion power plant. Now, the design for DEMO will already include the requirements for a future fusion power plant to ensure an easy adaption.
The other new element is that the eight roadmap missions are much more interwoven. An example is the stellarator program, mission 8, which will give important input for the development of the heat exhaust, mission 2. Solving this challenge will be very helpful for both ITER and DEMO.
The roadmap 2.0 also reflects changes in the ITER Baseline which was renewed about two years ago. We needed to adapt for that as ITER is central to the Roadmap. The revised version is therefore fully aligned with the latest ITER Baseline and Research Plan.
How is the central role of ITER reflected in the document?
ITER is the central device and roughly 60-65 percent of the present EUROfusion budget is dedicated to research supporting ITER. Most of the campaigns at the European fusion devices are aimed at supporting the ITER Project. At JET, for example, we are conducting specific ITER-relevant tests like the upcoming deuterium-tritium campaign, the shattered pellet injection testing, and the helium campaign. All of these research activities are part of the Roadmap and contribute to the ITER Project. But also, EUROfusion work at the various national devices is strongly focused on research questions in support of ITER.
Mission 6 is to develop an integrated design for DEMO in Europe. What is EUROfusion's specific role?
DEMO will demonstrate first electricity production to the grid by fusion. The responsibility for the European DEMO lies in essence with Fusion for Energy (F4E), the European Domestic Agency. However, with ITER being the top priority for F4E in the next decade, EUROfusion has been asked to develop the design for DEMO. Taking on this task, we realized that we will have to involve industry from the beginning. Based on experience from various large engineering projects, we believe that the involvement of industry in the pre-conceptual and conceptual design phases will be very advantageous.
The first Roadmap stopped with DEMO, the demonstration power plant after ITER. The new version goes further ...
An important new element is the involvement of our stakeholders. We have created a stakeholder group with representatives from electricity plants, grid operators as well as representatives from the nuclear and nuclear waste industries. Before fusion energy comes on the market we need to identify the most useful way for fusion power plants to deliver energy for conversion to electricity. We develop this input with our stakeholders to define the requirements for DEMO—it's like a retro-planner for fusion energy.
The quest for fusion energy is a global endeavour—does the cooperation foreseen in the Roadmap go beyond Europe?
The collaboration has to be global as the development of fusion energy is of global importance. And it is a big challenge, so we all need to work together to achieve this goal of producing energy from fusion. Naturally, our work with ITER is international in the sense that we collaborate with all ITER Members.
Our cooperation within Europe and beyond is embedded in the Roadmap. There is intense international scientific collaboration in various fields in order to be efficient in driving scientific discovery and avoiding duplication. At the moment, the most extensive collaboration is with Japan on the Broader Approach which includes research activities on key physics questions using the fusion device JT-60SA or the work of IFMIF (the International Fusion Materials Irradiation Facility) on fusion materials. There is a lot of interaction worldwide in many fields involving all ITER Members, but also others such as Brazil, Kazakhstan and Australia.
What is your view on the role fusion energy in the future energy mix?
The question really is: do we need fusion electricity? To answer that question I use the example of Germany which is currently subsidizing wind and solar energy concepts with about EUR 25 billion per year. That is roughly equivalent to building one ITER per year. Last year Germany managed to cover 37 percent of its energy consumption from renewables, mostly wind and solar. But, at the same time CO2 emissions from electricity production didn't decrease as fossil fuels such as peat are still being used for the base load.
Renewable energy sources have their limitations and even with efficient energy storage facilities we still would need large scale back-up energy sources. This is where fusion can play a vital role by replacing fossil fuels as the base load and contribute to reducing CO2 emissions. Fusion does not compete with other renewables; I believe that there is good place for fusion in the energy mix of the future.