Energy project in Cadarache, France: Our last update, in March 2013, gave us an overview of the general milestones of the planning for the upcoming year. The project announces interesting results and advancements for the past two months, which I believe is interesting to have a look. A lot of “firsts” for our favorite energy project, but also interesting discoveries.
Multi-country organization makes the project go forward
In our first article on ITER project, where I describe the general mission of ITER I mentioned that it is the first worldwide project where so many nations join forces. The principle of multi-country participation is very important not only for the financial details (for the costs sharing) but also because each country has its own skills and specialties. This of course is pertinent for many other domain of application, but it is also a reality in ITER. For example, Japanese with their long history in creating ceramic are applying their skills in the search for materials for future fusion plants. Why? For the simple reason that for example ceramic is nearly impervious to tritium. Assistant Professor Takumi Chikada from the University of Tokyo underlines, in a colloquium in March, the “promising progress in research into the ceramic coating, erbium oxide, which may prove to be a vital coating for use in tritium-carrying pipework”. Different cultures allow in ITER to solve major problems and maybe it will be the key of success.
During April 2013, ITER also made a very good achievement, the approval of the ITER Blanket design which will provides the physical boundary for the plasma and contributes to the thermal and nuclear shielding of the vacuum vessel and the external machine components such as the superconducting magnets operating in the range of 4 Kelvin (-269°C). “The development and validation of the final design of the blanket system is a major achievement on our way to deuterium-tritium operation—the main goal of the ITER project,” Blanket Integrated Product Team Leader (BIPT) and Section Leader Rene Raffray concluded at the end of the meeting, obviously relieved at the success of this tremendous endeavour. “We are looking at a first-of-a-kind fusion blanket which will operate in a first-of-a-kind fusion experimental reactor.” One of a kind it is since more than 80 experts were working from ITER Organization, Domestic Agencies and industry was present at the Final Design Review, which is until today probably the largest participation in the history of ITER.
2013 First deliveries!
May brings interesting accomplishment news for ITER. It is from China that the first hardware afloat towards the ITER construction site in the silent morning in April, 25th. From the Institute of Plasma Physics (ASIPP) in Hefei, China, the 737 meters of dummy conductor for ITER’s Poloidal Field Coil number five (PF5) was loadedand left Shanghai on April 30th and according to the shipment schedule it should be arriving at the ITER site June 5th. “This is the very first batch of ITER items to be shipped from China to the ITER site in Cadarache,” said Luo Delong, Deputy Director-General of ITER China. According to the schedule, China will fabricate 64 conductors for ITER’s poloidal field coils, including four dummy conductors for cabling and coil manufacturing process qualification which will be fabricated by ASIPP.
The American Domestic Agency also has a first by delivering its first procurement to the ITER site concerning one of the key challenges of ITER, ensuring a leak-free machine. ITER US is in charge to deliver the necessary equipment required to confirm the vacuum leak-tightness of components as they arrive on site and during the construction of the machine. “This procurement is the very first US ITER procurement to be delivered to the ITER site,” rejoices Mike Hechler, the responsible officer within the US vacuum team and it opens the way for further US deliveries.
ITER is not only a major energy project that could revolutionize life on earth it is also a beautiful example of country collaboration, worldwide organization where each specialty can have a place. ITER is also for some countries a hope, India is very energy inefficient, they produce very little energy and ITER could be their way to energy-independency.
ITER official website: http://www.iter.org/
Newlines 267, 264 (April and May)
 Tritium (also known as hydrogen-3) is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen. The nucleus of tritium (sometimes called a triton) contains one proton and two neutrons, whereas the nucleus of protium contains one proton and no neutrons. Naturally occurring tritium is extremely rare on Earth, where trace amounts are formed by the interaction of the atmosphere with cosmic rays. The name of this isotope is formed from the Greek word “tritos” meaning “third”. (Wikipedia)
 “Twentieth-century fusion science has identified the most efficient fusion reaction to reproduce in the laboratory setting: the reaction between two hydrogen (H) isotopes deuterium (D) and tritium (T). The D-T fusion reaction produces the highest energy gain at the ‘lowest’ temperatures. It requires nonetheless temperatures of 150,000,000° Celsius to take place—ten times higher than the H-H reaction occurring at the Sun’s core.” (ITER website: http://www.iter.org/sci/whatisfusion)