Czerwiec 2015

OF INTEREST: X marks the spot

​Rotation is key to the performance of salad spinners, toy tops, and centrifuges, but recent research suggests a way to harness rotation for the future of mankind’s energy supply. In papers published in Physics of Plasmas in May and Physical Review Letters this month, Timothy Stoltzfus-Dueck, a physicist at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), demonstrated a novel method that scientists can use to manipulate the intrinsic — or self-generated — rotation of hot, charged plasma gas within fusion facilities called tokamaks.  Such a method could prove important for future facilities like ITER, the huge international tokamak under construction in France that will demonstrate the feasibility of fusion as a source of energy for generating electricity. ITER’s massive size will make it difficult for the facility to provide sufficient rotation through external means. Rotation is essential to the performance of all tokamaks. Rotation can stabilize instabilities in plasma, and sheared rotation — the difference in velocities between two bands of rotating plasma — can suppress plasma turbulence, making it possible to maintain the gas’s high temperature with less power and reduced operating costs. Today’s tokamaks produce rotation mainly by heating the plasma with neutral beams, which cause it to spin. In intrinsic rotation, however, rotating particles that leak from the edge of the plasma accelerate the plasma in the opposite direction, just as the expulsion of propellant drives a rocket forward.   Read the full article on the PPPL website. Czytaj dalej...

OF INTEREST: JET’s next tritium experiments materialize

​Since 2011, JET has been using beryllium and tungsten as plasma-facing materials in the vessel. As the name suggests JET’s ITER-like wall is constructed using the same materials that will be used in ITER, the next generation fusion experiment which is currently being built in France. So far, experiments with the new wall have been fuelled by hydrogen and deuterium. Since the most economic fuel for future fusion power plants is a mix of deuterium and tritium, this mixture needs to be put to the test. As part of the preparations for this extraordinary event, the first delivery of tritium has arrived at the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE), the home of JET. Tim Jones, project sponsor from CCFE explains: ‚For licensing reasons, only a limited amount of tritium may be transferred over the JET tritium storage facility in an individual batch quantity. Additional batches will later be delivered in order to collect together a total amount of 55 grams that will be needed for the scheduled campaign.’ Dedicated sets of experiments using deuterium and tritium are necessary to promote understanding of the influence of the fuel isotope on plasma performance and on interactions between the plasma and the new wall. Similar experiments to those planned with tritium are being prepared with hydrogen and deuterium, so far the results show that ITER operating regimes are compatible with the new wall materials.   Read the full article on the EUROfusion website. Czytaj dalej...

OF INTEREST: Hot forming the vacuum vessel

​The European consortium responsible for manufacturing seven of the nine ITER vacuum vessel sectors has begun hot forming activities on sector #5. In this video filmed by Patrick Vertongen (ITER Quality Assurance & Assessment Division) at Walter Tosto SpA in Chieti, Italy (part of the AMW consortium, with Ansaldo Nucleare S.p.A and Mangiarotti S.p.A) a stainless steel plate is pressed into the required shape through an open die hot forming process.   First, the 60 millimetre-thick plates are heated to 930 °C in a gas-fired furnace and maintained at this temperature for 30 minutes. Then, the plate is removed from the furnace and positioned in a die to be pressed. After two hours in the die, the plate is removed and cooled for the next manufacturing operation.   Each of the nine vacuum vessel sectors will be 13 metres high, 6.5 metres wide, 6.3 metres deep and will weigh approximately 500 tons; all of the sectors are double-walled, containing thermal shielding in the interstice to protect the super conducting coils. The other two sections of the ITER vacuum vessel are being supplied by Korea.   Click here to watch the video (With the authorization of Walter Tosto SpA.) Czytaj dalej...

OF INTEREST: Fusion energy sooner and cheaper?

​What would it mean to have an essentially limitless amount of energy? If we can harness fusion power, we can have energy that is clean, safe, sustainable, and secure. It will be the power of a sun on earth. The dream of fusion energy has been a scientific goal for decades, but it has remained elusive. On Tuesday, June 16, 2015, Dennis Whyte, the Director of the MIT Plasma Science and Fusion Center showed that a series of scientific and engineering breakthroughs could enable fusion to become a feasible a power source faster and cheaper than anyone had thought possible. These technological breakthroughs—High Temperature Superconducting magnets, 3D printing techniques, and a new liquid salt material that could be used as a liquid blanket—were not originally developed for fusion, but they could revolutionize the development of fusion energy.   As a part of New York Energy Week, Whyte presented the recent and ongoing technological breakthroughs to a group of professionals from energy, finance, and media at FTI Strategic Communications’ Wall Street office. This event was sponsored by the American Security Project as part of their program on Next Generation Energy.   See the original article and slide show presentation here. Czytaj dalej...

OF INTEREST: ​​​​The ITER godfather on site

If only it were possible to read minds. It would have been interesting to know what that particular visitor was thinking as he leaned over the fence to stare down into the busy Tokamak Complex construction area, with its massive rebar and concrete structures. Perhaps how ITER is taking shape, after all these years…  Academician Evgeny Velikhov, current President of the Kurchatov Institute in Moscow, is one of the masterminds behind the ITER Project. He helped to initiate the project at the highest political level by persuading Secretary-General Mikhail Gorbachev that the next generation of fusion device needed to be a joint international effort. He was ITER Council Chair during the technical design phase for ITER and again at the start of ITER construction from 2010-2012.   Academician Velikhov was on-site to attend the sixteenth ITER Council meeting held at Headquarters from 17 to 18 June, but for now it was time to see how construction was progressing. Escorted by the acting head of the ITER Tokamak Engineering Department, Alexander Alekseev, as well Section Leader Igor Sekachev, Velikhov—now in his eighties—was able to take full measure of the road travelled as he looked over the 42 hectare construction site spread out before him.   Back at Headquarters, he quickly removed the obligatory safety shoes and safety equipment to meet some of the Russian staff members at ITER before returning later that day to Moscow. Czytaj dalej...

OF INTEREST: ​​​​Velikhov

If only it were possible to read minds. It would have been interesting to know what that particular visitor was thinking as he leaned over the fence to stare down into the busy Tokamak Complex construction area, with its massive rebar and concrete structures. Perhaps how ITER is taking shape, after all these years… Academician Evgeny Velikhov, current President of the Kurchatov Institute in Moscow, is one of the masterminds behind the ITER Project. He helped to initiate the project at the highest political level by persuading Secretary-General Mikhail Gorbachev that the next generation of fusion device needed to be a joint international effort. He was ITER Council Chair during the technical design phase for ITER and again at the start of ITER construction from 2010-2012. Academician Velikhov was on-site to attend the sixteenth ITER Council meeting held at Headquarters from 17 to 18 June, but for now it was time to see how construction was progressing. Escorted by the acting head of the ITER Tokamak Engineering Department, Alexander Alekseev, as well Section Leader Igor Sekachev, Velikhov—now in his eighties—was able to take full measure of the road travelled as he looked over the 42 hectare construction site spread out before him. Back at Headquarters, he quickly removed the obligatory safety shoes and safety equipment to meet some of the Russian staff members at ITER before returning later that day to Moscow. Czytaj dalej...

OF INTEREST: High-tech remote handling for the ITER divertor

​​In this five-minute video produced by the European Domestic Agency for ITER, the type of specialized robotics, networks and virtual reality techniques used in deep sea or space operations find their application for ITER, where remote handling will be used to perform maintenance, inspection and repair tasks.   The European agency is responsible for delivering four remote handling systems to ITER: the divertor remote handling system, the neutral beam remote handling system, the cask transfer system for activated components, and the in-vessel viewing and metrology system—in all, about EUR 250 million of investment.     Recently, conclusive tests were carried out at the VTT Technical Research Centre in Tampere, Finland for the remote handling of ITER divertor cassettes—10-ton components that must be installed and/or exchanged through high-tech robotics.     Watch the video here. Czytaj dalej...

OF INTEREST: Princeton’s upgraded NSTX to be largest of its kind

​The signature nuclear fusion experiment at the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab is expected to relaunch this summer after being shuttered for upgrades for about three years. When it reopens, the reactor there will be the most powerful of its kind in the world, lab directors say. "We expect to start up probably toward the end of June. We’ll do the initial tests that will get us toward research operations, and (research) will start later in the summer, let’s say August time frame, maybe mid-September," said Adam Cohen, chief operating officer for the lab. The National Spherical Torus Experiment, also known as NSTX, is a plasma in the shape of a cored apple heated to between 50 million and 100 million degrees. The experiment’s $94 million upgrade bought a stronger magnet for the plasma’s nuclear reactor and a second neutral beam accelerator to heat plasma even further. Read the whole article on the Newsworks website. Czytaj dalej...

OF INTEREST: Supercomputer, and researchers, pair up to shed light on material interactions

​As part of a Scientific Discovery through Advanced Computing (SciDAC) project, a partnership between the US Department of Energy’s Advanced Scientific Computing Research Leadership Computing Challenge and Fusion Energy Sciences programs, researchers are using the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility’s (OLCF’s) Titan supercomputer to try to get closer to producing sustainable fusion for electricity.   The project, led by Brian Wirth, a researcher with the University of Tennessee and DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, brings researchers from various organizations together to work on different aspects of the ITER experimental fusion reactor. … Wirth and his collaborators are using Titan, a Cray XK7 supercomputer capable of 27 petaflops, or 27 quadrillion calculations per second, to shed light on how fusion plasma interacts with the materials used to build the reactor. Specifically, they’re investigating how tungsten—one of the toughest materials known—will be affected by the plasma over time.   As helium particles bombard the tungsten wall, they begin to form clusters within the material. Once a helium atom is embedded in the wall, it attracts other helium particles. When enough helium is bunched together, it can ‚knock out’ a tungsten atom from its normal position within the material, forming a nanoscale cavity, or hole, within the tungsten.   Read the full report published on the Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s website here. Czytaj dalej...

OF INTEREST: ITER Director-General speaks out

Ten years ago this month, a group of industrial nations agreed on the location for the world’s largest nuclear-fusion experiment: ITER, the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, which they had decided to build jointly.   Today, roughly €4 billion worth of construction contracts and €3 billion in manufacturing contracts worldwide are underway and the first large components are being delivered to the site at St-Paul-lez-Durance in southern France.   Faced with slippage in the schedule—despite the best efforts of the more than 2,000 dedicated people working on ITER—in March 2015 the ITER Council moved to appoint Bernard Bigot, from France, to the top management position of the project.   In this Comment in Nature, published on 11 June, the new ITER Director-General explains how he will strengthen leadership and management to refocus the project’s aim of harnessing nuclear fusion. Czytaj dalej...

OF INTEREST: "Plasmoids" could simplify the design of future tokamaks

​Researchers at the US Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have for the first time simulated the formation of structures called "plasmoids" during Coaxial Helicity Injection (CHI), a process that could simplify the design of fusion facilities known as tokamaks. The findings, reported in the journal Physical Review Letters, involve the formation of plasmoids in the hot, charged plasma gas that fuels fusion reactions. These round structures carry current that could eliminate the need for solenoids — large magnetic coils that wind down the centre of today’s tokamaks — to initiate the plasma and complete the magnetic field that confines the hot gas. "Understanding this behavior will help us produce plasmas that undergo fusion reactions indefinitely," said Fatima Ebrahimi, a physicist at both Princeton University and PPPL, and the paper’s lead author.  Left: Plasmoid formation in simulation of NSTX plasma during CHI / Right: Fast-camera image of NSTX plasma shows two discrete plasmoid-like bubble structures. (Photo by Left: Fatima Ebrahimi, PPPL / Right: Nishino-san, Hiroshima University) Read the full article on the PPPL website. Czytaj dalej...

OF INTEREST: Job fair proposes 350 local jobs

​Facilitating the encounter between job opportunities and local jobseekers was the objective of the third ‚L’Energie pour l’Emploi’ (Energy for Employment) job fair held last Thursday 4 June at the Château de Cadarache near ITER. This year’s fair, organized by Saint-Paul Emplois (the municipal employment association of Saint-Paul-lez-Durance, France) in collaboration with a number of neighbouring municipalities and the national employment agency Pôle Emploi, had broadened its outreach beyond the ITER construction site and the CEA research centre. To make the fair even more attractive to the 500 job seekers that had come from all over the region, 40 local companies were present as well as the French Army and the Gendarmerie. Long queues formed at each of the stands as jobseekers waited for their turn in this professional speed-dating exercise with human resource specialists from each organization. In total more than 350 jobs were on offer, in a variety of fields such as construction, engineering, nuclear industry, army and services. ‚Every day, more than 8 000 people come to work in Saint-Paul-lez-Durance at one of the worksites or organizations based on its territory,’ says Roger Pizot, Mayor of Saint Paul, ‚and this also creates considerable indirect employment.  This Forum helps to ensure that the first ones to benefit from these job creations are the local jobseekers.’ The ITER stand. From left to right, Sophie Gourod, Sophie Flechel and Emilia Fullmer-Bourree from the Human Resources Department. Czytaj dalej...

OF INTEREST: Like a beast, with its horns

​Before it can become operational, the main body of an electrical transformer must be equipped with several additional elements such as oil radiators, an oil conservator, and insulators called ‚bushings’ — long ceramic devices that deliver the current to the transformer and stick out like horns on the head of a beast. In order to prevent electrical discharge in the air, the length of the bushings must be proportional to the voltage: at 400 kV, no less than 6 metres of conductor, filled with oil and encased in a ceramic structure, are necessary. Installing each one-ton component is a long and delicate operation that must be replicated three times for each transformer (one per electrical phase). When all accessories are installed, the transformer will be filled with oil (an operation that will take three days straight). More than 60,000 litres of oil are necessary per transformer. Czytaj dalej...