Atomic Energy Agency

Burning the candle at both ends

A significant Procurement Arrangement was concluded recently between the ITER Organization and the Japanese Domestic Agency for four key diagnostic systems for ITER. The Divertor Impurity Monitor is a window to the operation of the divertor, monitoring impurity flows and allowing the optimization of operation. Divertor Thermography gives a detailed view of the heat load profile of the divertor targets—a key diagnostic for the protection of divertor components. Edge Thomson Scattering is used to measure the temperature and density profile of the edge of the ITER plasma, providing useful information in the study of the confinement properties of the plasma edge and for the optimization of fusion performance. And finally, the Poloidal Polarimeter will measure the plasma current density across the plasma cross-section (the current profile). The details of this profile affect stability and heat transport in the core and must be carefully measured and adjusted to achieve ITER’s long pulses. The signature represents a key milestone for both the Japanese Domestic Agency and the ITER Organization, and an important milestone for the project schedule. The long-distance coordination of the Procurement Arrangement signature went smoothly—the document was first signed by ITER Director-General Motojima, before being transported half way around the world by courier to be signed by T. Oikawa, the Director of International Affairs, Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA). There were several late nights and early mornings for the teams in both France and Japan. „It’s true that the candle had to be burned at both ends in order to achieve the tight schedule,” commented Diagnostic Division Head Mike Walsh, „but it was worth all the effort in the end.” Kiyoshi  Itami, the Plasma Diagnost Czytaj dalej...

1,129 pages on "the greatest challenge of this century"

„Humans do not live by bread alone.” With these words begins Fusion Physics, published in 2012 by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). In the first chapter the book makes the case for the development of fusion as an energy source. „How is humankind going to produce the vast amount of energy it needs?” asks authors Predhiman Kaw and Indranil Bandyopadhyay from the Indian Institute of Plasma Research in Gandhinagar—two names that are also closely associated with the ITER project. Kaw and Bandyopadhyay lead a long list of prominent authors that, together, have compiled the latest on the fusion art. At over 1,100 pages, this publication provides an unparalleled resource for fusion physicists and engineers. The idea for the book was born during preparations for the 2008 IAEA Fusion Energy Conference in Geneva. „I was considering how to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 2nd Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy,” writes Minh Quang Tran who, alongside Karl Lackner and Mitsuru Kikuchi, edits this fusion encyclopedia. „The intention was to be tutorial at Master’s degree level to cover fusion physics and technology.” _To_55_Tx_Dedicated chapters focus on the physics of confinement, the equilibrium and stability of tokamaks, diagnostics, heating and current drive by neutral beam and radiofrequency waves, and plasma-wall interactions. While the tokamak is the leading concept for the realization of fusion, helical confinement fusion and in a broader sense other magnetic and inertial configurations are also addressed in the book. Available in printed form is the first volume on fusion physics; a second volume focusing on the technological challenges is in progress. Further reading: Newsline issues 131 and 230  To order or downloa Czytaj dalej...

On 25th anniversary, Tore Supra enters the museum

At age 25, Tore Supra is still far from being a museum piece. It is in a museum however that the anniversary of the CEA-Euratom tokamak was celebrated last Tuesday evening in Aix-en-Provence. Why a museum? Why not … the old priory of the Knights of Malta, now the Musée Granet, was the perfect venue for the informal commemoration, providing a large shaded courtyard for the speeches, beautiful rooms to wander through and exceptional works of art to admire… As he briefly retraced the history of fusion research and the part played by Tore Supra, Richard Kamendje of the International Atomic Energy Agency, drew this parallel between fusion science and art:  „Every generation,” he said, „faces similar challenges. But because you are living in a certain moment in history, you answer these challenges with the tools that belong to your time.” One of the very first fusion machines to implement superconducting coils, Tore Supra certainly rose to meet several challenges over its 25 years of operation. Originally led by the installation’s designer Robert Aymar, Tore Supra teams explored the domain of long plasma discharges, achieving a record six-and-a-half minute „shot” in 2003 that produced one Gigajoule of energy. Tore Supra pioneered the technology of actively-cooled plasma-facing components, real-time diagnostics, in-vacuum robotics… A quarter century after First Plasma was achieved on 1 April 1988, this accumulated expertise forms one of ITER’s major assets. An anniversary is an occasion to reflect on the past, often with emotion, and to welcome the future, often with enthusiasm. Both Alain Bécoulet, the present Head of CEA’s Research Institute on Magnetic Fusion ( IRFM, the laboratory that operates Tore Supra), and his predecessor Michel Czytaj dalej...

DEMO: time for real proposals

ITER represents a huge step towards the realization of fusion energy.  But even once ITER has achieved the expected plasma performance, a lot remains to be done before we have electricity on our grid generated by fusion. Fusion researchers around the world are starting to seriously consider the next major step after ITER, known as DEMO, which should be a DEMOnstration power plant, producing electrical power and paving the way for the commercially viable fusion power stations that will follow. Many conceptual ideas for DEMO designs have been produced over the years, but now that ITER construction is well under way, real proposals for DEMO are being planned. Unlike ITER, most work on DEMO has been done without much international collaboration although Europe and Japan are cooperating on DEMO design work as part of the „Broader Approach”.  But to promote more international sharing of work on the path towards DEMO, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) arranged a DEMO Programme Workshop that was held at the University of California, Los Angeles, on 15 — 19 October. Over 60 attendees came from fusion research institutes worldwide, including all the countries that are members of ITER. The workshop was organized around technical topics which are seen as major issues that must be addressed before DEMO can be realized:  power extraction, tritium breeding, plasma exhaust, and magnetic configurations.  There were also general talks presenting the status of programmes towards DEMO in some of the countries represented. There are striking differences between the ideas for the plant in the views from different countries.  Concepts include tokamaks of various sizes and with varying degrees of advancement from the technology and physics of ITER. But DEMO could also be a stel Czytaj dalej...

1,000 researchers, 400 reports on fusion progress

Nearly 1,000 of the world’s preeminent fusion researchers from 45 countries gathered last week in San Diego to discuss the latest advances in fusion energy. The 24th International Atomic Energy Agency Fusion Energy Conference, organized by the IAEA in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) and General Atomics, aims to "provide a forum for the discussion of key physics and technology issues as well as innovative concepts of direct relevance to fusion as a source of nuclear energy.” Those in attendance in San Diego included Nobel Prize-winning physicist Burton Richter, Physicist Steven Cowley, CEO of the United Kingdom’s Atomic Energy Authority; Frances Chen, a plasma physicist and UCLA professor emeritus who wrote the book „An Indispensable Truth: How Fusion Power Can Save the Planet”, and keynote speaker William Brinkman, Director of the Office of Science in the U.S. DoE. ITER Director-General Motojima gave the overview talk in the opening scientific session on Monday 8 October and ITER played centre stage throughout the conference, with more than 20 members of staff present providing as many scientific papers and posters (the ITER Domestic Agencies, for their part, contributed 54 papers to the conference). While acknowledging the difficulties in the implementation of the project which the ITER Organization and Domestic Agencies are tackling, delegates to the conference welcomed the significant technical progress in ITER design and construction activities which were reported in the ITER presentations. At a "Town Meeting" on the prospects for Burning Plasma Studies at ITER that was, arranged by the local organizers of the conference, presentations by Rich Hawryluk and David Campbell were particularly well received. Overall, the atmosphere was Czytaj dalej...

IFMIF Lithium Loop is back on track

The International Fusion Materials Irradiation Facility (IFMIF) will characterize the properties of the building bricks of future fusion power plants. The project is part of the Broader Approach that Japan and the European Union formally launched in 2007 in parallel with the ITER Agreement. IFMIF is coordinated from Rokkasho in the Aomori prefecture and is led by Juan Knaster, formerly an ITER staff member in the Magnet Division. Already in the heart of its Engineering Validation and Engineering Design Activities (EVEDA) phase, the validation activities involve top-level European research institutions and the Japanese Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA), which coordinates the work of various prestigious Japanese universities. The enthusiastic IFMIF/EVEDA project community is full of energy, which can be felt through the 40 papers presented at the recent SOFT 2012 conference held in Liège (Belgium). IFMIF will generate a neutron flux capable of providing 50 displacements-per-atom/per-year (dpa/y) in 100 cm3 and 20 dpa/y in 500 cm3 in its High Flux Testing Modules (HFTM). These modules will house 960 different specimens to provide a complete mechanical characterization of the chosen material. Using small specimens is a well-known technique that has been around for decades in the field of fission reactor vessels. It is being jointly developed by both implementing agencies for future fusion applications. The 14 MeV neutron flux will be generated by bombarding a beam of deuterons at 40 MeV onto a liquid Li screen flowing at a speed of 15 m/s and a temperature of 250ºC through a series of (d, Li) stripping reactions. Both facilities involved will be validated thanks to an accelerator prototype, LIPAc, presently under construction in Rokkasho and by the EVEDA/IFMIF Li test loop in Oarai in the Ibaraki prefecture. The Czytaj dalej...

2,000 gather in Vienna for IAEA General Conference

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) held its annual General Conference from 17 to 21 September 2012 in Vienna. Over five days, close to 2,000 high-level governmental representatives from the IAEA’s 155 Member States gathered to consider and discuss a range of topics on the peaceful development of nuclear technologies related to the IAEA’s programs, focusing on nuclear radiation and waste safety; nuclear security; nuclear science; technology and applications; technical co-operation; and improving the efficiency of the safeguard systems. ITER Director General Prof. Osamu Motojima attended the Conference as one of the Non-Governmental Organizations accredited by the IAEA — an opportunity to raise the profile of fusion and ITER in one of the largest energy gathering worldwide.  At the opening of the 56th IAEA General Conference, the message from the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, was very clear: „We are also aiming for progress on the critical issue of nuclear terrorism. On 28 September, I will convene a United Nations High-level Meeting on Countering Nuclear Terrorism, which I hope will contribute to strengthening the rule of law in this field.” In the conference’s opening session, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano focused on major developments in the IAEA’s work. „Today, the Agency is making important contributions to tackling fundamental global problems such as poverty and hunger, energy shortages, cancer and climate change. The Agency provides effective support to enhance the safe and secure use of nuclear energy in Member States.” According to DG Amano, nuclear energy continues to develop: „When I became Director General three years ago, the talk was of a nuclear renaissance. Then the Fukushima Daiichi accident o Czytaj dalej...

Written procedures are her game

As an international organization—and one applying for nuclear licensing in France—ITER is required to have a well-documented management system, with approved procedures describing the process flow for every area of the project. Since 2008, the Quality Assurance Division has been developing the Management and Quality Program (MQP), a process-based system that organizes ITER’s management documents into a structure governing relations, procedures, and working instructions. „The written procedures contained in the MQP program basically instruct end users how to do their work,” says Florence Tadjer, who joined the Division in April. „But of course it is not enough that these documents exist: they must also be well understood and applied throughout the project.” As MQP Liaison Officer for the Administration and Plasma Operation Directorates, Florence will work in an advisory role with process „owners” on management documents, ensuring that the proper rules are followed to write documents, and deciding whether the document contains the type of guidelines that should be incorporated into the MQP framework or not. „In fact, not every departmental document needs to be part of the MQP,” says Florence. „On the other hand, it is also my role to identify those documents that should be incorporated.” Florence comes to ITER from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), where she was a quality manager in the laboratory responsible for analyzing safeguard samples from nuclear facilities. It was her responsibility to maintain the laboratory’s quality certification by updating the quality management system and conducting regular audits in order to make sure that the quality system was well implemented in all areas of the laboratory. „Training an Czytaj dalej...

IAEA Director-General Amano: "I have faith in the ingenuity of human beings."

On Friday 6 July, the ITER Organization welcomed the following distinguished guests: Yukiya Amano, Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); Shunji Yanai, President of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Seas (ITLOS), and Ichiro Komatsu, Ambassador of Japan in France.   ITER Director-General Osamu Motojima gave a general presentation in which he highlighted recent construction and licensing milestones. A large party of senior management accompanied the visitors to the ITER platform where, in 24 months, major steps toward building ITER have been made.   In a short interview with Newsline, Director-General Amano reflects on the role of the IAEA, his perception of fusion and ITER, and the energy challenges that will characterize the decades to come.   Follow this link to view images of the visit.   Director-General Amano, do you consider that after Fukushima the perspective on nuclear energy has changed fundamentally? Actually no, I do not. The most important change is that global public opinion has become very sceptical about nuclear safety. Many people have lost confidence that nuclear power plants can be operated safely. Restoring this confidence represents a major challenge for governments, plant operators and nuclear regulators. I believe it can be done, but it will take time and an unshakeable commitment to putting safety first—always—and to transparency. However, as far as the future of nuclear power is concerned, all the indications point to a growing number of nuclear power plants throughout the world in the next 20 to 30 years. There are exceptions such as Germany, which has decided to close all of its existing reactors, and Switzerland, which has decided not to build any new ones. But Czytaj dalej...