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Topic Title: Starting an IET Engineering Peer Review of the ITER Fusion Project
Topic Summary: What are the the engineering objectives of Fusion research at ITER?
Created On: 13 December 2012 01:35 PM
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 13 December 2012 01:35 PM
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jarathoon

Posts: 1043
Joined: 05 September 2004

Here is a short email exhange to start off the engineering peer review process on its way...emails start from the bottom upwards.

---------------------------------------------------------

Dear Michel,

Yes it helps me learn more about what is going wrong with the ITER project, but doesn't answer any of my specific questions. Please can you read my questions again and try to point me in the direction of the precise information I am requesting.

So what are the full set of ITER project objectives now? And why can they not be easily found on the ITER website?

In regards to engineering peer review I am particularly interested in plasma instabilities that can arise when using a Tokamak design. I understand that plasma instabilities have formed at the Jet facility, which lift the machine and shake it occasionally. If similar plasma instabilities occur at ITER I understand damage to the facility may occur.

As far as I see it there are two engineering approaches that can be followed to solve this problem:

1. Try and find ways of avoiding plasma instabilities so you can enlarge the Jet Tokamak design. (as far I can see this is the path you are currently following)

2. Try to use and research other magnetic plasma confinement systems that do not exhibit such plasma instabilities.

I am interested in learning more about the scientific peer review process that led you to consider that the Tokamak design was the best way forward in terms of scaling up the plasma volume. Can you tell me which plasma confinement systems you have considered as an engineering alternative to the Tokamak design so that the problem of plasma instabilities can be completely avoided?

As you know Sir David King is a respected biologist. I am quite serious when I say that I would much rather know what mechanical engineers, electrical engineers and physicists have to say on these matters in independent anonymous peer review of the project than what Sir David King has said in public.

I will publish your responses on the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET) website so that we can begin the process of independently assessing ITER project from an engineering perspective, against other alternative ways of spending European Tax payers money.

If you do not feel you can answer my questions then please pass me on to someone who does.

Best Regards,

James Arathoon

-----Original Message-----
From: Claessens Michel [mailto:Michel.Claessens@iter.org]
Sent: 13 December 2012 8:02 AM
To: James Arathoon
Subject: RE: Copy of Original Research Proposal for ITER Please


Dear James,

Actually, there are thousands of scientific articles which have supported the ITER project.

This is a project of unprecedented scale, involving worldwide cooperation and billions of euros of expenditure. The scientific community working in the energy field considers ITER as a major step that may provide a future energy alternative for all humankind. So, ITER is the result of decades of painstaking, step-by-step research by fusion scientists all over the world as well as intense discussions in the scientific administrations of involved governments who have debated the options, the costs and the risks and decided that the ITER project is a worthwhile investment in our common energy future. The proportion of papers directly concerned with ITER presented at leading international scientific conferences on fusion as well as in fusion journals has been steadily increasing for a number of years. The fact that research aimed at ITER is now such a dominant topic in these papers demonstrates how essential the project is to the advancement of fusion towards energy production.

Fusion research, and the role of ITER, has been subject to serious scrutiny by panels of independent experts established by funding agencies in Europe and most of the other ITER partners. The results of these investigations provide the most reliable measure of consensus in the scientific community. A few examples:

. In 2004 during the early stages of ITER negotiations, a high-level panel chaired by Sir David King (Chief Scientific Advisor to the UK government) concluded that the time was right to press ahead with ITER and recommended funding a "fast track" approach to fusion energy.
. The French Academy of Sciences organized a detailed review of the state-of-the-art and the remaining challenges of fusion both by magnetic confinement (including ITER) and using laser-driven systems. The review was published in a book in 2007 which emphasised the arguments supporting the construction of ITER.
. The United States went through a long process to decide to re-enter the ITER collaboration, after leaving it in the late 1990s. The US National Academy of Sciences convened a panel which included both fusion scientists and senior scientists from related fields such as nuclear fission power, high-energy physics and astrophysics. The non-fusion scientists were empowered to make the key recommendations. The panel strongly endorsed the renewed membership of the US in the ITER project as the best path forward to fusion energy.

I hope this helps.

Best regards.

Michel.


Michel Claessens, Ph D
Head of Communication
Office of the Director-General

ITER Organization, Building HQ/552, ODG, Communication
Route de Vinon sur Verdon - 13115 St Paul Lez Durance - France
Phone: +33 4 42 17 66 13
Mobile: +33 6 14 16 41 75
Twitter http://twitter.com/#!/M_Claessens





-----Original Message-----
From: James Arathoon [mailto:james.arathoon@symdex.co.uk]
Sent: 13 December 2012 02:08
To: Claessens Michel
Subject: Copy of Original Research Proposal for ITER Please

Dear Michel,

Can please you send me the research proposal document that led to the project originally being funded by the EU. Also can you send me copies of the anonymous peer review reports on this research proposal. Where there any engineers involved in this peer review process? I also need to know if the research objectives of the project changed since the project was originally given the go ahead.

On the wikipedia site http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ITER

The objectives are listed as
----
Objectives

ITER's mission is to demonstrate the feasibility of fusion power, and prove that it can work without negative impact.[18] Specifically, the project
aims:
To momentarily produce ten times more thermal energy from fusion heating than is supplied by auxiliary heating (a Q value of 10).
To produce a steady-state plasma with a Q value greater than 5.
To maintain a fusion pulse for up to 480 seconds.
To ignite a 'burning' (self-sustaining) plasma.
To develop technologies and processes needed for a fusion power plant - including superconducting magnets and remote handling (maintenance by robot).
To verify tritium breeding concepts.
To refine neutron shield/heat conversion technology (most of energy in the
D+T fusion reaction is released in the form of fast neutrons).
-----
The person who wrote this on the Wikipedia site claims to have got this information from your website, but I cannot find such detailed information at the location specified. Have any of these objectives been modified or abandoned?

Exactly how long will the Q>=10 500MW plasma pulse be? I want to calculate the amount of energy you actually will be creating.


Best Regards,

James Arathoon


-------------------------
James Arathoon
 13 December 2012 03:23 PM
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jarathoon

Posts: 1043
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Obviously getting the ITER to pubicly release its current objectives would be of great help to us generalist engineering peer reviewers. Because engineering and economics are sister subjects we tend to want to know silly things like what will we get for our money and can we do the same thing for less by thinking about the problem in a different way.

Physicists and biologists don't tend to have such thought processes drilled into them day in and day out and so might miss the odd little opportunity to save one or two billion pounds, that I or other engineers might spot.

It might be that other commentators are right and that the ITER Fusion programme is a vanity project for the political and scientific elites in Europe and that ordinary engineers and artisans just shouldn't try to engage with and analyse the project in their own simple terms.

But whatever these political and scientific elites say (including Sir David King), eventually the humble engineer will either have to take over the running on this or strike up the courage to tell the emperor he has no clothes and force the programme to be shutdown. Proving the emperor has no clothes now saves a lot of money that can be spent on real and expensive engineering research that can pay off within 10 or 20 years.

I found ITER's original objectives on the Wikipedia page (if you can trust it)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ITER

This is the current 'intellectual' case for ITER on the official website

http://www.iter.org/proj/itermission

500MW sounds impressive, but ITER are not so forthcoming about how long this energy production rate will last for.

James Arathoon

-------------------------
James Arathoon
 13 December 2012 03:34 PM
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rogerg

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Hi James,
Are you selling popcorn for this?
Very entertaining stuff - I am going to enjoy this even if I don't understand 1/10 of the science.
p.s. the reply from Michel seems like a "brush off" to me i.e. don't worry your little head - us big scientists have it covered. We can't send you the details because you wouldn't understand it.
I know it's not funny, but really you have to laugh.
All the best,
Roger G.
 13 December 2012 04:20 PM
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jcm256

Posts: 1891
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Why the US not sell nuclear plants to UK its nuclear partner, can you not compete with the French cost and technology. 15Hours ago EDF Energy chief executive Vincent de Rivaz said: "The acceptance of the design for the EPR reactor is a major achievement and milestone for our new nuclear project in Somerset.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-20701474


What is wrong with the UK this:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/ear...s-Ed-Davey.html



In connection with the original post, the man is only trying to get UK to show an interest in technology. See what the Russians and partners are doing:

The ITER vacuum vessel will be the biggest fusion furnace ever built. It will be twice as large and 16 times as heavy as any previously manufactured fusion vessel: each of the nine torus shaped sectors will weigh between 390 and 430 tonnes.[47] When all the shielding and port structures are included, this adds up to a total of 5,116 tonnes. Its external diameter will measure 19.4 metres (64 ft), the internal 6.5 metres (21 ft). Once assembled, the whole structure will be 11.3 metres (37 ft) high.
 13 December 2012 04:40 PM
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drhirst

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James,
You must be aware that the purpose of ITER is not just to perhaps, one day, produce useful energy. Rather it is an excuse that allows all sorts of other (real if unspoken) objectives to be funded:
. A career for nuclear physicists, and so a need to keep physicist training popular and vibrant. We do need real physicist engineers both to feed our military with relevant skills (both for weapons and for nuclear subs), and to manage the vast existing waste (quite apart from the new waste that will collect at any new nuclear power stations). Is the civilian nuclear industry a safe bet for engineering careers at present? ITER is a good place for them to do a lot of useful learning
. Support for high tech engineering manufacturing of fancy and difficult things, and so building and retailing strategic capability. Fancy aero engines, for civilian and military use is not enough. Given climate change, and the multiple of global warming from high level emissions, this could be a declining field. The market for fancy telescopes (on the ground or in space) is not large
. Scientific support for materials science. The fundamental scientific understanding of materials driven by the demands of ITER may lead to all sorts of useful spin-offs
. Opportunities for international collaboration. My own, fairly short, period working for ESA taught me a great deal, not only about communications, management of complex programs and a little bit of astronomy, but also about how to work with others, and live abroad (in Germany). And a very useful and worthwhile credential!
. Learning about pretty fancy software and IT systems. Whatever happens, ITER will be difficult to control, and will need some very sophisticated control systems. A useful learning opportunity
. A bit of national prestige. It is a party for senior scientific players, so gives the UK some claim to the top table. A small reward for giving up an empire?
It is very hard to come up with other schemes that enable all of this. Developing and refining Renewable Energy Systems (like improved wind turbine systems and components) is already fraught with international and corporate competitive instincts. As are most "utilities" now they are privatised, and the dread spectre of "state support" will interfere with many other areas where state enterprise might be valuable.
You may remember that Keynes did not concern himself much with what "counter-cyclical" government spending bought, but rather that is was spent. (Not wholly a view I share, as I do think there are many good and useful ways to invest in services and infrastructure that are of lasting benefit to us all).
So be careful not to "peer review" too rigorously. It would be a shame to offer opportunities to reduce still further helpful government spending. ITER is probably better than Thorium.
And remember we do not want a "technocracy". Other "disciplines" add some value, possibly even economists and politicians.
Cheers
David

-------------------------
David Hirst
 13 December 2012 05:03 PM
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acsinuk

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The work on Tokamak is much more exciting to me than the CERN collider which is looking for non existent particles, as it is trying to replicate the conditions that exist on the surface of the sun or a star.
The problem is that the plasma or magnoflux needs to be confined into a vacuumed space in which there are no free electrons. But as all the 5,116 tonnes are made up of mostly metal molecules that are themselves enclosed in an electron shell how on earth are we going to stop the extremely high velocity plasma from touching the sides of the containment cylinder? In the end, as the fusion starts the particles will distort the circular magnetic path and the plasma collides with the electrons in the walls [ which is heat and temperature loss] which stops the fusion process. But if only we could; tritium fusion generation could really be feasible.
CliveS
 13 December 2012 05:28 PM
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jarathoon

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Originally posted by: jcm256

The ITER vacuum vessel will be the biggest fusion furnace ever built. It will be twice as large and 16 times as heavy as any previously manufactured fusion vessel: each of the nine torus shaped sectors will weigh between 390 and 430 tonnes.[47] When all the shielding and port structures are included, this adds up to a total of 5,116 tonnes. Its external diameter will measure 19.4 metres (64 ft), the internal 6.5 metres (21 ft). Once assembled, the whole structure will be 11.3 metres (37 ft) high.


Your quote seems to be from the wikipedia page (are you sure it can be trusted?)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ITER

As an engineer you should be asking yourself, what is the main reason that the tokamak vacuum vessel is engineered with such weight and mechanical strength.

Is it:

1. to stop it imploding when the vessel is depressurised?
2. because it has to survive high temperatures for extended periods of time?
3. to survive mechanically as the magnetic containment field is energised or de-energised under normal operating conditions?
4. to survive the large stress forces that can arise when plasma instabilities form and quickly release mechanical energy into the surrounding structures?
5. to remain strong under bombardment of fast neutrons?
6. Some other reason?

Once you answer this question, you can then ask the follow on question:

Can we avoid the problem by designing the system in a different way?

Now for reasons 1, 2 and possibly 6 the answer is most likely no.
For reason 3, 4, 5 and possibly 6 the answer could be yes.

I am not a specialist plasma physicist or fusion engineer, but I used to soclialise with plasma physicists when I studied at the Pure and Applied Physics Department at UMIST and took a little bit of interest in what they were doing.

I have also visited Culham possibly more than once, but haven't yet met the elite key staff who set the policy direction, just some very interesting engineers trying to solve problems they possibly don't need to.

http://www.ccfe.ac.uk/Key_staff.aspx

For those who have not visited Culham, these were the talks given to us when I visited with the IET.:

Fusion - In our grasp? - David Martin

http://tv.theiet.org/technology/power/11780.cfm

JET's Role in the EU Fusion Development Strategy - Lorne Horton

http://tv.theiet.org/technology/power/11781.cfm

James Arathoon

-------------------------
James Arathoon
 13 December 2012 06:59 PM
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jarathoon

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David, Like most engineers, I do not need to eat cake; all I want is a few crumbs from the top table the political and scientific elites dine at, so that a Thorium Molten Salt Reactor research programme can begin here in the UK. The communications officier at Culham (Chris Warrick who has now unfortunately got himself trapped between a rock and hard place) could have decided to engage with me sensibly and rationally. All I want to do is understand lossy fusion's neutron generation potential role in a fusion/fission hybrid Thorium Molten Salt Reactor. But no, there is no compromise, the fusion fundamentalists want to keep to the script of their own never-ending fairy tale (and our cultural nightmare); that Fusion is a solely power generation technology (not a neutron generation technology) and as such it will be viable in 40 or 50 years time if they are allowed to work in the way they want without being disturbed by outsiders. The scientific establishment at Culham and ITER have decided on the path they wish to take not me. I am just pointing out the obvious irrationality of it all for the amusement of others. James Arathoon

-------------------------
James Arathoon

Edited: 14 December 2012 at 08:35 AM by jarathoon
 14 December 2012 09:00 AM
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jarathoon

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Dear Michel,

The UK Technology Strategy Board has demanded that the UKAEA be involved in my bid start a Thorium Molten Salt Reactor Programme in the UK.

This can be done in one of two ways:

1. with the ITER programme continuing to be UK funded with a small amount of UKAEA money diverted to Fusion/Fission Hybrid Research

2. with the ITER programmes UK funding cancelled, and with new research priorities set.

In order to determine which of these two options has the higher merit, I have started an IET peer review of the ITER project.

http://www.theiet.org/forums/f...id=226&threadid=49718

In order to start this process properly I need to know the current objectives of the ITER project. I can update the ITER Wikipedia page if you want to let people know and engineering peer review process in under way.

Best Regards,

James Arathoon


-------------------------
James Arathoon
 14 December 2012 09:53 AM
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jarathoon

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Progress, I now have the current official ITER objectives from Michel.

"The objectives of the ITER project

The goal of ITER is to demonstrate the scientific and technological feasibility of fusion power for peaceful purposes. As one of the few options for large-scale, non-carbon future supply of energy, fusion has the potential to make an important contribution to sustainable energy supplies. Fusion can deliver safe and environmentally benign energy, using abundant and widely available fuel, without the production of greenhouse gases or long-term nuclear waste.

Realizing fusion's potential is technically challenging but such is the opportunity that the major world powers have decided to work together to take the next step towards producing fusion energy: ITER, therefore, is not only one of the major scientific and technological challenges of the 21st century but is also an unprecedented model for international research collaboration.

ITER is based on the "tokamak" concept of plasma magnetic confinement, in which the fusion fuel is contained in a doughnut-shaped vessel. The fuel - a mixture of deuterium and tritium, two isotopes of hydrogen - is heated to temperatures in excess of 100 million degrees, forming a hot plasma. The plasma is kept away from the walls by strong magnetic fields produced by superconducting coils surrounding the vessel and an electrical current driven in the plasma.

ITER will, for the first time, be able to produce a burning deuterium-tritium plasma in which the majority of the heating needed to sustain the fusion reaction is produced by fusion generated alpha-particles. The production and control of such a self-heated plasma has been the long-standing goal of magnetic fusion research for more than 50 years. Therefore ITER will allow full exploration of the science relevant to fusion power, as well as testing key technologies for future power plants.

The device is designed to generate 500 megawatts of fusion power for periods of 300 to 500 seconds with a fusion power multiplication factor, Q, of at least 10 (Q ≥10). The device is also intended to demonstrate non-inductive steady-state operation with a fusion power multiplication factor of 5 and, ultimately, pulse lengths of up to several thousand seconds. In addition, the design does not exclude the possibility that controlled ignition can be achieved.

ITER incorporates many of the technologies necessary for a fusion reactor and will
demonstrate the integrated operation of these technologies. It will also test a range of materials and components required for a reactor and, in particular, will test tritium breeding module concepts that would allow tritium self-sufficiency, the extraction of high grade heat and electricity production in a future fusion reactor. In order to execute this programme, ITER is anticipated to operate over an approximate period of 20 years and to produce a few tens of thousands of plasma pulses.

The technical basis for the ITER design has been derived from databases of physics and technology R&D results developed from the international tokamak research programme and from R&D studies implemented in support of the ITER Design Activities. Design choices have been made with the objective of achieving the minimum cost device that meets the project requirements. Nevertheless, as a principal goal is the demonstration of the safety and environmental potential of fusion, operational safety with regard to temperature, pressure, electromagnetic fields, the chemical environment and radiation is an essential design requirement.
The ITER design process has optimized the design to meet the initial quantitative scientific goals established for DT operation while maintaining the flexibility for future upgrades to accommodate the goals and constraints of later phases. While the design exploits advanced technologies proven through R&D, safety considerations play a leading role in the design concept with an emphasis on simplicity, fail-safe and fault-tolerant design features, redundancy and diversity where appropriate, independence and testability.

The operational phase of ITER will develop through four phases, encompassing
commissioning in a non-nuclear environment using hydrogen plasmas, scenario development and initial fusion power production in mainly deuterium plasmas, and two phases of deuterium tritium operation. The first of these will address mainly physics goals and should fulfil the key targets for fusion power production and fusion power gain in inductive and non-inductive scenarios. The second DT phase will emphasize improvement of the overall performance, testing of components and materials to higher neutron fluences of at least 0.3 MWa/m2, and demonstrate fusion power production with high reliability and availability."


-------------------------
James Arathoon
 14 December 2012 10:15 AM
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jarathoon

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Also in regards to plasma instabilities, Michel says

"Regarding your questions about plasma instabilities, I invite you to look at our FAQs (www.iter.org/faq) where four questions address the issue of disruptions and their mitigation."

Now it is claimed that the "Wiffle Ball" magnetic confinement system (for example) currently being investigated in regards to Fusion/Fission Hybrid applications does not suffer from the sort of plasma "disruptions" that plagues the tokamak design.

As part of the peer review we need to determine whether or not the ITER design team adequately investigated alternative magnetic confinement systems to the Tokamak arrangement, which perhaps could have been scaled up more cost effectively than the tokamak design can be.

Peer Review Question:
Is the Tokamak magnetic confinement system the most cost effective solution for large volume magnetic plasma confinement?

James Arathoon

-------------------------
James Arathoon
 15 December 2012 12:41 PM
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jarathoon

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There is a Fusion Talk up at Edinburgh Napier University on the 6th February next year.

Now given that I live just north of London it is a long and costly journey for me to make it up there for the free talk. However with a map I will be able to find the venue and from the published train timetable I will be able to estimate the duration of the journey, so hopefully I will arrive in time.

Now Kieran Gibson (who will be giving the talk) is also helping lead the whole country on a long and costly journey. But it is far from clear when we will arrive or even whether we are taking the most cost effective or practical route to get there.

The talk is entitled:

Nuclear Fusion - within our grasp?
by Kieran Gibson (Deputy Director of the York Plasma Institute at the University of York)

The lecture is arranged by IET Scotland South East Retired Members (SERMS)

http://www.theiet.org/events/2...206_166358.cfm?nxtid=

http://mycommunity.theiet.org/communities/home/292


My email to Frank McCall the organiser was as follows

---------------------------------

I shall be attending the talk. Please let the speaker know about the following IET Forum discussion

http://www.theiet.org/forums/f...id=226&threadid=49718

I have been trying to get the government to fund Thorium Molten Salt Research while experts who worked on the original systems at Oak Ridge National Laboratories are still alive and well (e.g. Trevor Griffiths an expert in Molten Salt Chemistry who is in his 80's now). In doing this I found out about the possibility of Fission/Fusion Hybrids and the possibility of using Lossy Fusion as a neutron generation technology, on a shorter timeline than developing Fusion as an Energy Generation Technology. The cooperation of the UKAEA in this endeavour has not yet been achieved, in spite of the fact that such research directions may provide a new avenue to reducing the engineering costs of scaling up net energy producing fusion reactors.

If you wish to initiate a debate on whether or not the UK should continue to fund ITER in its present form at the end of the talk, then please let me know; I can make the case for withdrawing UK funding from the ITER programme and spending it more rationally to achieve more objectives at less cost.

If nothing else please make Kieran Gibson aware that I will be there.

Best Regards,

James Arathoon


-------------------------
James Arathoon
 15 December 2012 09:07 PM
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jarathoon

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The ITER project is in reality heading for failure anyway, I am just a messenger. A more respected messenger is Nature

http://www.nature.com/news/fus...eces-together-1.11669

Generally people don't laugh if they suddenly realise that they have a hole in their pocket and have lost all their money, but this is a sort of abstract hole in millions of peoples pockets and it is sort of easier to laugh at - don't ask me why.

Anyway those of you who find what I write funny, will find what Nature writes even funnier...particularly this quote:

"Haange says, however, that the project remains firmly on schedule, and he is racing to make up for lost time. A task force of engineers is working through the tokamak building design floor-by-floor to finalize it. "We have a deadline for every floor level, and we are just about making it," he says. The final design will be finished in March next year, but to keep the project on schedule, F4E must tender the construction contract by the end of this year."

I don't remember the last time I heard about a project team "racing to make up for lost time" on an "on schedule" project. I've seen plenty of projects started after their official end date, but that's simply a project off-schedule right from the start.

I especially like the last sentence in the quote above:

"The final design will be finished in March next year, but to keep the project on schedule, F4E [Fusion for Energy] must tender the construction contract by the end of this year."

As they are "firmly on schedule" this sort of suggests they are happy to sign the contracts before they know what they really want and that this was always "firmly" part of the project plan.

I had always wondered what a collective of engineers is called. I thought it was a community of engineers, or an argument of enginners, but it turns out that it is a "task force" of engineers. This collective name strikes me as grounds for building up a more sophisticated analogy.

force = engineers
inertia = difficulty of the engineering task
change of speed = objective
friction = administration, training and communication
lubrication = good leadership

A sort of Newtonian mechanics of engineering project management if you like.

However in the real world these variables are not linearly independent, so the simple Newtonian model unfortunately fails.

For example in the real world increasing the force (more engineers), also increases the friction, that is more administation, training and communication. At some point the friction increases faster than the rate at which more force can be added. I am not sure what this point is called, perhaps the 'task rate catastrophy' or the 'power catastrophy' or something like this.

If Kieran Gibson's talk turns into an obituary to ITER, I still want to be given a chance to throw a spade load of dirt on the coffin and describe why I think the Tokamak system really is the wrong design for a practical and cost effective fusion reactor (from a mechanical and electrical engineering point of view).

James Arathoon



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James Arathoon
 15 December 2012 10:02 PM
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jarathoon

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Every quote from the article is gold dust...

"a further stripping-down of the already bare-bones first version of the machine, to keep the project on track"

" "We will ask for more time only if it is absolutely necessary," Haange says."

"We will have to find ways of recovering potential time delays."

Potential time - This is a really great concept. If only we could analyse all the various ways of wasting "potential time" we might be able to use real time less more wastefully. However we would have to analyse the huge number of different ways we can potentially use time much quicker than real time itself elapses.

I don't think that is what he means by "potential time", because what Haange is actually quoted as saying is non-sensical.

I think what he really means is that he will want to recover real time delays, by speeding up the schedule of other later tasks. This is the classic project management trap which eventually leads to "friction" growing faster than "force", and eventual "task rate catastrophy".

James Arathoon

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James Arathoon
 15 December 2012 10:14 PM
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jarathoon

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above should read

'we might be able to use real time less or more wastefully."

that is, we could in fact choose to use the analysis of potential time to design ways of wasting our time in more interesting and creative ways than our limited imaginations currently devise.

James Arathoon

-------------------------
James Arathoon
 16 December 2012 01:25 AM
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jarathoon

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"With Tight Research Budgets, Is There Room for the Eternal Promise of Fusion?"

http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes....al-promise-of-fusion/

The case for the defense (American) or defence (English)

http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes....d-research-on-fusion/

"The next major experimental step in magnetic fusion is ITER - the international experiment that will generate 500 megawatts of fusion power, at a physical scale of a power plant. Under construction in France, ITER will begin operation within ten years. It involves participation of the entire developed world, with the ITER partners representing the governments of half the world's population. The scientific basis for ITER was separately scrutinized and approved by scientific panels in each of these nations. ITER is large, complex, and full of challenges. But, the likelihood of scientific success is high."

This is written by Stewart C. Prager, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

Stewart C. Prager believes that the likelihood of scientific success is high.
It is interesting he uses the word scientific rather than the word engineering. I think some physicists are under the misapprehension that ITER is about scientific discovery (like at the CERN LHC) rather than all about the engineering development of a new way of generating cheap energy.

Why are we are funding such expensive engineering research without putting generalist engineers in the chief executive role? For engineering research such as this the physicists should be advising the lead engineers not the other way around. Am I the only one who thinks this way?

Actually Stewart Prager makes an interesting comment about what his engineering colleagues are up to; he says I quote:

"No one knows the ultimate costs, but our best engineering analyses indicate that, with some luck, fusion can indeed be cost- competitive."

I would love to see these engineering analyses and to what extent they rely on "luck" (probabilistic analysis of chance) for cost-competitiveness to arise. I wonder how many X billion pound fusion projects we have to build with a variety of random design choices before we get lucky!

James Arathoon

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James Arathoon
 16 December 2012 05:05 PM
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westonpa

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Originally posted by: jarathoon
I wonder how many X billion pound fusion projects we have to build with a variety of random design choices before we get lucky!

To answer that question we would have to keep building until we 'get lucky'.

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 17 December 2012 12:58 PM
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jarathoon

Posts: 1043
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Originally posted by: westonpa

Originally posted by: jarathoon

I wonder how many X billion pound fusion projects we have to build with a variety of random design choices before we get lucky!


To answer that question we would have to keep building until we 'get lucky'.


Yes that is the right answer.

The purpose of using scale models (I thought) is to do as much of the random guess work (trial and error work) at as small a scale as you can get away with - to save costs.

They should have played with other magnetic confinement designs and worked out the scaling laws of these too, not just the favoured Tokamak design.

Then using all this information, they could rationally determine which is likely to be the best design to scale up, in terms of build costs, running costs, reliability and maintainability.

It is the silly little engineering questions that scientific peer reviewers (including biologists) seem to miss. e.g. Can we make it cheaper to build operate and maintain by using a radically different design? What is the cheapest way of experimentally and rationally determining which design is best? What are other potential applications of our work, and how does our choice of design impact on that?

Even though Fusion for Energy has started letting contracts now (prior to the final design being signed off) its small beer stuff (35 million Euros) at the moment so the engineering peer review can still continue.

http://fusionforenergy.europa....view.aspx?content=646

Fusion for Energy may want to sign as many contracts as they can between now and the 6th of February (Kieran Gibson's talk in Edinburgh) to make it harder for the UK government to change its mind and pull out. (This is the standard poison pill tactic, where elite bureaucrats design the contracts such that it is cheaper to stay in than pull out). However they haven't had enough time do do this to full effect yet, so we still have a little time for engineering rationality to prevail.

James Arathoon

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James Arathoon
 17 December 2012 10:10 PM
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jarathoon

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Respected academics are now encouraging the younger engineers and scientists to come up with new ideas on fission/fusion hybrids.

For example a talk given by Evgeny Velikhov (described as the "Godfather of ITER.") at a recent ITER conference.

"FUTURE DEVELOPMENT OF NUCLEAR POWER AND ROLE OF FUSION NEUTRON SOURCE"

http://www.iter.org/newsline/248/1413

Evgeny Velikhov is basically saying, lets try this with the facilities and knowledge we have to hand; I don't necessarily agree, it may be possible to come up with radically different designs as scale model experiments and progress faster this way.

The presentation is here
http://www.iter.org/doc/www/co...ents/1413/Hybrids.pdf

Whatever your view on this talk, it really is time now for the youngsters to get off the railway tracks and to start thinking for themselves.

The truth is I don't really need help from the UKAEA or ITER, all I need is one or two UK fusion people willing to stand up and defend their own ideas outside the limits of group think thought control zone; and with some time available to investigate a wide range of possibilities for fission/fusion hybrids and how we might go about finding the best route forward on this.

If there is no one willing to take up this role in the UK then I will have to look further a field for help. Perhaps to Sweden, Russia or America.

From the new year building up a Thorium Molten Salt Reactor Programme in the UK will be my full time job (hopefully with some external charitable support and favours to keep me fed in the months ahead).

Due to lack of financial resources I can't afford to pay people who want to get involved at the moment, but I will get the necessary private and public money to move forward on this eventually, as all the other ways forward on nuclear are either costly dead ends or involve problems that cannot be solved in my lifetime (I'm 46).

As an integration engineer I want to sketch an initial picture of all the diverse problems that need to be solved in building a Thorium Molten Salt Reactor Programme in the UK and how best we should go about solving them or finding new ways of avoiding solving them entirely.

James Arathoon

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James Arathoon
 18 December 2012 06:58 PM
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jarathoon

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"63 young fusion energy research professionals plead with the D.O.E to not end fusion research in America. The American Physical Society pleads for public support of physics research in general. The fate of American research will be decided in the next several weeks by 2 politicians in secret discussions over the budget."

http://lasttechage.wordpress.c...-the-ofes-of-the-doe/

Their actual letter

http://fire.pppl.gov/under_40_letter_2012.pdf

The American ITER budget appears in line for the the chop as the costs have grown so quickly out of control that they can now only deliver the barest of bare bones fusion reactor on a budget that still seems to be ballooning. Yes I don't understand this either!

Instead of whinging and moaning these young research professionals should be using their great collective brains to work out what is going wrong with ITER and why it won't deliver anything useful until after they are all dead.

A hint towards a solution: Engineering projects are not normally designed this way! It just way the idiots currently in charge have designed the system. (I mean the word 'idiot' in the sense of - An engineer is someone who can do for a dime, what any old idiot can do for a dollar)

Remember following the financial crash there is a new state of reality for everyone, including plasma research professionals and Imperial College professors. These professionals should remember that they are not working on some blue sky fundamental science project, they are working on a engineering project with real world goals. Different standards of ethics apply.

Engineers should not ever be allowed to fully ignore the real and current problems of the world, such as people queuing up for food handouts in America, Britain, Spain, Argentina etc. etc. and then say "Look all this sudden hardship doesn't really matter, lets continue on as we were before".

[Advice to the young researchers:
Give the professors who got you into this funding mess as hard an intellectual time as you can, they have no clothes after all. Unfortunately these same professors won't be able to admit their mistakes or change their mind, but it will help you a great deal and will start giving you the courage to ignore what they have been saying and to start thinking for yourself instead.

It really is that simple: You need to think of new ways of delivering much more, much faster, for a great deal less money, or help your colleagues find ways of doing the same.]

In the UK £100 million will buy an initial 3-4 year Thorium Molten Salt Reactor programme, and train up 30 new engineers and scientists to get us to Thorium base camp so to speak. There will be plenty of jobs on offer in China, India and elsewhere, if none materialise in the UK. Trying to build a safe new nuclear power generation technology, with much less waste, that we already know works in principle, is a no brainer as far as I am concerned.

Instead of whinging perhaps some of these young researchers (I am not sure how many are engineers; hopefully not too many) should think of an even better faster deal for the EU tax payer and trump me out. I am not nearly as clever as I once was so wouldn't be at all suprised if this happened.

James Arathoon

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James Arathoon
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