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ITER Schedule

  1. Apr 6, 2016 #1
    Do any of you have news on when ITER is scheduled to achieve the first plasma that the whole world is waiting for?

    Last I heard it was 2025, but since they have a new head, they might speed things up a bit.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 6, 2016 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    2025 is the best guess after the new management was put in place. (And even that looks optimistic)
     
  4. Apr 6, 2016 #3

    etudiant

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    Just based on the level of activity observed during a visit late last year, a decade may be optimistic. Urgency is entirely lacking. Few workers on site, not on weekends, with breaks for press briefings at completion of even minor construction milestones. Support elements such as the power management transformers and the magnet production plant, responsibilities assigned to the US and India respectively, were produced on schedule and are now just sitting on site in limbo, until the rest of the facility catches up.
     
  5. Apr 7, 2016 #4
    Hopefully the new head, a bigot, well makes things faster
     
  6. Apr 7, 2016 #5

    Vanadium 50

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    His name is Bigot. He is not, so far as I know, a bigot.
     
  7. Apr 7, 2016 #6
    One thing to keep in mind is that ITER is the 2nd largest non-military international organization ever (the largest is the UN). There are non-trivial cultural differences between the different members states (China, EU, India, Japan, Korea, Russia, and the USA). In many ways ITER is both a scientific experiment and a diplomatic experiment. There is a huge cost incurred by the diplomatic aspects of the project.

    I think it's universally agreed that the project delays and the budget overruns are bad. However, there are real disagreements among the member states as to how big of a problem these issues are and how best to move forward.

    The USA has put a lot of pressure on ITER to reform, and I think we will see some improvements. However, ITER has to balance the American viewpoint against the viewpoints of the other 6 member states. And ultimately ITER has no power to force any of the member states (including the USA) to comply with any changes that they try to implement. I personally have tempered expectations as to how meaningful the reforms will be.
     
  8. Apr 7, 2016 #7
    https://www.iter.org/faq#collapsible_7
     
  9. Apr 8, 2016 #8
    Haha oops, I was sleepy when I typed. I wanted to say "a Mr. Bigot".
     
  10. Apr 19, 2016 #9

    jimgraber

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    Oak ridge perspective on ITER:

    http://knoxblogs.com/atomiccity/2016/04/16/the-iter-decision/


    There will be a House of Representatives hearing tomorrow (April 20) at 10:00 am Washington time. ITER Director General Bigot is expected to testify.

    https://science.house.gov/legislati...mittee-hearing-overview-fusion-energy-science


    There will be an extraordinary ITER council meeting on April 27 to discuss new schedule reports and proposals.

    On May 2 the US department of energy is expected to recommend whether or not te US stays in ITER.

    ITER is scheduled to publically release its proposed new schedule during its regular June Council meeting.

    It looks to me like we should learn a lot about the new ITER schedule over the next two or three months.
     
  11. Apr 21, 2016 #10
    ITER is pretty messed up currently. I hope the US will have enough faith to not pull the plug.
     
  12. Apr 21, 2016 #11
    What has gone wrong?.
    Last I heard the construction of the prototype was going ahead, but yeah bureaucratic delays.
    I don't think any other participating nation has considered 'pulling the plug'.
     
  13. Apr 29, 2016 #12

    jimgraber

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  14. Apr 29, 2016 #13

    etudiant

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    Thank you, Jim Graber. This is an important update.
    It essentially pushes the earliest date for useful results 20 years into the future. I'd bet on other, private efforts beating ITER to the prize.
     
  15. May 1, 2016 #14
    but they said 3.5 years, not 10 years from 2025. idk why its 2035
     
  16. May 1, 2016 #15

    etudiant

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    The quote was 'an extra 3.5 years', which suggests several years of shakedown operations post 2025 are believed necessary in any case before the targeted power generating levels are reached.
     
  17. May 1, 2016 #16

    Vanadium 50

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    The 2014 report blasted the project culture as coming up with unrealistic plans. "Give us another $5B - more than the original total project cost - and we will finish only five years late" is not a realistic plan if the agencies don't have the $5B.

    The report also criticized a lack of urgency on the part of management. And why should they have a sense of urgency? Jet-setting between Barcelona and the French Riviera. Life is good.
     
  18. May 1, 2016 #17
    haha, it might backfire and then they'll be out of a job
     
  19. May 3, 2016 #18

    etudiant

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    Sadly, you may be right.
    Fusion research is actually making excellent progress, the performance as measured by plasma temperature and confinement time has improved about a million fold since the beginnings during the 1950s, but consistent overselling has gradually drained the patience of the political backers.
    The best estimates today are that another 10-100x improvement will be enough to allow a fusion power facility to work, two orders of magnitude more beyond the six already achieved.
    ITER may collapse before it reaches the finish line, but I think we are close enough that someone will pick up the challenge.
     
  20. May 4, 2016 #19

    mheslep

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    What does "work" mean in this context? To self sustain a plasma from fusion? Possibly. But if work must mean a fusion plant with no more cost than a fission plant, then I don't see the path to get there even with 100x improvement in temperature-confinement time.
     
  21. May 5, 2016 #20

    etudiant

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    Good point, just because the device produces enough excess power to be more than self sustaining does not make it economically viable.
    ITER is only supposed to show proof of feasibility, with a prototype commercial fusion facility to follow, maybe by 2050. Given some of the Tokomak design issues, the practical fusion reactor may be quite different. The private initiatives such as the TriAlpha effort seem more challenging but also more plausible.
     
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