Friday, November 30, 2007

ITER – “The Way”

The ITER (originally stood for the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor but now refers to the Latin phrase “The way”) is an international research consortium that seeks to understand fusion as a source of energy. Fusion is the process in which two atomic nuclei ‘fuse’ together and in so doing release enormous amounts of energy.

The ITER will be built in Cadarache, in the south of France but joint work will continue in Germany and Japan. The ITER device will consist of a Tokamak-like design which is a torus-shaped device containing a hot gas controlled through magnetic effects. A complete technical documentation list can be found here.

The controls and data acquisition system is defined as the Codac sampling data at around 5MHz, but streaming data at 200MB/s from 4000 channels and saving up to 60 TB of data per year.

According to Joe Lister the ITER seeks a new level of reliability in an increasingly regulated industry for nuclear power generation. Their goal is 98.65% uptime over a 6 year period. They plan to have 3000 analog data points for feedback with a 1 to 5msec response rate for sensors to actuators. The 1588 bus is under consideration for timing applications.

There are nearly 120 unique plant systems that must be controlled using a “classical” distributed control design model. They are currently in the design stage of the CODAC system and plan to start operations in 2016. The CODAC is based on 3-levels of control including Interlock and Safety subsystems. The CODAC defines a set of XML schemas common to all plant systems that allow the system to be data driven. One of the challenges is coordinating the systems from 3 separate PLC vendors.

Best regards,
Hall T.

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