Chief engineer for U.S. ITER at ORNL to give project overview on Tuesday

Brad Nelson

Brad Nelson

The chief engineer for the U.S. ITER Project at Oak Ridge National Laboratory will give a project overview on Tuesday.

Brad Nelson is the chief engineer for the U.S. International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor Project. His Tuesday talk will be the first in a series of three presentations on the U.S. ITER project to Friends of ORNL, with Hans Vogel speaking on April 8 and Graeme Murdoch speaking on May 13.

The New Yorker published a story on ITER in its March 3 edition titled “A Star in a Bottle” by Raffi Khatchadourian.

Nelson’s Tuesday presentation during a Friends of ORNL luncheon lecture starts at noon at the University of Tennessee Resource Center in Oak Ridge.

The United States has joined with China, the European Union, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and the Russian Federation in an international collaboration to construct and operate ITER, a full-scale, 500-megawatt experimental fusion device, a press release said. ITER will be constructed at Cadarache, France, and is expected to be completed within 10 years.

The U.S. contributions to ITER include the procurement of hardware, including supporting research and development (R&D), and design; assignment of personnel (U.S. engineers and scientists) to the ITER site in Cadarache; and cash contributions to the ITER Organization for the U.S. share of common expenses such as personnel, infrastructure, assembly, and installation. The hardware supplied by the United States includes contributions in the areas of magnets, blankets, diagnostics, tritium processing, ion cyclotron and electron cyclotron heating and current drive systems, pellet fuelling, and more conventional systems such as cooling water and electrical power systems.

The large scale of ITER, the significant extrapolation from previous fusion experiments (the current record fusion power is about 16 megawatts), and the need for long pulse, high reliability operation present many engineering challenges. This talk will describe the ITER project, design status, and some of the challenges.

U.S. ITER is a Department of Energy Office of Science project.

Nelson’s group provides engineering support to U.S. ITER, and he interfaces with partner laboratories and the ITER International Organization. He has more than 35 years of experience in the design and analysis of experimental fusion energy research facilities and components and has contributed to the engineering design of several facilities and devices, including the Advanced Toroidal Facility, Large Coil Test Facility, National Spherical Torus Experiment, National Compact Stellarator Experiment, and Quasi-Poloidal Stellarator. He was involved in both the ITER conceptual design activity and the engineering design activity in the areas of design integration, vacuum vessel design, blanket and shield design, and the vacuum vessel R&D program. Nelson, who is a registered professional engineer, received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from the University of Missouri.

The meeting location in Oak Ridge is the UT Resource Center, the white-colored building at 1201 Oak Ridge Turnpike (State Highway 95) between Taco Bell and Applebee’s at the intersection of the Turnpike and Rutgers Ave (at Traffic Light #7).

Here is the meeting agenda:

  • 11:00 a.m.—socializing and coffee
  • 11:30 a.m.—lunch (catered by the Soup Kitchen, cost $8.00)
  • 11:50 a.m.—business items (if any)
  • 12 noon—lecture begins
  • 12:45 p.m.—questions and answer session
  • 1 p.m.—adjourn

For more information, visit or call Connor Matthews at (865) 482-2382 or (865) 705-5890.


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