fusion tokamak under construction

Nuclear fusion is tomorrow’s most promising energy source and BCF Solutions is on the front line, providing the global ITER project with unmatched consultative expertise.

“Fusion, the nuclear reaction that powers the Sun and the stars, is a potential source of safe, non-carbon emitting and virtually limitless energy. Harnessing fusion’s power is the goal of ITER, which has been designed as the key experimental step between today’s fusion research machines and tomorrow’s fusion power plants.”                – ITER.org

The Promise of Fusion Energy

The goal of the ITER project is to convert water into nuclear power. Water contains the isotopes tritium and deuterium, a form of hydrogen with one or two extra neutrons. These isotopes collide at elevated temperatures in a controlled nuclear fusion reaction that generates power. Harvesting the tritium and deuterium from a gallon of seawater produces energy equal to 250 gallons of diesel fuel – without diesel’s carbon footprint or CO2 byproducts. Fusion reactions will also avoid the long-lasting radioactive waste produced by today’s nuclear fission reactors.

Fusion, fueled by a virtually limitless supply of water, represents the future of clean, abundant energy. Controlled, repeatable fusion reactions have been a goal since the 1950s, one with obstacles that have vexed generations of physicists and engineers worldwide.

The ITER Project: Unprecedented International Cooperation

So, the painstaking work continues. For now, ITER is a research reactor. Its goals are to solve the fusion puzzle, understand the reaction, master the technology, and finally turn the corner to large-scale power generation in the next 30 years.

Many international participants are working together to bring to fruition this lifetime project, the benefits of which may only be evident to our grandchildren. These include China, the European Union, India, Japan, Korea, Russia and the United States. The project’s price tag is expected to be €20 billion or greater.

BCF Provides Project Management Expertise

BCF Solutions has been working at ITER since 2008 and has been involved with the fusion project since long before it grew to its current size and scope. We have been working in this role continuously since that time, either at ITER itself or at operations in one of its member nations, such as our Barcelona operation, which has been active since 2011.

Today, 45 BCF team members work among the 1000+ staff from ITER and the various member nations. It is a large project, but one in which BCF is very much on the high ground, looking out over the schedule and the costs. We provide information and analysis that help ITER decision makers do their jobs most effectively.

Mastering the ITER Timeline and Budget

BCF provides a variety of services to the ITER project, including Project Control Management. We analyze ITER progress to understand how we are tracking on budget, schedule, risks, and so forth. BCF is part of the team deployed out into the rest of the organization to help each of the project managers in their respective areas keep an eye on things. Are we spending money and making progress? Or are we spending money and not making progress? How are we performing against the timeline? Losing tens of millions of euros in a €20 billion project is not unheard of; a key part of our task is to prevent that.

Second, while the day-to-day production schedule is not our direct responsibility, BCF did help build the timeline, including anticipating the need for parts and components, scheduling deliveries, and determining how those components integrate into the construction process.

BCF also performs cost estimates. Whenever an engineering change occurs, we must determine if the cost of the change is feasible or too expensive.

A key area of cost estimation is Claims. If a vendor is in the middle of constructing a building and they find that something that was not clear during the award of their contract, the contractor may submit a claim for extra funding. BCF performs its own independent cost estimate to determine the reasonable costing for the claim, and negotiate that with the contractor on ITER’s behalf.

The Ongoing BCF Commitment

ITER was looking for a reliable, long-term commitment, and BCF’s decade-long work with ITER and its constituents gave us the edge. It is extremely challenging to marshal the talent and resources to not only develop fusion technology, but also to manage a huge, multinational, decades-long project like this one.

Success in project management begins with Listening. BCF observes the players and processes to understand how they work – and how they could work more effectively. We learn and synthesize innovative ideas into our repertoire as we integrate ourselves into each process. In this way, BCF provides the consultative expertise and optioneering  support ITER’s project managers require day-to-day.

And that is BCF Solution’s pledge to ITER: we will be there, now and in the future, raising the game for decision makers at all levels of the organization, from bottom to top.

To learn more about BCF Solutions and its industry-leading project management activities, please visit BCFSolutions.com.

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