TUBACEX is one of the GNMS (Global Nuclear Metal Supply) member with Erne Fittings, Loire Industrie, Sotep, Essinox and Butting. GNMS has booked multi-annual contracts to deliver pipes and fittings for Iter, nuclear research initiative in south France, a project with TUBACEX seamless pipes. The partnership began two years ago and this year ended with the signing of a contract to deliver 11 Km pipes to build the Iter vacuum circuit, one of the most critical circuits.
Vacuum circuit section leader
Robert Pearce graduated in Engineering Science from Warwick University, UK in 1983, spent the first eight years of his career working in high technology engineering design. In 1991 he moved into the fusion field, taking a position at the European Union’s flagship JET facility in the UK as a specialist in the field of high vacuum engineering. In 2000, the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) became responsible for the operation of JET and he also became responsible for the Operations Group and held the License to Operate the JET machine for the latest fusion experiments to be performed with the real fusion fuels Deuterium and Tritium.
With the launch of the ITER construction project imminent in 2006 he was assigned to the Max Planck Institute for Plasmaphysik in Garching, Munich undertaking responsibility within the European Fusion Development Agreement for the ITER fuel cycle.
For the last 10 years he has led the Vacuum Section of ITER International Organization in Cadarache, France, where he is responsible for one of the largest and definitely the most complex vacuum systems ever to be built on Earth.
TUBACEX products exceed customers’ expectations.
Iter Org has chosen GNMS/ TUBACEX to deliver the pipes for the vacuum circuit, could you explain the advantages in comparison to other solutions?
Achieving the high vacuums necessary for ITER operation requires attention to very fine details in every component exposed to vacuum. In addition to the fusion waste product, i.e. helium gas, the vacuum system also has to pump the radioactive tritium fuel. Every gas particle pumped by the world largest fastest vacuum pumps will be transferred through the vacuum circuits before being processed. Therefore, the vacuum circuits must be of the highest quality to maintain vacuum at all times and confine the gases passing through them.
GNMS/ TUBACEX was able to meet the demanding vacuum quality requirements needed while being the most competitive price-wise for the international tender for the vacuum circuits.
Within TSS (TUBACEX Service Solutions) GNMS and TUBACEX could provide you with additional services: documentation, project management, packages, storage, pre-assembly. Do you find being more than a pipe manufacturer interesting?
The construction process of ITER is said to be as complex as the design of the ITER machine! This perception comes from the truly international nature of the collaboration with 7 parties and approx. 35 countries. As different partners progress at different rates and have different financial constraints, having flexibility and increased supplier capacity, is really beneficial. An example would be if a partner moves ahead of schedule for large component deliveries then there may be an issue for storage on site for another component from another partner. Similarly for piping – if timing between contracts changes at short notice the pre-assembly needs and contract strategy also need to change.
You have already received the first TUBACEX pipes, what is your impression?
The first TUBACEX delivery was achieved to schedule and the quality was over our demanding expectations. This was really important for us as it builds confidence for future deliveries.