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The robotic welding system developed at Ensa completes the work on the first Splice Plates set of the Vacuum Vessel model for ITER

The robotic welding system developed at the Center for Advanced Technology of Equipos Nucleares S.A., S.M.E concluded the work of the first Splice Plate set of the 1/1 model that represents the Vacum Vessel of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor , which is being developed in the workshops that the company has in Maliaño, as part of the order received from Iter Organization at the end of 2012.

The main objective in this phase of the project is to design and verify that the equipment and developments carried out are suitable for the work that will later be done in the installation phase in Cadarache. One of the key activities is welding, and for this reason the validation of the robotic welding system has begun, welding the first set of splice plates that act as joining pieces between the two sectors of the 1/1 model. The method used is based on an integrated robotic system conceived in the Automatic department of the CTA for the tracking of trajectories generated from 3D scans of the pieces.

In the case of ITER, the 3D model of the splice plates is used together with the data provided by the dimensional control of the robot positions. All this information is previously loaded into the system at the disposal of the welders at the operation station, which allows the joint to be selected by its reference as well as controlling and recording the operation parameters throughout the process.

Another important aspect of the system designed, has to do with the protection gas, since the particular characteristics of the sectors, the backup gas system can only provide protection in a very localized way, so a module was included in the control system that allows to coordinate the movement of the robot with that of the backup system and thus achieve that the area covered by the gas is always below the zone of incidence of the current.

Once the first batch of splice plates has been completed, a second batch will continue which, if necessary, will allow new functions to be added to the system and new improvements to be introduced that could be identified with the aim of continuing to improve the process.

Ensa successfully loads 4 casks in the ATI of the Ascó NPP

Equipos Nucleares S.A., S.M.E successfully completed the loading of four spent fuel casks in Group I of the Ascó Nuclear Power Plant in Tarragona. The casks were duly positioned in the independent spent fuel storage installation of this plant.

Loading was carried out between February and May in collaboration with Enwesa S.A., S.M.E., a subsidiary of Ensa. The forecast for 2018 for the Ascó plant is to complete the load of 2 additional units in Group II foreseen for the third quarter of the year.

The main functionality of this system is the dry storage of the fuel in the plant. The Cantabrian Company has previously manufactured this type of containers for the same site and expects to participate in future loading campaigns for the Ascó y Vandellós Nuclear Association based on its experience and satisfactory results.

Ensa’s Advanced Technology Center designs an extendable lance for manual welding

The first tests have obtained very satisfactory results.

The Automatic unit of the Advanced Technology Centre of Equipos Nucleares S.A., S.M.E has designed an extendable welding lance that allows reaching the most complicated and deepest areas of the components of the ITER project.

One of the fundamental points in the welding of these elements is the manual punching of the plates that join the components of «sectors and ports» that will later be welded by the robots. These components are double-walled and the work has to be carried out from the inside. The fact that they have double walls makes the access in a good part of the areas to the most external wall a tremendously difficult task due to the space that separates both walls.

The mast of the lance, designed by Automatic, can be modified in length and the torch has a ball-and-socket joint that allows the working angle of the tungsten to be adjusted slightly.  In addition, it has been incorporated a wire feeding system with adjustable position and speed and a camera next to a screen that allows to see the development of the weld during the work.

The first tests with the equipment were carried out on the welding of the first set of sheets of the ITER model and very satisfactory results were obtained.

Water tanks to quench ITER’s thirst

Four more water detritiation tanks have been delivered to ITER as part of its fuel cycle system. The components were the result of a contract signed between F4E and Equipos Nucleares S.A., S.M.E to design, manufacture and deliver them to Cadarche. The works for their manufacture lasted approximately two years.

Two tanks known as «storage tanks», with capacity of 7 m3, will be used to store water. Two additional tanks known as «feed tanks», with capacity of 12 m3, will be used to feed the fuel cycle system with tritiated water. The four tanks will be installed next to the six water detritiation tanks, also manufactured by Ensa in 2015, being the first components in Europe delivered to ITER. The largest fusion device will have ten of these tanks in total to meet the needs of its fuel cycle.

Why do we need a water detritiation system at the ITER Tritium plant? This system is needed to recover the fuel to use it again in order to trigger a new fusion reaction. It works as follows: first, the two isotopes of hydrogen are supplied to the machine through the Tritium plant; second, when the two isotopes reach the core of the machine, they are heated to extremely high temperatures to fuse and release energy; finally, the remaining fuel from the fusion reaction, along with other gases, is pumped back to the ITER Tritium plant to recover the tritium and use it in a future reaction.

For Sofia Corino, Special Projects Manager for Ensa in the Business Development Division: «Ensa, in cooperation with its subsidiary, ENWESA, has been responsible for the design and manufacture of the four additional water detritiation tanks that will form part of ITER’s fuel cycle system. Ensa’s experience and commitment to innovation have been decisive in consolidating it as one of the leading European component manufacturers for the largest fusion energy project».

Ensa starts the welding work for the assembly of the vacuum vessel mockup of the ITER

Ensa has started with the official welding work on the 1:1 scale model representing the union between two sectors of the vacuum chamber of the nuclear fusion reactor that the ITER consortium will build at the Cadarache facilities – France.

This work represents the beginning of the validation process of the numerous equipment, systems and procedures that have been developed over the last 5 years.

The activities are part of the first of the three phases of the project, which is expected to be completed by the middle of the next decade.

The ITER project is undoubtedly the most ambitious global research project, linked to demonstrating the technical feasibility of commercial nuclear fusion on Earth.

Ensa will supply several components for the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant in the United Kingdom

Equipos Nucleares S.A., S.M.E has recently been awarded a contract to manufacture two pressurizers for Framatome, the first supplier for the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant . The Cantabrian Company is also responsible for the design, manufacture and supply of different tanks that will be embedded in the civil works: fourteen different components for the two units of the British plant. Each unit contains: a pressurised tank, a tank for the reactor cooling system and a volume control tank, as well as four accumulators and two rings; for the support and settlement of the reactor.

This marks the end of a commercial phase in which Ensa has overcome numerous challenges, developing value propositions that have allowed it to differentiate itself from stiff competition until finally being awarded these projects, which represents a milestone for Ensa in the panorama of the manufacture of components for nuclear power plants in the world market: Supplying these components in the United Kingdom is a strong endorsement of Ensa’s trajectory as a multi-system manufacturer, with different products and its internationalization, as well as an extensive experience that allows it to offer customized  services adapted to each client and situation.

Hinkley Point C , currently under construction, has a projected useful life of sixty years and is currently a leading project and international reference in the nuclear field and among the most relevant in the West.

The Advanced Technology Center of Ensa designs a new system of alignment of parts in the head of X-ray (RX)

Maliaño, 17th of September, The Automatic unit from the Advanced Technology Center of Equipos Nucleares S.A., S.M.E , in collaboration with the QC Area , has implemented a system of alignment of parts in the X-ray head.

 This new design, based on the use of linear laser diodes, allows defining the exposure center and the axes located at 45 °. In addition, a point laser diode defines the optimum separation distance of the piece inspected

 With this new system, it is obtained an improvement in the radiographic images performance, which positively affects in the quality of products.