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customer requires, so that it can be delivered and stopped at quick command.
Jema’s experience in fusion reactors throughout Europe positions it to
apply for the contracts to provide power to the ITER’s new facility. “This
will be the second-biggest scientific cooperative project in the world, behind
the International Space Station. As we have many references in fusion, we’re
focusing our next target on ITER itself,” says García.
ITER’s ultrahigh vacuum prevents any stray particles from interfering with
the reaction. Within the reactor, special containers will be positioned to cap-
ture byproducts of the fusion reaction. The research team needed a company
to build robots to enable the remote handling of these containers; Telstar,
with its experience in vacuum containers to test space technology, won the
contract to design, manufacture and supply these robots.
“The unit has to manage a load of nearly 10 tons, and has to operate in a
vacuum without breaking the vacuum of the ITER vessel,” says Telstar’s Costas.
“They also have to withstand heavy radiation from the thermonuclear fusion;
there’s a radioactive environment inside the vessel even when the fusion reac-
tion is stopped.” One example of this problem and its solution: most oils used
in hydraulic equipment can’t withstand this radiation, so for ITER, Telstar is
using water-based lubricants.
One potential goal of ITER is to replace nuclear power generation, and
large companies that work with nuclear power have been able to supply a great
deal of the necessary experience to design ITER’s buildings and systems and
to help determine the safety procedures. Empresarios Agrupados, founded
in 1971, was created as an engineering company to serve the nuclear industry.
“Apart from building the Spanish nuclear power plants, we’ve now been involved
in all the new nuclear reactors in Europe,” says Teresa Dominguez, advanced
projects manager of Empresarios Agrupados. The company’s background in
filling the engineering needs of such large and complex structures gave it the
experience to take on designing buildings for the ITER facility and calculat-
ing the electrical distribution system for the experimental fusion power plant.
Many Spanish companies working in fusion first delved into that sector
via Spain’s National Fusion Lab, which began research in the early 1980s in
partnership with the U.S. Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Spain’s reactor was
built by the mid 1990s, with about 60 percent of the contracts awarded to
Spanish companies. “At the time, those contracts were not the ones requiring
the highest level of technology,” says Joaquin Sanchez, director of the Fusion
Lab. “They were for more accessible requirements, such as the electrical equip-
ment and the buildings.”
But after acquiring experience in Spain, many of those companies moved
on to compete for projects at the European level, with increasingly higher
levels of technological complexity. “They became more confident in working
in this market; it’s no longer new to them,” says Sanchez.
The budget for ITER, explains Sanchez, is made up of contributions from
member countries, about 15 percent of which is in cash. The remaining 85
percent can be an in-kind contribution—but only if companies have the tech-
nological experience and knowledge to meet the requirements. So CIEMAT,
the Spanish research organization that directs the country’s fusion research,
has begun a program of grants to develop new technologies for fusion. “It’s
not easy to start from scratch and get a contract,” points out Sanchez. “It’s
much better if you’re already in the system, and know exactly what the needs
are.” This has already paid off: in 2010, Sanchez says, the contracts awarded
to Spanish companies totaled about 90 million euros.
(Spanish Institute for Foreign Trade)
(Spanish Association of
Industry of Science)
For a complete company listing and to
find out more about New Technologies
in Spain, visit:
For more information visit:
Trade Commission of Spain in Chicago
500 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 1500
Chicago, IL 60611, USA
T: 312 644 1154
F: 312 527 5531
10/7/2010 5:41:39 PM
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