All posts by Nadine LAURET

IMPORTANT NOTICE / COVID-19

In light of the current global COVID-19 situation, Thermocoax has implemented rigorous contingency plans to minimize the impact.   As the situation continues to develop, please be assured we remain committed to safeguarding the health and well-being of both our teams and customers.

We are adhering to local government guidelines and are reviewing the situation on a constant basis. We have put in place clear procedures for our employees to protect their health, including self-isolation, where appropriate.

Many of our customers in multiple key industrial sectors are playing a vital role in positively supporting the current situation.  We realize that their work is of critical importance and our duty is to support them and their processes to enable business continuity, supporting the local community. We have advanced Business Continuity Plans in our business locations to maintain products and services.

As a company, we operate a global manufacturing strategy, with five manufacturing sites around the world, in conjunction with a global footprint of stocked warehouses to ensure a local supply of products.  We can reassure you that we have maintained a good stock profile across our business and continue to work with our supply partners to maintain them.

Finally, we would like to re-assure you that we are in the process of ensuring all our Sales and Service engineers are equipped with full PPE to protect themselves and your employees when they visit site. They are fully briefed on local guidelines for contagion prevention and the importance of social distancing and sanitisation.

We will continue to monitor the situation carefully and will take all necessary steps, at the appropriate time and in line with national and international guidance, to help ensure the safety of our teams, whilst minimizing disruption to all our customers.

 

Kind regards,

 

 

Inès Hamon
General Director – Thermocoax

Gender equality Index at THERMOCOAX

As of 1 March 2020, companies with between 50 and 250 employees are required to calculate a gender equality index to evaluate whether they are taking appropriate action towards gender equality.

This figure is a measure of equal pay for men and women in the world of work, applying the principle of “equal pay for equal work”.

This index takes the form of a score out of 100 and is based on 4 criteria:

  • No pay gap between women and men with the same role and of a similar age,
  • Equal opportunities for a pay rise,
  • The number of employees who received a pay rise upon returning from maternity leave,
  • At least four women in the ten highest paid positions.

For the year 2019, THERMOCOAX scored 76/100.

This performance demonstrates the company’s commitment to diversity and equality and, as always, pushes us to continue to improve on this score in the future.

 

Gender equality Index

 

Nuclear fusion

1.    FUSION: Advantages and CO2 reduction in energy production.

Fusion is a physical principle during which two nuclei combine to generate energy.

For a peaceful application, electricity would be generated through a reactor generating heat, which would then be transferred in a loop to activate a turbine.

There would be numerous advantages of this technology: CO2 free electricity production, minimal waste compared to FISSION reactors, unlimited “raw material” coming from the sea and intrinsic safety. If problems occur, switch off the reactor.

2.    Basic principle

Fusion is the process that occurs in the core of the Sun and stars. When we see light and feel warmth, this is the result of fusion reactions: hydrogen nuclei collide, fuse into heavier helium atoms and release considerable amounts of energy in the process. Fusion is the main source of life in the Universe. To reach an appropriate environmental condition at which the reaction can occur, different vacuum chambers have been developed with Tokamak reactors.

3.    TOKAMAK reactors

A Tokamak reactor is a vessel which uses a strong magnetic field to contain a plasma and ultimately produce a net energy output. It is shaped like a “donut”.

Tokamak stands for the Russian acronym of toroidal chamber with magnetic coils. This scientific device was initially conceptualised in the 1950s in Russia and built in several countries in the 1970s. The most powerful of them being built in UK, the Joint European Torus (JET).

In the 1980s the idea of an international project called ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) was proposed by Russia to the USA.

4.    ITER

ITER (“The Way” in Latin) is designed to demonstrate the scientific and technological feasibility of fusion energy. ITER is a large-scale scientific experiment that aims to demonstrate the possibility of producing commercial energy from fusion. It is the culmination of sixty years of fusion research, carried out on hundreds of devices all over the world.

ITER is also a unique international collaboration bringing together China, the European Union, India, Japan, Korea, Russia and the United States – seven Members (35 nations).

The ITER Members have a shared responsibility to design, build and operate the ITER installation. Following the establishment of the ITER Organisation and a preparatory site, a unanimous decision was made in 2005 whereby the ITER Members chose a site in the South of France suggested by the European Union.

© ITER Organisation

 

  • A giant device weighing 23,000 tonnes. A fusion energy generating 500 MW of output power.
  • The World’s largest vacuum vessel, heavier than the Eiffel tower.
  • A plasma temperature of 150 million °C, x 10 the core temperature of the sun.
  • And when less than 10 metres away, there is a magnet temperature of -269°C (4K°).

5.   ALTERNATIVE TECHNOLOGIES

Nowadays multiple initiatives are receiving funding. Some new projects have been launched in the US, in the UK and in China. Plasma is a question of density. To increase plasma density and release more energy than  required in order to initiate the plasma, some compression techniques are combined to magnetic confinement. The future reactor will be more compact, simpler, more stable and cheaper.

6.    THERMOCOAX INVOLVEMENT

THERMOCOAX fully supports FUSION technology. Over the years and through projects like JET, we have accumulated experience and developed specific solutions for the FUSION reactor.

THERMOCOAX technology -Mineral Insulated cable- is ideal for harsh environments with fluctuating temperatures, high levels of radiation, a high vacuum or a high magnetic field.

THX can offer solutions such as:

CABLING: In-vessel cabling, penetration feedthrough

SENSORS: Temperature and magnetic field measurement

HEATING: Backing of small items or massive pieces of steel forming the vacuum vessel

Our integrated nuclear department (engineering, qualification, quality assurance, production) coordinated by our project department develops bespoke solutions, in which norms and regulations play a critical role.

 

 

Anticipate today on future nuclear supply chain standards to maintain highest requirement in term of safety culture, quality and competitiveness.

WNE will be coming up mid 2020. We are actively preparing our stand booth to warmely welcome you. While waiting for this great event, let’s share with you our paper on ISO 19443 and Skills & Knowledge Management. We had the pleasure to be part of the nominees’ list for the 2018 WNE award.

In an effort to be ready at the time of the implementation of this new standard, THERMOCOAX puts the emphasis overs the last three years on Skills & Knowledge Management.

How do we put it in practice? Hereafter a brief description of the organization we put in place.

COMEX commitment: On the supervision of the CEO, Mr Patrice GUILLON – Quality director- and Mme Michèle CHAUMONT -HR director- are promoting Skills & Knowledge management in the Group Management Manual. Nuclear business unit is related to our French entity THERMOCOAX SAS only but this Skills & Knowledge Management is considered at a group level.

Click here

From the beginning (integration of news staff), recruiting process defines clearly what are the responsibilities and Authorities.

Project after project, THERMOCOAX has developed proprietary solutions mainly based on our MI cable technology. To make them available to the engineering staff, Manufacturing skills are identified and listed. Mentoring of the engineering department new comers associated with training “on the field” in all workshop allows a comprehension of technics and their implementation difficulties and limits. An expert senior engineer is made available to ensure a smooth implementation of existing Manufacturing skills and their implementation in new designs.

 

Each COMEX member proposes through a yearly assessment and a CEO approval trainings to managers who in return are doing the same with their N-1.

 

On a yearly basis and based on specialized questionnaires on individual competencies so that competencies matrix can be updated and training plan defined accordingly. On an individual level, very specific skills and knowledge but also processes are followed individually through internal tolls developed on ACCESS & Excel.

In order to capitalise and materialize THERMOCOAX key Know How, the technical director is in charge of the definition of the core competencies of THERMOCOAX. This document has been initiated at the time of a very specific project where THERMOCOAX took a significant role in the development of a Post Fukushima sensor along with CEA / AREVA/ IRSN ( “Investissement d’avenir “ supported by French Government).

 

At a technician and operator levels, procedure are made to be directly understood; a picture being far more comprehensible than a long description. Both cumulated they facilitate operators comprehensions.

 

 

Under the responsibility of the technical director, it is the duty of the R&D department to anticipate on future requirement in term of Know Why and – through partnership with universities, research institutes (For instance: CNRT for advance material dielectric behaviour, SCK-CEN for In Core simulation related to Neutron sensors) to launch survey on fundamental knowledge on specific topics declared to be strategic and turn them into new technologies.

 

 

As a recognition of our expertise based on specialized technological components, THERMOCOAX has been entrusted of several Transfer Of Technology (TOT) by reputable companies like AREVA or GE.

 

 The nuclear safety culture is a fundamental part of our training cycle. All the actions launched by the Management demonstrate a firm commitment in this culture so that every individual understands its total responsibility in the nuclear safety.

 

Competitiveness On the basis of our identification of the knowledge and skills of our staff, we have in hand powerful tools to meet the most demanding requirements of our customers. Our methods of qualification of personnel directly related to the matrices of competences demonstrated their efficiency and their completeness. They are a means of effective differentiation for the selection of our company through the demonstration of our mastery of our know-how.

Inconel 625 signal transmission solutions for high-pressure applications

THERMOCOAX is used to meeting the highest standards, with more than 60 years’ experience in the nuclear and aviation industries.

We are able to manufacture and weld various materials in-house.

We had the opportunity to work with Inconel 625 to ensure the requirements were met for deep-sea in terms of pressure, tightness, and reliability.

We worked on a transmission cables solution, including feedthroughs and mechanical parts.

The main focus of the solution was the sealing at the welds.

We used our internal welding and testing capabilities to develop a multi-conductor solution for signal transmission. We now offer signal transmission solutions for up to 8 conductors.

THERMOCOAX internal capabilities:

  • Welding capabilities: TIG, plasma, laser
  • Testing capabilities: FPI, X-ray, ESS, macrography, penetrant testing level 4

 

THERMOCOAX mineral-insulated cables are able to operate when subject to 300 bars of pressure (when 3,000m/10,000ft under water) for 30 years.

They have been subject to up to 450 bars of pressure during the qualification process.

Our solution is compliant with ASME BPVC Section IX.

 The THERMOCOAX mineral-insulated cable is an alternative to polymer-based power and control cable systems :

– Suitable for high temperatures/high pressures
– Not thermally degradable
– Not susceptible to fluid getting into the sheath
Easier to connect and interface with other equipment: no need for pressure- adaption devices.

         => Lower CAPEX, longer lifetime

Our mineral-insulated cable solutions can be used in critical environments for electrical power and control.

One use is for subsea equipment.

For example :

– Pumping systems
– Transformers
– Heating systems
– Power supplies for control systems
– Valves
– Sensing devices
– Metering devices
– Blowout preventers

 

THERMOCOAX works with a permanent improvement strategy in terms of:

  • Design
  • Manufacturing process
  • Cost reduction

 

 We adapt to customers’ specific requests.

THERMOCOAX is fully established in the US and supplies ASIA directly.

Thermal chucks and pedestals for ALD deposition processes

Thermal chucks for front-end wafer processes have demanding specifications and require constant improvement and innovation.

We are working closely with our OEM customers on improving our thermal chuck specifications to reduce the manufacturing deposition cycle time, to increase the yield in wafer production, and to be able to work with new precursors.

Temperatre uniformity across the surface of the chuck is always our first priority when we design a new chuck.

To achieve the uniformity our customers want, we custom design the chucks, from the heating cable to the plate material.

We are able to do this because we design and manufacture our own Mineral Insulated Cables inhouse. We adapt the internal structure of the cables to ensure the best quality when it comes to the finished product’s temperature uniformity, while conforming to the maximum temperature restrictions, with multiple heating zones.

The temperature control on the surface of the chuck is important for the process. We use fast response time thermocouples on different areas of the plate. At the prototyping phase,  we use more precise solutions to guarantee the temperature is uniform across the surface of the chuck and to control the gradient between the different heating zones.

Detailed thermal analysis is used for ensuring temperature uniformity across the wafer.

The transfer of heat between the chuck and the wafer affects the temperature uniformity and the wafer’s temperature requirements.

We offer several texturing solutions that improve this parameter.

The mechanical support is also important, including the design of the plate and the material used.

Our in-house high precision machining capabilities are a real asset at the prototyping phase and then for high-volume manufacturing.

Specific heat treatments and coatings can be used to meet high expectations and demanding specifications from our customers.

Our thermal chucks are used in ultra high vacuum and corrosive enviroments. The choice of the material and the welding process used for the encapsulation plates and for fixing the mineral insulated cable to the plate is essential.

The material means it requires to be cleaned less frequently on manufacturing . The welding process guarantees that there is no outgassing of the material in the deposition chamber.

 

FROM PROTOTYPING TO HIGH-VOLUME MANUFACTURING

We design and manufacture the chucks in-house and control the dimensions with high-performing tridimensional CMM control facilities.

 

 

THERMOCOAX  metal chucks are available in stainless steel, Inconel or a special alloy offering high dimensional stability.

  • diameters of up to 450mm (18″).
  • up to 7 state of the art separate heating zones
  • Maximum temperatures of up to 900°C.

The temperature of each heating zone is controlled independently.

We meet the requirements of the SEMICON market in terms of repeatability, temperature uniformity, production control, quality monitoring and COPY EXACT for high-volume manufacturing.

We adapt the feedthrough by offering customised bushings and flanges.

The following are also optional:

  • A cooling channel
  • A gas line
  • Vacuum wafer sucking
  • Anti-slice grooving

THERMOCOAX is constantly striving to improve in the following areas:

  • Design
  • Manufacturing process
  • Cost reduction

  

We are highly adaptable to customers’ specific requests

THERMOCOAX has a full-scale presence in the US and supplies ASIA directly.

 

 

HAF 604 certification’s extension

THERMOCOAX is serving the civil nuclear Chinese market for more than 20 years as an authorized exporter for safety related components for nuclear power plant.

We are proud to announce that our HAF 604 certification has been extended by the National Nuclear Safety Administration (NNSA) of People’s Republic of China) till 2022.

This certification initially issued in 2011 has been extended to additional product categories so that THERMOCOAX can now cover a wide range of I&C solutions in term of design and manufacturing of safety related CABLING and SENSORS for InCore and ExCore application.

THERMOCOAX will strengthen its position by providing more cabling for new reactor type like HUALONG, EPR or upgrade solutions for Gen 2 Nuclear Power plant.

作为核电站安全相关部件的授权出口商,THERMOCOAX在中国民用核市场服务了20多年。我们自豪地宣布,我们的HAF604认证已由中华人民共和国国家核安全局(NNSA)延长至2022年。2011年发布的这一认证已扩展到其他产品类别, Thermocoax现在可以在设计和制造用于堆芯和堆芯应用的安全相关电缆和传感器方面涵盖广泛的I&C解决方案。

Thermocoax将通过为华龙、EPR等新型反应堆或2代核电站升级解决方案提供更多电缆来巩固其地位。

 

HAF 604 certification
Copy of the HAF 604 certification

Safety-Related Cabling system for Gen 3+ Reactors: LOCA and Severe Accident-Proofness

Introduction

As a reaction to the Fukushima disaster, authorities implemented a number of improvements in nuclear power plants (NPP) in order to improve safety.

Some of them are related to the survivability of safety-related sensors located in the containment.

In the event of an accident, the conveyance of a signal from safety-related sensors to the containment wall penetration is key.

Thermocoax is developing specific cabling systems for degraded harsh environments with an NPP design.

The challenge: to design a robust cabling system capable of enduring abnormal or even accident conditions over a lifespan equivalent to the NPP lifespan (i.e., 60 years).

The requirement: Signal transmission lines need to resist normal and abnormal conditions during their entire plant lifespan.

The design of the cabling systems takes into consideration adverse conditions, such as loss of coolant accident (LOCA) and/or severe accident (core melt accident, hydrogen burning), radiation, pressure and seismic conditions and are subject to a stringent test programme following national or international standard requirements (such as IEEE-383 and recommendations) overseen by various authorities.

Once all tests have been successfully passed and the 1E/K1 qualification has been obtained, a stringent manufacturing programme ensures product repeatability and traceability.

 

Nuclear application

The benefits of Thermocoax technology

 THERMOCOX develops cabling systems based on various technologies, including Mineral Insulated cable technology. No thermal and radiation ageing of the material associated with a specific assembly and manufacturing process results in an extra-long lifespan.

From a technical standpoint, our MI cable technology offers the ultimate performance in terms of withstanding pressure, radiation and temperature compared with other technologies.

No replacement during the lifespan of the NPP is required, resulting in a low cost of ownership; intervention in a contaminated area being a much higher cost factor than the product cost.

 

THERMOCOAX and nuclear SOLUTIONS

THERMOCOAX Nuclear specialises in In-Core and Ex-Core SOLUTIONS, such as:

  • Sensors (neutron flux & gamma flux, temperature measurement and level & flow measurement
  • Cabling systems
  • Heating solutions

 

THERMOCOAX builds its future on the site of Normand’Innov.

June the 27th was a landmark day for Thermocoax, a global expert in thermal solutions for the advanced markets.

After the acquisition by the Spirax-Sarco Engineering plc group on May the 13th, 2019, the Normandy plant staff was honored by the visit of the Group’s General Manager, Mr. Nicholas Anderson, on the Normand’Innov site for a presentation of the group and its ambitions for Thermocoax, followed by discussions and questions/answers with the teams.

It is on this site, located in Caligny, that will be built the new Thermocoax plant, called “Project One”.

On an area of 12 000m², this building will gather the 4 existing plants to date at Athis Val de Rouvre and Saint-Georges des Groseillers, offering additional floor space. Moreover with 3,500m² dedicated to potential expansion, Thermocoax will be able to fully meet the needs of its growing number of customers in the nuclear, semiconductors and aeronautics sectors.

The afternoon of June 27th, 2019, gathered around Mr Nick Anderson and Mr Dominique Mallet, all the local and regional partners who actively participate in the success of the project.

During an institutional event on the Normand’Innov site, a letter of intent was signed between the Region, the Department, Flers Agglo, Shéma and Thermocoax.

A festive starting point after long meetings and before the rise of a brand new factory for Thermocoax in Normandy.

Thermocoax’ team on site
Partners of the project on site

 

 

THERMOCOAX is now part of the SPIRAX-SARCO ENGINEERING PLC GROUP

Spirax-Sarco Engineering plc, which specializes in the control and efficient use of steam, and in peristaltic pumping and associated fluid path technologies, is pleased to announce the completion of the acquisition of Thermocoax, details of which were announced on May 13th 2019.

Nicholas Anderson, Group Chief Executive of Spirax Sarco, said:

« We have developed an exciting strategy for Thermocoax, which will sit within the electrical process heating business of our Group, which was created in 2017 with the acquisition of Chromalox in the United States. Our goal is to elevate the position of both brands in their markets by combining the potential of Thermocoax with that of Chromalox, while strengthening the Thermocoax brand worldwide. »

About Spirax Sarco

Spirax‐Sarco Engineering plc is a thermal energy management and niche pumping specialist. It comprises three world‐leading businesses: Steam Specialties, for the control and management of steam; Chromalox, for electrical thermal energy solutions; and Watson-Marlow, for peristaltic pumping and associated fluid path technologies. The Steam Specialties business and Chromalox provide a broad range of fluid control and electrical process heating products, engineered packages, site services and systems expertise for a diverse range of industrial and institutional customers.  Both businesses help their end users to improve production efficiency, meet their environmental sustainability targets, improve product quality and enhance the safety of their operations.  Watson‐Marlow Fluid Technology Group offers the ideal solution for a wide variety of demanding fluid path applications with highly accurate, controllable and virtually maintenance free pumps and associated technologies.

The Group is headquartered in Cheltenham, UK, has strategically located manufacturing plants around the world and employs over 7,800 people, of whom over 1,600 are direct sales and service engineers.  Its shares have been listed on the London Stock Exchange since 1959 (symbol: SPX) and it is a constituent of the FTSE 100 index.

Further information can be found at www.spiraxsarcoengineering.com