CERN Accelerating science

QUACO companies ready for announcement
by Isabel Bejar Alonso (CERN) & Panos Charitos (CERN)

The QUACO project logo (Image: CERN)

The four companies that will participate in phase 1 of the QUACO project are expected to be announced on the 29th September 2016. QUACO is a Pre Commercial Procurement (PCP) Project (Grant Agreement 689359) with scope to procure two pilot 3.8 m quadrupole magnets with two 90 mm apertures, an integrated gradient of 440 T with 120 T/m in the transverse plane, and which will have an operational temperature of 1.9 K. The magnets will be installed in the matching sections.

PCP is the European Union’s Horizon 2020 COFUND instrument for purchasing R&D services for the development of innovative products, services or processes.  One of the biggest advantages of PCP is that it allows all involved parties, both public buyers and private suppliers, to share opportunities as well as risk. As such, public purchasers are able to acquire innovative solutions to satisfy challenging needs. In addition, the project supports the R&D of enterprises, with particular benefits for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) which are encouraged to grow their competitive capital.

Leading companies in the field of magnet production attended the first QUACO meeting to provide an impression of present needs and share feedback with CERN experts (Image: CERN)

The QUACO project draws together four research infrastructures with similar technical requirements in magnet development. By pooling efforts on technological requirements and using their experience from prior procurements, the partners in QUACO act as a single buyer group with sufficient momentum for potential suppliers to consider the phased development of the requested magnets.

The four QUACO partners are:

  • Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique et aux Energies alternatives (CEA), France,

  • European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), Switzerland,

  • Centro De Investigaciones Energeticas, Medioambientales Y Tecnologicas (CIEMAT), Spain,

  • Narodowe Centrum Badan Jadrowych (NCBJ), Poland

CERN acts as the lead procurer coordinating and leading the joint procurement in the name and on behalf of the aforementioned organisations.

The project began on 1 March 2016 and will come to an end in February 2020. It is divided into three phases: solution design, prototyping and pilot deployments, with intermediate evaluations after each phase that will progressively select the best competing solutions.

The QUACO Open Market Consultation was held at CERN on 30 March 2016. Leading companies in the field of magnet production attended the meeting to provide an impression of present needs and share feedback with CERN experts. The meeting covered a range of topics, from technical aspects, such as the current status of the Q4 magnet, its technical scope and requirements; to more legal and administrative matters, such as the legal and contractual framework in which the procurement will be executed. Moreover, CERN engineers demonstrated several examples of tools and fabrication methods that might be used in the frame the project. The project tooling requirements were explained, and the market availability and areas for development were identified.

Pre-commercial procurement is a unique and novel procurement method in the field of accelerator components, and QUACO aims to demonstrate its full potential for success in this field.