INMR is pleased to announce that Jean-Marie George, Scientific Director at Sediver, has been selected as recipient of the 2018 Claude de Tourreil Memorial Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Field of Electrical Insulators. This is the 10th anniversary of this annual award, first presented in 2009 to honor the memory of one of the insulator world’s most dedicated and respected experts, who passed away from leukemia in March 2006.
Claude de Tourreil became intrigued by insulators while working at the research laboratories of Hydro-Québec in Canada during the 1980s and 90s. This was an era when composite insulator technology had made a market breakthrough – going from being viewed as mainly experimental to attaining acceptance on line projects across the globe. Thanks to his many scientific papers and especially his work both within Cigre and as Expert Columnist for INMR from 1998 to 2006, engineers the world over began to learn important details about this emerging technology. In his later years, Claude joined Sediver, where he worked at the research center in Saint-Yorre, France. During this final period of his life, he had become increasingly concerned. He was worried that pressures at the time on lowering costs combined with reduced utility investment both in research and in the grid would undermine the quality of critical system components such as insulators.
Like Claude, Jean-Marie has devoted his professional life to electrical insulators. He was initially involved in quality control for production of composite insulators, where Sediver was among the early pioneers and knowledge leaders. By the early 2000s, however, the company had undergone a strategic re-alignment of its insulator business, with emphasis moving away from composite types and entirely to toughened glass technology. Jean-Marie first explained this shift during the 2005 INMR WORLD CONGRESS in Hong Kong, where he began to question the future reliability of lines equipped with composite insulators. Indeed, this was a period where early generation composite insulators were revealing unexpected shortcomings, either in materials, design or manufacturing.
Over the past 15 years, Jean-Marie has worked tirelessly to promote greater use of toughened glass insulators. He has done this partly through better education of users into potential problems with alternative technologies and partly by highlighting the significant possible quality variations in glass insulators coming from different suppliers. For example, during the General Meeting of Cigre in 2016, new tests and methodologies were proposed to help users ‘weed out’ glass insulators of inferior or inconsistent quality. This proved highly effective since many users had come to regard glass insulators as a standardized commodity with little variation in quality. Jean-Marie has also worked to develop valuable software tools intended to facilitate specification of optimal profile and creepage of glass string insulators for the intended service environment.
The net result has been that toughened glass, which could well have been the primary ‘victim’ from the growing popularity of composite insulators on overhead lines, has been able to retain its market share. Indeed, many of the utilities that have used toughened glass for decades continue to show a decided preference for this technology. At the same time, Jean-Marie has worked to promote development of new variants, such as glass insulators pre-coated in the factory with RTV-silicone material. This has allowed glass insulators to expand their range of application to include use in heavy pollution environments without need for regular washing.
Claude was an impassioned advocate for advancing insulator technologies. But he was first and foremost a practical engineer who focused not only on risk of failure but also on consequences of failure. In this regard, he would surely have been pleased that Jean- Marie’s work is being honored in his memory. INMR and its many thousands of readers throughout the world congratulate Jean-Marie George on his accomplishments as well as on his continuing contribution to ensuring cost-effective and reliable power grids.
Marvin L. Zimmerman