Tucked into a dry valley in western
Argentina is a formerly small town on
its way to becoming a million-resident
metropolis. Home to nearly 700,000
people, San Juan is expected to grow almost 50 percent over the next 50 years.
Because the area has a desert climate,
receiving less than 8 inches of precipitation annually, the government of Argentina took an interest in providing the
community a safe, secure water supply.
It oversaw the design and construction
of a new pipeline project, the Acueducto Gran San Juan, which will transport
drinking water from wells located approximately 15 miles west of the city to
complement the existing water system.
The new system will require construction of a water treatment plant known as
the Punta Negra plant. Located in the
Andes mountains at 4,000 feet above
sea level, the Punta Negra plant will be
built at the foot of the Punta Negra Dam.
The water collected by the plant will be
treated by several processes, then transported through the Gran San Juan Aqueduct to Zonda and Gran San Juan, and
then through the Ullum Aqueduct to the
Marquesado Water Treatment Plant.
Of the 30 miles of pipeline needed for
this system, approximately 21 miles will
be made from high-density polyethyl-
ene. For the remainder, the project calls
for stainless steel pipe 63 in. in diame-
ter and 3⁄ 8 in. thick. This section, known
as Acueducto Gran Tulum, represents
almost half of the project’s total invest-
ment. It is being undertaken by Indus-
trias Metalúrgicas Jaime SRL, a company
that has assembled more than 4,600 tons
of stainless steel to fabricate the pipeline.
Welding Process Emerges
K-TIG became involved in the Acueducto Gran San Juan at the request of Industrias Metalúrgicas Jaime SRL.
“Before they started the project, Industrias Metalúrgicas Jaime SRL came to
me asking for the best welding method
available in the market,” said Gustavo
Gonzalez, one of the owners of industrial supplier Puertotrans SRL.
“Two years ago, the best welding
method we had for this project was sub-
merged arc welding,” he said. “It seemed
that this would be the best welding pro-
cess to use. But, after some research on
new welding technology, I found K-TIG.”
Submerged arc welding (SAW) uses a
continuously fed consumable electrode.
The weld is protected from atmospheric
contamination by being submerged un-
der a thick layer of granular flux, which
typically comprises lime, silica, manga-
nese oxide, calcium fluoride, and other
compounds. As it becomes molten, the
flux becomes conductive and provides a
current path between the electrode and
the material being welded. The flux cov-
ering the molten metal helps to reduce
sparks and spatter and suppresses the in-
tense ultraviolet radiation and fumes that
In contrast, keyhole TIG is a high-en-
ergy-density variant of gas tungsten arc
welding (GTAW), also commonly known
as tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding. The
process is a high-speed, single-pass, full-
penetration welding technology which
welds much faster than conventional
GTAW. The fundamentals behind the
technology were developed by engi-
neers at the Commonwealth Scientific
and Industrial Research Organisation, an
industrial research division of the Aus-
tralian government. The chief scientist
involved with creating the process ac-
quired the rights for the technology, and
those rights were ultimately rolled into
K-TIG, a company based in Adelaide,
the capital city of South Australia.
process a key factor
in water purification
system project Pipeline project to
plentiful water supply
for parched populace
of San Juan