On 5 December 2016, the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) celebrated the inauguration of the X-ray laser SwissFEL. The facility, which is located close to the municipality of Villigen in the canton of Aargau, is the first energy-optimised X-ray free electron laser in the world and represents the new highlight amongst Switzerland’s research infrastructures.
Together with its partners in the general contractor consortium, Alpiq played the lead role in the planning, construction and provision of infrastructure services for the complex building. The demands placed on the 740-metre building structure and on the building technology were extremely high. For the state-of-the-art laser to function smoothly, Alpiq had to guarantee consistent vibration protection, minimal tolerances and a stable atmospheric environment. The 630-metre long beam channel was constructed with minimum tolerances, completely level, straight and without any joints. Generating flashes of X-ray radiation requires very stable climatic conditions with maximum temperature fluctuations of ±0.1 degrees within the beam channel.
Specialist for challenging building technology
Within the consortium with Specogna Bau AG and Eberhard Bau AG, Alpiq was the lead partner for civil engineering, the shell structure, interior construction and infrastructure services for this pioneering research facility. Alpiq was also responsible for the overall project management and amongst other things for the quality assurance and the project controlling. Moreover, Alpiq implemented all the building technology including heating, ventilation, air-conditioning, cooling, sanitation systems, electrical installations and building automation. During the SwissFEL project, Alpiq applied its extensive experience in the management of complex projects and was also able to draw on its holistic approach for the provision of cross-trade services. With this project, the company once again demonstrates its concentrated expertise relating to professional project management and challenging building technology projects.
After a construction and commissioning phase of almost four years, the building and research facility was inaugurated on 5 December 2016. For the construction consortium, the contract volume amounted to approximately CHF 90 million. Between March 2014 and December 2015, Alpiq deployed as many as 130 employees for the assembly of the building technology infrastructure.
X-ray radiation for experiments
The X-ray laser SwissFEL is the newest large-scale research facility at the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) in Villigen. Measuring almost 740 metres in length, the system generates extremely short impulses of X-ray radiation of laser quality. Amongst other things, this will enable researchers to visualise extremely fast chemical and physical processes. The first pilot experiments are scheduled for 2017. The SwissFEL is one of only five comparable facilities worldwide.
Find more information about the project at: https://www.psi.ch/media/overview-swissfel