Quality assured in the subatomic world

Only tested pipe supports were installed in the European XFEL pump house. As part of a European cooperation project an ultra-modern and unique research facility is being built between Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein – the 3.4 kilometre-long European X-ray Free-Electron Laser (XFEL). Beginning in 2015 extremely intensive, ultra-short flashes of X-ray light will be produced, which research scientists from all over the world will use. Cooling the huge amount of energy used is a huge task. Some 24 tons of fixing material will be used to secure the pipes required for the water cooled infrastructure – exclusively labelled with the RAL quality mark pipe supports. 

The project will open up completely new opportunities for natural scientists as well as industrial development engineers. And the seal of approval of the RAL Quality Assurance Association for pipe supports is playing an important role. The reason is the cooling water and compressed air supply lines used in the pump house of the XFEL accelerator tunnel to cool the infrastructure have been installed exclusively using fixing systems designed and produced by the quality assurance association member MEFA based in Kupferzell, Germany, and which bear this seal of approval.

DESY planning experts placed their faith in C-rail constructions and demanded RAL specifications in their invitation to tender (DESY abbreviation for German Electron Synchrotron).

"That is a standard that the manufacturer knows and understands what he has to comply with", says DESY engineer Frank-Reinhard Ullrich. MEFA is a manufacturer with whom the systems engineer Kliewe and DESY cooperate. Benjamin Schütze, responsible for project planning and site management at Kliewe, estimates that between 22 and 24 tons of fixing material was installed. All of the material is RAL quality assured. "That was demanded by the authorities that all structural analyses were verified. MEFA took care of that for us", Mr Schütze explains.

DESY decided for operational safety reasons that the invitation to tender would require exclusively RAL quality assured fixings. That had already been the case in a different hall, the people from Kliewe explain. They are quite familiar with MEFA material, having installed some

130-140 tons of it in the past six years. And the mark of quality is already required for future conversions and upgrades.

In construction since 2009 in Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein the DESY research facility can only be described with superlatives. European XFEL is the name of the project costing more than a billion euros. X stands for X-ray, FEL for Free-Electron Laser. It generates ultra-short flashes of X-ray light at a fascinating 27,000 times a second with a luminosity a billion times brighter than those produced by the best conventional X-ray sources.

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