The Basque technology centre will be carrying out scientific developments worth over 4 million euros
Yesterday, Tekniker-IK4 and the new European Neutron Spallation Source (ESS), with its headquarters in Lund (Sweden), signed the agreement by which the Basque technology centre will over the coming two years be leading part of the updating of the design of the biggest European scientific facilities, with developments valued in excess of 4 million euros. The signing of the agreement held in Bilbao yesterday was attended by the CEO of Tekniker-IK4, Alejandro Bengoa, and the Director General of the ESS, Colin Carlile.
By virtue of the agreement, on a European level this year and next year the Basque technology centre will be leading the work package consisting of the updating of the design of the accelerator and the necessary underlying systems to enable it to function properly; it is a critical component in the facility.
This way Tekniker-IK4 will be joining the defining core of the biggest European scientific facility; it will be leading a team that has the collaboration of the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) of Switzerland, the French National Institute for Nuclear and Particle Physics (IN2P3), the prestigious German research centre for the structure of matter (DESY), the SNS of the United States and leading companies in facilities like Air Liquide, Linde, etc.
The work of the Basque technology centre will be focussing on the updating of a broad package of technological solutions that include, among others, the electrical system of the linear accelerator; the generation, maintenance and control system of the high vacuum in the beam cavity; the development of the cryogenic plant that supplies the liquid helium to the accelerator cavities; and the development and modelling of the functional prototypes of its components.
In view of the uniqueness, complexity and size of the main scientific facility project in Europe, we are therefore talking about a major scientific and technological challenge which has entrusted Tekniker-IK4 with one of the critical points in bringing it into service, given the centre's experience and specialisation in scientific facilities and precision engineering.
Tekniker-IK4's function in the project likewise sets it up as the liaison between the project to update the design of the Spallation Source and the consortium that will be handling the construction of it: the link between the design of the machine and the constructors. In this task one of the aims of the Basque centre is to open up the door to the participation of Spanish industry in the construction of the European Neutron Spallation Source.
On the technological side, one of the main challenges facing the Basque centre is to make facilities of this type more efficient in order to cut the energy consumption, ancillary costs and environmental footprint of the facility. In actual fact, Tekniker-IK4 will be coordinating the commitment of the ESS to renewable energy sources and will be endeavouring to maximize the consumption of energy covered by renewable sources.
The ESS, the most powerful neutron source worldwide
With this project the European scientific community is aiming to put itself at the forefront worldwide in this kind of technology, and overtake the current leaders in this sphere, which are the United States and Japan.
Since the start of 2009, the ESS project has been in a pre-construction phase which is set to culminate at the end of 2012, and this is the framework for the updating of the design within which Tekniker-IK4 will be working. The source is expected to go on line by 2019, and to be fully operational in 2025. The total cost of the facility has been put at 1,480 millions euros.
Its important and varied applications will turn the ESS into a scientific facility of the first order worldwide for research and industrial development. From the scientific point of view, it will open up a new world of opportunities for researchers in the most diverse disciplines of knowledge: chemistry, energy, nanotechnologies, environmental engineering, food or pharmaceutical research.
The source of neutrons is comparable with a huge microscope in which neutrons are used to probe matter, and the ancillary high precision instruments allow detailed analyses of the samples installed to be carried out. In short, the ESS will be contributing towards increasing our knowledge about the laws of nature, and the results of the research using the ESS will be crucial for technical and scientific progress. From the moment the idea was born in 1993 over 300 scientists from 11 countries have participated in the specifying of the initiative, in a development that has already been in progress for over 15 years.
What has been crucial in the choice of Tekniker-IK4 as a key agent in the starting up phase of the ESS is its experience in the carrying out of scientific developments for large European facilities. In fact, four of them already have Basque technology thanks to its participation in their projects. Over the last ten years the technology centre has been involved in over ten scientific developments for these facilities, and has several more at the project stage.
With experience spanning nearly 30 years in research into applied technology and its transfer to companies, the Tekniker-IK4 technology centre has achieved a high degree of specialisation in four major areas (Precision Engineering and Mechatronics, Surface Engineering, Production and Automation Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies), which enables it to puts its state-of-the-art technology at the service of any type of task.