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LafargeHolcim develops concrete for super laser

LafargeHolcim developed a special concrete mix specifically for the European XFEL super laser in Hamburg. The cement manufacturer could also draw on its experience in tunnel construction in Switzerland.

XFEL tunnel
Image Credit: European XFEL

he world’s most powerful X-ray laser, European XFEL, has been available to researchers and industrial users since September 2017 in Hamburg. It generates 27,000 ultra-short laser flashes per second in the X-ray area in the 3.4-kilometre-long tunnel. 

This puts special demands on the material used for the super laser, which is why LafargeHolcim supplied a special concrete specifically for the tunnel system. According to a statement from the Zurich-headquartered cement manufacturer, its concrete engineers developed special concrete mixes that fulfilled the building contractor’s requirements for reduced content of aluminium, sodium, silicon and magnesium so as not to interfere with the highly sensitive measurements. The concrete mixes also underwent extensive chemical and physical tests. In addition, LafargeHolcim delivered easy-to-pump heavy concrete for radiation protection and underwater concrete. 

When it came to supplying the concrete, LafargeHolcim was able to draw upon its group-wide tunnelling expertise, particularly in Switzerland. 

The super laser was built between 2009 and 2016, a cost a total 1.22 billion euros from construction through to commissioning. Eleven countries are currently involved in the project, including Switzerland.

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