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New X-ray laser at PSI: Alpiq kicks off building technology work

Alpiq InTec is about to begin installing the challenging building technology in the new large-scale research facility of the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI). The heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) technology in particular is in the premier league. “We are on track,” says Marco Hirzel from Alpiq Infra AG during a viewing of the construction site.

At its location in Villigen the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) is building a new high-tech X-ray laser – the Swiss X-ray free-electron laser (SwissFEL). The SwissFEL is one of just four XFEL facilities already up and running or under construction around the globe. In the large-scale research facility scientists will be able to visualise extremely fast processes such as the creation of new molecules in chemical reactions, to determine the detailed structure of vital proteins or to elucidate the structure of materials. SwissFEL is being erected in close vicinity to the PSI site in Würenlingen forest and extends over some 740 metres.

140 building technology specialists on site

Right now little can be seen of the high-tech laser – heavy machinery is very much in evidence during a construction site visit on a cold day at the beginning of March 2014. Most of the earthwork has been completed; more than half of the two-storey building is already structurally complete. At the end of March the specialists from Alpiq InTec will begin installing the building technology.

“Up to 100 of our employees will work on the construction site over the next few months,” says Christoph Ritter, Managing Director of the Zurich North lead region of Alpiq InTec Ost AG. They will carry out all the installation work in the areas of electrical engineering, heating, cooling, ventilation and sanitation systems – anything but a run-of-the-mill task as the client’s specifications are particularly high. One prerequisite for avoiding any disruptions whatsoever to the test facilities is a constant indoor climate; it may only deviate by maximum 0.1 degrees Celsius from the specified temperature. “We are in the premier league here when it comes to HVAC technology,” says Christoph Ritter.

Construction work on track despite complex requirements

In November 2012 the joint venture EquiFEL Suisse secured the large-scale contract for the construction of the building and the provision of the technical infrastructure. The joint venture comprises Specogna Bau AG and Eberhard Bau AG along with several Alpiq companies. Alpiq Infra AG is the lead company and is responsible for the management, planning and overall implementation of the project. Together with Alpiq InTec (Zurich North, Aargau and Basel regions), it coordinates the planning and installation of the building technology, for which Alpiq InTec Ost AG is the lead company. Alpiq Prozessautomation AG is responsible for the cooling process of specific parts of the facility.

“In a complex building project of this scale, it is important to engage jointly in comprehensive forward planning,” says Marco Hirzel, Managing Director of Alpiq Infra AG. Constant adjustments and consultations were very important. “We are on track. Despite an exacting and complicated construction process the agreed schedule is being adhered to 100 per cent,” says Marco Hirzel. The construction work is scheduled for completion mid-2015; the X-ray laser is to be put into operation in 2016 – and then supply answers as quickly as possible to the most complex scientific questions.

Please note: Construction Site Open Day

On 22 June 2014 there will be a Construction Site Open Day on the SwissFEL campus in Villigen. Those interested are cordially invited to come and visit the construction site.

EL_SwissFEL – the new large-scale facility at the Paul Scherrer Institute