8. February 2013

Focussed construction expertise for the SwissFEL

Media Releases SwissFEL

The joint venture EquiFEL Suisse, a consortium of three well-established Swiss companies, has been awarded the contract as general contractor for the construction of the SwissFEL building and for providing the necessary technical infrastructure. The contract for work and services was signed by the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI and the joint venture yesterday evening.

The X-ray Free-Electron Laser SwissFEL will produce very short pulses of X-ray light with laser properties as of 2016. Researchers will use the SwissFEL to follow extremely fast processes such as the formation of new molecules in chemical reactions, to determine the detailed structure of vital proteins and to clarify the dynamic structure of novel materials.

The PSI's new large facility is being built in the immediate vicinity of the Institute, in the Würenlingen forest.

The entire SwissFEL will be almost 740 metres long and will run mostly underground. X-ray flashes will be produced in a roughly 550-metre long electron accelerator complex and then transmitted to the experimental stations, which will also be located underground. The supply facilities will be located in the part of the building which is located above ground. The demands placed on the structural shell and the technical infrastructure are very high. Systematic protection against vibrations and a high degree of temperature stability must be guaranteed, so that trouble-free operation of the facility with the desired precision is ensured. The generation of stable X-ray flashes for the experiments requires a temperature stability of plus/minus 0.1 degree Celsius.

Due to these high demands it was essential that we appointed an experienced and efficient partner to carry out the construction and infrastructure work – we have found this partner in EquiFEL Suisse, says the Director of PSI, Joël Mesot. The EquiFEL Suisse joint venture is comprised of the companies Alpiq Infra AG, Specogna Bau AG and Eberhard Bau AG. Alpiq Infra AG directs the overall project and is responsible for providing the technical infrastructure. Specogna Bau AG and Eberhard Bau AG carry out the construction and civil engineering work, respectively. Itten+Brechbühl AG serves as the general planner.

We are looking forward to the challenge. Our motivated team is ready to tackle the dynamic planning and execution process, in partnership with the client, stressed Marco Hirzel, Managing Director of Alpiq Infra AG.

The construction work for the SwissFEL building and the technical infrastructure will start in April 2013. The completed building is due to be handed over to the Paul Scherrer Institute at the end of 2014. The installation of the machinery complex for producing the X-ray flashes and the erection of the first experimental facilities are due to take place in 2015 and 2016. The SwissFEL is scheduled to go into operation at the end of 2016.
About the SwissFEL
In constructing the SwissFEL, the Paul Scherrer Institute is responding to the growing demand for research using X-ray free-electron lasers. Upon commissioning, the SwissFEL will be one of only four such facilities in the world. It will provide insights into ultrafast processes and nanometer scale structures which have so far eluded investigation. The applications which can be derived from the research with the SwissFEL range from intelligent drug design, over increased efficiency in industrial chemical processes, to environmental friendly methods of energy production.
About PSI
The Paul Scherrer Institute develops, builds and operates large, complex research facilities, and makes them available to the national and international research community. The Institute's own key research priorities are in the investigation of matter and material, energy and the environment; and human health. PSI is Switzerland's largest research institution, with 1500 members of staff and an annual budget of approximately 300 million CHF.
About EquiFEL Suisse
The three well-established companies Eberhard Bau AG, Specogna Bau AG and Alpiq Infra AG have joined forces to create the EquiFEL Suisse joint venture, for the specific purpose of fulfilling the demanding general contractor's contract. The joint venture has explicitly focused on the very specific performance requirements and has constituted itself accordingly. Renowned technical planners were involved from the start of the tendering phase. The many special performance requirements are covered by the core competencies of the joint venture and its planners. Thanks to the companies making up the consortium, EquiFEL Suisse will be able to carry out much of the work itself, and it prides itself in having the relevant skills and expertise to meet the requirements of planning and executing the project.
Dr. Rafael Abela
SwissFEL Project, Project Leader for Photonics and Research
Paul Scherrer Institut, CH-5232 Villigen PSI
Telephone: +41 56 310 3271, E-mail: rafael.abela@psi.ch

Marco Hirzel
Alpiq Infra AG, Managing Director
Hohlstrasse 188, CH-8026 Zurich
Telephone: +41 44 247 41 90, E-mail: marco.hirzel@alpiq.com