Amec Foster Wheeler announces today the award of a series of contracts from CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, to carry out radiochemical testing. The work, which began earlier this year and is ongoing, involves characterisation of waste components taken from high energy accelerators including the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world’s largest particle accelerator.Samples are sent from CERN’s headquarters near Geneva for analysis at Amec Foster Wheeler’s laboratories.
Greg Willetts, Consultancy Director at Amec Foster Wheeler’s Clean Energy business, said: “CERN is one of the world’s most prestigious science projects and sets very high standards for its suppliers. “We have received excellent feedback about the quality of our work and have exceeded CERN’s expectations by delivering fully accredited results within five weeks on average, rather than the three months specified in the contracts. “We aim to build on this developing relationship with CERN and offer a wider range of Amec Foster Wheeler services. This work complements our strategy to support ‘Big Science’ projects with engineering, project management and scientific consultancy, as well as the work we are doing at ITER, the world’s largest nuclear fusion project.”
The LHC, a 17-mile ring of superconducting magnets which steer proton beams travelling at close to the speed of light, has enabled physicists and engineers to understand better how ordinary matter is constituted, for example by confirming the existence of the Higgs boson and discovering a new class of particles known as pentaquarks.
When protons deviate from the beam, they collide with magnets or other machine components and this produces a low level of induced activity in the materials. When some components are removed from the accelerators, radiochemical testing is required to ensure that they can be disposed of in the safest and most cost-effective way.
Amec Foster Wheeler’s radiochemical laboratories are some of the largest in the UK, carrying out independent testing for nuclear operators, research institutes, decommissioning contractors, contaminated land consultants, local authorities, regulators, water companies and defence establishments.