University College London: SuperNEMO

Case Study


University College London: SuperNEMO

The brief

The SuperNEMO experiment by University College London’s Mullard Space Science Laboratory (MSSL) was an international collaboration to search for very rare and special nuclear decays which, if observed, would have huge implications for physics and cosmology. The challenge for experiments searching for rare decays is to eliminate, as far as possible, the noise from natural background radiation. A highly sensitive multi-section instrument is used to screen for traces of natural radioactivity.

Construction, assembly and transportation of the instrument must be carried out in a carefully controlled and clean environment to avoid any contamination. The instrument was a one-off design and had taken many years to develop, therefore absolute confidence was required for the protective transit solution to ensure the mission was a success.

The solution

A safe and highly-controlled way to transport the detector between the laboratories was needed. The Barum & Dewar team built two highly bespoke DELTA containers with wire rope shock mounted frames to transport the detector instrument, from a clean room in the UK to its destination, 10 miles underneath the French Alps. The vibration damping frame was required to be continually purged with dry air throughout the journey, and the attached sensors monitored humidity, pressure and temperature within the DELTA container. 

Barum & Dewar value

This was our first major project with University College London. The B&D team’s ability to propose an alternative transit solution suitable for numerous trips for the multi-section instrument, rather than a traditional fabricated solution, provided the client team with complete project confidence. The container measured an impressive 4.75m x 2.5m x 3.7m and weighed in at an all up gross mass of 5000kg.

Also critical to the success of the project was the analysis undertaken on the performance of the mounts used within the containers, so that the payloads could be safely transported and able to withstand any shock or vibration during handling and transport.

Client Impact

The tracker module was successfully installed at Laboratoire Souterrain de Modane and the assembly and commissioning was successfully completed with physics data-taking able to commence shortly afterwards. 

Barum & Dewar project feedback

With our extensive experience in transporting the most sensitive and specialist equipment, there is no challenge that our specialist team are not able to solve.