The LHC enters a new phase

After achieving the world record energy of 1.18 TeV per proton beam last November, the LHC is now preparing for higher energy and luminosity.


The teams are working in the tunnel to improve the electrical reliability of the magnet protection system.
Before the 2009 running period began, all the necessary preparations to run the LHC at the collision energy of 1.18 TeV per beam had been carried out. The goal of the technical stop, which will end mid-February, is to prepare the machine for running at 3.5 TeV per beam. In order to achieve that, a current as high as 6 kAmps will have to flow into the LHC magnets.

The main work is taking place on the new quench protection system (nQPS) where teams are improving the electrical reliability of the connection between the Instrumentation Feedthrough Systems (IFS) on the magnets and the nQPS equipment. There are around 500 of these connectors for each of the eight sectors in the LHC that need to be repaired. These operations are necessary to ensure that higher currents can be safely handled.

The interventions on the nQPS follow a very strict procedure that ensures an extremely accurate quality control of the repairs: after repairing the electrical connections, specialized teams make a first visual control to check that everything is properly assembled; after that, the Electrical Quality Assurance (ELQA) team performs the high voltage tests; finally, the Hardware Commissioning teams power the magnets, initially with low current and finally at 6 kAmps.

Several teams are taking advantage of the technical stop to carry on other technical verifications and efficiency tests, for instance on some vacuum pumping units, the kicker system, the Oxygen Deficiency Hazard detectors, some ventilation components and a few others.

At present, all teams are on schedule: the powering tests have just started in Sectors 8-1 and 1-2; Sectors 2-3, 3-4 and 4-5 will follow shortly. According to the planning Sector 1-2 will be the first sector ready for beam operation by the end of January.

At the same time as the LHC interventions, repairs are going on at CMS on the water cooling system. All work, both in the LHC and in the CMS experiment, is expected to be completed by mid-February.


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by CERN Bulletin