When you think of the word fast, what comes to mind? An IndyCar can whip around a racetrack at a top speed of 237 mph. A top fuel dragster hits 336 mph in a blistering 3.7 seconds. Our Earth orbits the sun at 67,000 mph.
Obviously the term “fast” is relative, but even the speed of our planet in orbit can’t compare to what is happening underground at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider, the world’s most powerful particle accelerator located near Geneva, Switzerland. There, particles are accelerated to .999997828 times the speed of light in a temperature colder than outer space (-271.3 C).
Back in the U.S., the Cornell Laboratory for Accelerator-based ScienceS and Education, or CLASSE for short, needed some heavy duty shielding for some accelerator physics of its own as it seeks to equip the next generation of scientists with the knowledge they need for their careers.
With great power, however, comes great responsibility, and in this case that includes shielding this high-powered machinery properly. To do that, Kistner Concrete Products in Lockport, N.Y., was contracted to manufacture highly customized precast concrete wall panels and slabs.
“The school contacted me, and I really sold them on the NPCA quality program,” said Mike Kistner, vice president of Kistner Concrete. “They knew they wanted to go concrete and had to go precast to meet their timeframe, which was very short. The slabs all have a lot of embedments and an exterior steel cage – these were really special units.”
Each of the 24 precast panels measures 2 feet wide, 4 feet long and 8 feet tall and comes with a custom steel exterior framework, a steel labyrinth void and heavy reinforcement. The 35 slabs, approximately 6 feet wide, 14-to-17 feet long and 14 inches thick, are steel reinforced with railing embeds that are custom to each slab.
“The job went very smoothly, and there was a lot of communication,” Kistner said. “We moved it ahead for them based on their accelerated schedule – I was ordering materials prior to receiving the final purchase order – and the performance of our products not only met their needs, but did so in that extremely tight time schedule.”
The team at Cornell had partnered with Kistner Concrete twice in the past, which gave them a level of confidence going into the project. In the end, they were pleased with the precast products and how they performed in the field.
“A precast solution was seemingly our best option, especially to meet our aggressive timeline,” said Tim O’Connell, director of operations, engineering/fabrication – CLASSE. “Their expertise and extensive experience in this field were paramount to this project’s success. The end products were exactly as promised; they also provided some retrofit solutions once fabrication began at their Lockport facility.”
While the accelerated project schedule may not have moved at the pace of an electron traveling at nearly the speed of light, it was indeed fast and the use of precast concrete for key elements of the project ensured that it was completed on time and with the highest degree of quality.