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Araldite Adhesives Play Role in Revealing Origins of Universe

  • Friday, 19th November 2004
  • Reading time: about 4 minutes

Araldite adhesives are set to play a role in Europe’s biggest-ever scientific experiment at the European Centre for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva, Switzerland to help scientists gain a better understanding of the origins of the universe.

Engineers from the National Institute of Physics in Padua (INFN), Italy who are working on the £1 billion (GBP) project, have specified the use of Araldite 2011 epoxy engineering adhesive to construct key parts of a 125,000 tonne Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) particle detector. Developed by experts at Huntsman Advanced Materials, Araldite 2011 was qualified to meet the stringent design parameters and withstand extreme experimental conditions.

When complete, the detector will be placed 100 metres below ground and monitor the activity of The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) – an enormous particle accelerator that mimics conditions less than a billionth of a second after the Big Bang and reveals clues relating to laws governing nature and matter in the Universe.

The LHC will be switched on in 2007 and will project a beam of high-energy particles 30 km along a tunnel 100 metres below the earth’s surface. During this process very high energy particles will collide at over 800 million times a second. The CMS detector will monitor what happens as particles interact, processing 10 million pieces of information per collision.

Over 2000 engineers and nuclear physicists are involved in the development of the CMS particle detector. The muon detector is a key component and comprises individual chambers constructed from aluminium sandwich panels and honeycomb composite structures. The majority of chambers (74) are under construction at the INFN’s National Laboratories of Legnaro with the help of teams from Padua and Bologna. Other chambers are being built in Madrid, Aachen and Turin.

Each panel is made of two metre x three metre metal sheets bonded to a middle layer of aluminium with Araldite 2011, a multi-purpose, two-component paste. Each middle layer consists of numerous empty cells where wiring is inserted and where gas will flow during the experiment. The chambers will be assembled at the INFN laboratory in Legnaro, near Padua, and shipped to CERN in Geneva where the final 21 metre long structure, which measures 16 metres in diameter, will be assembled.

Dr Checchia, researcher at INFN in Italy said, “The reliability of the CMS detector is pivotal to understanding what happens when the particles collide and is central to the success of the entire project at CERN. The scale of the experiment means there is absolutely no margin for error. Our engineers need unequivocal guarantees that materials employed will deliver the highest performance levels and maintain the structural integrity of the detector under the most extreme conditions.”

He continued, “We have been using Araldite adhesives for many years because of the brands reliability, excellent resistance and bonding strength with aluminium substrates. Its sealing properties are vital to maintaining an insulated environment where argon and carbon dioxide gas will be injected. A series of tests have proved that Araldite 2011 demonstrates excellent shear and peel resistance at pressures up to 50mb (millibars of over pressure). Additionally, Araldite 2011 does not release any residues which could contaminate gas within the chamber and has met all the requirements of this ground-breaking global experiment.”

Stuart J Thompson, head of adhesive technical support EMEA at Huntsman Advanced Materials said, “Huntsman’s range of Araldite structural and industrial adhesives have long been associated with the very latest technical, industrial and scientific advances. Each year they enable design engineers to bring innovative projects to life in a range of markets. The use of Araldite adhesives by the world’s leading engineers and scientists involved in the CMS project is testimony to the performance of our products and we are delighted to be involved in such an exciting endeavour.”

Engineers at INFN have designed a unique piece of equipment to automatically mix and dispense Araldite 2011 for the CMS project. The kit consists of a wide table and a mechanical arm moving in three directions and powered by a small computer controlled engine. After cleaning the surface of the aluminium, the substrates are bonded and kept together using weights. Curing at room temperature is complete after 12 hours.

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