The Einstein Telescope is a yet-to-be-established observatory that will investigate the distant universe using gravitational waves. It will be decided in 2025 where this research center will be built. The border region of the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany is a possible location. Researchers, companies and governments in this region are exploring the possibilities together. Sitech has also been asked to contribute ideas. Technology Manager Peter Bosmans about our contribution.
Discoveries by gravitational waves
“The Einstein Telescope measures gravitational waves,” explains Peter. “These were first observed in September 2015. This gives researchers a new way to study the universe. And that can lead to discoveries, for example about what happened just after the Big Bang. This gives us new insights into our universe. Advanced techniques must be developed to enable the construction of the Einstein Telescope. The knowledge gained through this will ultimately also benefit humanity.”
Extreme cooling and vacuum technology required
What kind of techniques still need to be developed? Peter gives an example: “Part of the installation of the Einstein Telescope is underground in tunnels of 10 and 30 kilometers in length. To accurately measure gravitational waves, it is important that the underground installation remains cool, about -259˚ Centigrade. Also, no moisture must be present to get a good signal, vacuum machines are needed for that. Cooling installations and vacuum units are therefore installed in the tunnels every 100 meters. The technology to stay so deep in the cooling and vacuum zone has yet to be developed.”
Favorable business climate
The presence of knowledge institutions and high-tech companies makes this region a possible location for the Einstein Telescope. Peter: “Peace, a stable soil and a strong ecosystem are also important factors that make this region suitable. Sardinia is also in the running as a possible location. The most suitable location will probably be announced in 2025. If the choice falls on this region, it will provide employment for more than 1,000 people over the next fifty years.”
Role of Sitech
“Sitech has been approached for participation by LIOF, the regional development company of the Province of Limburg," he continues. "They want to use our expertise in the development and maintenance of the cooling and vacuum installations of the Einstein Telescope.” ( =Peter Bosmans, Technology Manager
They also want to use Sitech 's knowledge to maximize the performance of these installations. And thus extend the lifespan – now estimated at 50 years. That means work for various Sitech disciplines: Technology & Innovation, Maintenance, Turn Arounds and Projects.
Researchers, companies and governments are jointly exploring the possibilities of bringing the Einstein Telescope to this region. Interested countries in Europe are expected to announce their formal candidacy for the Einstein Telescope in 2023/2024.
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