How to move a 200-ton spectrometer across Europe

12 mayo 2008

In November 2006, people living at Leopoldshafen, in Germany, witnessed a 200-ton container moving across the streets. It looked like an alien spaceship, but it was actually the main spectrometer of the KATRIN experiment, a project that will try to to measure the mass of the electron neutrino in 2009.

The main spectrometer is manufactured from stainless steel sheets, and it's 24-meter long, a size that have never been built before. The detector was manufactured by MAN DWE in Deggendorf, but then had to be brought to Karlsruhe, which is about 400 km away from Deggendorf. However, since the tank was too big for European roads, they had to take an interesting detour.

After the vessel was built, scientists found a slight problem of transportability from Deggendorf to Karlsruhe: The tank was too big for motorways, and the canal between the rivers Rhine and Danube has to be ruled out, too. Thus, instead of a journey of about 400 km, the spectrometer has to travel nearly 9000 km as indicated in the map:

From Bavaria they shipped it on the Danube river to the Black Sea, from there via the Mediterranean through the Strait of Gibraltar to the Atlantic Ocean all the way up to the Netherlands. On the Rhine River then they shipped it all the way to Leopoldshafen. [1]

The most difficult part was about to come then: the last 7 km, from the Rhine river to the research center, the spectrometer had to move across the narrow streets of some German locations.

At this point they had to uninstall traffic lights, cut trees, even uninstall some electrical wires. During the operation, they had two 14 ax lorries which were manoevered by a man standing on the first one using a remote control and having helpers to give him directions.

More info and sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 / Click on the pictures to see the credits

See also: How to move a 900-ton brick building / Inside Super K

Via: Popular Science