09 Jan 2014

Saskatoon engineering company rises to a synchrotron-sized challenge

New EPU machine one of a kind

When scientists and engineers at the Canadian Light Source were designing a new experimental station at the synchrotron, the demand for a state-of-the-art piece of equipment was essential for future research. RMD Engineering in Saskatoon was chosen to build the CLS-designed machine, and positioned the company as a world-class manufacturer of sophisticated synchrotron equipment in the process.

“The new elliptical polarizing undulator is the largest of its kind in the world,” said Mike McKibben, CLS director of technical support.  “The EPU uses powerful magnets to cause the electron beam of the synchrotron to generate X-rays of controllable polarization.”  

The CLS has two EPUs in operation; however the structure built by RMD is unique, added McKibben, “as this EPU can switch between high-energy and low-energy experiments. This allows researchers using the synchrotron to study and develop state-of-the art technology, from superconductors to car batteries.”

RMD Engineering owner Jim Boire said that turning the design of the EPU into a state-of-the art machine was a considerable challenge, but one that his company was ready for.

“We have the capability to compete with anyone in the world on these projects,” said Boire. “We have the people, the ingenuity and the determination to compete for these kinds of projects and we hope to continue manufacturing for the CLS and synchrotrons around the world.”

Boire said his company spent over 9,500 work-hours of engineering, machining and assembly to put together the nearly 1,100 parts, including 865 manufactured components. 

Now that the RMD-built structure has arrived at the synchrotron, CLS engineers will calibrate the machine and position 1,560 rare earth magnets onto the EPU. Once testing and calibration is complete, the EPU will be moved into the storage ring area of the synchrotron for use in experiments on a new beamline called QMSC, an experimental station that will be operational in 2015.

The EPU has dimensions of 4170mmx2685mmx2800mm and weighs approximately 13,500 kg. It can produce anywhere from 15-200 eV (low energy) to 200 – 1000 eV (high energy).

Canadian Light Source Director of Technical Support, Mike McKibben (left), stands next to the new elliptical polarizing undulator (EPU) in the CLS booster ring.
On the right, RMD Engineering owners Jim and Sheila Boire with the EPU at their engineering facility in Saskatoon. 

These photos are available for use with a Creative Commons license in the CLS Flickr gallery
http://flic.kr/s/aHsjQkBHLF

About the CLS:

The Canadian Light Source is Canada’s national centre for synchrotron research and a global centre of excellence in synchrotron science and its applications. Located on the University of Saskatchewan campus in Saskatoon, the CLS has hosted 1,700 researchers from academic institutions, government, and industry from 10 provinces and territories; delivered over 26,000 experimental shifts; received over 6,600 user visits; and provided a scientific service critical in over 1,000 scientific publications, since beginning operations in 2005.

CLS operations are funded by Canada Foundation for Innovation, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, Western Economic Diversification Canada, National Research Council of Canada, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Government of Saskatchewan and the University of Saskatchewan.

Synchrotrons work by accelerating electrons in a tube to nearly the speed of light using powerful magnets and radio frequency waves. By manipulating the electrons, scientists can select different forms of very bright light using a spectrum of X-ray, infrared, and ultraviolet light to conduct experiments.

Synchrotrons are used to probe the structure of matter and analyze a host of physical, chemical, geological and biological processes. Information obtained by scientists can be used to help design new drugs, examine the structure of surfaces in order to develop more effective motor oils, build more powerful computer chips, develop new materials for safer medical implants, and help clean up mining wastes, to name a few applications.

For more information visit the CLS website 
For photos to accompany this story and more images from the CLS visit our Flickr gallery

About RMD Engineering:

RMD is a Saskatchewan owned, fully Integrated, design, fabrication, installation and maintenance Engineering company serving Saskatchewan’s industrial and resource development sectors for the last decade.

Manufacturing facility encompasses state of the art equipment and technologies along with a dedicated team of highly skilled engineering and design personnel and our welders, machinists, mechanics and electricians are true craftsmen who take pride in their work and are committed to 100% customer satisfaction.

For more information visit the RMD Website www.rmd-engineering.com

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