Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory advances the understanding of the fundamental nature of matter and energy by providing leadership and resources for qualified researchers to conduct basic research at the frontiers of high energy physics and related disciplines. — Fermilab Mission Statement
The PPD Mechanical Engineering Department supports this research with a dedicated team of engineers, designers, and skilled technicians with a variety of specialties. The experiments and projects supported come in all sizes up to the large collider detectors at CDF and DZero. Some of the specialties include:
Finite Element Analysis (FEA) is used for the largest and smallest detector structures at Fermilab. FEA has been used to design the heavy steel detector supports and also for the very low mass central detectors for CMS and a wide variety of load carrying or pressure containing shapes in between. It is used for magneto-statics for large superconducting and resistive magnets. Silicon detectors must have extremely low mass supports and cooling systems. FEA is used for stress analysis and thermal conductivity of low radiation length materials. FEA is also used to study thermal radiation and convection.
Mechanical designs are needed for almost every experiment. This may include static support structures for people or equipment, pressure containment, Mechanisms have been designed to move 2500 ton detectors like CDF or DZero in and out of the detector halls, to move a 100 ton liquid argon detector in all three directions plus rotate about two axes or to finely position a telescope camera with a hexapod. Three dimensional models allow complex assembly or motions to be evaluated.
Most experiments need fluid process engineering, usually involving cooling or precision temperature control. Cooling systems have used air, ground water, low conductivity water, Suva, carbon dioxide or cryogenic fluids. Those include argon, nitrogen, hydrogen, deuterium, neon, and helium in the temperature range from 310K to 0.05K (the coldest project at Fermilab). Cryogenic liquid targets, investigations of argon purification, improved methods of CO2 cooling, improved methods of telescope camera cooling are all underway.
High Vacuum is commonly associated with cryogenic insulation but it may also be needed for other reasons. Special materials, assembly and testing in this specialized field are supported by experts in the department.
Projects large and small are automated by control engineers in the department. Industrial process instrumentation and control systems designed by this department operate reliably for years, while presenting operators with flexibility and information. The department provides the entire package from wiring, PLC programming, HMI and web server configuration. Some interlocks are evaluated under Safety Interlock Level (SIL) guidelines.
The goal of this department is to provide engineering support to the wide variety of experiments in the PPD.