Concrete Construction
The Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility—or the Jefferson Lab, as locals know it—is a 214-acre United States national laboratory used to conduct experiments into the nature of matter—which is to say, it’s a playground for very serious scientists, housing some very serious equipment. For example, Jefferson Labs holds the world’s most powerful free-electron laser, a type of laser whose beam is so intense that, one day, the United States Navy may use it to shoot enemy missiles out of the sky.

Jefferson Labs also is home to the Continuous Electron Beam Accelerator Facility, or CEBAF. The CEBAF is like a racetrack for subatomic particles. Using incredibly strong electromagnetic fields, the CEBAF revs up electrons, speeding them along the track before slamming them into something—usually, atoms of an element that the lab is studying. By recording what happens after the collision, scientists gain a greater understanding of how an atom—and, by extension, the world around us—is put together.

It’s a difficult process, to be sure. For starters, components of the CEBAF have to be incredibly cold—over 452 degrees below zero—so the Jefferson Lab contains the world’s largest refrigerator of liquid helium, which scientists use to cool things off.

Another problem is what happens once the scientists smash an atom with the CEBAF: pieces of the atom go flying off in all directions. This is what scientists want to happen; it’s how they get results. However, those atomic pieces are charged with energy, and, if they hit the wrong equipment in the lab, the electronics can get damaged. Given the sensitive nature of the lab’s equipment (remember the laser?), scientists really didn’t want it getting damaged.

To solve their problem, scientists at the Jefferson Lab turned to Hylton Builders. Using a brand-new, patented mixture of concrete—using boron carbide instead of rock in the mix—developed by scientists at the lab, Hylton Builders constructed a cement “house” to hold the Super High Momentum Spectrometer, one of the delicate (and monumentally expensive) instruments used to record data. The boron in the concrete absorbs neutron radiation from the experiments, ensuring that the subatomic particles stay where they should. Hylton Builders was the first construction company in the world to build with this kind of concrete—it’s that new.

Contact us today and see how Hylton Builders can help you satisfy the needs of the most demanding building projects. For more information on our project with the Jefferson Lab, visit their website at https://www.jlab.org/news/stories/new-shielding-designed-put-block-neutrons.

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