Update on the HL-LHC Project Status - Issue 6

Progress since the last collaboration meeting in October 2021 has been impressive and the project passed several key milestones for the project implementation despite the turbulences caused by COVID-19 and the crisis in Ukraine. Among the many achievements, I would like to highlight here the successful endurance test validation of the MQXFA05 triplet quadrupole magnet and the ongoing assembly of the first horizontal cold-mass by our US colleagues, comprising two MQXFA magnets. This cold-mass represents the first complete triplet magnet that will be installed in the IT-String test configuration in 2023. The preparation of the IT-String test is advancing well in SM18. The designated area has been cleared and prepared, the first infrastructures and cryogenic distribution systems already being installed and the first magnets expected to arrive for installation in 2023. Furthermore, the achievements over the last year feature the assembly of the first non-linear triplet corrector package, the first cold-mass assembly of the D2 magnet with its CCT orbit corrector magnets, testing and validation of the first nested triplet orbit corrector magnet produced in industry and a review of the complete production and assembly process of the MQXFB quadrupole magnets at CERN and the decision to prepare a third MQXFB prototype magnet, expected to be tested by the end of 2022. The preparation of the T2 test station for the testing of the superconducting links in SM18 at CERN is in full swing and the components for the first DFHX protypes have been delivered to CERN. They will soon be with the SC link and the DFX prototype to form a cold powering prototype system, which will later integrate the IT-string test stand. Two RFD cavities have been produced and successfully tested at CERN and have been shipped to the UK for assembly of the cryomodule that will be tested with beam in the SPS SRF test station in 2023. The first pre-series DQW cavities have been produced in industry in Europe. Following the successful validation of the cavities at CERN, the series production of the cavities has now started in industry.

The underground Civil Engineering work has been successfully completed in 2022 and the construction of the surface buildings is on track for completion by the end of 2022. 

These are just the highlights of the advancements over the last months, and we will cover the development of these areas in more detail in dedicated sections in this Newsletter edition.

In spite of the successful highlights mentioned above, the project also faced some setbacks in 2022. Both the MQXFA and MQXFB magnets had to digest setbacks requiring detailed reviews and adjustments. In addition, the project is considerably affected by the crisis in Ukraine. The conflict created a dramatic market volatility for several components and raw materials required for the production of HL-LHC equipment and therefore exposes the project to additional schedule and cost risks. Furthermore, a possible suspension of the International Collaboration Agreement [ICA] between Russia and CERN implies a rescoping and reorganization of the upgrade plans for all contributions involving contributions from Russian institutes. The project is therefore currently exploring the option of additional in-kind contributions that could at least partially compensate for the missing contributions from Russia. To keep the project on the baseline schedule, the outstanding collaborations need to be formalized by the end of this year, in time for the upcoming collaboration meeting in November.

The project is currently preparing for the 6th Cost & Schedule Review, planned for November 2022. Following the request of the CERN Council, the project has agreed with the CERN management to organize the Cost & Schedule Reviews on an annual basis, alternating a full review of the complete project scope with a lighter review that focuses on key aspects and technologies of the project. The 2022 Cost & Schedule Review will be a light implementation of the review, focusing on aspects related to the triplet magnet validation, the finalization of the civil engineering work and the exposure to the market volatility following the COVID-19 pandemic and the crisis in Ukraine.

Last but not least, the annual meeting for this year is being prepared as an in-person meeting in Uppsala, Sweden, picking up the original planning for the 2020 annual meeting. I very much look forward to seeing all of you again in person in Uppsala by the end of the year to discuss the status of the project and the progress of our collaboration.