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One of the crucial aspects of the HL-LHC project is the upgrade of the cryogenic test station used for the test of the LHC prototype magnets, known as SM18 (building 2173). Today, the HL-LHC project requires an upgrade in terms of powering these clusters, which is why the test station will undergo major upgrades in the coming years, so it can test larger prototype magnets with higher currents (>20 kA). The strategy contains modifications of the existing testing facilities and building of new ones for the period 2015-2020. As a part of this project, a new vertical test station will be built in cluster D of the SM 18 testing facilities in 2015-2016. An upgrade that will require serious civil engineering works. The first part of the works was undertaken in late March 2015 by the Italian engineering company Gruppo Dimensione and its subcontractor Terracon, supervised by CERN project manager Helena Botella.
“We were commissioned to build a retaining berlinese-type wall for the vertical excavation that will be carried out in cluster D of the testing facilities hosted in building 2173, also known as SM 18,” explains Marco Framarin, project manager at Terracon.

The work was carried out entirely inside the building and involved the execution of micropiles of different diameters:

• 220mm-diameter piles, 6m and 11.5m long, reinforced with steel pipes with 139.7mm diameter

• 150mm-diameter piles, 11.5m long, reinforced with steel pipes with 101.6mm diameter
The geotechnical information provided showed an upper layer comprised of backfill material with gravel, pebbles and limestone blocks up to 2m depth, followed by an underlying unit comprised of clay with very hard boulders up to approximately 9.5m and molasse-type sedimentary rocks up to 11.5m depth.

As a result of the combination of drilling methods, a peak production of 69m was achieved in a shift with the MC 8 D. In total, 1,272m were drilled between end of March and end of April, including 598m with 150mm diameter and 674m with 220mm diameter (144m of which were in extremely low overhead conditions).