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Modernization of winding machines for SURF in the USA completed

View into the machine room of the Ross shaft with the two drum winding machines – in the foreground the two drums of the production machine; in the background the drums of the people riding machine; between them the two machine control stations in their machine operator‘s cabins.

SIEMAG TECBERG Inc. recently completed the modernization of two Nordberg winding machines in the underground neutrino laboratory at the Sanford Lab in South Dakota, USA
 

Milwaukee, USA, February 2022. How SIEMAG TECBERG‘s profound knowledge of old winding machine technology is assisting in a small way with the setting up of one of the greatest experiments of particle physics.
 

DUNE: a mammoth particle physics project in the US

The Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE) is an international show-case experiment aimed at unravelling the secrets of neutrinos. DUNE will be installed in the Long-Baseline Neutrino Facility (LBNF) under construction in the USA.
DUNE involves the use of the latest particle detectors, one at the Fermilab in Illinois and one deep down in the earth at the Sanford Underground Research Facility installed in the expanded former Homestake Goldmine in South Dakota. The far detector will be the largest of its kind ever built and will record neutrino interactions with greater precision than ever before. A global computer infrastructure will enable data analysis. For the experiment, a neurtino beam will be fired from the PIP-ll particle accelerator at Fermilab, 800 miles through the earth to the Long Baseline Neutrino detectors located at Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF)
 

The main participants in the project

The Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, or Fermilab for short, is a research center for particle physics operated by the US Department of Energy. It is situated about 50 kilometers west of Chicago, Illinois. The US Department of Energy‘s Fermilab is the host laboratory for DUNE in collaboration with over 30 countries, promotional organizations and more than 1,000 scientists from all over the world, all of whom are contributing specialist know-how and components.

The Sanford Underground Research Facility, also known as SURF, is an underground laboratory in Lead, South Dakota. It is the deepest underground laboratory in the United States and is home to a number of experiments in fields like research into dark matter and neutrino physics, biology, geology and engineering. SURF is administered by the South Dakota Science and Technology Authority (SDSTA). The depth and stability of the rock at the former Homestake Goldmine and the history of SURF make it ideal for sensitive particle physics experiments. Up until its closure in 2002 Homestake was the largest and deepest goldmine in North America, producing more than 40 million ounces of gold in the course of its 126-year-long operation.
 

The aims of the DUNE neutrino project

DUNE scientists will create a clearer picture of the universe and how it functions. Their research will even provide the key to understanding why we live in a universe dominated by matter – in other words, why we are here at all.
 

The laboratories, mineshafts and winding equipment under SURF

The excavation work for the Long-Baseline Neutrino Facility and the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (LBNF/DUNE) began in 2019 and is currently focused at the 4850 Level of the Ross Shaft in the area of the Ross Campus. To carve out caverns for the future DUNE laboratories and the giant particle detector in the Ross Campus, 700,000 tonnes of rock are being excavated, hoisted to the surface and transported by means of a rock conveyor system to the open mining pit. Altogether 4 main conveyance systems are in operation in the rock beneath the SURF: 2 conveyance systems for the Ross shaft and 2 for the Yates shaft.

In January 2021 the 2 Nordberg-type drum winding machines of the Ross shaft were shut down for purposes of modernization. These machines comprise, on the one hand, a 2 drum winding machine for production with a skip on each drum and, on the other hand, a 2 drum winding machine for personnel and materials with a cage on one drum and a counterweight on the other. Both winding machines were designed in 1933 and installed in 1934. At the time of shut-down early in 2021 the brakes of the cage hoist were still fitted with wooden brake blocks. The hydraulic cylinders of the brakes were working at a pressure of 120-140 psi, with the operator having direct mechanical links to the slide of the hydraulic valves. This required mechanical linkages that mount over a length of hundreds of metres.
 

Modernization of the 2 Nordberg winding machines in the Ross shaft by SIEMAG TECBERG Inc.

To achieve the efficient excavation of more than 700,000 t of rock and safe personal transport the two Nordberg winding machines had to be fundamentally modernised. The US subsidiary of the shaft hoisting technology specialist SIEMAG TECBERG was awarded this contract not only because of its competence in the modernisation of shaft hoisting technology but also because of its special knowledge of Nordberg winding machines: in 1999 the mining arm of the American Nordberg Manufacturing Company was taken over by SIEMAG US Inc, a predecessor corporation of SIEMAG TECBERG.
 

Modernization of the drum winding machine for production

  • Conversion of the direct-current drives to alternating current. The existing motor-generator components were removed and new frequency inverters and new drives installed
  • The clutch of the underwound drum was fixed/taken out of operation
  • The clutch of the overwound drum was replaced with a clutch with a ring gear
  • Brake systems were fitted with a new control systems
  • For the operation of the old low-pressure system electric linear drives and new hydraulic valves were used to provide additional levels of safety
  • Operator control is now by means of touch screen and joystick in a control station

 

Modernization of the drum winding machine for people riding

  • Conversion of the direct-current drives to alternating current. The existing motor-generator components were removed and new frequency inverters and new drives installed
  • The clutch of the underwound drum was fixed/taken out of operation
  • The clutch of the overwound drum was replaced with a clutch with a ring gear
  • Fitting of the winding machine with gearbox brake
  • Old brakes were replaced with new brakes with disk springs
  • All the old low-pressure coupling and brake hydraulic systems were replaced with a new high-pressure system
  • Operator control is now by means of touch screen and joystick in a control station

 

SIEMAG TECBERG is pleased with the excellent collaboration between all those involved in the project on site and the punctual completion of all the modernization work on the winding machines to the customer‘s total satisfaction.
 

Incidentally, those interested in history can experience the winding machines in action in the video „South Dakota Saga“ Homestake Mine video from 1940 - Part 1 at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xflN9kYdTB4.
 

Anyone who would like to find out all about the modernised systems in vision and sound can use the comprehensive presentation in the SURF‘s video „Deep Talks: Move it, skip it, dump it“ at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AWQZtOOnqdg.
 

This press release is available for download below.

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