The European X-ray laser "European XFEL" has given rise to a scientific lighthouse project at the border between Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein, Northern Germany. It basically consists of underground structures and a ramified tunnel system. In the main tunnel, electrodes are accelerated to practically the speed of light. They are then brought to the point of transmitting highly intensive X-ray laser flashes with the aid of special magnetic fields in a tunnel fan. Through them absolutely new opportunities for research in the nano field are opened up for scientists and industrial users alike. In this way, atomic details of viruses and cells can be deciphered, 3-D recordings from the nano-cosmos made and chemical reactions filmed.
Two Herrenknecht Mixshields were used for the tunnelling works. The overall tunnelling length of just under 5.8 kilometes was divided into eleven sections of differing lengths. Responding to the name of TULA (TUnnel for LAser), the Mixshield (S-544, 6.16 meters in diameter) started tunnelling in July 2010. The experienced tunnel crew celebrated the first breakthrough on September 3, 2010.
The S-545 sister machine (5.45 meters in diameter) took only from January 2011 until May 2012 for 2.7 kilometers of tunnelling. For the eight tunnel sections, S-545 had to be moved three times through a shaft and had to be lifted and repositioned four times. The machines were kept precisely on track by the laser-guided navigation system by VMT.
It is not the first time that Herrenknecht Mixshield technology has been used in a research mission in Hamburg. In 1987 Mixshield S-12 was used to bore the tunnel for the HERA particle accelerator.