Published: 12 December 2013

I am a technical student working in the safety team for the ALICE experiment. I have undertaken this position as a part of a yearlong industrial placement for my degree programme in Chemical Engineering at the University of Bath. I came to work at CERN because I thought it an amazing opportunity to be able to contribute in any way to this European hub of science. During my studies I have developed a specific interest in the human and environmental considerations of modern industrial processes.

Whilst working with the ALICE safety team, my specific aim is to determine the fire load of the ALICE cavern. This project involves taking an inventory of all material that has been installed in the cavern to date and identifying the energy that each component would contribute in the case of a fire. As well as the fire propagation properties of materials, I am looking into the density, toxicity and corrosivity of the gases produced during burning. The harmful gases produced in a fire situation (from the burning of plastics and other non-metallic materials) could pose a far greater risk to human life and damage to equipment than the flames themselves. It is the final aim of this initiative to have enough knowledge of the materials present underground to enable the simulation of a fire at various points in the cavern. This simulation could allow us to identify the areas that are most at risk of fire damage and, very importantly, allow us to see how a fire would impact on the escape routes from the cavern.

Since the project started in September I have been looking at the properties of the cabling in ALICE. Colligating the vast amounts of information spread over the various systems of the past years has proved a challenge. Finding the relevant information has meant communication with a broad range of people from the detector groups to the CERN Shop, to HSE and is still ongoing. This experience so far working for ALICE has taught me much about the time scale that tasks take outside the classroom. Working in such a multicultural, multilingual team is a very unique and educational experience. I look forward to the rest of my year with ALICE.