CERN, one of Linde Kryotechnik's most important customers in the research and development field with around thirty installed systems, ordered new helium refrigerators as part of the new superconducting LHC (Large Hadron Collider) accelerator. The order was shared equally between Linde and our European competitors. As with two earlier projects, for example the so-called 6kW system in 1990, this gave rise to a "benchmark“ situation. In the case of the earlier 6kW system, Linde established a new world record with regard to efficiency of the cryogenic refrigeration system, thereby emerging as the clear winner in a direct comparison.
Again with the 18kW units, CERN's evaluation took due account – in line with usual practice – of the guaranteed operating demands. A special feature of the construction of these units was that the compressor system for both, i.e. also that of our competitor, was supplied by the same subcontractor; this was in accordance with the customer's wishes and intended to ensure greater consistency (operation, spare parts etc). Delivery of the units ordered by CERN was staggered. The first Linde unit was the second to come on stream. The performance test conducted by CERN engineers in summer 2003 showed power demand significantly lower than the guaranteed values. Under the terms of the tendering procedure, Linde is entitled to a performance bonus. It has put a spring in our step to emerge from this comparison "with our noses in front" once more.