Gotthard Tunnel

Two new railway tunnels are currently under construction at Gotthard and Lötschberg which will connect Switzerland to the international high-speed rail network to cope with the growing amount of freight traffic passing the Alps. At a length of 57 km, the Gotthard base tunnel will be the longest railway tunnel in the world. The two new lines are designed as flat routes with a maximum incline of 0.4% passing through and not, as in the past, over the Alps. For logistics reasons and to reduce the construction time, the tunnel is being blasted in five places simultaneously. Besides the two portals in Erstfeld and Bodio, there are portals from the side of the mountain at Amsteg and Faido, and an 800 m vertical downward entrance in Sedrun to help the work on the intermediate portals. The machines used to drill the tunnel have a diameter of almost 10 m, they weigh 3200 t and are over 400 m in length. The total volume of the material removed from the Gotthard Massif corresponds to 5 times the volume of the Cheops pyramid. Most of this material is removed by trains, loaded onto boats at Fluelen and then tipped into the southern part of the Urner Lake. This will create artificial nature conservation islands as part of a project to renaturalise the lake. After its completion in 2015, the Gotthard base tunnel will be able to accommodate passenger trains moving at speeds of up to 250 km/h and freight trains moving at up to 160 km/h.

The complete article is printed in the TUM science magazine "Faszination Forschung"

Palm Island Dubai

Absolute luxury requires technical masterpieces. Tree island complexes are currently under construction off the coast of Dubai, a city in the United Arab Emirates. Special companies are using huge "vacuum cleaners" to suction sand from the bottom of the sea and deposit it under satellite navigation at the right position to build up an island.

Technical finesse is necessary to protect the islands against erosion and the numerous luxury hotels, shopping centres and villas literally from 'going under'. It is often buildings that fascinate people. Large comprehensible objects that bear witness not only to prosperity but also technical capability.

Pont du Gard

The Pont Du Gard is an aqueduct, i.e. a large water conduit, that was built by the Romans. Supplying people with clean drinking water is one of the main tasks of the engineers in our field of work. Without a secure supply of water, it would not have been possible for advanced civilisations to develop.

Robert Harris for example wrote in his bestseller "Pompeii": "Senators dreamt of empires, soldiers conquered them: but it was the master builders, the men that planned the streets and designed the aqueducts, that actual built these and gave Rome its global authority".

Wadi Mujib Dam

The Mujib Dam in Wadi Mujib is around 60km to the south of the Jordanian capital of Amman and 30km to the east of the Dead Sea. The project is part of the "Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan Southern Gors Integrated Development Project" which aims to regulate and store water. The water of the Mujib Dam is used for the chemical industry at the Dead Sea, tourism and for watering the fields.

The Wadi Mujib lies in a semi-arid and arid climate. Rainy winters are followed by very hot and dry summers. The mean annual precipitation lies at around 154mm (in comparison.: Munich : 900 – 1000mm).

The Mujib Dam creates a reservoir with a volume of 35 million m3 containing the water from a catchment area of 4,385km2 (in comparison: the volume of the Staffelsee = 75 million m3, catchment area = 80km2). The Wadi Mujib dam is a wall made of "Roller Compacted Concrete" and earthwork dams near the edges of the valley. The crown of the 62m high wall is 500m long. It was erected using 720,000 m3 of roller compacted concrete. There are two rectangular tunnels (3.5 × 4.5m) through which 580m3 of water per second can flow. Severe floods are directed over the back of the walls via the 345m wide stepped spillway chute.

Transrapid Shanghai

Over 70 years ago, Herman Kemper laid down the foundations for one of the most innovative means of transport for the future with his invention – the electromagnetic suspension railway.

After years of research, further developments and numerous tests of state-of-the-art vehicles and tracks on the Transrapid test route in Lathen in Emsland, the first commercial transrapid line was opened in China on 1st January 2003 to connect the huge city of Shanghai with the new Pudong airport. Reaching top speeds of currently 430 km/h, the train only needs 7 minutes to cover the 30 km distance.

Most of the track and the vehicles used for the Transrapid in China were developed in Germany. Compared to railway lines, the requirements of the Transrapid track are much more stringent because only very little subsidence can be tolerated for operational reasons. The hybrid structures used in China were produced locally and the entire route was completed in less than two years.