Fermilab History and Archives Project

Fixed Target Program - Neutrino Area - Geodesic Dome

SEEK EMPTY BEVERAGE CANS FOR NAL DESIGN EFFORT

An appeal for literally thousands of empty beverage cans -- for a construction research effort -- has been made by Hank Hinterberger, NAL Technical Services, and Robert Sheldon, Main Ring.

"The use of garbage to some beneficial end is being given nation-wide consideration," said Hinterberger. "We, at NAL, have concluded that there is a possibility that pollution from cans strewn throughout the countryside might be profitably exploited in the architectural development of a portion of the Laboratory."

Hinterberger explained that used beverage cans might be employed for the production of structural building panels. For instance, he said, the empty cans are being tried in the production of panels for the geodesic dome being planned for NAL's Bubble Chamber building.

The dome consists of a light structural frame which is to be clad with these panels. Each panel is an equilateral triangle with a ten-foot side.

When the used cans are received at NAL, their tops and bottoms are removed to permit the transmission of light through them from each end. They then are assembled into panels by bonding a glass-reinforced fiber plastic sheet, top and bottom, to form a sandwich some five inches thick in a sort of honey-comb structure.

A model proposed geodesic dome for Bubble Chamber building

A model proposed geodesic dome for Bubble Chamber building

Photo by Tony Frelo, NAL

Experimental panels constructed in this fashion, as shown in the photograph, have proved to be extremely stiff, thus enabling the structure to withstand both wind and snow loads. Furthermore, the panels are inexpensive in that the core material is the used cans, which can be obtained either free of charge or for very small cost.

Hinterberger stressed that the beverage can design was "an invention of Bob Sheldon's." Sheldon has filed a patent disclosure statement regarding the unique design with NAL. Fabrication of the design is being carried out jointly by Hinterberger and Sheldon.

Hinterberger is asking NAL and DUSAF employees to save their beverage cans and to place them in the receptacles provided for their collection near each soft drink vending machine on the NAL site. In addition, he also is asking employees and friends of the Laboratory to bring in any empty beverage cans that they might have for disposal at home.

"The future of these panels is not limited to geodesic domes," Hinterberger says. "Perhaps many other forms of building materials and building panels may be developed from this unique effort now going on at NAL."

"Recycling" used beverage cans

"Recycling" used beverage cans

Photo by Tony Frelo, NAL

With Sheldon, Hinterberger also has enlisted the assistance of Bernie Lensmeyer, Food Service Manager, in collecting the empty cans for use in the NAL-related project.

There are many advantages to a project of this sort -- the cost is extremely low since the main component is normally scrapped; from an ecological point of view, the use of discarded cans will help remove them from the environment. But, the most important advantage is that these panels are easily handled, very sturdy and many patterns can be achieved for a variety of constructional purposes.

A large waste can has been placed near the pop machine in the cafeteria into which employees are urged to toss their empty soft drink cans.

The receptacle is appropriately marked - EMPTY POP CANS ONLY - please discard your other trash elsewhere!

So remember: when you're taking the pause that refreshes, sipping the un-cola, or making Milwaukee more famous... you may be contributing to a challenging endeavor at NAL. Bottoms up!!

Source: The Village Crier Vol. 3 No. 1, January 7, 1971

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STILL MORE SOFT DRINK CANS NEEDED:

Main Ring's Bob Sheldon (left) shows model of translucent, honeycomb effect of proposed Bubble Chamber geodesic dome to Hank Hinterberger, NAL Technical Services. Dome will be made of discarded beverage cans
Main Ring's Bob Sheldon (left) shows model of translucent,
honeycomb effect of proposed Bubble Chamber geodesic dome
to Hank Hinterberger, NAL Technical Services. Dome will be made
of discarded beverage cans

Photo by Argonne National Laboratory

Bob Sheldon, Main Ring, issued another appeal last week for more used soft drink and beer cans for construction of NAL's proposed Bubble Chamber dome. "To date, we have only approximately three-fourths of our total requirement," he said. He urged NAL employees and local organizations, schools, etc., to continue their efforts to provide NAL with the needed cans. "I think that it is in the interest of the Laboratory and our area in general that we should continue to procure the rest of the requirement by collecting used cans rather than by having them donated in large quantities by can manufacturers," said Sheldon.

Thousands of empty soft drink cans have been delivered to NAL for use in development of the Bubble Chamber's proposed geodesic dome. One problem: the cans have tops and bottoms that must be removed before they can be used; sometimes the tops have ragged edge punctures.

Hank Hinterberger, Technical Services, several weeks ago asked Bill Jones, NAL Central Machine Shop foreman, if his staff could develop a simple "pop can opener" to remove tops and bottoms simultaneously. Jones' colleagues went to work on the problem and solved it quickly.

They have developed an "opener," now being used at NAL's West Chicago annex. The "opener" can strip tops and bottoms of more than 1,000 cans an hour. The cans are hand-loaded into a hopper, a wheel is turned, and a valve is tripped. Then, both ends of the can are removed at the same time. The can is blown from the machine, minus its top and bottom. It all happens in about three or four seconds. Congratulations to our machinists!

Pop can opener Pop can opener
Two views of "pop can opener" designed and built by a group of machinists in NAL Central shop... providing another example of the ingenuity of NAL's skilled craftsmen

Source: The Village Crier Vol. 3 No. 12, March 25, 1971

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DISCARDED BEVERAGE CAN PANELS COMPLETED FOR GEODESIC DOME

The first NAL project to find a use for discarded empty beverage cans is nearing completion. More than 120,000 cans, collected by, among others, the youth organizations in the Fox River Valley, were used in the effort.

(left to right) Steve Barath, Norm Engler, John O'Meara give final check to an assembled panel
(left to right) Steve Barath, Norm Engler, John O'Meara
give final check to an assembled panel

Photo by Tim Fielding, NAL

John O'Meara, Technical Services, reported last week that some 120 panels made up of empty beverage cans had been put together by employees at the West Chicago annex for the unique geodesic dome of the Neutrino Laboratory now being built near McChesney and Wilson Roads on the NAL Site.

"The panels have been crated and we are awaiting completion of the steel structure for the Neutrino Building," said O'Meara.

Each panel is an equilateral triangle with a ten-foot side. The panels have been made within one-eighth of an inch dimensional accuracy and have been tested to carry a 2,500-pound sandbag load.

The team working under O'Meara produced six panels per day with about 1,000 cans in each panel. The crew consisted of five male and two female employees, working on a temporary basis for the Laboratory.

O'Meara credited Norman Engler, Technical Services, a temporary employee, with introducing several innovations that sped completion of the geodesic dome effort. One was the automatic pre-portioning and mixing of the epoxy required to bind the cans to the polyester reinforced fiberglass.

Linda Brunoehler operating the special automatic can opener developed for this unique operation by the NAL Machine Shop
Linda Brunoehler operating the special automatic can opener developed for this unique operation by the NAL Machine Shop
(Left to right) Harry McQuinn, Cliff Brown, and Phil Gerhardt set cans on an epoxy-coated panel
(Left to right) Harry McQuinn, Cliff Brown, and Phil Gerhardt set cans on an epoxy-coated panel

Photos by Tim Fielding, NAL

In addition, O'Meara said, the Machine Shop helped to expedite the effort by developing a simple "pop can opener" to remove the tops and bottoms of the empty cans simultaneously. The "openers" were developed after Hank Hinterberger, Technical Services Section Head, asked Bill Jones, NAL Central Machine Shop Foreman, for assistance on the problem.

The Machine Shop Staff developed an "opener" which stripped the tops and bottoms of more than 1,000 cans an hour. The cans are hand-loaded into a hopper, a wheel is turned, and a valve is tripped. Then, both ends of the cans are removed at the same time. The can is blown from the machine, minus its top and bottom. It all happens in about 3 or 4 seconds. "It was a marvelous contribution by our machinists," said O'Meara.

The NAL Model Shop, under the direction of Jose Poces, furnished a number of layout fixtures for application of the epoxy.

The panels are both rainproof and fire-retardant. Design of the steel structure which will hold the panels is being directed by DUSAF.

Angela Gonzales, of the Director's Office, coordinated color selection. As a result, the panels will provide generally a red, white and blue effect when they are emplaced.

The development of the geodesic dome roof with empty beverage cans was suggested by Robert Sheldon, Main Ring.

NAL's appeal for thousands of empty beverage cans to produce structural building panels brought a flood of response. Major can producers, local civic organizations, schools and NAL employees joined in the effort to stockpile cans for the unusual NAL construction effort. One can producer offered the Laboratory nearly 100,000 cans; another discussed the possibility of donating 1,500,000 cans to NAL.

Scores of telephone calls were received by NAL from individuals and groups offering cans. One call came from the Melrose Park Public School, where Mrs. Janet Badynski, teacher, had read of NAL's need for cans. In response, NAL sent a truck to the suburban school Feb. 2 to pick up 950 used beverage cans and they were dropped off at the West Chicago site. The 530 students enrolled at the grade school began their collection on a Friday afternoon and by Tuesday had assembled the 950 cans from vacant lots and nearby homes. Bulletin board signs stressed the relevant theme of gathering cans to fight pollution.

"The future of these panels is not limited to geodesic domes," Hinterberger says. "Perhaps many other forms of building materials and building panels could be developed from this unique effort now going on at NAL."

Source: The Village Crier Vol. 3 No. 30, July 29, 1971

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