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HydroChina - Itasca R&D Center
HydroChina - Itasca R&D Center (HIC) is a joint venture formed by three parties: HydroChina Engineering Corporation, Itasca International Inc., and the Chinese Academy of Science. HIC is located in Hangzhou, a city on the eastern coast of China, some 45 minutes by high-speed train from Shanghai.
HIC is currently working on two world class projects: the Jinping Underground Research Laboratory (URL) and the Baihetan Hydropower Plant. The existing facility at the Jinping II Project provides great access to the core area of Jinping Mountain, at a depth of 2400 m below the surface. A deep underground research laboratory for dark-matter study already has been built and is in operation. The laboratory for rock mechanics research is planned to start with access construction in mid-2011. HIC will act as the primary research team for this URL's development.
Baihetan is the 2nd largest hydropower plant in China, just after Three Gorges in terms of power generation capacity. This project can be ranked #1 in China from a rock mechanics perspective considering the complexity of geological formation and the size of facilities. One of the challenges comes from construction of the underground facility. Six surge chambers with diameters close to 60 m are planned to be built at a depth of 500 m below surface. The chambers will be excavated in basalt flows, which raise several types of rock mechanics problems that will need to be solved.