EAST LANSING, Mich. — The U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science today named Michigan State University as the site for the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams.
Conceptual design work for the proposed new $550 million facility will begin this year, with construction expecting to take about one decade. The facility will attract top researchers from around the world to conduct experiments in nuclear science, astrophysics and applications of isotopes to other fields.
"This is a great day for science,” said MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon. “We are grateful to the Department of Energy’s commitment to address this critical priority for the nation's physical sciences research infrastructure, and we are proud to have been selected as a partner. We are deeply dedicated to working with the Department of Energy’s Office of Science to develop an exceptional user facility serving the needs of national and international scientists.
“This is the first step on the journey,” Simon said, noting that subsequent allocations must be appropriated by Congress to make the FRIB a reality. Simon said she will work closely with Michigan’s congressional delegation to ensure the facility’s funding.
The facility is expected to bring $1 billion in economic activity and 400 jobs to Michigan, according to an analysis by the Anderson Economic Group.
Simon acknowledged the role of Michigan’s congressional delegation in supporting the MSU proposal and expressed appreciation to the FRIB Leadership Advisory Committee, as well as faculty, students, and alumni, who “joined Team MSU” to back the project.
The selection of MSU by DOE was the result of a competitive, merit review process that utilized a panel of world-renowned experts from universities, national laboratories and federal agencies. The appraisal included rigorous evaluation of competing proposals based on the merit review criteria described in the original DOE Funding Opportunity Announcement, presentations by the applicants, and visits by the merit review panel to each applicant’s site.
FRIB will build on the successes of MSU’s National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory, which submitted the proposal to DOE. NSCL has been the key driver for MSU’s leadership in nuclear science education and research. The lab has been recognized as a world leader in rare isotope science and has produced research that has led to important breakthroughs in medicine, materials research, national security, and physics. NSCL Director and university distinguished professor Konrad Gelbke will serve as the FRIB director.
“The opportunities to advance human knowledge through science, and the potential for the scientific discoveries made at the FRIB to improve the human condition are tremendous,” Gelbke said.
FRIB will provide intense beams of rare isotopes – short-lived atomic nuclei not normally found on Earth – that will enable researchers to address leading-edge questions in nuclear structure and nuclear astrophysics. Such questions include: What is the origin of the elements we find in nature? Why do stars sometimes explode? How can we better model atomic nuclei and their interactions? What combinations of neutrons and protons can make an atomic nucleus? What are the new applications of isotopes that can better diagnose and cure disease?
The heart of the new facility will be a high-intensity heavy-ion linear accelerator that will provide world-unique technical abilities. These will include the ability to conduct experiments with fast, stopped and reaccelerated beams, which will help users extend the reach of nuclear science. FRIB will establish world-leadership in rare-isotope science conducted in the United States in the future.
"The development of the FRIB will be guided by a spirit of partnership and collaboration from day one," said Gelbke. "We look forward to working with DOE to build a world-leading national user facility. We will actively seek to combine the deep expertise at MSU with the advice of leading scientific and technical experts and will collaborate broadly with the science community to ensure that the FRIB meets user needs to do cutting-edge, world-leading science."
MSU has an exemplary record regarding all aspects of safety, from new construction projects to daily operations. The university has a broad scope NRC license, recognizing deep capacity for radiation safety across the college. NSCL is registered compliant with the OHSAS 18001 standard for occupational health and safety and has logged 1,800 days without a lost work day due to injury. The university is committed to safe execution of all aspects of the FRIB project and will apply its many existing health, public safety, and environmental management resources to ensure success.
MSU has a half-century history of commitment to accelerator-based science and recently invested in a significant upgrade to NSCL's experimental capabilities. The upgrade includes a new low-energy linear accelerator for nuclear astrophysics experiments and a 10,000-square-foot expansion of the laboratory's experimental area. Slated for completion by summer 2010, the upgrade will enable researchers to conduct experiments with fast, stopped and reaccelerated beams of rare isotopes – three technical capabilities required for major advances in the field.
With the upgrade, Gelbke said NSCL will provide researchers the ability to do world-class rare isotope science seven years prior to FRIB becoming operational.
"The research community will hit the ground running when FRIB turns on without missing a beat,” Gelbke said. “This means uninterrupted world leadership for the United States in rare isotope science and education for two decades."
The selection of MSU is subject to the successful negotiation of a cooperative agreement between DOE and Michigan State and a National Environmental Policy Act review of the proposed site.
MSU’s dedicated subcontractor is the URS Corp. As the dedicated subcontractor, they will have responsibility for project and construction management. To see more about FRIB go to http://www.energy.gov/news/6794.htm. For additional information, please visit the Department of Energy Office of Science Web site at www.science.doe.gov.
Michigan State University has been advancing knowledge and transforming lives through innovative teaching, research and outreach for more than 150 years. MSU is known internationally as a major public university with global reach and extraordinary impact. Its 17 degree-granting colleges attract scholars worldwide who are interested in combining education with practical problem solving.