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March 17, 2014

FRIB groundbreaking: Concept becomes reality

After more than five years of design, the securing of funding and preliminary construction activities, work has officially begun on the civil construction for the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams.

At a March 17 ceremony near the worksite on the Michigan State University campus, ground was broken for FRIB, a future national user facility supporting the mission of the Office of Nuclear Physics in the U.S. Department of Energy, designed to serve nuclear scientists from all over the world.

It’s also anticipated that FRIB will contribute nearly $1 billion in economic activity to the region. That includes construction, spinoff and annual DOE operational funding once FRIB begins operations.

“FRIB will be the core of our nation’s research infrastructure, advancing knowledge in areas such as science, medicine and homeland security, as well as providing answers to questions we have even yet to conceive,” said MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon. “This facility also will be a training ground for the world’s next generation of nuclear physicists and attract scientists and engineers from all corners of the earth, securing MSU’s position as the driver in the knowledge economy.”

Among those taking part in the March 17 celebration were U.S. Sens. Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow; U.S. Reps. Mike Rogers, David Camp and Tim Walberg and other members of the Michigan Congressional delegation; Timothy Hallman, associate director of science for nuclear physics, U.S. Department of Energy; and Michael Knotek, deputy under secretary for science and energy, U.S. Department of Energy.

“There are so many people and organizations who helped take FRIB from concept to reality, and we are grateful to all of them,” Simon said. “I am very proud to have played a part in the process.”

Funding for the project comes from a number of sources, including the federal government, the state of Michigan and MSU.

Last month the state of Michigan agreed to help fund the community cost share of the project through the sale of more than $90 million in bonds.

Much preliminary work has already been under way, including the nearly completed high bay, a 27,000 square-foot research space constructed adjacent to FRIB.

Later this spring the building will be complete and ready to host teams of engineers and scientists for research and development of the equipment that will make up the FRIB accelerator.

Excavation will extend into 2015 and will yield a site 1,500 feet long by 70 feet wide and 40 feet deep, ready for construction.

Project completion is anticipated for no later than June 2022.


By: Tom Oswald