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An important milestone: Groundbreaking ceremony for the FAIR accelerator facility

04 July 2017   (0 Comments)
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The construction of the international accelerator facility FAIR (Facility for Antiproton and Ion Research) has begun. The start of building construction and civil engineering work is a crucial moment for one of the largest construction projects for scientific research worldwide. On July 4, 2017, the groundbreaking ceremony was held for the large ring accelerator SIS 100, which will be the key component of the future accelerator facility FAIR. The construction site is located to the northeast of GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung in Darmstadt.

FAIR will be a unique particle accelerator facility with an investment volume of more than €1 billion. The facility is being constructed by nine partner countries and is scheduled to go into full operation in 2025. Around 3,000 scientists from all over the world will work at FAIR, where they will gain groundbreaking insights into the structure of matter and the development of the universe. The key component of FAIR will be an underground ring accelerator with a circumference of 1,100 meters. Connected to it is a complex system of storage rings and experimental stations.

Over the past few weeks and months, extensive preparations have been made for the huge construction project. For example, work is already under way to connect the existing accelerator facilities of the GSI Helmholtzzentrum to the new FAIR complex. Retaining walls are being built and contracts have been awarded for the excavation and installation of the ring tunnel following a successful call for bids. These were important preparatory steps for the large-scale work on the FAIR infrastructure, which has now begun with the groundbreaking ceremony for the SIS 100 ring accelerator. The cutting-edge accelerator and experiment facilities will be installed after the new buildings are completed.

At the ceremony, government officials and scientists from Germany and abroad extended greetings and symbolically broke the ground with a shovel. This crucial milestone was attended by representatives from all nine partner countries.

Georg Schütte, Chair of the FAIR Council and State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, said, “The beginning of the civil construction of FAIR marks a new phase in the project. FAIR is a highly complex large research project at the limits of scientific and technical feasibility. This project and its diverse challenges can only be managed in close alliance with our international partners. We expect FAIR to become a driver of innovation in many areas, ranging from fundamental research and application-oriented developments to technical building solutions.

The Scientific Managing Director of FAIR and GSI, Professor Paolo Giubellino, emphasized the great potential that FAIR offers for scientific research: “FAIR will create unique opportunities for cutting-edge research, with enormous discovery potential. Scientists will be able to study the universe in the lab: FAIR will address fundamental problems such as the origin of heavy elements in the universe or the structure of neutron stars, but also applications from material sciences to medicine. Through the close cooperation with researchers from all over the world FAIR will not only expand our knowledge but also be a motor for technological innovation while developing the next generation of scientists and engineers.

The Technical Managing Director of FAIR and GSI, Jörg Blaurock, added, “FAIR is an unusual construction project from both a scientific and a technological point of view. It requires customized solutions and the interplay of a wide variety of different trades. That’s why building construction, civil engineering, accelerator development and construction, and scientific experiments are closely coordinated with one another in our integrated overall plan. The complex construction project is divided into manageable packages. Today’s groundbreaking ceremony is the reward for precise preparatory work and shows that this is the right strategy for FAIR.

Ursula Weyrich, the Administrative Managing Director of GSI and FAIR, said, “We worked hard on developing the focus and the framework of the FAIR project and created an overall structure that organically links GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung GmbH with FAIR GmbH. This rearrangement of the overall organizational structure is an important precondition for the further implementation of the FAIR project. That’s why today is also a success for the entire workforce and the result of outstanding and fruitful cooperation.”

Eric Seng, Deputy State Secretary at the Hessen State Ministry for Higher Education, Research and the Arts said, “The FAIR project is the further development of a Hessian idea almost 50 years old: GSI was founded in 1969 by an initiative of Hessian universities. GSI and FAIR have a world-wide appeal. As the hosting federal state we will do everything in our power for the international scientific community to not only feel welcome but enable them to perform cutting-edge research.

In line with the groundbreaking ceremony, FAIR also began FAIR Phase 0 of its experimentation program in order to harmonize research operations with the progress of construction. Beam times are already being scheduled for researchers at existing GSI facilities and at components for FAIR. To conduct this research, scientists are using the GSI accelerator facilities, which have been substantially enhanced for their later use as preaccelerators for FAIR and will have their technology further upgraded in the future. Moreover, parts of FAIR can already be used, including the CRYRING storage ring.

The scientific community looks forward to the mega project FAIR entering a crucial phase with today’s groundbreaking“, said the Indian professor Sibaji Raha, the Chair of the Joint Scientific Council of FAIR and GSI. „Already now scientists all over the world work on the research programme and the technical implementation of this facility unique in the world. FAIR will be the international showcase for hadron and nuclear physics in the coming decades and offer outstanding research opportunities.

About FAIR:
FAIR will be one of the largest and most complex accelerator facilities in the world. The centerpiece of the facility is a ring accelerator with a circumference of 1,100 meters. Connected to it is a complex system of storage rings and experimental stations. The existing GSI accelerators will serve as preaccelerators. Engineers and scientists are working in international partnerships to advance new technological developments in a number of areas, such as information technology and superconductor technology. Around 3,000 scientists from all over the world will be able to conduct top-level research at FAIR. Their outstanding experiments will generate new fundamental insights into the structure of matter and the evolution of the universe. Alongside Germany, the partner countries of FAIR GmbH are Finland, France, India, Poland, Romania, Russia, Sweden, and Slovenia. The United Kingdom is an associate partner.

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