29.10.2012 | Construction permit granted for FAIR particle accelerator
Today, representatives from the City of Darmstadt presented the company FAIR GmbH with a construction permit for the new large-scale research facility FAIR (Facility for Antiproton and Ion Research). The permit means that building work can now start on one of the world’s largest research facilities. The existing accelerator facility of the GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research (GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung) in Darmstadt will serve as an injector for the new FAIR accelerators.
The large-scale research facility will take almost six years to construct. The international company FAIR GmbH will be coordinating construction work. The company’s shareholders include the Federal Republic of Germany as well as the German State of Hesse and the governments of eight countries in Europe and Asia. The corresponding international treaty (the FAIR Convention) has been signed by Germany, Finland, France, India, Poland, Romania, Russia, Sweden and Slovenia.
Over EUR 1 billion is being invested in the entire facility. Around half of this is earmarked for construction work. The cutting-edge particle accelerator and research labs will cost around EUR 500 million.
Plants of this kind enable scientists to trace the development of matter back to the Big Bang and to develop medical treatments. Over the past forty years, scientists have made a number of crucial breakthroughs using the existing particle accelerator at GSI in Darmstadt, including the discovery of the new superheavy elements hassium and darmstadtium. They have also furthered carbon-ion-based cancer treatment.
The new FAIR facility will be around six times larger than the existing GSI site and will use the GSI accelerators as a pre-accelerators. The FAIR accelerator will be used to accelerate ions to almost the speed of light and to create antimatter as well as very short-lived isotopes.
Almost 600,000 cubic metres of concrete, over 35,000 tonnes of steel and 500,000 tonnes of other construction material will be used to build FAIR. Over one million cubic metres of soil will be excavated during construction and used at a later stage to cover underground structures. Work on the foundations is set to start shortly. This will involve embedding around 1,500 piles, with diameters of 1.2 metres, up to 65 metres into the ground to create a suitable foundation for the buildings. During the most intensive construction periods, up to 600 construction workers, technicians and engineers will be working at the site.