Forward-looking: Workshop on superconductivity and sustainability — possible applications for energy systems and particle accelerators


"Superconductivity and Sustainability" was the motto of a future-oriented workshop held jointly by the GSI SIS100/SIS18 department, headed by Dr. Peter Spiller, and the European superconducting industry association "CONECTUS", chaired by Wolfgang Walter from Bilfinger Noell. The aim of the workshop was to improve communication between the particle accelerator community and the superconducting industry and to present the latest developments in both areas. Numerous well-known European companies and representatives of public institutions took part in the event.

GSI and FAIR are among the largest manufacturers of superconducting accelerator magnet systems in Europe. This made it necessary for GSI to build up outstanding expertise in the field of superconducting systems during the preparatory project phase. Today, GSI is in contact with all relevant European suppliers. There is great potential for European research laboratories and European industry to apply new innovative concepts for greater sustainability and energy efficiency to accelerators and thus qualify them for future use in energy systems in public and private facilities.

At the workshop, there was a lively exchange on the demand for further improvement of key parameters and performance. Studies and developments to increase the energy efficiency of large accelerator facilities and for energy systems in the public sector were presented. A key topic were synergies in the development of future superconducting technology with regard to its application in particle accelerators and energy systems. The I.FAST program ("Innovation Fostering in Accelerator Science and Technology"), where GSI/FAIR is involved in several work packages, provided the framework and motivation for the workshop. I.FAST is an EU-funded program that aims to advance new developments in the field of accelerator-based research infrastructures and promote innovative technologies. GSI's contributions to the project include the development of new superconducting cables and approaches for the sustainability and energy efficiency of particle accelerator facilities.

European energy supply systems as a whole are undergoing major change, which requires the development and application of new technologies. Superconductivity can play a key role, particularly with regard to the conversion of energy systems. At present, energy transported in liquid, solid or gaseous form are predominantly used to supply a large proportion of the energy required by our society, and these are mainly transported in pipe systems and tanker trucks. A planned switch from chemical to electrical energy sources would require enormous amounts of energy to be transported by cable (i.e. the existing electrical grid infrastructure) in the future. However, high line losses and restrictions are to be expected, which could potentially be avoided with transportation in superconducting energy cables. Current developments at GSI/FAIR, at CERN and other future particle accelerator technologies are providing significant impetus in this regard and can therefore be used for the benefit of society. In particular, major advances in the mass production of high-temperature superconductor materials and price reductions will enable large-scale applications in the future.

The topic of sustainability is a key issue for GSI and FAIR. Thus it is of particular interest to highlight approaches for reducing the energy consumption of large-scale plants in the medium term. For example, replacing copper coils, which result in higher energy losses due to energy dissipation, with superconducting coils can decrease the energy consumption of beam guidance systems.

The question of how cooperation between accelerator centers and industry can be intensified in the future was also of particular importance at the workshop. There was a consensus that the development of high-tech products requires long-term cooperation and the early involvement of industry. In order to optimize this, suitable adjustments to the legal framework conditions are useful. A working group of the I.FAST program is dealing with precisely these questions. The result should be a guideline for the early and long-term involvement of industry in the development of accelerator centers. (BP)