Plans for Sweden's ESS particle accelerator unveiled


March 12, 2013

Team Henning Larsen Architects' design

Team Henning Larsen Architects' design

Image Gallery (11 images)

The European Spallation Source (ESS), a new particle accelerator to be built in Lund, Sweden, has been in the works for years, but, following the result of a design competition, we now have a fairly good idea of how the thing will look.

At the heart of the ESS will be a 600-meter (1970-ft) linear accelerator (or linac) which fires protons at a tungsten target, from which neutrons are consequently emitted. This process is known as spallation, hence the name of the facility. The neutrons are monitored, and the data analyzed, in this case at a separate facility in Copenhagen, Denmark. The accelerator will be both larger and more powerful, 30 times more powerful, than other accelerators of its type.

Though fundamental to the development, none of the above is news. What's new is the design of the campus to be built around the facility – a competition-winning design developed by a team led by Henning Larsen Architects. The campus will incorporate 100,000 sq m (1,077,000 sq ft) of labs, offices and will include a lecture theater, as well as a public visitor center. The accelerator's tungsten target will be symbolically mirrored by the roof of a large circular roof built above the hall holding the target itself.

The campus buildings have been arranged so as to provide shelter from the wind, intended to make outdoor meeting spaces usable for an extra few weeks of the year.

As part of the master-plan, rainwater is to be harvested from the ESS to create something of a nature reserve around the facility, with artificial wetland and fields left to grow wild in a bid to up biodiversity.

It shouldn't be long before construction work commences. The first research at the ESS is expected to take place in 2019, with final completion of the facility scheduled for 2025. The design team included COBE, SLA, Buro Happold, NNE Pharmaplan and Transsolar. Some of the competing proposals can be seen in the image gallery.

Sources: Henning Larsen Architects, The European Spallation Source

About the Author
James Holloway James lives in East London where he punctuates endless tea drinking with freelance writing and meteorological angst. Unlocking Every Extend Extra Extreme’s “Master of Extreme” achievement was the fourth proudest moment of his life. All articles by James Holloway

So, what is the difference between the Hadron Collider and this?

Brooks Hubbard

As different as night and day. The Large Hadron Collider is built to produce new particles when huge amounts of energy are released by colliding hadrons in head on collisions. The point of the research is to find out what is produced.

I don't know much about the ESS but from the description given above it is designed as a source of neutrons to research neutrons and maybe use them as probes when exploring materials. The energies involved are far less than those of the LHC. Neutrons are tricky to deal with. They have no electric charge so they are difficult to move or accelerate. Outside of the atom they decay with a half life of about 10 minutes so you need a fresh source if you wish to study them or use them.

It is not uncommon to use a linear accelerator as a means of producing a bright source of x-rays or other photons or particles.

In a fluorescent light bulb electrons are accelerated through a gas to produce ultraviolet light that then excites a phosphor to produce visible light.

In an x-ray tube used at the dentist's office electrons of somewhat higher energy are slammed into a metal target to produce x-rays.

A linear accelerator is a machine running at even higher energies to produce particles or photons, depending on the design.


So what's wrong with modifying the collider at Fermilab in Illinois to do the same things? Does ALL the cutting edge physics experimentation have to migrate to Europe? Have we, as a nation, totally given up our once leading roll in particle physics? This country is going down the tubes.

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