Professor takes lead role in future of European accelerator facilities
A NEW and concise document that spells out the crucial importance of particle accelerators in fields such as energy, industry and healthcare is landing on the desks of policy-makers throughout Europe. It was conceived and edited by the University of Huddersfield's Professor Rob Edgecock and is one of the key outcomes of a four-year, EU-funded project which aimed to ensure that European accelerator facilities lead the world.
Professor Edgecock is a member of the International Institute for Accelerator Applications (IIAA) based at Huddersfield, where it operates the UK Medium Energy Ion Scattering facility (MEIS). The University was one of 40 European partners in the project named EuCARD-2, which involved more than 350 experts and resulted in a large number of innovative ideas for the use of particle accelerators.
As co-ordinator of the Accelerator Application Network of EuCARD2, Professor Edgecock initiated the project to produce a document that would be circulated to Europe's science policy-makers. Named Particle Accelerators and People, written by a specialist science writer and edited by Professor Edgecock, it has now been produced and distributed.
"One of its aims is to increase awareness of just how important particle accelerators already are, economically, technically and medically within Europe and the rest of the world, because most people simply don't realise this," said Professor Edgecock.
"Many will have heard about the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. But they might not know, for example, that if they are receiving radiotherapy then a particle accelerator is involved in that.
"So accelerators already have a big impact on day-to-day life, especially in areas like medicine and industry," continued Professor Edgecock. "But we also want to show that further development is required to improve their performance and the impact they can have in existing application areas, and also to create new applications.
"Investment in particle accelerators is important and will have benefits in the future."
The text of Particle Accelerators and People is a clear account of what accelerators do, how they work and their importance in various fields. For each category – such as health, security, energy and industry – there is also a summary of what is needed for the future.
For example, in healthcare, "smaller, less cumbersome accelerator configurations are needed that can treat several patients simultaneously in as few doses as possible."
For border security and counter-terrorism, "a new generation of portable, rugged, low-cost accelerator systems is needed that can ensure the rapid delivery of 3D images".
The concise Particle Accelerators and People is backed up by a considerably more detailed and technical 117-page document titled Applications of particle accelerators in Europe. Professor Edgecock furnishes its eight-page introduction, describing the science behind accelerators and why they are important.
He writes: "While originally invented and developed for basic scientific research, particle accelerators now play a vital role in improving health and prosperity in Europe, and around the world. They are used for applications ranging from treating cancer, through making better electronics, to removing harmful micro-organisms from food and water. There are approaching 40,000 accelerators in use globally, and it is estimated that their application underpins nearly half a trillion dollars-worth of commerce a year".
EuCARD-2 has now concluded, but has been succeeded by a new four-year project named ARIES, standing for Accelerator Research and Innovation for European Science and Society. Funded to the tune of €10m from the EU's Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, its total budget is €24.8m.
ARIES was launched at CERN in Switzerland and its goal is to develop new technologies to ensure that future accelerators are more affordable, reliable, sustainable and better performing.
Professor Edgecock is a member of the organising committee of ARIES, under which 14 different European test facilities will be made available for magnet, material, electron and proton beam, radio frequency and plasma acceleration testing.
It is also intended that ARIES will create a training programme to secure the sustainability of accelerator research by producing the next generation of scientists and engineers with expertise in the field.