Tests begin for a new supermagnet that consumes no electrical energy

Testing has begun at Britain’s Synchrotron, Diamond Light Source in Oxfordshire for an energy-saving supermagnet, designed and built by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), for its next generation particle accelerator.

Particle accelerators are responsible for some of our greatest scientific breakthroughs in history, such as the discovery of the Higgs boson at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider.

The world needs these powerful and highly complex machines to enable research essential to the development of important green technologies, such as better solar cells and more efficient batteries.

A particle accelerator can use thousands of tunable high-powered electromagnets to bend and focus a beam through the machine at nearly the speed of light. However, these consume large amounts of electricity to operate and cool.

Designed by scientists and engineers at STFC’s Daresbury Laboratory, Sci-Tech Daresbury, the Zero Power Tunable Optical Magnet (ZEPTO) is a permanent, tunable magnet that consumes no electrical energy.

ZEPTO offers the same flexibility as an electromagnet but does not require energy to produce a magnetic field, which could significantly save the cost and scale of future particle accelerators.

Energy consumption and the associated financial and environmental costs are the main challenges faced when building a next-generation particle accelerator.

The successful commissioning of ZEPTO at Diamond, the UK’s national synchrotron accelerator, launches a year-long demonstrator to confirm that it is as reliable and robust as a conventional electromagnet.

During the test, 1 magnet is expected to save approximately 136 kg of carbon dioxide compared to a conventional electromagnet, with an expected carbon payback in one year of operation.

Professor Jim Clarke, Director of STFC’s Accelerator Science and Technology Center, who led the design and development of the ZEPTO magnet, said: “The development of the ZEPTO magnet confirms STFC’s ability to design and build the brand new technologies needed to build the world. the next generation of research facilities in a more affordable and sustainable way.

“I am so proud to see it successfully installed and running for the first time on an operational installation. This is an important step in the development of this innovative magnet.

The ZEPTO magnet, developed under STFC’s proof-of-concept fund, is part of STFC’s growing program of sustainable accelerators. This is just one demonstration of STFC’s commitment to making accelerators sustainable.

Professor Clarke added: “It is extremely exciting to apply our expertise to make particle accelerators environmentally and financially sustainable, to the benefit of our environment and our economy.

“This important project is just one example of how STFC’s accelerator scientists, engineers and technicians are supporting STFC’s goal of being net zero by 2040.”

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