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Fermilab getting $60 million more in stimulus funds
By Susan Sarkauskas | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 8/5/2009 12:00 AM

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If they could, Fermilab officials would send out a big thank-you note.

"We are extremely grateful to the taxpayers of our country for this opportunity," said Judy Jackson, Fermilab communications director, after the Batavia physics laboratory received word Tuesday that it will be getting an additional $60.2 million as a result of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Fermilab has already received $43 million in stimulus funds.

More than $57 million will be used on developing new technology for a particle collider to replace Fermi's Tevatron. The new collider will use superconducting radio frequency technology to send particles hurtling at each other in experiments. Another $8 million will be spent designing an experiment involving high-intensity beams of neutrino particles.

The technology will be useful in any new collider, including the proposed International Linear Collider, and in Project X, a smaller linear-collider proposal, Jackson said.

"It really is critical to the laboratory's future," she said. The Tevatron, a circular accelerator completed in 1983 and added onto in the late 1990s, is expected to be shut down in a few years, once some technical issues have been fixed on the new Large Hadron Collider in Europe and it is running successfully.

Instead of studying the energy produced by particle collisions, Fermilab's future lies in studying intensity.

Construction of the superconducting radio frequency collider is expected to start this fall, and should employ about 125 people in full-time on-site construction jobs, Jackson said. Concrete and steel for the projects will be made in the United States, she said.

"These are projects we would not have been able to do without Recovery Act funding," Jackson said.

Congressman Bill Foster, a Batavia Democrat, will discuss the funding with laboratory director Pier Oddone at a news conference at noon Wednesday at the lab. Foster worked at the lab as a physicist.

The Department of Energy also announced that Argonne National Laboratory, near Darien, will receive $5.6 million for improvements to its Advanced Photon Source, which produces high-intensity X-ray beams for research in several fields, including material science, biology, physics and chemistry. Besides replacing some of the equipment on the 12-year-old device, the money will be used to hire three technical support people for two years. Lab officials hopes that after that they will have room in the budget to keep the people permanently.

Overall, Argonne is receiving $150 million total. Included in that is $35 million to demolish the building where the Chicago Pile 5 nuclear reactor operated from 1954 to 1979 (it was decontaminated in 2000), and to decontaminate a 59-year-old building where, in 1964, a second-generation experimental nuclear reactor was built and run for several years.

"We were not disappointed in how we did," said Murray Gibson, director of the Advanced Photon Source.