Department of Energy chooses Michigan for $550M isotope facility

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MSU facility will research medical isotopes. Image Source: NuView Life Sciences  

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has selected Michigan State University (MSU) in East Lansing, Mich., to design and establish the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB), a research facility to advance understanding of nuclear isotopes and the evolution of the cosmos.

The new facility—expected to take about a decade to design and build and to cost an estimated $550 million—will provide research opportunities for an international community of approximately 1,000 university and laboratory scientists, postdoctoral associates and graduate students, according to the DOE.

“This capability will allow physicists to study the nuclear reactions that power stars and stellar explosions, explore the structure of the nuclei of atoms and the forces that bind them together, test current theories about the fundamental nature of matter, and play a role in developing new nuclear medicines and techniques,” said Eugene Henry, acting associate director of the Office of Science for Nuclear Physics.

The research conducted at FRIB will involve experimentation with beams of rare isotopes and is expected to advance applications in the areas of materials science, medicine and stockpile stewardship.

The FRIB concept has undergone assessments within DOE and by independent parties, such as the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences, according to the DOE. These studies—in addition to the joint DOE/National Science Foundation Nuclear Science Advisory Committee 2007 Long Range Plan—concluded that such a facility is integral to the U.S. nuclear science portfolio, and complements existing and planned international efforts.

The DOE said that MSU’s application was judged to be “superior based on the merit review criteria and the program policy factor contained in the FOA, including provision of a proposed budget that is reasonable and realistic, giving substantial confidence that MSU can establish the FRIB within the cost limitations of the FOA.” MSU also offered a direct cost share to the project.