News Tidbits 8/15- CU ERL Project

15 08 2008

So, I’m writing this as I’m sitting at a desk within the hotel; granted, I’m on the job, but it would help if I had more than one customer every forty-five minutes. It’s a bit of a running joke among Cornell Store employees that the Statler requires a dress shirt, tie and a really long book. Luckily, one of the few benefits to working the Statler Hotel gift shop over the main store is that we actually are permitted to browse the internet (with discretion).

So, doing as I often love to, I was perusing the planning board notes for the August 19, 2008 meeting of the Town of Ithaca planning board. And lo and behold, look what pops up:

8:00 P.M.        

Consideration of a sketch plan for the proposed Cornell University Energy Recovery Linac (ERL) project located north of the Pine Tree Road and Dryden Road (NYS Route 366) intersection, Town of Ithaca Tax Parcel No.’s 63-1-8.2, 63-1-2.2, 63-1-12, 63-1-3.1 and 63-1-3.3, Low Density Residential Zone.  The proposal involves construction of an underground accelerator tunnel (14-foot diameter and 2 km long), a cryogenic facility and associated electric substation (+/- 15,000 square foot footprint), and an extension to the existing Wilson Laboratory (+/- 185,000 gross square feet of building space).  The project will also involve new stormwater facilities, parking, outdoor lighting, and landscaping.  Cornell University, Owner; Steve Beyers, P.E., Engineering Services Leader, Agent.

The other agenda items aren’t notable (a radio tower, continued discussion about the IC Athletic Complex, and the continued use of an equestrian facility).

So, the construction of 200,000 sq. ft of physical plant, a cryogenic facility and an accelerator tunnel require a bit of investigation.

The first thing I came across is this week-old Cornell Chronicle item. The particle accelerator has a planned timeframe of construction that would allow for the beginning of operations in 2011 [2].

Rather than try and explain the operations of the particle accelerator itself, I’m just going to quote the article (I’m excusing myself on the grounds that I study thermodynamics, not quantum physics).

The ERL would accelerate electrons to nearly the speed of light in a linear accelerator (linac) made of two straight tubes, each about 330 meters (0.2 miles) long, then feed them into the Cornell Electron Storage Ring, Hoffstaetter said. After a single rotation around the ring, the electrons would return to the linac, where their energy would be recovered and used to accelerate the next batch of electrons.

Meanwhile, at various points around the ring, the Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source would use the electrons to produce ultra-bright, ultra-fast pulsing X-ray beams capable of imaging structures just a few atoms wide, and whose oscillations would be resolved with sub-picosecond resolution (less than a millionth of one millionth of a second). [2]“

On another note, the building is visible in the master plan diagrams, as the large expansion that exists to the east of the current Wilson Lab structure:

So, our physical plant will continue to expand for some time yet.

[1]http://www.town.ithaca.ny.us/

[2]http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/Aug08/ovp.forum.erl.html

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