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U.S. Department of Energy Selects Michigan State University To Design and Establish Facility for Rare Isotope Beams

(EMAILWIRE.COM, December 15, 2008 ) WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced today that Michigan State University (MSU) in East Lansing, MI has been selected to design and establish the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB), a cutting-edge research facility to advance understanding of rare 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 1000 university and laboratory scientists, postdoctoral associates, and graduate students.

“The Department of Energy’s new Facility for Rare Isotope Beams at Michigan State University promises to vastly expand our understanding of nuclear astrophysics and nuclear structure,” said Acting Associate Director of the Office of Science for Nuclear Physics Eugene Henry. “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.”

The research conducted at FRIB will involve experimentation with intense beams of rare isotopes—short-lived nuclei not normally found on earth—and is expected to advance critical applications in the areas of materials science, medicine, and stockpile stewardship.

The FRIB concept has undergone numerous studies and assessments within DOE and by independent parties such as the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences. These studies—in addition to the joint DOE/National Science Foundation (NSF) Nuclear Science Advisory Committee (NSAC) 2007 Long Range Plan—concluded that such a facility is a vital part of the U.S. nuclear science portfolio, complements existing and planned international efforts, and will provide capabilities unmatched elsewhere. Thus, the selection announced today is the culmination of studies, analyses, and recommendations conducted since the 1996 NSAC Long Range Plan first recommended the development of a next generation nuclear structure and astrophysics facility as a high priority.

The proposals received in response to the May 20, 2008, Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) were subject to a merit review process conducted by a panel of world-renowned experts from universities, national laboratories and federal agencies. The appraisal included rigorous evaluation of the proposals based on the merit review criteria described in the FOA, presentations by the applicants, and visits by the merit review panel to each applicant’s site. 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.

MSU currently hosts the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory (NSCL) led by Professor C. Konrad Gelbke and supported by NSF. Dr. Gelbke will lead the MSU team to establish FRIB on the MSU campus. The NSCL can continue operations during construction, which will allow compelling scientific opportunities to be pursued.

The selection is subject to the successful negotiation of a Cooperative Agreement with MSU and a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review of the proposed site. Funding is subject to annual appropriations by Congress. More information about FRIBA is available from the Office of Nuclear Physics.


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U.S. Department of Energy
Bethany Shively
(202) 586-4940


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