Thursday, May 23, 2024

Testing begins for new energy-saving super magnet

Scientists and engineers at the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) designed and built a zero-power tuneable optics magnet (ZEPTO), a permanent, tuneable magnet that consumes zero electrical power. Now, the engineers have begun testing the new energy-saving super-magnet at Diamond Light Source for the next generation of 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 that is essential for developing important green technologies, such as better solar cells and more efficient batteries.

One particle accelerator can use thousands of high-power tuneable electromagnets to bend and focus a beam through the machine, close to the speed of light. However, these consume vast amounts of electricity to operate and cool. ZEPTO offers the same flexibility as an electromagnet but does not require power to produce a magnetic field. This could dramatically save on the cost and scale of future particle accelerators.

ZEPTO magnet‘s successful commissioning at Diamond, the UK’s national synchrotron accelerator, kicks off a year-long demonstrator to confirm that it is as reliable and robust as a conventional electromagnet. During the test, one magnet is expected to save an estimated 136 kg of carbon dioxide compared with a conventional electromagnet, with the carbon payback anticipated to be within a year of operation.

“The development of the ZEPTO magnet confirms STFC’s ability to design and build the brand-new technologies required to build the world’s next generation of research facilities more affordably and sustainably,” said Professor Jim Clarke, Director of STFC’s Accelerator Science and Technology Centre, who led the design and development of the ZEPTO magnet.

Developed under STFC’s Proof of Concept Fund, the ZEPTO magnet is part of STFC’s growing Sustainable Accelerators program. It is just one demonstration of STFC’s commitment to making accelerators sustainable. “It’s hugely exciting to be applying our expertise to make particle accelerators environmentally and financially sustainable for the benefit of our environment and economy,” Professor Clarke added. “This important project is just one example of how accelerator scientists, engineers, and technicians at STFC are supporting STFC’s aim to be net zero by 2040.”