IET and STFC Sustainable Accelerators Workshop report

The iia attended a recent workshop in the UK organised by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) and the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) entitled “Sustainable Accelerators”. A particular motivation for this workshop is the aim of the main funding body in the UK for research and innovation, UKRI, to reach net-zero carbon by 2040. As UKRI runs a number of large accelerator facilities, there is an increasing focus on accelerator sustainability within the organisation and this was one of the motivations for this event. 

Although the focus was on “large” facilities, there was still much of interest for the accelerators used for radiation processing. In particular, a number of common factors were identifiable. For example, during construction, the shielding concrete was determined to have the biggest single carbon footprint. In the operation of both a user facility accelerator and radiotherapy accelerators, it was actually travel that had the biggest carbon footprint, of users and patients, respectively. It was also identified that care was required in deciding what was in and out of scope. For example, in one facility, helium is used for cryogenic systems. Until recently, this helium was released and then replaced, the replacement gas being imported from around the world. This was considered a waste, so a new system was devised for re-capturing and re-using the helium. However, from the sustainability point of view, the new system came out worse than the old, simply because the imported gas is out of scope, whereas the power used for re-use is in scope. 

To further advance the subject, it is being proposed to create a Centre for Sustainable Accelerators in STFC in the UK. As well as being of importance for large machines, this centre could be of benefit for all accelerator manufacturers and users and industry is encouraged to become involved. 

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