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By Samuel R. Avro on Dec 11, 2008 with no responses

Michigan State Univ. Awarded $550 Million Nuclear Project

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The U.S. Department of Energy today selected Michigan State University as their site for the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams.

The $550 million facility, which will take ten years to build, could spark scientific breakthroughs affecting medicine, national defense research and the environment.

“It is the best news for Michigan in a long time,” said Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich, who lobbied for the project with members of the state’s congressional delegation.

MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon and U.S. Sen. Carl Levin discuss the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams during a July 1, 2008 event. Photo courtesy: MSU

The project will expand upon the school’s technology that accelerates atomic nuclei to high speeds and shatters them into rare isotopes not found on Earth.

“We are proud to have been selected, and we look forward to partnering with the Department of Energy Office of Science to advance this important science,” MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon said in her blog. “MSU is deeply committed to the success of this facility.”

The facility is expected to bring $1 billion in economic activity and 400 jobs to Michigan, according to an analysis by the Anderson Economic Group.

The design will begin immediately with construction slated for 2013.

“This is a huge deal for Michigan in terms of jobs … and in terms of image,” Gov. Jennifer Granholm said. She called the facility “a tremendous statement about Michigan’s future in the sciences.”

Funding for construction of the new facility still must be secured through Congress.

The technology will be at least 1,000 times more powerful than 20-year-old machines at Michigan State’s National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory. Experiments that normally last a year will take only a week at the new facility, keeping the U.S. competitive with sites in Germany and Japan, said Geoff Koch, a Cyclotron spokesman.