February 25, 2014 at 6:40 pm

Michigan board OKs up to $100M in bonds for MSU nuclear science project

The Michigan Strategic Fund Board approved a resolution Tuesday that would allow for the issuance of up to $100 million in bonds for the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams at Michigan State University.

The bonds would support the community portion of the $730 million nuclear science facility that is being built at MSU, and funded primarily by the U.S. Department of Energy.

The heart of the MSU facility would be a high-intensity linear accelerator that is 1,000 times more powerful than other accelerators at nuclear science facilities nationwide, including those at Michigan State’s National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory. The accelerator would be built underground next to the existing lab.

FRIB will include an underground structure 550 feet long and 70 feet wide. Pieces for the linear accelerator will be simultaneously constructed and eventually installed in the facility, which will be 28 feet below ground. A building will be constructed atop the facility.

The new facility will increase MSU’s potential to find rare isotopes by 100,000-fold — including extremely rare isotopes that are made every one in a sextillion when an atom is smashed.

MSU won the bid for the project in 2008 but funding has been a concern. In August 2013, the U.S. Department of Energy approved cost and construction timelines for construction and the purchase of “long-lead” items — technical equipment that will take a long time to build and install.

Ground is expected to be broken this spring, and be completed between 2020-2022. The facility is expected to create more than 400 full-time jobs over the next decade, create 5,000 construction jobs and pump $1 billion into the state’s economy.

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