Scientists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research are currently exploring the feasibility of a 100 tera-electron-volt (TeV) particle accelerator through a new cooling design scheme that could slash the cost of cooling machines in the future.
The 100 TeV collider will produce seven times the energy per collision that of the Large Hadron Collider, as well as maintain a circumference almost four times more and radiate a thousand times more power – a never-before-seen amount of heat.
As cooling the future collider will be too expensive via current techniques, a new cooling scheme from CERN’s Roberto Cimino proposed substantially less energy use, and therefore more manageable costs.
Exploring The Dark Universe
The 17-mile-long LHC is the biggest and most potent particle collider in the world today. It was created to explore the massive and unknown “dark universe.”
A TeV, a unit of energy in particle physics, has about the energy of motion of a flying mosquito. The LHC is considered extraordinary because it squeezes energy into a space that is around a million times smaller than a mosquito.
Studying extreme energy is deemed crucial in better understanding how the universe came to be post-Big Bang.
University of Copenhagen researchers who are part of CERN’s study explained that the Universe was once composed of a dense hot mix of fundamental particles known as gluons and quarks – a state known as the quark-gluon-plasma.
A millionth of a second after the Big Bang happened, the QGP began fusing together to form bulk matter as well as other particles. Researchers believed that the fusion emerged from a strong nuclear force enabling the binding of the quarks.
CERN’s mission is to recreate the high temperature akin to the universe’s creation, when these fundamental particles were in a liquid-like form. Researchers will do this through colliding lead ions and then converting the kinetic energy of the collision into matter.
Prohibitively Expensive Process
But this ambition doesn’t come cheap.
Using the LHC, accelerating the particle beam, which continually radiates photons and heat, is done by superconducting magnets. A copper tube that surrounds the beam assists in transporting this heat through photo absorption.
However, an intricate refrigeration process is necessary to keep the magnets at 1.9 Kelvin – a heat-removal system that is prohibitively expensive or entailing a couple thousand dollars for every hour. Based on estimates, the weekly tab for a 100-TeV accelerator could reach millions in expenses.
The proposal from Cimino and the team stated that they could coat the copper tube’s interior with a thin carbon layer reflecting all the radiation.
“The surface structure of the carbon coating is designed so that the radiation, and the heat it carries, is transported away from colder regions towards periodically placed room-temperature absorbers, which are easier and cheaper to cool than the tube itself,” said the synopsis about the collider.
According to the authors, who published their findings in the journal Physical Review Letters, this new design would slash the power consumption linked to cooling by a maximum of 20 percent, likely reducing the costs by half.