MSU trustees approve next step of FRIB project

Contact: Tom Oswald, University Relations, tom.oswald@ur.msu.edu, Office: (517) 432-0920, Cell: (517) 281-7129; Alex Parsons, FRIB, Office: (517) 908-7493, Cell: (517) 927-8945, parsons@frib.msu.edu

Jan 27, 2012

EAST LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan State University Board of Trustees has given its approval to the next step in the development of the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams, a world-class nuclear research facility that will attract scientists from all over the world to East Lansing while creating more than $1 billion in economic activity in the region.

In approving the administration’s request to proceed with the project, the board established a budget of $20 million, which will be used for site preparation and excavation.

“MSU continues to move forward with FRIB, ensuring that we are prepared when federal and state officials make appropriate decisions to allocate resources to this project, which is important to MSU, Michigan and U.S. research capabilities,” said MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon. “We are confident that our team will successfully present the project at a review by the Department of Energy’s Office of Science in April and will be ready for excavation to start.”

FRIB is expected to bring more than $1 billion in total economic activity to Michigan during the next 10 years, according to a report by the Anderson Economic Group. MSU has been working closely with officials at the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and local economic development directors to ensure state businesses are aware of contract potential for the specialized tools that will be incorporated into FRIB, and that economic developers are ready to seek out and assist businesses that may be attracted by FRIB research.

Construction is expected to begin later this year, with completion set for 2020. The facility is expected to employ about 400 persons, as well as create 5,000 construction jobs. Hiring has already started, with about 100 new scientists, engineers and support personnel joining the FRIB procect.

FRIB has already achieved compliance with the National Environmental Protection Act, has received Critical Decision 1 approval from the U.S. DOE and has completed the final design for civil construction. FRIB staff members are preparing now for a major Department of Energy review, known as Critical Decision 2/3A, which will pave the way for civil construction to begin.

FRIB will be a new national user facility for nuclear science, providing intense beams of rare isotopes to better enable scientists to make discoveries about the properties of these isotopes. This will enable researchers to gain deeper understanding into key scientific questions including the origins of stars and the universe. Isotopes discovered may have important applications for medicine, national security, metallurgy and other uses.

The facility also will be critical to preparing the next generation of scientists. MSU’s nuclear physics doctoral program was named the nation’s best by U.S. News and World Report last year, and the prospects of FRIB continuing the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory’s reputation as the world’s top rare isotope facility is helping the university continue to attract world-class students.

“FRIB will keep MSU and Michigan in the forefront of nuclear physics research for another generation,” Simon said. “It is vital for our nation to continue to make basic research a priority and to generate the ideas and products that will continue to make our economy strong and diverse.”