Candidate site for a synchrotron facility at Tohoku University – Praise for close partnerships

The original article was published in the Kahoku Shimpo (April 11th edition). Read the original here.

A next generation synchrotron facility will be constructed to analyze mass at the atomic level and link that to the development of new technology. The Light Science Innovation Center (in Sendai City, Chair: Masaki Takata, special advisor to the Tohoku University president) is a partnership of industry and academia that aims to site the project in Tohoku, and on April 10th, their Candidate Site Selection and Inquiry Committee selected the Aobayama Campus of Tohoku University (in Aoba-ku, Sendai City) as candidate site for the project. The Committee will report their findings to the Center on April 11th.

The candidate site is in the southwestern area of the campus, which measures around 65,000 square meters including the remains of an old golf course owned by the university. Tohoku University’s Faculty of Agriculture and Graduate School of Agricultural Science moved nearby recently from the Amamiya Campus (also in Aoba-ku).

The Inquiry Committee is made up of synchrotron radiation researchers, who praised the close partnership with research organizations of Tohoku University, and the convenient location for researchers and business people traveling from the Tokyo area. The Light Science Innovation Center will take into account the Committee’s report when they release their conclusion.

In February, the Committee started work to select a candidate site out of 5 possible areas: the Aobayama campus, Miyagi Prefecture’s Marumori Town, Matsushima Town, and Osato Town, and the Mutsu-Ogawahara development district in Aomori (Rokkasho Village and Misawa City). They met twice in Sendai as well as visited/interviewed 4 places in Miyagi Prefecture on March 26.

In June 2015, a third-party committee of SLiT-J* created a report that narrowed the candidate site down to the three towns of Marumori, Matsushima, and Osato. They evaluated the stability of the bedrock in Marumori as “best suited” and the bedrock of Matsushima and Osato as “satisfactory.” Before this 2017 committee, Tohoku University had been struck from consideration after showing an area to the west, which had been too hilly.

*SLiT-J: The Synchrotron Light in Tohoku, Japan, an organization made up of 7 national universities in Tohoku

The Center aims to begin construction within the 2018 fiscal year, and complete it by 2020. Its construction cost of 30 billion yen was originally planned to be funded only from the national reconstruction budget, but currently they are trying to raise funds from local small-to-medium sized enterprises to cover a portion of the costs.