The ICFA deliberates on shrinking ILC costs with a smaller initial length of 20 km

The original article was published in the Kahoku Shimpo (June 25th edition). Read the original here.

The International Committee for Future Accelerators (ICFA), the organization heading the ILC project, is moving forward on reducing the initial length of the ILC accelerator from 31 km to 20 km. This is to reduce the massive costs that have become the largest hurdle for the project. Reducing the accelerator length is estimated to reduce the over 1 trillion yen in construction costs by around 30%, and the hope is that this will lead to the speedy construction of the ILC in the Kitakami mountain site that straddles Iwate and Miyagi prefectures.

The host country must take on half of the cost to build the ILC, which is why the Japanese national government is still determining their approach to the project. The ICFA international design team, made up of top officials of research institutes from around the world, is currently taking into account the opinions of researchers working on the project, and is revising the original plan in order to reduce costs. They will decide upon their new plan in August.

The new plan will use a staging strategy in order to reduce initial costs by starting off with a 20 km ILC and then adding more stages for a 30 km accelerator, and then 50 km accelerator. As the ILC grows, the research conducted there will move to different topics. In the beginning, the ILC will be used to study the Higgs particle and dark matter, but in the future it may also be used to study simultaneous generation of the Higgs.

Research topics as the ILC grows in length
Length Research topics
20 km Higgs particle, dark matter
23 km Top quark
30 km Simultaneous generation of two Higgs particles
50 km Unknown territory

Along with reducing the initial length, Japan’s MEXT and the US’s Department of Energy have started joint research into improving the efficiency of the equipment to be used at the ILC. With this research, it may be possible to reduce construction costs by over 30% from the original plans.

In the background of all this exists China, which is also deliberating on the construction of a large particle accelerator. Scientists from Japan, the US, and the EU have also instructed the ICFA to take a more realistic approach to the ILC.

Specially-appointed professor Satoru Yamashita (International Center for Elementary Particle Physics at University of Tokyo) has been heading international negotiations for the ILC, and has stated that, “this is a realistic revision to the ILC plan that delineates a cost responsibility breakdown that is acceptable to all involved countries, and quickly prepares the area for the ILC. Even at the 20 km length, there will be various issues, and many researchers will come to the area. There will be a large effect on the surrounding region. This is why I hope this leads to a quick realization of the ILC, so that we can start small and grow gradually into something larger.”

The Tohoku ILC Promotion Council and the Advanced Accelerator Association Promoting Science & Technology will put together a plan on preparing the Kitakami mountain area for the ILC by summertime. MEXT will make their decision on whether to host the ILC by 2018.