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BASROC secures funding for revolutionary particle accelerators for science, technology and medicine

The British Accelerator Science and Radiation Oncology Consortium (BASROC) is pleased to announce that it has been awarded a major £8.5M grant from the RCUK Basic Technology programme to develop and realise an entirely new generation of compact high energy particle accelerators for use in science, technology and medicine.

The new devices, known as non-scaling fixed field alternating gradient accelerators – or ns-FFAG accelerators for short – will be smaller, simpler and significantly cheaper than their synchrotron and cyclotron counterparts. It is therefore expected that they will have a major impact as next generation hospital-based clinical accelerators for proton and carbon ion beam treatment of cancer.

Although no ns-FFAG accelerator has ever been constructed, BASROC believes that its research project, entitled CONFORM, will move rapidly from conceptual design to construction of a model electron accelerator (EMMA) which will be located at the CCLRC’s Daresbury Laboratory. The experience gained in the development and operation of EMMA will inform the design and eventual construction of a prototype proton/carbon ion ns-FFAG accelerator for medical applications (PAMELA).

In addition, an extensive parallel R&D programme will evaluate the potential of ns-FFAG accelerators as proton drivers for applications in scientific and technological fields as diverse as energy and environment (eg accelerator driven sub critical reactors, waste transmutation), materials research (eg advanced neutron and muon sources for studies of the structure and dynamics of materials), and fundamental physics (eg the neutrino factory).

Professor Roger Barlow of Manchester University, Project Leader of CONFORM, says
“The Basic Technology funding means that the UK will reclaim centre stage in the design, construction and application of advanced particle accelerators”

Professor Bleddyn Jones, Consultant in Clinical Oncology & Applied Radiobiology University Hospital Birmingham comments “I anticipate that the flexibility and cost-effectiveness of the ns-FFAG accelerators will ultimately make particle radiotherapy more accessible within the UK, with considerable benefits in the reduction of radiation side effects, improved quality of life and prospects of cure in a wide variety of cancers.”

Professor Bob Cywinski from the University of Leeds comments “CONFORM will revolutionise accelerator science. We can envisage powerful but compact accelerators that are fully optimised for a single application. This is a significant change from conventional philosophy in which single large accelerators are generally built for several applications – a situation in which everyone compromises.”

Dr David Wilcox of the High Power RF Faraday Partnership and Chairman of the BASROC Board, says “CONFORM will provide a real focus for advanced accelerator technology and manufacturing in the UK. The resulting development of industrial expertise will enable the UK to secure a competitive edge in the provision of accelerator components for major international projects.”

CONFORM funding will commence in March 2007 and the new accelerator should start operation within 3 years.

Professor Roger Barlow | alfa
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