Accelerating solutions for the environment
In what ways can particle accelerators tackle environmental issues? Looking for fresh ideas, the EU-funded I.FAST project brought together students from all over Europe to explore new solutions. The 10-day challenge was the first edition of I.FAST’s Challenge-Based Innovation (CBI) programme. Held at the European Scientific Institute in Archamps, France, from 26 July to 4 August, it gathered 23 students covering 17 nationalities enrolled in bachelor’s and master’s programmes with a multitude of academic backgrounds. Specialities included physics, engineering and law as well as business and environmental science. The goal was to explore innovative ways in which accelerators and related technologies could be used to meet a pressing societal challenge – our deteriorating environment.
It takes skill and passion
Throughout the programme, the undergraduate and graduate students attended high-level seminars on accelerators, environmental challenges and innovation. Multidisciplinary teams were then formed and each student tackled the problem from the point of view of their speciality. Through collaborative work, the teams then had to propose potential new applications. On the final day of the challenge, the teams were invited to spend a day at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), where they presented their work to a panel of experts. “I was impressed by the skills and passion shown by the four teams,” remarks Dr Frédérick Bordry, a former Director for Accelerators and Technology at CERN, in a news item posted on CERN’s website. “Such events are a great opportunity for students to learn more about accelerator science and to work on concrete challenges. Their different backgrounds allowed them to think about projects from distinct perspectives – from the scientific and technical to the economic and legal – the way it’s done in actual organisations,” explains Dr Bordry, who presided over the panel of experts judging the projects. The winning project belonged to the ‘Human Beam’ team that proposed the use of particle accelerators to deal with algal blooms. The three other projects proposed investigating soil depollution by irradiation, loading a compact Compton source on a boat, and studying how accelerators can strengthen wind turbine blades. The next edition of I.FAST’s CBI programme will take place in the summer of 2023 titled “Accelerators for the environment”. The call for applications will be launched in December 2022. The I.FAST (Innovation Fostering in Accelerator Science and Technology) project is fostering innovation in the particle accelerator community by mapping out and facilitating the development of breakthrough technologies common to multiple accelerator platforms. The project has brought together 49 partners from across Europe to investigate novel accelerator concepts and advanced prototyping of key technologies. These range from new accelerator designs and advanced superconducting technologies to strategies for improving energy efficiency and new societal applications of accelerators. For more information, please see: I.FAST project website
I.FAST, accelerator, particle accelerator, Challenge-Based Innovation, CERN, environment