Fermi National Laboratories
Notable for: largest cryogenic system ever built, providing benchmark for superconducting magnet designs
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When placed in service in 1983, the Tevatron cooling system was the largest cryogenic system ever built, doubling the world's capacity to liquefy helium. The Tevatron provided a benchmark of performance and feasibility for superconducting magnet design. It is the world's first high-energy accelerator and currently the highest-energy accelerator in the world.
Constructed as a central helium liquefier with 24 satellite refrigeration units along the 4.5-mile Tevatron ring, the cooling system brings super-cold liquid helium to the superconducting magnets through vacuum-jacketed pipelines. The combination of a central facility with satellite refrigerators takes advantage of the higher efficiencies possible with large-scale equipment and provides continued operation in the event of equipment failure. The coils of the magnets, which bend and focus the particle beam, are cooled to a superconducting state (approximately -268 C), providing zero electrical resistance. This enables the coils to carry a 5,000-ampere current that produces the strong magnetic field needed to control high-energy beams. The system delivers nearly 5,000 liters of liquid helium an hour to the magnets. Power consumption is one-third what it would be at normal temperatures. The cryogenic cooling system has a capacity of 23.2 kW at 5 K (-268 C,-450 F) plus 1,000 liters (264 gallons) an hour of liquid helium.
The cooling system, which has been a model for similar systems worldwide, includes many innovations, particularly advances in reliable gas compression, filtering of process gas, design of reciprocating expansion devices, and large-scale system integrity issues. Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory is operated by Universities Research Association, Inc., a consortium of major universities in the United States and Canada, for the US Department of Energy (DOE). Located about 35 miles west of Chicago, Fermilab offers educational programs and guided tours year round.
Visiting Info: by appointment, reservations for tours 708-840-3551
Ceremony Notes: September 1993