PIP-II holds first-ever sustainability workshop in December

Sustainability is part of everything we do at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, from small, everyday choices made by individuals to large plans around future projects and facilities. As a state-of-the-art research laboratory in the middle of Illinois prairieland, Fermilab practices land and electronics stewardship, energy and water conservation, green purchasing, pollution prevention and more in order to protect the environment and achieve the government’s ambitious goals for clean energy while carrying out cutting-edge particle physics research.

The new Proton Improvement Plan II, commonly known as PIP-II, a powerful enhancement to Fermilab’s accelerator complex, aims to be consistent with Fermilab’s sustainability goals. Due to be completed in 2028, the project consists of a 215-meter, 800-million-electronvolt linear accelerator that will generate a high-energy neutrino beam; the beam will travel from Illinois to South Dakota where it will provide neutrinos for the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment, powering exciting new discoveries for decades to come.

An artistic rendering of the PIP-II buildings on Fermilab’s campus with solar panels on the roof—one of the sustainable solutions explored in the PIP-II Sustainability Workshop held in December 2021. Photo: PIP-II

However, with the upgrades come a significant increase in the amount of energy consumed by the laboratory — and the ensuing climate change and environmental concerns. In accordance with Fermilab’s and the Department of Energy’s sustainability goals, the PIP-II team set out to explore strategies for increasing the energy efficiency over the life cycle of the project in the first-ever PIP-II Sustainability Workshop. Held virtually on Dec. 16-17, 2021, the workshop was led by Steve Dixon, PIP-II’s Level 2 manager for conventional facilities.

On the first day, participants from Fermilab, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Northern Illinois University and other institutions heard from external speakers — Björn Eldvall of the European Spallation Source in Sweden, Mike Seidel of the Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland, and Dawn-Marie Barreira of TRIUMF in Canada — to learn about how their institutions incorporate sustainable practices in similar efforts.

“It was important to invite contributions from other labs in order to share information, approaches and lessons from implementing sustainable design, construction and operating practices,” said Dixon. “All of the participants share a common goal of building great science machines in a sustainable manner.”

The afternoon session included talks that described the Fermilab approach to sustainability from Eric Mieland and Adam Taylor on the Site Sustainability Plan and opportunities for DOE funding for energy conservation. Bill Pellico of Fermilab’s Accelerator Division presented the approaches and opportunities for improving the sustainability of Fermilab accelerators.

On the second day, PIP-II managers and subject matter experts gave reports on their areas within PIP-II and their approaches to sustainability as well as opportunities for the future.

Some participants of the PIP-II Sustainability Workshop, held Dec. 16-17, 2021. Photo: PIP-II

The workshop wrapped up with a discussion among the PIP-II collaborators about how to implement what they learned. Some of the considerations included identifying accelerator technologies to reduce power consumption, identifying energy recovery opportunities, defining strategies and management practices to develop and implement sustainable solutions for PIP-II, recycling waste heat, exploring renewable sources of energy (e.g., solar panels), encouraging strategic partnerships toward more effective energy management, and setting an objective target for PIP-II energy management and efficiency.

With some ideas in mind, PIP-II’s next step is to determine the most reasonable, achievable, measurable and time-efficient strategies.

PIP-II project director Lia Merminga was inspired by the workshop, saying, “The PIP-II team is looking forward to setting a sustainability and energy efficiency goal for PIP-II and devising a path to achieve it while delivering on the tremendous capacity, capability, and flexibility of the accelerator.”