LHC on course for November restart

The giant particle accelerator should restart in mid-November, and could commence high-energy experiments before the end of the year
Written by Tom Espiner, Contributor

The world's largest particle accelerator is on course for a November restart. Six out of eight superconducting sectors are down to working cryogenic temperatures, according to Cern, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research.

James Gillies, head of communications for Cern, told ZDNet UK on Monday that the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) would probably be ready to collide beams of particles by mid-November.

"Things are going well," said Gillies. "We hesitate to say 'Hurray' just yet, but things are going smoothly."

Gillies said Cern planned to restart the giant experiment in incremental stages. Within two weeks, scientists will inject a beam of protons into the LHC and guide them  around the first sector.

The first beam collisions are predicted for mid-November and will take place at half a tera electron volt (TeV), said Gillies. After this, the energy intensity will be increased to 3.5 TeV, probably by the end of the year or early in January.

The beam is designed to run at 7 TeV, equivalent to 350MJ, at which it which would have enough stored energy to drill a 30m hole in copper.

There is no scheduled date for a full power run.

Six of the eight sectors of the machine are now down to 1.9K, or approximately -271°C, according to the Cern Bulletin on Monday. The magnets which will guide the beams are being powered up in these sectors.

Gillies added that the LHC's new quench detection system was "much better than last year". The quench detection system, installed in four segments with the rest due by the end of October, allows Cern scientists to measure the resistance of all of the copper splices and to extract energy from the magnets twice as efficiently as last year's system, according to the Bulletin.

The LHC had to be shut down nine days after it was first powered up a year ago, after a fault in a the welding of a copper bus bar caused an explosion. This halted the normal operation of a quench, which would have dumped the energy in the magnets.

Gillies told ZDNet UK in May that the LHC may run through the winter, while in August Cern said there would be a November LHC restart.

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