Compact, high-power superconducting radio-frequency accelerators for environmental applications

G. Ciovati, A. Castilla-Loeza, G. Cheng, U. Pudasaini, R. Rimmer, H. Vennekate, H. Wang, S. Wang, J. Anderson, B. Coriton, L. Holland, D. Packard, K. Thackston, C. Bott, R. Pearce, Xi Li, D. Knappe, F. Hannon, T. Schultheiss, J. Rathke
Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility,
United States

Keywords: industrial accelerators, wastewater treatment, PFAS


Electron-beam irradiation has been proven to destructively reduce or eliminate a wide variety of organic chemicals, viruses and bacteria from wastewater, as well as reducing sulfur and nitrous oxides emission from coal-fired power plants. It is estimated that there are approximately 30,000 such particle accelerators in use worldwide for industrial processes including surface and bulk processing of material, medical sterilization, and environmental remediation. Maximum beam power from accelerators used in these applications is currently limited to less than 500 kW, and a higher beam power is needed to reduce treatment costs. The market availability of continuous-wave (CW) electron-beam accelerators with power of the order of ~100 kW is also very limited. Superconducting radio-frequency (SRF) linear accelerators (linacs) are commonly used at basic research laboratories throughout the world due to their exceptionally high efficiency as compared to current industrial varieties. Recent advances in cryogenics, SRF thin films and high-power magnetrons allow for the design of increasingly compact and efficient CW SRF electron linacs in the energy range 1-10 MeV, with up to 1 MW of beam power. A new class of compact, high-efficiency electron-beam accelerators may provide cost-effective solutions for a range of industrial and environmental remediation applications, particularly with respect to tackling one such class of contaminants so-called “forever chemicals”, including per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), which are ubiquitous in a wide range of products and for which there is currently no effective destruction technology. We have recently demonstrated the key technologies required for such accelerators by: 1) operating a Nb3Sn SRF accelerating cavity cooled by commercial cryocoolers up to an accelerating gradient of 12.4 MV/m and 2) demonstrating the phase-locking as well as a high-efficiency power combining scheme for industrial magnetron transmitters. In this presentation, we will introduce the principles and benefits of MW-class SRF linacs, based on the conduction-cooled SRF technology that we have demonstrated for environmental remediation. We propose the development of a 4 MeV, 20 kW prototype to be built at Jefferson Lab as a first accelerator demonstrator unit. We will also present the results from samples study on the effect of electron-beam irradiation on so-called “forever chemicals” such as 1,4-dioxane and PFAS, using an existing multi-purpose 10 MeV, low-power, CW SRF linac at Jefferson Lab.