U.S. Representative Judy Biggert (R-IL-13) today applauded the release by the Department of Energy of a draft Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for the long-awaited Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB). The University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory intend to compete for the project, which is estimated to carry a price tag of $550 to $600 million.
"The rare isotope facility holds enormous potential for our country's technological and economic competitiveness," said Biggert, a senior member of House Science Subcommittee on Energy, which has oversight over the DOE's research and development programs and national laboratories. "This world-class user facility could bring millions in revenue and high-tech jobs to our local economy."
The FRIB - a modified version of the Rare Isotope Accelerator (RIA) - would be the world's most powerful research facility dedicated to the production and exploration of new rare isotopes that are not found naturally on Earth. The FRIB would study unique forms of radiation leading to advances and applications in nuclear physics, astrophysics, biology, medicine, food safety, and environmental protection. Following today's release, the public and scientific community will have 60 days to submit comments on the draft before a final FOA is developed and released for competitive bidding. The final selection is expected to be made by September of 2008 with construction to begin in 2011.
"We still have a long way to go, but I'm very pleased the Department of Energy remains committed to the FRIB and is taking the steps necessary to make it a reality," said Biggert. "I look forward to reviewing the draft proposal to ensure that we are setting up a fair, science-driven process for bidding and development."
In 2005, Biggert sponsored legislation that became Title IX of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which authorized funding for the construction and operation of a rare isotope accelerator -- the first time that Congress officially gave such a project the green light. She also has secured appropriations for research and development related to the FRIB.