Fermilab breaks ground on its ‘new heart’

The Fermi National Accelerator broke ground Friday on a project that takes it into the future as one of the world’s premier particle physics laboratories.

The Proton Improvement Plan II, known as PIP-II, is a brand new leading-edge superconducting linear accelerator.

“It’s a new heart for Fermilab,” said Mike Weis, the Fermilab site office manager for the U.S. Department of Energy. “That’s really what we’re doing here.”

Weis was one of 19 speakers Friday at a groundbreaking for PIP-II which included a host of dignitaries, scientists and International representatives of participants in the project.

The group included Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, both D-Ill., U.S. Reps. Bill Foster, D-Aurora, Robin Kelly, D-Matteson, Lauren Underwood, D-Naperville, and Sean Casten, D-Downers Grove.

It also included Robert J. Zimmer, president of the University of Chicago, Paul Dabbar, undersecretary of science for the Department of Energy, and a host of Department of Energy and Fermilab officials.

To underscore the fact that this is the first U.S. accelerator project that will have significant contributions from international partners, guests included: Neeta Bhushan, consul general of India; John Saville, British consul general; Giuseppe Finocchiaro, consul general of Italy; and Guillaume Lacroix, consul general of France. Research institutions from those countries will build major components of the 215-meter-long particle accelerator.

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