CERN plans to shut down particle accelerators due to energy shortage

Research organization CERN is preparing to pause experiments and shut down particle accelerators as soon as there is a high demand for energy. The organization is also considering how to shut down the Large Hadron accelerator if necessary.

CERN President Serge Claudet says to The Wall Street Journal that it is a voluntary cessation of experiments. The organization says it wants to help monitor the stability of the local electricity grid and avoid a blackout in the region. A sudden power outage can also cause damage to the organization’s particle accelerators.

The plans will be presented to the various government representatives who fund the organization next month. CERN is also in talks with its French energy supplier EDF to be warned at least one day in advance if less energy is required. In this way, CERN wants to avoid sudden shutdowns. The organization is one of the largest energy consumers in France, according to The Wall Street Journal. At peak times, CERN reportedly consumes nearly 200MW of electricity.

CERN has eight particle accelerators, including the Large Hadron Collider. That particle accelerator accounts for about a quarter of the organisation’s energy consumption. The Large Hadron Collider works with superconducting magnets that are cooled to a temperature of -271 degrees Celsius. These magnets must remain cooled continuously, even when the particle accelerator is not active. If the cooling can’t happen, it could be weeks before the experiments at the Large Hadron Collider can start again, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The Large Hadron Collider is also the largest particle accelerator on Earth. The particle accelerator was built underground and is largely located in Switzerland, near Geneva. The complex, with the particle accelerator, detectors and all associated electronics, infrastructure and computers, is managed by CERN, or the European Organization for Nuclear Research. CERN is an international partnership of twenty European member states and has thousands of employees. In 2012, CERN confirmed the existence of the Higgs boson. The Higgs field, which results in Higgs bosons, is said to be the physical mechanism from which particles derive their mass.

Large Hadron Collider