American companies gain SRF skills
|Fermilab employees and representatives from Niowave Inc. and Roark Welding &Engineering Co. examine a cavity delivered to Fermilab recently. From left: Leonard Ristori, Fermilab engineer; Dwight Osha, Roark engineering manager; Brian Deimling, Niowave director of fabrication; Ahren Kolka, Niowave project manager; Mark Champion, head of Fermilab SRF Development Department; Terry Grimm, Niowave CEO.
Companies in the United States are rapidly learning to build the superconducting radio-frequency cavities Fermilab needs for future accelerators such as the proposed Project X and the International Linear Collider.
"One of our goals at Fermilab is to develop cavity vendors in North America," said Mark Champion, head of SRF development at the laboratory.
Niowave Inc., based in Michigan, and Roark Welding & Engineering Co., based in Indiana, delivered on March 30 the first two of an order of six 1.3-GHz Tesla SRF cavities that meet specifications for the proposed ILC. These same cavities can be used for parts of Project X, the proposed intense proton source at Fermilab. Only one other North American company, Advanced Energy Systems in New York, has the capacity to make SRF cavities that meet Fermilab's specifications.
The two companies are also working together on 10 spoke-resonator cavities for Project X, as well as RF cavities for accelerators used outside the laboratory in hospitals and at X-ray sources.
Niowave and Roark formed a partnership to combine the SRF know-how of Niowave with the fabrication and electron-beam welding capabilities of Roark.
Terry Grimm, CEO of Niowave, said that in 2001 he was in the right place at the right time to set up his company, a spin-off from the physics department of Michigan State University.
"Not only do we have a laboratory here at Michigan State, but the auto industry here is in a difficult time period," Grimm said. "We're bringing jobs to the area, so they've very receptive. And they're high-tech jobs."
For its part, Roark performed all of the welding with its high-quality electron-beam welder, which produces cavity welds that are extremely clean and smooth. The company primarily manufactures and welds engine components for aircraft including B-1 bombers, commercial jets, helicopters and even NASA spacecraft.
"Usually our products function at 1,000 to 1,400 degrees Fahrenheit," said Dwight Osha, Roark's engineering manager. "This is the opposite; these cavities are designed to operate at less than minus 450 degrees."
-- Kathryn Grim