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European successor to Large Hadron Collider on track

Image: Cern

Future Circular Collider would take 20 years and cost roughly €16 billion to build

Europe’s nuclear research organisation, Cern, has confirmed that preliminary plans for a successor to the Large Hadron Collider remain on track.

“The Future Circular Collider is a possible facility. I am saying possible because we are at the level of a feasibility study, it is not yet an approved project,” Fabiola Gianotti, Cern’s director-general, said on 5 February, presenting the preliminary results of the study.

The FCC would be “an unprecedented instrument” housed in a 91km underground tunnel near Cern’s headquarters in Switzerland, with eight surface sites connected to the tunnel by 200m shafts.

Gianotti said it would enable scientists to address questions in fundamental physics including around “our knowledge of the fundamental constituents of matter and the structure and evolution of the universe”.

‘High quality of midterm report’

The FCC was chosen as the most promising scientific instrument to succeed the Large Hadron Collider by the European community of particle physicists who initiated the feasibility study. Its circumference would be three times that of the LHC, which has also enabled cutting-edge research on fundamental physics.

As the new study was only a preliminary one there are no final numbers on the cost of the FCC, but a rough initial cost of is around 15 billion Swiss francs (€16bn), according to Gianotti.

Final numbers are expected in 2025, while building the FCC is expected to take around 20 years. Gianotti said it will be running in the 2040s.

The Cern Council of 23 member states and 10 associate member states, which decides on scientific and financial policy, “was very impressed by the high quality of the midterm report”, according to its president Eliezer Rabinovici.