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New power supply object of joint R&D agreement

STANFORD -- The Stanford Linear Accelerator Center has signed a cooperative agreement with North Star Research Corp. to develop a specialized type of power supply called a high-efficiency pulse modulator.

The primary use of these power supplies will be to power the microwave generators required for the Next Linear Collider project currently being designed at SLAC. With an expected efficiency of 90 percent, compared to 70 percent for existing designs, the new modulators could save the next generation particle accelerator as much as $16 million worth of electricity annually.

Conventional transformer-pulsed modulators like those now used at SLAC are well understood but are quite large and expensive. The new design is considerably smaller and less expensive, as well as more efficient.

Such power supplies must deliver large voltages and currents (hundreds of thousands of volts, hundreds of amperes) in short, microsecond-long bursts hundreds of times per second. Similar power supplies have commercial applications in radar and as key components of electron accelerators used for detoxifying certain kinds of hazardous waste, for sterilization of equipment and for radiotherapy. Lower-cost electron accelerators would speed the replacement of radioisotope-based radiotherapy systems.

The Cooperative Research and Development Agreement between SLAC and North Star Research Corp. was signed on Dec. 12, 1994. The six-month joint project will receive a total funding of approximately $99,000 from the Department of Energy.

The new power supply is based on a North Star design called the Nested High Voltage Generator. It consists of many DC power supplies connected in series but powered in parallel. The company has demonstrated that this design can generate 500-kilovolt, 80-amp pulses with 83 percent efficiency. As part of the joint project, North Star will upgrade its NHVG design to deliver 500-kilovolt, 220-amp pulses at an efficiency of greater than 90 percent. SLAC will design an electron gun needed to drive the microwave generator.

North Star Research Corp. is a small business located in Albuquerque, N.M. Major activities of this company include design and production of pulsed power supplies. This is the first SLAC cooperative research and development agreement with an industrial partner supported by the Department of Energy's Small Business Technology Transfer program.


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