Policy Consideration 3
A virtual national laboratory consortium is needed that can support regulatory, research and development uses and measurement of ionizing radiation to leverage national brick and mortar assets at universities, DoE laboratories and government laboratories.
Industrial electron beam accelerator technology has been developed in the United States since the 1930’s relying upon free market capitalization. US based companies are responsible for the manufacture of a large share of the over 1700 high current electron accelerators in industrial use throughout the world. Likewise, the dominant markets in which these EB accelerators are used have been based upon innovations of US entrepreneurs, markets that involve hundreds of billions of dollars of value-added products. These successes have been attained without federal support. However, now in a more competitive global marketplace of the twenty-first century, other nations have more astutely structured their science and technology capabilities to support the industrial use of EB technology. Countries, such as Japan and the Russian Federation, have national laboratories with high current, EB accelerators that are used to foster the deployment of EB technology in industrial areas. Similarly, such coordinated approaches to fostering the use of this energy-efficient process technology are found in the national laboratories of emerging economies as in Brazil, Poland and even Malaysia and Egypt. No comparable national facilities exist in the US. This has facilitated technological developments to be launched outside of the US. For example, the use of EB to eliminate the stack gas contaminants of sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxides was investigated and developed in Japan and Poland and then also scaled up in Poland to commercial use. US industry lacks such a national resource as the Japan Atomic Energy Research Institute (JAERI) in Takasaki, Japan, and its ability to coordinate commercial interests in technology deployment. It is not practical given current funding patterns to build such a brick and mortar facility at any specific agency or laboratory. NIST itself would need an entirely new building to house a facility and other facilities NIST maintains in support of other areas, such as the medical community. Accelerators require specialized shielding and cannot simply be housed or moved to other buildings at NIST. The present building used by the NIST Ionizing Radiation Division has been found to be inadequate by several National Research Council review panels. A consortium of stakeholders with facilities at universities, DoE laboratories and Government agencies across the country should be established to allow NIST the regulatory facilities it needs to develop and maintain effective, modern measures and standards dealing with the ionizing radiation community.