A $30.7-million provincial investment in one of the world's top subatomic physics labs is expected to help lead the way in alleviating future medical isotope shortages, while keeping B.C. and Canada at the forefront of particle and nuclear physics, Premier Gordon Campbell announced today.
"B.C. has a well-earned international reputation for its contributions to nuclear medicine, which saves lives by detecting and treating cancer and heart disease," Premier Campbell said. "Our latest investment in TRIUMF will provide the tools to demonstrate one new way to produce the radio isotopes needed by doctors and patients everywhere, and to help Canada continue its leadership in emerging global industries based on nuclear physics."
This funding announcement supports ARIEL (Advanced Rare IsotopE Laboratory), a $62.9-million project to build an underground beam tunnel that will surround a ground-breaking linear accelerator. ARIEL will allow TRIUMF to broaden its research in producing and studying isotopes for medicine and physics, including materials science.
The linear accelerator, or e-linac, will produce intense beams of particles to create isotopes of chemical elements. It uses brand new technology developed in B.C. that produces some of the most powerful beams in the world: up to the equivalent of 5,000 light bulbs concentrated in one square centimetre. In addition to medical applications, the laboratory will expand TRIUMF's capacity for addressing a wide range of issues, including reducing fertilizer runoff, making paper mills more efficient, and developing systems to remove pollutants created by coal-fired plants around the world.
In addition to the Province's $30.7-million contribution, ARIEL is being supported by $14.4 million through TRIUMF and its partners and $17.8 million from the Canada Foundation for Innovation. The foundation's contribution directly supports the linear accelerator portion of the project, which is led by the University of Victoria.
TRIUMF is located on the University of British Columbia's Vancouver campus and is Canada's national laboratory for particle and nuclear physics. It is owned and operated by a consortium of 15 Canadian universities. TRIUMF was started by the University of Victoria, UBC and Simon Fraser University in 1968, when it was called the TRI University Meson Facility.
"We're very excited about the tremendous potential of the ARIEL project and our role in it," said University of Victoria president David Turpin. "This facility will have a dramatic impact in multiple sectors of research, the health sciences and commercialization, and sends a clear signal to the world about Canada's commitment to accelerator physics and engineering."
ARIEL is projected to increase the province's gross domestic product by an estimated $70 million over five years, and to result in $7.5 million added provincial tax revenues over the same period.
"The project will also create 160 spinoff jobs in the private sector, universities and other research agencies - not to mention 90 person-years of employment during construction," said Iain Black, Minister of Small Business, Technology and Economic Development.
TRIUMF attracts top physicists from around the world who collaborate on research related to particle and nuclear physics, molecular and materials science, and nuclear medicine. In partnership with TRIUMF, MDS Nordion produces 2.5 million patient doses of medical isotopes a year at its Vancouver site.
"This is a tremendous step for TRIUMF, for B.C., and for Canada," said Nigel Lockyer, director of TRIUMF. "Building on our strengths, ARIEL and the e-linac will attract global talent and ideas to B.C. with intellectual, economic and social benefits for all Canadians."
The ARIEL project is funded through the $14 billion capital infrastructure program supported by the Province that is creating up to 88,000 jobs and building vital public infrastructure in every region of B.C.
As well as contributing to the linear accelerator, the federal government also supports TRIUMF's core operating expenses.
"Our government is investing in science and technology to improve the quality of life for Canadians," said Stockwell Day, federal Treasury Board president, minister responsible for British Columbia, and MP for Okanagan Coquihalla. "I am pleased that our government has helped fund this new isotope lab. This facility will bring employment, health and scientific benefits for British Columbians and people across Canada."
Since 2001, the provincial government has invested $1.8 billion in research and innovation. This funding has attracted another $1.3 billion in research funding from other sources.
For a video explaining the science and showing what ARIEL will look like, visit http://www.triumf.ca/videos/ARIEL