Accelerator Lab History

A brief history of WMU accelerator lab

The Western Michigan University accelerator was built by the High Voltage Engineering Corporation, which is the company that Robert Van de Graaff founded.  It was installed in 1969 when Rood Hall was built.  The main accelerating structure was originally used at Argonne National Laboratory near Chicago, and traded in when the laboratory purchased a larger accelerator.  Since part of our accelerator was “used,” we were able to build our laboratory for a bargain price (about $1,000,000).

The pressure tank is about 12 feet in diameter and 40 feet long and weighs approximately 90,000 pounds.  There are four research groups at the university as well as several independent and affiliated college research programs which work on the accelerator. 

Installation of WMU Accelerator

Accelerator ready to be lowered into position.End of accelerator tank. Harley, Chiang, Kelley

Helium tanks, accelerator tank.South end of accelerator.

North end of mounted accelerator tank.Accelerator tank in place, view from ceiling hatch.

Accelerator tank insides ready to go in from the south.  Al Farrari, Franklin Chians.Ready to go into north end of accelerator.  Larry Oppliger, Norm.

Inside the empty accelerator tank.Cantilever system for south end.

Belt inside accelerator.Inside accelerator looking to source end.