Piller Power Protection at the world’s Particle Accelerators

Synchrotron particle accelerators are used for conducting some of the most exciting research in science – many rely on Piller power protection

The world’s largest and best-known particle accelerator is the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, the European nuclear research campus.

It is a 27km circumference machine located on the Swiss French border.

While it is the biggest, the LHC is just one of many particle accelerators in operation around world. In fact, there are four synchrotron particle accelerators at CERN alone.

There are an estimated 70 Synchrotron Accelerators in use or in development globally conducting what is known as ‘Lightsource Science’.

What they all have in common is the need for stable, conditioned electricity and reliable power back up.

The synchrotron is a particular type of accelerator and is a common version of this very specialised piece of particle physics equipment.

Synchrotron Accelerators are used for vital research into everything from medical imaging for cancer treatments to material science, from energy and radiation science to environmental mapping.

Thanks to CERN they are probably best known for production of sub-atomic elements for the study of fundamental physics on the structure of matter.

The atomic and sub-atomic level science undertaken at particle accelerator research facilities is truly remarkable.

What Particle Accelerators are used for

Research conducted at accelerators is vast and varied and often done in line with national priorities. For example, environmental research conducted at the Australian ANSTO (Australia Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation) run particle accelerator includes the sustainable management of water. Nuclear tools provide accurate estimations on ground water location and quality. These are crucial for the Australian economy and environmental sustainability.

ANSTO says: “Specialised techniques have applications in advanced materials, agriculture biomedicine, defence science, environmental sustainability, food and food technology, forensic science, energy industry, mining, cultural heritage, planetary science, and electronics, among many others.”

In China synchrotron-based research ranges across experiments on a vast scientific spectrum. These include physics, chemistry, life sciences, medicine, microscopy and instrumentation.

In Germany synchrotron radiation allows researchers access to spectroscopic, preparation and characterization of energy material. At the Berliner Elektronenspeicherring-Gesellschaft für Synchrotronstrahlung, the BESSY II synchrotron operator describes finding a secure and sustainable energy supply as ‘one of the major societal challenges.’

“The HZB has set itself the task of developing, understanding, and optimizing new energy materials: for example, solar cells, materials for generating solar fuels with sunlight, electrodes for batteries or materials for energy-efficient information technologies of tomorrow. For this research, we can access state-of-the-art infrastructures and instruments, in particular the electron storage ring BESSY II, a particle accelerator that delivers synchrotron radiation over a wide energy range,” it says.

The produced materials are analysed and used in energy resolution specifically in the fields of X-ray absorption spectroscopy and microscopy, photoemission spectroscopy, photoemission electron and protein structure analysis.

In Spain, the Alba Synchrotron is not just for improving the science community but to make improvements for the benefit of society as a whole.  And in Sweden research includes the way human protein and enzymes affect the chemical reactions within human cells which is part of the progress to develop drugs to battle cancer.

Details of various national Synchrotron Accelerators are below.

Synchrotron Accelerator operations (How they work)

How does a Synchrotron Accelerator work and why, ultimately, does the ability to do such incredible science come down to the supply of reliable power?

As stated above, the LHC is the largest synchrotron-type accelerator in the world. It can accelerate beams of protons to an energy of 6.5 teraelectronvolts (TeV). An electronvolt is a common unit of measurement in physics. Today many particle accelerators operate at the Giga electron Volt (GeV) range.

Synchrotrons use electrons to produce intense beams of light. The operators of the Clayton Australia research facility describe the beams produced by their synchrotron accelerator as “more than a million times brighter than the sun.”

“The electron beam travels just under the speed of light – about 299,792 kilometres a second. The intense light they produce is filtered and adjusted to travel into an experimental workstation, where light reveals the innermost, sub-macroscopic secrets of materials, from human tissue to plants to metals and more,” it says.

All particle accelerators use an electrical field to accelerate particles inside a vacuum tube by using a radio frequency wave. The strength of the electric field as measured in MV/m – mega volts per metre.

The light beam is produced when high-energy electrons are forced to travel in a circular orbit inside the synchrotron tunnels by the ‘synchronised’ application of strong magnetic fields. In a circular accelerator the particle beam travels around a closed-loop along the same circuit getting an energy boost at each turn.  Accelerators use electromagnetic fields to accelerate and steer particles. Radio frequency cavities boost the particle beam speed, while magnets focus the beams and bend their trajectory.

Common synchrotron accelerator tubes at research facilities range in length up to few hundred metres. The goal is to produce a high number of pure beams and accelerate them to the fastest possible speed. In normal operation of a Synchrotron powering the radiofrequency cavities and the magnetic field requires MWs of electrical power. Some sites draw power in the range of 10MW and upwards.

Power delivery to Particle Accelerators

The supply of continuous, clean, conditioned power is vital for the operation of particle accelerators.

As particles are pushed to near light speed the electricity supply must remain constant. When accelerators are running they must be protected from mains voltage power disturbances such as surges and dips. Such losses or dips in power can directly impact experiments causing delays and unnecessary costs.

For many decades Piller UPS technology has been in use at research facilities across the world in national laboratories in Germany, Australia, India, Italy and others.

As accelerators become more powerful they need higher power and greater reliability at multi-MW power rating. The performance and reliability requirements of Synchrotron Accelerators are being matched by Piller’s latest UB-V UPS series.

Thanks to the continued design advances of Piller UNIBLOCK® machines the Piller UB-V Electrically Coupled UPS series can compensate for mains voltage dips of up to -50%, without using the energy storage. The ability to handle serious mains disturbances sets the UB-V range apart from traditional UPS technologies.

The electrically coupled UPS delivers many advantages over traditional static UPS deployments in terms of scale, efficiency, and continuous operation.

The UB-V series single unit power ratings range from 1.0MW / 1.10MVA to 3.24MW / 3.60MVA and paralleling up to 100MW / 115MVA. They provide higher efficiency at half and full load. UB-V provides efficiency of up to 98% at 100% load and an unbeatable 97% at 50% load.

The UB-V comes with low and medium voltage options. It has a wide input tolerance and wide leading and lagging load factor range. Energy storage options include Li-Ion battery and kinetic. Large single unit options avoid the need for multiple paralleling, saving space, lowering maintenance and improving reliability.

The UB-V UPS can run for up to five years of continuous operation with constant monitoring for low and no touch maintenance. Piller technology advances deliver the power uptime and reliability needed for the world’s leading research facilities.

It provides the conditioned reliable power behind experiments and scientific studies that explore the infinitesimally small in order to tackle our greatest societal challenges and address humankind’s biggest questions about the nature of the universe.

Country list of some of the world’s leading particle accelerator research facilities and the vital research being conducted

Country: Australia

Facility Name: The Australian Synchrotron, Clayton

Operating Since: 1987

Operator: ANSTO, Australian Government Department of Industry, Science, Innovation and Resources:

Operations: A Storage Ring with a 216m circumference. The Australian Synchrotron has emerged as one of Australia’s most important pieces of landmark scientific infrastructure.

Research: More than 5000 researchers a year use the Clayton synchrotron instruments. The facility has been directly involved in the generation of more than 3000 publications in refereed journals.


Country: China

Facility Name: China National Synchroton Radiation Laboratory Hefei

Operating Since: 1991

Operator: University of science and technology of China.

NSRL is the first national laboratory in China, located on the West Campus of the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC), in Hefei, Anhui Province. It owns the first dedicated synchrotron radiation facility in China, Hefei Light Source (HLS).



Research: Hefei Light Source Linear Accelerator is a conventional traveling wave linear accelerator. The electron source is a traditional direct current hot cathode electron gun.

The research with the support from the Chinese government allows the superior radiation produced in experimental stations to perform national edge based scientific experiments on a vast scientific spectrum these include physics, chemistry, life sciences, medicine, microscopy and instrumentation.


Power: Electron energy 800 MeV; Pulse repetition frequency 1Hz; Speed up structure working frequency 2856MHz

Country: Germany

Facility Name: Berliner Elektronenspeicherring-Gesellschaft für Synchrotronstrahlung

Operating Since: 1979

Operators: Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie

Research: Known as BESSY II the synchrotron produces light and provides support for science and industry.

Operations: Electrons can be accelerated to an energy of up to 1.7 GeV, and are subsequently injected into the storage ring. Synchrotron radiation emerges from the dipole magnets that bend the beam on a circular path, as well as from undulators and wigglers. The total power input during regular operation is 2.7 MW.

The main research performed is on energy material in six different laboratories. The laboratories are directly linked to the synchrotron radiation which allows the researchers access to spectroscopic, preparation and characterization of the energy material. The produced materials are then analysed and used in energy resolution specifically in the fields of X-ray absorption spectroscopy and microscopy, photoemission spectroscopy, photoemission electron and protein structure analysis.


Piller has worked closely with Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin for over two decades.

For BESSY II Piller installed three 1670kVA containerised medium voltage UNIBLOCK Systems with POWERBRIDGE PB 16.5 (UNIBLOCK 1670kVA PB 16.5 20kV/50Hz). The first units were installed in 1999 and the third UNIBLOCK and the third POWERBRIDGE have been operational since 2000/2001. The system was installed in an N+1 configuration.

Country: India

Facility Name: CAT Indore

Operating Since: 1984

Operators: Government of India / Department of Atomic Energy

Research: The Centre has designed, developed, and commissioned two synchrotron radiation sources: Indus-1 and Indus-2, serving as a national facility.

Indus-1 is a 450 MeV, 100 mA electron storage ring. Indus-2 is a 2.5 GeV electron storage ring designed for the production of x-rays.

With its circumference of 172.5 m, and beam energy of 2.5 GeV, Indus-2 is presently the largest and the highest energy particle accelerator in the country. The electron accelerators are used specifically for the production of food irrigation and industrial applications. Various research and development programs are done through a myriad of scientific technologies such as superconducting radio-frequencies, cavities, cryomodules, high power radio frequency generators, cryogenics, precision fabricators and control instrumentation.


Country: Italy

Facility Name: Elettra Sincrotone, Trieste

Operating Since: 1987

Operators: Elettra – Sincrotrone Trieste S.C.p.A. is a non-profit Share Company (Società Consortile per Azioni). Main shareholders are the Consortium of the Trieste Science and Technology Research Area (53,70%), the Autonomous Regione of Friuli Venezia Giulia (37,63%).


Research: The third-generation Italian synchrotron radiation facility Elettra has been serving the national and international scientific and industrial communities since 1993. The main challenge of the third-generation synchrotron light sources is to increase the beam lifetime. Research includes ultrafast responsiveness in electrons with topological insulators, superconductors and metal/organic interfaces each of which can be used for spintronics and energy harvesting.


Power Elettra is the third generation storage ring (2 and 2.4 GeV) that has been in operation since October 1993.



Country: Spain

Facility Name: Alba Synchroton

Operating Since: 1990

Operators: Spanish and Catalan governments and managed by CELLS – the Consortium for the Construction, Equipping and Exploitation of the Synchrotron Light Source.

Operations: The ALBA booster is a synchrotron accelerating electrons delivered by the Linac from an energy of 100 MeV to 3 GeV. During the energy ramping, the magnetic fields are adapted to the corresponding energy of the electrons. At 3 GeV the electron beam is extracted to be sent to the storage ring and the magnetic fields are restored to their initial values. This cycle is repeated 3 times per second.


Power Usage: 110 MeV linear accelerator, the ALBA facility generates intense beams of synchrotron radiation from a 3 GeV electron accelerator. At ALBA electrons are first accelerated in a 110 MeV linear accelerator and then injected into a booster ring which increases the energy up to 3 GeV.


Research: Cutting edge synchrotron light-based research and development provides valuable data for scientific industrial communities.

Developing accelerator technology and scientific equipment is a significant part of the research performed in the institution in areas of magnet technology, electronics and software.


Country: Sweden

Facility Name: Sweden: MAX Lab IV, Lund

Operating Since: 1986

Operators: Swedish Government and Swedish national laboratory

Operations: The MAX IV facility consists of a 3 GeV storage ring, a 1.5 GeV storage ring, and a linear accelerator (fed by two guns) that serves as a full-energy injector to the rings, but also as a driver for the Short Pulse Facility. The 3 GeV storage ring with a circumference of 528m is geared towards hard x-ray users, while the 1.5 GeV storage ring, 96m circumference, serves soft x-ray and UV users.


Research: Medical research in cell anatomy by seeing how molecules bind to each other to ascertain the way human protein and enzymes affect the chemical reactions within human cells which is part of the progress to develop drugs to battle cancer.


Country: USA

Facility Name: Los Alamos National Laboratories

Operating Since: 1943

Operators: Department of Energy, the National Nuclear Security Administration, Office of Science and Office of Nuclear Energy, Science and Technology.

Research: Los Alamos and Livermore served as the primary classified laboratories in the U.S. national laboratory system, designing the country’s nuclear arsenal. Additional work includes basic scientific research, particle accelerator development, health physics, and fusion power research as part of Project Sherwood. Los Alamos integration research focuses on the development of solutions ‘which achieve the maximum impact on strategic national security priorities.’



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