There are a number of societal and industrial applications that require high precision, medium-to-high energy electron beams (>1 MeV) such as security screening and radiotherapy; however, a significant proportion of industrial applications require beams of ‘only’ a few hundred keV. These include food packaging, adhesives, ink curing and equipment sterilisation. ASTeC is one of the few technology partners in the UK able to offer both keV and MeV electron beam facilities on one site so that researchers and engineers can fully optimise solutions across the full range of beam energies.
Working in partnership with COMET-ebeam, a leading supplier of low-energy systems to the global industrial user base, two innovative systems are available on the Daresbury Campus. The first is EBLab: a self-shielded 200 keV system optimised for ease-of-use and quick validation of electron beam suitability. EBLab includes a sample chamber with a footprint equivalent to an A4 sheet of paper and can hold samples several centimetres deep. A wide variety of irradiation conditions can be achieved and results are typically be obtained in a matter of minutes with minimal sample preparation.
The second system takes the same internal components as the EBLab systems and houses them in a 4×3×3 m3 (L×W×H) shielded enclosure enabling high volume manufacturing sample environments to be accurately replicated (e.g. printing web wind and rewind rigs). Together these facilities enable industrial partners and academic research groups to efficiently confirm the suitability of keV electron beams, optimise dosage and processing requirements and validate equipment design for production environments. Where keV electrons beams prove unsuitable research resources can be redirected to higher power, higher specification machines at the Daresbury Campus, including the compact Linac facility and VELA.
As well as stimulating UK e conomic growth and academic research programmes, the two installed systems also have a role in the training of ASTeC students, enabling direct demonstration of the effects of varying beam parameters on final products. This also makes them ideal tools as part of the ASTeC outreach programme to illustrate the relevance of particle accelerators to everyday life.
 Free-Electron Laser (FEL) Strategic Review, STFC (2016).
 For further details on TN access, click here. The STFC contact for VELA is Anthony Gleeson