Green at the Roots

Efficient Cooling at MT6.2


The Fermilab Test Beam Facility (FTBF) operated by the Particle Physics Division provides a variety of facilities for experimenters to test prototype particle detectors in high energy (1-120 GeV) hadron and lepton beams. Inside the aircraft hangar size Meson Detector Building (MDB) is a 15,000 cubic foot enclosure called MT6.2. Although MDB is heated somewhat in winter, the building is uninsulated and not cooled in summer with temperatures reaching ambient outside temperature or more. The MT6.2 enclosure was constructed with a metal frame covered in Herculite industrial fabric – a vinyl/polyester composite material which acts as an air barrier but has negligible insulating value. Although the MT6.2 enclosure has a dedicated 15 ton AC unit, temperatures inside the enclosure in the summer would fluctuate by 10C or more day-to-night in the hottest part of summer. The AC unit would often run continually trying to lower the temperature in the MT6.2 enclosure. Many modern detector components such as silicon photomultipliers (SiPMs) are temperature sensitive. To better serve experiments and to reduce costs of continually running the AC in MT6.2, the FTBF group set the goal of insulating the enclosure and achieving ability of maintaining temperature of 68F +- 2F. The project was completed early in calendar year 2013 and is meeting goals through June 2013 with about a 50% reduction in use of the air conditioning unit. Although no data exist on energy usage in prior years, reasonable assumptions show savings of a third or more in operation costs which were likely several thousand dollars per year before the project. See article here.

Capturing Greenhouse Gases


In an effort to reduce emissions for FY2012, the Accelerator Division at Fermilab purchased a portable SF6 Gas Recovery System from DILO. The recovery system will be shared among several AD groups, and used whenever equipment is opened up for maintenance and repairs. Prior to this, if any maintenance or repairs needed to be done, Fermilab didn’t have the equipment to capture the gas, so the gas was released to the atmosphere. Three DOT approved cylinders were purchased to store the gas that is recaptured from AD equipment. When two of the cylinders are full, they will be shipped back to the vendor for reclamation. To date, approximately 10 pounds of SF6 gas was successfully recaptured from the decommissioned Cockroft-Walton System. Fugitive emissions of SF 6 have been decreased significantly due to the purchase of the DILO.

Pilot program reduces spent solvent waste


Historically Fermilab has used traditional low VOC, solvent-based parts washing units to clean and de-grease machined parts. Recently the Hazard Control Technology Team of the ESH&Q Section investigated an alternative technology that uses microbes instead of solvents for cleaning. The microbes reduce oil and grease to carbon dioxide and water. This technology dramatically reduces the amount of waste generated and what is generated is typically non-hazardous. Since the cleaner is non-toxic health concerns due to coming into contact with the solution are eliminated.

A pilot program in one of our research areas was initiated using a system made by Bio-Circle. It was quickly expanded to other locations once the system proved effective. Through consolidation and conversion of systems we plan to convert all eligible systems to Bio-Circle. Fermilab currently generates approximately 1000 gallons of spent solvent annually from parts washers, much of which might be saved by using microbes.

Particle Physics Division (PPD); Environment, Safety, Health & Quality (ES&H) – No more disposables

Each member of the PPD/ES&H group chipped in to green up their lunch habits. Jose, PPD's Waste Coordinator, purchased coffee mugs for everyone. The Senior Safety Officer purchased plates and bowls, and the Environmental Officer purchased a dish rack, wash cloths and towels, and brought in an old set of silverware.

Technical Division Extends Coolant Life – saves money and reduces waste

The TD's machine group discovered that a little work goes a long way in extending the useful life of the coolant used in their machines. The group determined that skimming the oil from the coolant weekly and making pH and concentration adjustments could double the life of the coolant for some machines, and quadruple the life of the coolant for most of the machines. This not only saves time and money but generates less than half the waste previously produced.

photo photo

Workforce Development and Resources Section (WDRS) Reuses Cafeteria Boxes – shipping detector kits

Dave Hoppert of WDRS uses Frito-La® chip boxes supplied by Southern Food Service to ship cosmic ray muon detector kits for the QuarkNet outreach program. The Frito-Lay boxes are the perfect size to contain all of the components for the detectors. Shipping and Receiving then packages the boxes for shipment. The cafeteria staff is happy to save the boxes for Mr. Hoppert. And it's catching on -- Jon Rushford of Shipping and Receiving has put the Frito-Lay boxes to use as well!

Fermilab Bikers - Committed to Green Commuting

About 20 people ride their bicycle to work more than 100 days per year -- and a few of them ride more than 200 days per year. These dedicated riders save almost 11 tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year!

Fermilab employees and users are welcome to register and log their biking miles.  Email to register and check in with other cyclists biking to work.


Lederman Science Center – bathroom remodel goes green

The Science Center remodeled the bathrooms and incorporated several sustainable measures:

  • Solid surface countertops cut down the time and energy it takes for cleaning
  • Automatic faucets conserve water and require less frequent maintenance
  • Stall partitions are made from recycled paper and resin composite materials

WDRS Focused on Reducing Paper Use – 2009-Present

Back in 2009 WDRS pulled a committee together to focus on reducing their organization's paper use. During the course of the year, the group created a website listing many ways to reduce paper use. They also emailed weekly tips to staff, made presentations to management and even offered one-on-one training.


PPD/Mechanical Engineering Recycles Styrofoam Coffee Cups

The PPD Mechanical Engineering group used to throw away numerous Styrofoam coffee cups a day, but when Barb Kristen took over administrative support at BEG, she campaigned to recycle all of those cups and they have been recycling ever since.

Business Services Section (BSS) Taxi Service – offering employees a green method for getting around site

The Fermi Taxi, operated by BSS, is available to all employees, anywhere on site. Just call extension 4225 to arrange for pickup. Service is available from 7:30 am to 4:45 pm, Monday through Friday.


Last modified: 02/10/2015 |