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Four considerations before embarking on a carbon therapy center

March 25, 2019
Rad Oncology Proton Therapy
From the March 2019 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine
• Power supply rooms are much larger to accommodate greater quantity of power and control cabinets.

In addition to the increased space needed for carbon therapy equipment, shielding requirements will also influence project design and planning time. Shielding for carbon follows the same general principles as that for neutron shielding, where concrete is typically the most cost- and space-effective material. At this stage, options for alternate high-density shielding materials are limited since there is not a great deal of data available.

Engineering design considerations

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The major difference in carbon systems from that of proton is the requirement for almost twice the electrical power (up from typical power needs of up to 6 MW). This also translates into greater process cooling requirements, as higher power consumption increases demand for process cooling water and, like synchrotron-based proton systems, requirements for isolation/conditioning of harmonic issues.

Additionally, the accelerator, beam line and gantry magnets, and power/control cabinets all accumulate additional flow and cooling capacity for building systems, which create an even greater challenge to typical campus central utility systems capacity.

These components, in turn, affect first and operating costs. From a facility planning and management perspective, it’s also important to note that limited available data from active carbon facilities impacts the ability to predict actual operating loads and optimize electrical service capacity.

Cost and schedule
There are several aspects to consider when estimating the cost of a carbon facility. The larger size and power requirements of carbon systems carry higher costs than proton equipment. The earlier stage of development of commercial carbon systems also means there is less established precedent for the full cost of furnishing and installing a system, and less certainty about final total project costs.

Building construction costs are also more challenging to predict and manage. Although the clinic and non-shielded portions of carbon centers are similar to proton and other medical facilities, there is limited data on carbon center construction, making estimating from benchmarks very challenging. The greater height and volume of the shielded concrete bunkers make proton construction costs per square foot an unreliable predictor for carbon costs.

Other factors influencing cost include:

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