Port of Indiana handles world’s largest liquid argon particle hunter


[July 14, 2017]

PORTAGE, Ind. – ICARUS, the world’s largest liquid argon particle hunter, arrived at the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor on the ocean vessel M/V Frieda earlier this week, successfully completing the maritime portion of its trip from Europe. The instrument, the size of two semi-trucks, used by particle physicists to study neutrinos, among the smallest building blocks in nature and by far the most abundant particles in the universe, will be used for some of the most advanced science experiments in the world. ICARUS’ final destination is the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) in Batavia, Ill.

“The Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor is a major hub for large-dimensional and mega project cargo shipments,” said Port Director Ian Hirt. “The port’s facilities and location allow companies to ship cargoes by water directly into the Midwest, which can significantly reduce the transportation costs and permitting requirements for moving large loads over the highway. Because of the experience of Federal Marine Terminals, our general cargo terminal operator, this port has developed an enviable track record for handling large cargoes and established a world-wide reputation as a port-of-choice for specialty shipments.”

ICARUS was separated into two identical pieces before being loaded onto the Frieda in Antwerp, Belgium. When the two containers, each 66-ft. long and weighing 63 tons, arrived at Burns Harbor, they were transloaded by the ship’s cranes directly onto waiting over-sized truck trailers. A neutrino detector, ICARUS’ job is to observe and record the results of neutrino collisions with particles of matter set in motion by another scientific instrument, an accelerator. By studying how neutrinos interact, scientists hope to understand more about the universe at the smallest scales. When reassembled at Fermilab and filled with 760 tons of liquid argon, ICARUS will be the world’s largest particle hunter of its kind and will also be the biggest of three neutrino detectors at the facility.

Members of the International Longshoremen’s Association unloaded the ICARUS and have been especially busy this shipping season handling over-sized cargoes. From January through May, project cargoes at the port are up more than 225 percent over the same period last year. Most of the large dimensional shipments this season have been wind tower sections, blades and other wind energy-related components from Spain and Brazil.

Since leaving Geneva, Switzerland on June 10, ICARUS’ journey has been tracked via an interactive map on Fermilab’s website,, as well as on Twitter, hashtag #IcarusTrip. The detector will depart from the port by truck and arrive at Fermilab on July 26.

About the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor: The Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor opened in 1970 and is operated by Ports of Indiana, a statewide port authority operating three ports on the Ohio River and Lake Michigan. Established in 1961, the Ports of Indiana is a self-funded enterprise dedicated to growing Indiana’s economy by developing and maintaining a world-class port system. Information: Follow us on Twitter: @PortsofIndiana.

Fermilab is America’s premier national laboratory for particle physics and accelerator research. A U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science laboratory, Fermilab is located near Chicago and operates under contract by the Fermi Research Alliance, LLC. Visit Fermilab’s website at and follow us on Twitter at @Fermilab.


Media Contact: Rich Allen, 317.232.9204,


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