Neutrons galore at ORNL

ornlentranceThe Spallation Neutron Source has returned to action and is providing neutrons for research experiments for the first time in a month, and officials hope there will be sustained operations for the first time since summer.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory Director Thom Mason said Wednesday that the SNS had been restarted at low power, and  Associate Lab Director Ron Crone said the SNS resumed neutron production at 7 a.m. on Thursday “after addressing the recent target failures.”

Crone said the High Flux Isotope Reactor, ORNL’s other neutron source, also is operating again following an 18-day maintenance and refueling outage.

“Both neutron sources at ORNL are operating and serving users,” Crone said via email.

Here’s what Crone said about SNS:

“The facility is operating as planned at 850 kW proton beam power to conserve target lifetime until a second spare target module is received.  The turn-on went smoothly, and we will continue neutron production through Dec. 21, 2014, as scheduled.  At that time, the facility will enter a short maintenance outage and will return to operation for users toward the end of the third week of January.”

Crone also noted that the team has begun evaluating Target 10, one of the failed targets (in this case, it was a new design that rerouted the mercury flow and was supposed to enhance the vessel’s durability). “We look forward to this being our first opportunity to remove a water shroud from a spent target and to examine the outer surface of the mercury vessel to identify the defect that led to its removal from service in September,” he said.

The ORNL official said the High Flux Isotope Reactor was restarted on Tuesday and will operate for about 24 days, shutting down on Dec. 12 for a 32-day outage (restarting again on Jan. 13.

Crone said routine corrective and preventive maintenance was performed on the reactor during the recent outage.

A feature on Atomic City Underground allows readers to sign up for email updates and receive a notice each time new information is posted on the news blog. Just put your email address in the box on the lower right of the blog’s front page and follow instructions. Thanks to all loyal readers.

This entry was posted in nuclear, ORNL, Spallation Neutron Source on by .

About Frank Munger

Senior Writer Frank Munger covers the Dept. of Energy's Oak Ridge facilities and many related topics — nuclear weapons, nuclear waste and other things nuclear, environmental cleanup and science of all sorts. Atomic City Underground is, first and foremost, a news blog, but there's room for analysis, opinion and random thoughts that have no place else to go.