A modestly good report at SNS

sns1The Spallation Neutron Source is operating “reasonably well” at beam power levels between 1.1 megawatts and 1.3. megawatts, and the research instruments are operating like they should, according to Kevin Jones, the accelerator division chief at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Even though the SNS has been in operation since 2006, the accelerator-based neutron source is still evolving, and the team continues to work out the kinks. Premature failures with the target vessel, a stainless steel device that holds tons of mercury as a flowing target for production of neutrons, have been a continuing puzzle.

“All instruments are running well, and we are looking forward to hosting the Joint Neutron and X-Ray Scattering School during the last week of June,” Jones said late last week in an email response to questions.

“We will turn off at the end of June for our six-week summer outage, which will be very busy,” he said.

“The target (vessel) is continuing to operate well at higher power,” the ORNL official said. “We’ve just exceeded half of the maximum possible energy exposure for this target.”

He described the accelerator as operating “reasonably well” at the megawatt-plus power levels.

“We’ve had a few more equipment failures than normal in the last month so availability since we resumed operation has dropped from 93.5% to about 91.5%,” he said. “Also, the conditioning process for DTL-5 that we discussed about a month ago has taken a little longer than expected.  We are currently operating at 1.2 MW and plan to raise the power slowly to 1.3 MW or a little above that as conditions permit.”

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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.