SNS has strong run leading up to summer maintenance outage

sns1Aerial view of the Spallation Neutron Source atop Chestnut Ridge at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. (ORNL photo)

The Spallation Neutron Source, which resumed operations on March 30 after replacing a target vessel that failed unexpectedly, has been on a strong run since then with “very good” reliability (available 92 percent of the time for researchers), according to a status report from Operations Manager Kevin Jones.

The spring has been a fairly cautious period, with the SNS operating at a beam power of 850 kilowatts following the restart and bumping up to 1 megawatt in early April. The system is capable of 1.4 megawatts but the lower power helped preserve the pressure vessel until more backups become available — and more are on the way.

That strategy apparently was effective, because the SNS is entering its last week of operation before the long summer outage for maintenance.

Jones said operations for researchers will conclude on May 27. The team will also do a few days of “machine studies” before turning off systems for the maintenance shutdown on May 30, he said.

“The summer outage will be very busy, with a number of ongoing improvement projects to accelerator systems, including another round of the very successful plasma processing of a cryomodule that we began during the last planned shutdown, and a number of the neutron scattering instruments will also be undertaking incremental improvement projects,”  Jones said.

According to the schedule, the summer outage will last through July 7.

“We plan to resume operation for users on July 14 after completing our usual startup process,” Jones said.

The plan is to continue to operate the SNS at a power of 1 megawatt from July until the end of September before changing the target vessel again on Oct. 3.

Asked when newly manufactured target vessels — each of which cost more than $1 million — are expected to arrive at ORNL, Jones said via email:

“We have one spare target on hand.  We anticipate receiving three new targets relatively soon; the first in mid-June, the second in early September, and the third in early October.  We may receive a fourth by the end of the calendar year.”

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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.