Category Archives: Spallation Neutron Source

SNS prepped and ready for research after ‘extremely productive’ maintenance outage

SNS Building MarkerKevin Jones, who oversees operations at the Spallation Neutron Source, said the long summer maintenance outage — from June 28 to Aug. 7 — was “extremely productive.”

The SNS is one of Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s most important research facilities, and Jones said the projects made significant improvements to SNS operating systems and research instruments. Results will be seen not only in operating efficiency, but in scientific productivity, he said. Continue reading

Restart underway at SNS; neutrons available by Friday

The Spallation Neutron Source is undergoing a phased startup following a lengthy summer maintenance period, which began June 28 after a series of events — good and bad.

“We’re raising power and checking out neutron instruments before production begins for users,” Oak Ridge National Laboratory spokesman David Keim said this afternoon via email. Continue reading

Stormy times at SNS

SNSaerialOverview of the Spallation Neutron Source and affiliated facilities on Chestnut Ridge.  Click on pic to enlarge. (ORNL photo)

Big Science sometimes brings big headaches, further evidenced by events of early Friday morning at the Spallation Neutron Source.

At about 1:30 a.m., the SNS experienced a “significant power disturbance.” According to Kevin Jones, director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Research Accelerator Division, the problem was related to a storm passing through the area, with lightning probably striking an overhead transmission line at the research center atop Chestnut Ridge. Continue reading

HFIR ready for neutron school

hfirornlThe High Flux Isotope Reactor has resumed normal operations following last weekend’s disruption and should be ready for dozens of students who will use the facility next week as part the annual National School on Neutron and X-ray Scattering.

Paul Langan, Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s associate lab director for neutron sciences, said about 60 graduate students from around the United States are participating in the two-week school, where they get firsthand experience at research facilities at ORNL and Argonne National Laboratory near Chicago. Continue reading

Four from ORNL get early-career grants

earlycareerGrant winners from left are Christian Engelmann, Cory Hauck, Katharine Page and Chad Parish. (ORNL photos)

Four researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory will receive at least $500K a year a year for the next five years as part of a Department of Energy program to boost the work of scientists and engineers early in their careers. All told, 44 scientists across the U.S. received the early-career grants.

Here are the four from ORNL: Continue reading

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. Continue reading

SNS getting back on track

snsinstrumentationThe Spallation Neutron Source today reached beam power just above 1 megawatt, gradually getting back to the desired power levels for neutron production and research applications. The SNS has endured a period of upset and uncertainty.

“It is good to be back at that level,” Kevin Jones, a division director at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, said via email.

Jones said the lab plans to let the machine “condition” over the weekend, stabilizing at the new power ramp up, and then make a few tweaks next week to adjust and prepare for further power increases. Continue reading

SNS restart slowed

SNS Building MarkerOperations at the Spallation Neutron Source have resumed, but the restart has gone a little slower than anticipated because of an equipment failure over the weekend.

“The good news is that we have beam on target for our users as of this morning,” Kevin Jones, director of ORNL’s Research Accelerator Division, said via email. “However, we aren’t at high power yet because we had to address the consequences of an equipment failure over the weekend that took a little longer to work through than usual.” Continue reading

Things are looking up at SNS

snscontrolThe Spallation Neutron Source has continued to operate at reduced power in recent months while waiting on additional target vessels (there were two vessel failures last fall) to arrive, but the recent operations at SNS have reportedly been good — actually better than good, according to division director Kevin Jones.

“SNS is operating at 850 kW this week, as it has been since we resumed operation in mid-January,” Jones said in an email response to questions. ” We just reported our performance for the January-March quarter to the Department of Energy, and I’m pleased to tell you that our beam availability against schedule for this period was 94%.  Just last week we had our first-ever week with beam availability of over 99% (less than one hour of down time for 159 hours of operation).” Continue reading

Mason: new contract ‘tremendous vote of confidence’

ornlaerial2014UT-Battelle, a partnership of the University of Tennessee and Battelle Memorial Institute, has received a new five-year contract to manage Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

ORNL Director Thom Mason confirmed Monday that the new contract with the U.S. Department of Energy had been signed and will go into effect April 1.

UT-Battelle has managed the lab since 2000. The annual budget exceeds $1.5 billion. Continue reading

SNS up and running at conservative power level; investigation continues on target failures

The Spallation Neutron Source, one of ORNL’s signature research facilities, resumed operations a week ago following an abbreviated winter maintenance outage. According to Kevin Jones, who heads the lab’s Research Accelerator Division, the SNS is operating well at a reduced power level of 850 kW, which he acknowledged was a “target conservation mode.”

SNS Building MarkerA couple of the target vessels failed prematurely last fall, which created troubling interruptions in the schedule of research experiments. The target vessel holds and circulates 20 tons of mercury, which produces neutrons when struck many times a second by a powerful proton beam. The SNS is running at below-max power to help protect the target vessel currently installed until more backups arrive at the Oak Ridge complex.

The SNS operations team is busy investigating what caused Target 10 and Target 11 to fail unexpectedly. Jones said investigators have identified the location of the failure on both target vessels, but the actual cause is a still a matter of review and conjecture. Continue reading