Neutron Science In the News 2007

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ORNL could feel squeeze

Knoxville News Sentinel, 12/29

The 2008 budget bill belatedly passed by Congress last week will have some negative impacts on Oak Ridge National Laboratory because of cuts in the U.S. Department of Energy's science funding. However, the lab should be OK in most research areas, according to ORNL Director Thom Mason. "We're in reasonably good shape," Mason said in a recent interview at the laboratory...He said there are other labs facing much tougher problems than ORNL, such as Fermilab in Illinois and Los Alamos in New Mexico, but the lack of funding for ITER will create uncertainty and anxiety here...The ORNL chief said operational funding for major Oak Ridge facilities, such as the Spallation Neutron Source and the High Flux Isotope Reactor, should be fine. New instruments scheduled to be installed at SNS during 2008 will probably proceed as planned, but the funding cuts could postpone development of other instruments and delay their future arrival in Oak Ridge. "There are ups and downs," Mason said. "We not expecting major impacts."


Reactor is 'brightest thing going'

Knoxville News Sentinel, 11/28

The newly refurbished High Flux Isotope Reactor has exceeded expectations and apparently established a world record for the concentration of cold neutrons available for experiments. "At the end of the beam tube, we are the brightest thing going," Kelly Beierschmitt, Oak Ridge National Laboratory's director of nuclear operations and executive director of the 85-megawatt research reactor, said Monday. Beierschmitt said the reactor's newly installed cold source has performed better than design predictions, based on tests conducted in late September and evaluated in the weeks since then. The cold source used liquid helium and hydrogen to slow the movement of neutrons and enhance the ability to perform certain types of experiments.

Only the best ideas get tested at SNS

Knoxville News Sentinel, 11/28

Not just anybody gets to use the Spallation Neutron Source. You better have scientific credentials, and you better have a good idea for an experiment. According to Ian Anderson, an associate lab director at Oak Ridge National Laboratory who's in charge of the SNS, a lot of potentially good projects are turned down. Only about one in three proposals for scientific experiments is accepted because there's limited time available on the research instruments, he said.There are plans to continue adding instruments at the $1.4 billion research center, which began operations in April 2006 and won't reach full power until late 2009. Another four or five instruments may be installed during fiscal 2008, each one adding new research possibilities and expanding the time available to use the neutrons generated when a powerful pulse of protons slams into a mercury target 60 times a second.

ORNL reactor restarted; maintenance work successful

Knoxville News Sentinel, 11/14

Oak Ridge National Laboratory restarted the High Flux Isotope Reactor today for the first time since Oct. 2, when it was shut down for its most significant maintenance operation of the year. Ron Crone, director of ORNL's Research Reactors Division, said lab workers accomplished all of the planned activities during the five-week outage and restarted the reactor on schedule. The reactor was restarted at 10 percent power this morning while workers did some additional surveys of equipment, and Crone said the reactor would probably reach full power - 85 megawatts - by lunchtime.


ORNL scientist hotel in works

Knoxville News Sentinel, 10/29

It won't be fancy, but scientists from around the globe may call it home when visiting the Spallation Neutron Source. Known officially (and blandly) as the User Housing Facility, the little hotel will be built next door to the SNS on Chestnut Ridge - about a mile from the main campus of Oak Ridge National Laboratory. It will have room for about 25 guests, who typically will be scientists doing around-the-clock experiments with materials at the SNS or the adjacent nanoscience center. "It'll be relatively spartan," said Jeff Smith, ORNL's deputy director for operations. "It probably will not have the look and feel of a Ritz-Carlton.".

Spallation gets new director

Knoxville News Sentinel, 10/24

Ian Anderson, a 54-year-old physicist, today was named the new director of the Spallation Neutron Source and associate lab director for neutron sciences at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Anderson has been serving in that role on an interim basis since mid-summer, when Thom Mason - the former SNS chief - was named director of ORNL. The British scientist came to Oak Ridge five years ago as director of the experimental facilities division, overseeing the development of research instruments for the SNS and creating a new system for scientific users...In addition to running the Spallation Neutron Souce, a $1.4 billion science center that became operational in April 2006, Anderson will oversee the High Flux Isotope Reactor - another important research facility at ORNL.

At the end of the day, it's all about science

Knoxville News Sentinel, 10/24

...Oak Ridge National Laboratory: It's all about the science. Anyway, I was thinking about such things earlier this month after visiting with Ian Anderson, the interim director of the Spallation Neutron Source - the enormously important scientific tool that's situated on Chestnut Ridge about a mile from the lab's central campus. When I arrived at Anderson's corner office on the top floor of the modern office facility that's adjacent to the neutron-producing research complex, I was surprised to see Thom Mason's name still on a sign outside the office. That made me laugh because Mason hasn't been the SNS chief since July 1, when he succeeded Jeff Wadsworth as director of ORNL. What's up with that? Well, from Anderson's perspective, he's holding court in an acting role, and that's no reason to go changing names on doors. Besides, there are other things to be addressed at a world-class research center.


Interacting Protein Theory Awaits Test from New Neutron Analysis Tools

Newswise, 9/27

An international collaboration directed by an Oak Ridge National Laboratory researcher has performed the first-ever atomic-detail computer simulation of how proteins vibrate in a crystal. Jeremy Smith, who leads ORNL's Center for Molecular Biophysics, said experimental testing of the theoretical work will require the capabilities of the Office of Science's recently completed Spallation Neutron Source at ORNL.The study is a collaboration between Smith, who also holds a University of Tennessee-ORNL Governor's Chair, and researchers from the California Institute of Technology and the National Institute of Chemistry, Ljubljana, Slovenia. The work is published in the current issue of Physical Review Letters.

ORNL reactor schedule is irregular by design

Knoxville News Sentinel, 9/19

Since its ballyhooed 18-month makeover and restart in mid-May, the High Flux Isotope Reactor has operated on an erratic schedule. At least that's been the appearance of things. But, according to those in the know at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the up-and-down operations are all in the plans. Most recently, the world's most powerful research reactor was shut down Sept. 3 - just four days before the end of its normal operating cycle and the time for fuel reloading. John Bumgardner, the reactor manager, said the late-cycle shutdown was done to install instruments for "line-of-flight" testing.


SNS sets world record

Knoxville News Sentinel, 8/30

The Spallation Neutron Source is still in its infancy, but the science research center is already breaking world records. Thom Mason, director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, announced today that the SNS had established a record as the world's most powerful accelerator-based source for neutrons. According to Mason, the SNS systems earlier this month operated at 183 kilowatts — surpassing the previous record for beam power that was established at the ISIS research facility in the United Kingdom. The ORNL chief made the announcement at a forum he shared with U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and U.S. Reps. Bart Gordon, D-Tenn., and Zach Wamp, R-Tenn. They were touting the recent passage of the America Competes Act, which is expected to have a profound impact on U.S. science initiatives.

Alexander, Wamp visit ORNL Thursday for SNS news

Oak Ridger, 8/29

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander and U.S. Reps. Zach Wamp and Bart Gordon are expected to visit the Oak Ridge National Laboratory Thursday morning for what is billed as a "major Spallation Neutron Source announcement." The three are also expected to make comments about the recently-approved America COMPETES Act at the event, according to information from Alexander's office in Washington, D.C. No other information was given in the release on the SNS announcement.

A simple solution for a high-tech application

Hydraulics & Pneumatics, 8/9

Since its ballyhooed 18-month makeover and restart in mid-May, the High Flux Isotope Reactor has operated on an erratic schedule. At least that's been the appearance of things. But, according to those in the know at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the up-and-down operations are all in the plans. Most recently, the world's most powerful research reactor was shut down Sept. 3 - just four days before the end of its normal operating cycle and the time for fuel reloading. John Bumgardner, the reactor manager, said the late-cycle shutdown was done to install instruments for "line-of-flight" testing.When the reactor is restarted Sept. 26, it will be operated for four or five days to carry out those tests, he said.


New ORNL director ready for challenge

Knoxville News Sentinel, 7/3

His office walls are bare, the personal effects are few, and he's still waiting for his "Q" security clearance to be approved. Other than that, Thom Mason's tenure as director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory is well under way. "The lab has a lot of momentum, so I think part of the challenge is just maintaining that momentum," the 42-year-old scientist said Monday. Monday was Mason's first day on the job, although he officially succeeded Jeff Wadsworth on Sunday. Fortunately, there were no weekend crises that required his presence.

Getting ready for new role at Battelle

Knoxville News Sentinel, 7/1

Jeff Wadsworth is a big fan of Manchester United, a champion soccer club with a storied history in his native England. That seems oddly relevant as Wadsworth describes plans to nourish science and technology in the United States and help sustain U.S. leadership internationally. "I like dynasties," he said during one of his final days at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, a lab he directed for the past four years. Wadsworth, 57, left Oak Ridge last week to assume an executive role with Battelle — a budding dynasty in U.S. research. Thom Mason, the new ORNL director who takes office Monday, is a relative newbie by Battelle standards. He directed the $1.4 billion Spallation Neutron Source through successful construction and initial operations but had limited experience at other sites.


Thomas Mason, Director, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tennessee

Nature, 6/27

With a physicist father and biochemist mother, it never occurred to Thomas Mason to be anything other than a scientist. Nevertheless, a big-picture, wide-ranging view has propelled his career since its early years. The native Canadian made his first crucial career decision as a physics PhD student at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. Choosing Malcolm Collins, who worked mostly at large facilities, as his adviser directed Mason towards high-profile physics laboratories. He did his PhD work on neutron scattering at Chalk River, a Canadian national laboratory. "My decision meant I got involved with a much larger range of projects than I otherwise would have," says Mason. He published 17 papers from his PhD work — more than half of which weren't part of his thesis.

Nagler, Norby named corporate fellows at National Lab

Oak Ridger, 6/25

Stephen E. Nagler and Richard J. Norby have earned the highest level of recognition for career achievements in science and technology leadership at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. According to information provided by the lab, Nagler, chief among the lab's neutron scattering scientists, and Norby, who leads the lab's experimental ecology effort, are the newest UT-Battelle Corporate Fellows at ORNL. "Steve and Rich are truly deserving of this prestigious distinction," said Jeff Wadsworth, who will continue to serve as ORNL director until July 1... He joined the former Solid State Division's Neutron Scattering Group in 1995 and served as group leader for Neutron Spectrometry from 1996 to 2005. During that period, as interim director of the High Flux Isotope Reactor Center for Neutron Scattering, Nagler guided the center through a critical Department of Energy review while ensuring research productivity, successful instrument upgrades and integration of neutron scattering at HFIR and the Spallation Neutron Source, a press release stated.

Reactor's return to action smoother than expected

Knoxville News-Sentinel, 6/20

The High Flux Isotope Reactor is out of operation, but this time it's just a normal outage for refueling and maintenance. On June 9, the research reactor at Oak Ridge National Laboratory completed its first fuel cycle in nearly a year and half and, according to the reactor manager, it operated "fantastically." John Bumgardner said the reactor actually surpassed expectations, given all the changes and upgrades that took place during the lengthy shutdown.


ORNL readies for busy summer

Knoxville News-Sentinel, 5/30

For the first time ever, both the Spallation Neutron Source and the High Flux Isotope Reactor will produce neutrons for experiments, and science is the expected beneficiary. Herb Mook, a distinguished scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, is among many researchers who've waited on this opportunity for years, and he's excited by the prospects. "You better believe it," Mook said as he prepared for a neutron-scattering experiment at the reactor, which was refurbished and upgraded with new instruments during a 16-month shutdown.

Mason named director at ORNL

Knoxville News-Sentinel, 5/26

Thom Mason, a 42-year-old physicist who guided the $1.4 billion Spallation Neutron Source to completion and directed its early research operations, will be the new director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory. His appointment is effective July 1. Lab staffers were informed of the decision Friday afternoon..."I'm excited and a little bit overwhelmed," Mason said in a telephone interview. "I never even had the foggiest direction this was where I was headed." ORNL is well positioned at a critically important time to contribute to scientific problem-solving on issues such as the environment, energy security, national security and economic security, Mason said. "Those things are all wrapped up together," he said

Restarted reactor at full power

Knoxville News-Sentinel, 5/18

The High Flux Isotope Reactor is now operating at full power, and scientific experiments will likely resume next week, the reactor manager at Oak Ridge National Laboratory said Thursday. The world's most powerful research reactor was restarted Sunday for the first time in 16 months and since then passed a series of tests and gradual increases in the power level. John Bumgardner said the reactor achieved full power - 85 megawatts - at 4:43 p.m. Wednesday. "We're very pleased with the reactor and the cold-source refrigeration plant's performance," the manager said. "It's gratifying to see the design performing as we expected." During the lengthy outage, workers refurbished the 40-year-old nuclear facility and installed new instruments, including a cold source that greatly enhances the reactor's experimental capabilities.

Reactor's successful early restart thrills officials

Knoxville News-Sentinel, 5/16

Oak Ridge National Laboratory officials are thrilled with early restart activities at the long-idled High Flux Isotope Reactor, which could reach full power – 85 megawatts – late today or Thursday. "We've actually seen our first cold neutrons, and that's really, really exciting," Kelly Beierschmitt, ORNL's director of nuclear operations, said Tuesday during a visit to the reactor. The world's most powerful research reactor was restarted Sunday for the first time in 16 months. During the lengthy outage, workers refurbished the 40-year-old nuclear facility and installed new instruments, including a cold source that greatly enhances the reactor's experimental capabilities.


A positive note at ORNL

Knoxville News-Sentinel, 3/15

The final numbers aren't in yet, but it looks like Oak Ridge National Laboratory has averted a budget crisis. ORNL spokesman Billy Stair said the funding allotment for the rest of fiscal 2007 should be enough to keep the lab's major programs intact. "There will be no worst-case scenario. I can say that with confidence," Stair said. Earlier this year, ORNL Director Jeff Wadsworth warned that if Congress froze spending at last year's levels, it could have severe impacts on ORNL's research efforts and cause hundreds of layoffs. That, however, is not going to happen...One of the biggest concerns was the Spallation Neutron Source, the $1.4 billion research facility that began operations last year. "It looks like we're going to be OK," said Thom Mason, the associate lab director in charge of the SNS. According to DOE plans to be submitted to Congress for approval, the funding for SNS will be less than the requested amount for '07, but the decline won't seriously affect operations, he said. "I think we're going to be close enough that if we tighten our belts a bit we'll be OK, Mason said. The purchase of some new instruments for the SNS probably will be delayed until 2008, he said.


Safety Catchers Protect Shutter Operation on Spallation Neutron Source at Oak Ridge

ThomasNet, 2/15

At Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee, a unique solution was needed to maintain position integrity on a series of massive shutters, used to control the flow of neutrons of the Spallation Neutron Source (SNS). This neutron delivery system consists of eighteen 30T and 50T shutters, raised and lowered vertically, 20" and 30" respectively, by stainless steel hydraulic cylinders. As ORNL engineer Ken Chipley explained, "We investigated a number of solutions to solve the shutter operation challenge, working with Dave Vesco and his team at TPG Application Technology in Knoxville, a company that specializes in the engineering of remote operation and robotic systems used in radioactive and other hazardous areas.

U.S. neutron source facility sets records

UPI, 2/13

U.S. scientists are excited with the accomplishments achieved during the first nine months of operations at the Spallation Neutron Source facility.The SNS, a U.S. Department of Energy accelerator located at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tenn., generates the most intense pulsed neutron beams in the word for scientific research. The facility has already set records for the highest-energy proton linear accelerator in the world, for the highest number of protons in an accumulator ring, and for the highest brightness, or protons per pulse onto the mercury target.

Oak Ridge officials happy with '08 prospects

Knoxville News-Sentinel, 2/6

President Bush's proposed budget for 2008 includes big bucks for Oak Ridge, but the future plans released Monday are clouded by the continuing uncertainty over the current year's funding. "This is a very good budget for science," Oak Ridge National Laboratory Director Jeff Wadsworth said after reviewing some of the numbers in the 2008 proposal. "We are a major science lab within the Department of Energy, and therefore it's a very good budget for ORNL." The overall lab budget request for 2008 is $966.8 million, which includes significant increases for some programs - particularly fusion energy - and funds to operate the Spallation Neutron Source. However, Wadsworth acknowledged it's difficult to get a complete perspective on the state of ORNL's research programs because the 2007 spending levels are still unclear.

Vols solve molecular mystery

The Daily Beacon, 2/2

A team of researchers at the university may have solved the riddle to analyzing the molecular structure of proteins and other complex molecules. The answer may be the small chargeless particle known as the neutron..."Hydrogen atoms are important in catalysts in one substrate to another," Elizabeth Howell said, a University of Tennessee biochemistry professor and member of the research team...The study performed by Howell, UT associate professor of biochemistry Chris Dealwis, graduate student Brad Bennett and other researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory shows neutrons are capable of finding the elusive hydrogen atoms and revealing the structure of complex molecules...The success of the experiment bodes well for other scientists who wish to conduct similar research at Oak Ridge's Spallation Neutron Source. At maximum capacity, the Spallation Neutron Source will be able to produce the most intense pulsed neutron beams in the world. "It took a month to gather the data at Los Alamos National Laboratory," Dealwis said. "At the Spallation Neutron Source, it would take two days."

Working at National Labs: Oak Ridge

Science Magazine, 2/2

Nestled in the hills of rural east Tennessee is one of the largest multidisciplinary research centers in the United States. Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) got its start as a nuclear research facility during World War II, but since then, it has expanded into a wide array of fields, including life and energy sciences, advanced materials, and nuclear physics. The lab's scientific diversity attracts a steady stream of scientists from around the world. A few of those who come--about 4000--currently make careers here as full-time staff scientists...The lab's 19 user facilities sit on a 58-square-mile campus and serve six main scientific areas: energy, neutron science, high-performance supercomputing, complex biological systems, material science, and national security.The newest of these facilities is the $1.4 billion Spallation Neutron Source (SNS). Completed in May 2006, this accelerator-based neutron-scattering facility provides the world's most intense pulsed neutron beam. SNS is designed primarily for materials science research.


Research bodes well for Spallation Neutron Source: Researchers use neutrons to solve protein structures

Oak Ridger, 1/31

The tiny particles known as neutrons — like the ones to be produced at the new Spallation Neutron Source — may be the key to understanding the structure of complex molecules, according to a new University of Tennessee study. The most common atoms in biological molecules such as proteins, hydrogen atoms have been notoriously difficult to find as scientists have worked to understand the structure of the complex molecules. This caused problems for scientists using traditional research methods for solving structures, according to Chris Dealwis, UT associate professor of biochemistry. That's why Dealwis, UT biochemistry professor Liz Howell and graduate student Brad Bennett explored whether using neutrons as a tool would help make the elusive hydrogen atoms easier to find.

Oak Ridge lab's budget in doubt, awaits funding decision

Knoxville News-Sentinel, 1/19

The worst-case budget scenario for Oak Ridge National Laboratory would result in 900 layoffs this year and disrupt some of the lab's top research projects, including a joint effort with Cray to develop the world's fastest supercomputer, ORNL Director Jeff Wadsworth said Thursday...As reported last week, a mandate that restricts spending to 2006 appropriations would shut down operations at the newly constructed Spallation Neutron Source. The SNS is vulnerable because it didn't have a full operating budget last year when construction of the $1.4 billion research center was being wrapped up.

Alexander Urges Increased Science Funding In Continuing Resolution

The Chattanoogan, 1/18

U. S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) began circulating a letter late last week urging appropriators to ensure that the proposed Department of Energy Office of Science budget is not cut this year. More than 25 Senators, including Sen. Bob Corker, have already signed the letter which will go to Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Ranking Republican Pete Domenici (R-NM)...[It could] shut down the Spallation Neutron Source (SNS): Given FY06 funding levels, SNS would be forced to terminate a majority of their staff (approximately 400 people) and place the facility in standby with only a skeleton crew to keep the facility safe.

DOE: Budget plan would cause delays in research

Knoxville News-Sentinel, 1/13

The newly constructed Spallation Neutron Source could sit idle for a year if Congress moves forward with a continuing resolution that maintains the 2007 federal budget at last year's levels. "To some extent, we'd be sitting on our hands," Thom Mason, the SNS chief at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, said Friday in a telephone interview. "It's the same impact as if we'd blown our (construction) schedule by a year."

SNS completion highlights year of ORNL achievements

Oak Ridger, 1/4

Creation of the first neutrons at the Spallation Neutron Source was one of many high points in a year filled with milestone achievements at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. 2006 saw ORNL move to the forefront of neutron science, open the Department of Energy's first nanoscience center, build the world's most powerful non-classified supercomputer, and assume leadership of the U.S. role in the international effort to build a fusion reactor. "We have experienced a truly remarkable year at ORNL and have laid the groundwork for even greater scientific achievements in the future," said ORNL Director Jeff Wadsworth. "We will continue to build on this foundation for years to come."

SNS, mall, schools — O'Connor updates biggest stories of '06

Oak Ridger, 1/3

The Oak Ridger asked City Manager Jim O'Connor to review some of the major local stories of 2006...One of the biggest local success stories of 2006 seems to be the official completion of the $1.4 billion Spallation Neutron Source, an Oak Ridge National Laboratory research and development facility. What kind of long-term impact do you believe this project will have on Oak Ridge, especially on retail, housing and education? Do you have any idea how many new families might move here in support of this project, or because of associated research?

DOE management awards go to two ORNL projects

Knoxville News-Sentinel, 1/3

[Need to scroll] Two huge science projects at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have received honors for being completed on time and within budget. The $1.4 billion Spallation Neutron Source received the 2006 "Secretary's Excellence in Project Management Award" from the U.S. Department of Energy, and the $65 million Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences received the "Secretary's Project Management Award of Achievement."

Future of OR research bright

Knoxville News-Sentinel, 1/1

In 2006, the Spallation Neutron Source made its first neutrons and - by year's end - a little bit of history. Even though operating at limited power while undergoing different stages of testing, the SNS in November established a record for the brightest pulse of neutrons ever produced by a machine. The intensity, or concentration of neutrons, correlates to the ability to perform experiments with materials at the highest level. "We've got a long ways to go, but so far it's tracking well," said Thom Mason, associate lab director at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.