Neutron Sciences News Archive – 2009

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November

ORNL and German lab forge partnership at Spallation Neutron Source

Knoxville News Sentinel 11/5

Oak Ridge National Laboratory today hosted a workshop with its international partner, Forschungszentrum Julich, to discuss neutron science and celebrate completion of a new research instrument (the Neutron Spin Echo Spectrometer) at the Spallation Neutron Source. ORNL said the Spin Echo was installed on Beam Line 15 at the SNS. Eventually, there'll be 25 research instruments of varying types and capabilities, allowing neutron-scattering experiments to do their things in analyzing material structures and properties. In a statement, ORNL said, "The Germany lab has a research portfolio that emphasizes energy, bioscience and high-performance computing, and considerable experience in the design and construction of neutron instrumentation. The unique working relationship with ORNL has resulted in a major contribution by Julich to the SNS instrument suite. Julich funded the construction of the instrument and also supplied their staff to run the instrument for the benefit of the ORNL user program."

13 ORNL reactors reveal history

Knoxville News Sentinel 11/2

The history of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, to a large extent, can be told through its nuclear reactors, and it's quite an eventful story. The reactors have received visits from Kennedys and royalty. They've saved lives by producing cancer-killing isotopes. They've been a training ground for generations of nuclear engineers and a proving ground for Nobel Laureates. Until recently, however, no one had compiled the history of ORNL's reactors - 13 all told - into a single document. Murray Rosenthal, retired deputy director of the laboratory, accomplished that with a new report that describes the reactors individually and collectively, beginning, of course, with the Graphite Reactor in World War II.

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October

Former ORNL researcher wins Nobel Prize

ORNL Press Release 10/7

One of the winners of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry spent the early part of his career at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, or "Venki" as he was known to his colleagues, was a researcher at ORNL's High Flux Isotope Reactor in the early 1980s. He is currently working at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, England. A U.S. citizen, Ramakrishnan was born in India and received his Nobel Prize for work in decoding the genetic makeup of human cells. While in Oak Ridge, he conducted neutron scattering experiments at the High Flux Isotope Reactor. The instruments today at the reactor are 100 times more powerful than when Ramakrishnan collected his data some 25 years ago. The Nobel Committee will award Ramakrishnan and the two other winners $1.4 million dollars. Oak Ridge National Laboratory is managed by UT-Battelle for the Department of Energy.

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September

Hendrick Construction to Expand Lab Space at Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Carolina News Wire Knoxville 9/29

Hendrick Construction, Inc. was awarded a contract to upgrade 14,000 square feet of lab space at Oak Ridge National Laboratory to further cutting-edge research at one of the world’s most advanced scientific facilities. The project in Oak Ridge, Tenn., will create 13 new labs to support scientific research conducted at the Spallation Neutron Source (SNS), the world’s most powerful source of neutrons for the study of materials. Scientific understanding of the molecular structure of materials is critical to the development of stronger, lighter and cheaper compounds for a variety of commercial, industrial and other applications. Work at the SNS can result in advanced technologies, such as smaller computers with more memory, lightweight plastics for airplanes and pharmaceutical drugs

ORNL Pulsed Spallation Neutron Breaks One Megawatt Barrier for the First Time

R&D Magazine 9/29

"Advances in the materials sciences are fundamental to the development of clean and sustainable energy technologies. In reaching this milestone of operating power, the Spallation Neutron Source is providing scientists with an unmatched resource for unlocking the secrets of materials at the molecular level," said Dr. William F. Brinkman, Director of DOE's Office of Science. SNS operators at DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory pushed the controls past the megawatt mark on September 18 as the SNS ramped up for its latest operational run. "The attainment of one megawatt in beam power symbolizes the advancement in analytical resources that are now available to the neutron scattering community through the SNS," said ORNL Director Thom Mason, who led the SNS project during its construction. "This is a great achievement not only for DOE and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, but for the entire community of science."

NoMachine NX Grows in National Laboratories Within the US Department of Energy

NoMachine News 9/8

The Department of Energy, established in 1977, has grown to include twenty-one labs and technology centers where more than 30,000 scientists and engineers perform cutting-edge research. Now, more and more of the national laboratories are relying on NoMachine NX to provide remote access to their computing clusters and scientific tools at their world-class facilities. The Department of Energy's largest science and energy lab, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), employs a staff of more than 4,300 and annually hosts approximately 3,000 guest researchers. NoMachine NX provides groups of ORNL employees, guest researchers and students from around the world remote access from off-site or home to Linux applications stored centrally on the NX Servers to perform heavy engineering analysis more efficiently...In addition to the computing cluster, certain beamlines at the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne and the Advanced Light Source at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory are also accessed remotely to run beamline control software for data collection, reducing travel costs by allowing research to be conducted from anywhere. The Spallation Neutron Source Facility at ORNL also uses NX to provide remote access to their instrument beamlines.

Protons on target: new imaging system in place at SNS

Knoxville News Sentinel 9/2

The Spallation Neutron Source at Oak Ridge returned to action with a bang this weekend following a long summer maintenance period. Among the highlights was installation of a new Target Imaging System that's designed to get a picture of the proton beam smashing the target in pulses 60 times a second. The new camera is reportedly much sturdier than an earlier version and tough enough to survive the environment as power load begins to approach the SNS design capability of 1.4 megawatts and beyond. According to internal correspondence, ORNL's Curt Maxey said the system "worked as planned from the very first pulse." The above image, Maxey said, was taken at approximately 20 percent power as the SNS was ramping up.

Regular checkups part of reactor's health plan

Knoxville News Sentinel 9/2

One of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory's prize possessions will be out of commission for the next month and half, but that's not a bad thing. The 47-day outage at the High Flux Isotope Reactor is part of the lab's strategy to keep the old reactor - built and commissioned in the 1960s - available for experiments and production of radioisotopes for decades yet to come. The fall outage is one of the two biggest of the year (the other being in the spring), and a long list of maintenance tasks and upgrades is planned, according to ORNL reactor chief Ron Crone. The to-do list includes the annual inspection of the reactor vessel's internal components, such as the tracks that pull the uranium fuel plates up and down, Crone said. That inspection is supposed to catch any problems in the making before they actually occur, he said. During the down time, workers also will replace a motor control center as part of the continuing electrical upgrades at the 40-year-old reactor. "We're replacing the temperature instrumentation that we use to control reactor power," Crone said. "It's another part of the reliability upgrade effort." A similar project was done earlier on the system that scrams the reactor, he said.

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August

ORNL's nuclear reactor up and running

Atomic City Underground 8/5

The High Flux Isotope Reactor was restarted this a.m., following a relatively short outage for maintenance and refueling. Ron Crone, the research reactors director at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, said the reactor went critical at 6:42 a.m. That's a little earlier this normal, he said, because reactor employees wanted to take some radiation measurements at Cold Guide No. 1. "They put beam on that guide today, and that took about three hours," Crone said. The reactor achieved full power (85 megawatts) at 9:43 a.m., and operations were normal, he said. Crone said the necessary maintenance was accomplished during the outage, including the installation of a primary pump. The next outage, which is scheduled for the weekend of Aug. 28, will be a long one -- 47 days, he said.

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July

Spallation Neutron Source sees first target replacement

Science Blog 7/27

Having outlasted all expectations of its service life, the original mercury target of the Spallation Neutron Source (SNS), the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science's record-setting neutron science facility at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, is being replaced for the first time. SNS operators are taking advantage of a planned maintenance outage to replace the old target, which has been in service since the SNS's startup on April 28, 2006. "We were anticipating this operation as far back as the summer of 2008, and the fact is that the target received nearly twice the cumulative beam as its projected lifetime limit. In the meantime, neutron scientists have been reveling in the beam intensities the SNS is already providing," said ORNL Director Thom Mason, who directed the SNS before becoming laboratory director.

SNS replaces key component

Knoxville News Sentinel 7/21

Workers have replaced the target vessel, a key component of the Spallation Neutron Source, for the first time since operations began at the $1.4 billion research facility in April 2006. Twenty tons of mercury is circulated continuously through the stainless steel vessel, which is zapped 60 times a second with a powerful proton beam - thus releasing zillions of neutrons for experimental studies with materials. Frank Kornegay, the operations manager at the SNS, said Monday that mercury had been drained from the old vessel, which was disconnected and moved into a storage cask in a heavily shielded hot cell. The new vessel, which cost about $800,000, was brought into the cell and bolted onto its carriage, Kornegay said. Later this week, it will be locked into its fixed position, allowing it to be filled with mercury and readied for the return to operations, he said.

Neutron Science - Power to the protons

ORNL August Story Tips

Researchers at the Department of Energy's Spallation Neutron Source at Oak Ridge National Laboratory set a new world record at the end of the most recent run by creating 155 trillion protons in a single pulse and delivering that pulse to the SNS mercury target. The test exceeds the SNS design intensity of 150 trillion protons in a pulse. If pulses of this intensity were delivered to the SNS target at the design repetition rate of 60 pulses per second, it would provide a beam power of 1.5 megawatts, or 0.1 megawatts more than the design beam power of 1.4 megawatts. Research Accelerator Division Director Stuart Henderson said the test, which was performed at a rate of less than one pulse per second, confirms that both the SNS's accelerator and accumulator ring are capable of reaching the design beam power.

UT names head of civil, environmental engineering

Knoxville News Sentinel 7/9

The University of Tennessee has named Dayakar Penumadu as permanent head and Fred M. Peebles Professor of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Penumadu has served in the role on an interim basis since 2007. He holds the Joint Institute for Advanced Materials (JIAM) Chair of Excellence. He also is the principal investigator for a beam line proposal at ORNL's Spallation Neutron Source. He successfully obtained a beam port allocation from SNS's Neutron Scattering Science Advisory Council in November 2008. Penumadu's multidisciplinary research has netted grants and contracts, including a $1.9 million project for the National Science Foundation, and he is currently the principal investigator for research activities funded by the Office of Naval Research, the Spallation Neutron Source, General Motors and the UT-ORNL Joint Institute of Neutron Sciences Fellowship Program. Penumadu joined the College of Engineering faculty in 2001 after serving as an associate professor at Clarkson University in Potsdam, N.Y.

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June

Joint Institute for Neutron Sciences taking shape

Atomic City Underground 6/26

The Joint Institute for Neutron Sciences is taking shape at the foot of the Spallation Neutron Source in Oak Ridge and, according to ORNL spokesman Billy Stair, construction should be completed in April 2010. Rouse Construction Co. of Knoxville is handling the project. The $7.6 million for JINS was provided by the state of Tennessee. "The original idea for JINS goes back to before SNS was started actually," ORNL Director Thom Mason said this week. "It was part of the original commitment the state made as part of the effort to make sure that the SNS was built in Tennessee. We held off during the construction phase (of SNS) because you don't really need it. But now that the science program is up and running, we really do need it. So it'll be great to have that building occupied and humming with activity."

From Heifers to HFIR: Nuclear Energy Research Safe in the Hands of Alumnus

Texas Tech Today 6/1

Growing up on a ranch in the middle of nowhere, Kelly Beierschmitt would sit on the tractor and stare at the sky in Claude, Texas. An avid Trekkie, he watched the Enterprise crew explore the final frontier on television, and followed along with Apollo crews as they did the real exploring in space, while he dreamed of the day he’d end up a scientist and leave the tractor behind for good. Kelly’s fascination with science fact and science fiction steered him on a career path to and from Texas Tech and back again, ultimately landing him in the midst of some of the world’s most important research in nuclear energy. At Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, the nation’s largest multi-program science lab, Kelly is director of Nuclear Operations, as well as executive director of the High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR), the world’s most powerful research reactor.

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May

ORNL reactor is back in business

Atomic City Underground 5/13

The High Flux Isotope Reactor was restarted today following a two-month shutdown for maintenance, repairs and refueling, and it achieved full power (85 megawatts) at about 11 a.m. That's the word from Ron Crone, the research reactors chief at ORNL, who said the outage was extremely productive. "It was pretty amazing," he said. Crone said the reactor startup involved some training for a couple of operators, then went to 10 percent power and held it there while some radiation measurements were taken at Cold Guide No. 1. The cold guide was one of the places where work was done during the lengthy outage, installing a shield box and instrument shutter, the ORNL official said. That work will allow workers now to install a developmental beam line in the area and continue the work while the reactor is running, he said.

GE announces delivery for SNS detector system

Atomic City Underground 5/4

GE Energy, which last year signed a tech-transfer agreement with ORNL to commercialize and markets a lab-developed neutron detection system, has made the first delivery of electronics for a research instrument at the Spallation Neutron Source in Oak Ridge. In today's announcement, GE said it had completed delivery of 30 of its Reuter Stokes Position Sensitive electronic systems. They will be part of the Nanoscale-Ordered Materials Diffractometer (NOMAD) research isntrument at SNS. In a statement posted on GE's Website, ORNL director of partnerships Tom Ballard said, "We are happy to see the commercialization of one of our premier technologies, the SNS 8Pack. The 8Pack is able to be applied to instruments far and wide and has broad global impact, which is one of our goals here at Oak Ridge National Laboratory."

Casting a Spall

Business TN 5/2009

As ORNL director Thom Mason explains, research space is already getting scarce. "We've been allocating beam lines and will have filled up the first target station by 2014 or 2015," Mason says. "It takes a long time to build this, so if you're going to have the capability to continue to grow the use of SNS, you need to get started on it now."SNS's visiting scientists are interested in neutrons because they are interested in the materials that things are made out of--like polymers for use in plastics or proteins--and how they work in the body for the development of drugs. In all such cases, the materials behave the way they do because of their atomic structure. Neutron scattering provides not snapshots but movies of a structure, revealing how the atoms are arranged and how they move around. That information can be used to make materials cheaper, stronger, lighter or more energy efficient in products common to most every household and experience--cars, computers, etc. Neutron scattering is also helpful in the pursuit of energy solutions. "With most energy problems, when you peel away the layers, you find there are materials problems underneath," Mason says. "That should position us well."

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March

ORNL's 'first installment' of stimulus funding

Atomic City Underground 3/23

ORNL will receive $71.2 million in science-related funding from the government's economic stimulus package, the Dept. of Energy announced today. A fact sheet distributed by DOE indicates that the "lion's share" of the ORNL money will be used for lab modernization, including a new Chemical and Materials Science Laboratory. Construction of the new $95 million lab is expected to begin by late spring, according to earlier reports from ORNL. DOE also said some money would be used for improvements at the Spallation Neutron Source, including work on a new beamline known as the Fundamental Neutron Physics Beamline. There also will be some upgrades to the lab's nanoscience research facility, which is known as the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences.

Energy Secretary Announces $1.2B in Science Funding

HPC Wire 3/23

Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced $1.2 billion in new science funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for major construction, laboratory infrastructure, and research efforts sponsored across the nation by the DOE Office of Science. Secretary Chu made the announcement during a visit to the Brookhaven National Laboratory. Included among the approved projects are, among others: $330 million for operations and equipment at Office of Science major scientific user facilities, used annually by over 20,000 researchers. Facilities supported by Recovery Act funding include, among others, the Spallation Neutron Source at ORNL, the world's most intense pulsed accelerator-based neutron source, used in advanced materials science, chemistry, and biology research.

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February

UT-Battelle receives $10 million

Knoxville News Sentinel 2/5

The Department of Energy gave UT-Battelle high marks and more than $10 million for its management of Oak Ridge National Laboratory last year. In its annual report card, the ORNL contractor - a partnership of the University of Tennessee and Battelle Memorial Institute - received seven grades of A- and one B+ for fiscal 2008, which ended Sept. 30. As a result, UT-Battelle earned $10,058,000 out of a maximum available fee of $10.7 million..."In summary, UT-Battelle achieved a high level of performance with numerous accomplishments," DOE Manager Gerald Boyd said in a Feb. 3 letter to ORNL Director Thom Mason...Boyd praised the contractor's work done in high-performance computing, noting that Oak Ridge was responsible for some of the year's top scientific breakthroughs with supercomputers...The DOE official said high-level work continued at the Spallation Neutron Source and the High Flux Isotope Reactor, which "maintained a perfect record of on-time startups with 99 percent reliability."

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January

ORAU dedicates $20M center

Knoxville News Sentinel 1/31

If science drives the U.S. economy, as many studies suggest, then the future may rest with science education. That seemed to be an underlying theme Friday as Oak Ridge Associated Universities dedicated its new $20 million Center for Science Education, which will tutor teachers with advanced technology, provide scientific outreach for students of all ages and perhaps better prepare the work force for challenges ahead. The four-story, 73,000-square-foot building includes a prototype classroom of the future, with plasma display wall, smart board and Web-and-videoconferencing capabilities to link with scientists a few miles away - at Oak Ridge National Laboratory - or experts at institutions across the country. One of the first classes to be taught in the center will be a professional workshop for high school physics teachers, who will learn how to bring the science from ORNL's Spallation Neutron Source to their classrooms.

Tennessee: Stimulus measure could aid ORNL

Chattanooga Times Free Pressl 1/29

The Oak Ridge National Laboratory could get up to $300 million in extra federal funds from the economic stimulus proposal approved by the U.S. House of Representatives, the lab director said today. Director Thom Mason said the stimulus plans under consideration in the Senate and approved Tuesday in the House could help expedite construction of new labs and housing facilities and upgrade aging infrastructure at the Department of Energy lab in Oak Ridge...Dr. Mason said extra money also could be available for housing next to the $1.4 billion Spallation Neutron Source facility, and utility improvements could be made across the Department of Energy facility.

The $1B expansion at the Spallation Neutron Source

Knoxville News Sentinel 1/16

ORNL announced today that the Dept. of Energy had approved Critical Decision-0 for a second target station at the Spallation Neutron Source, which would eventually double the research instruments available to scientists and greatly expand the capabilities at the Oak Ridge experimental facility by 2020. CD-0 establishes "mission need" for the project, and it's considered the first approval step for major construction projects in the federal world. Actually, ORNL's neutron sciences chief, Ian Anderson, told me back in October that DOE Underscretary for Science Ray Orbach had already approved the mission need for the second target facility. Today's announcement apparently formalizes the project's status, as we're about to enter a new administration -- and that may not be coincidental.

Oak Ridge reactor returns to operation

Knoxville News Sentinel 1/7

ORNL's High Flux Isotope Reactor resumed operations today following a month-long outage for refueling, maintenance and repairs. The research reactor achieved full power (85 megawatts) at around 10:20 a.m., according to Ron Crone, the lab's research reactor chief.

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