Facilities and Human Resources

REACTOR OPERATIONS AND RESOURCE NEEDS OF THE EXPANDING FACILITY

In recent years, the NCNR has been an extremely reliable and comprehensive neutron scattering facility and will continue to be a vital resource for meeting the broad spectrum of user needs for and scientific objectives related to neutron scattering in the future. Because the panel does not have quantitative data from the other neutron scattering centers, both national and international, it cannot provide a detailed comparative analysis of parameters such as beam delivery, user statistics, the number and quality of the experiments, publication statistics, and so on. Such a study is planned for the 2009 panel. The NCNR’s reactor has continued to perform very reliably, with 256 days of availability out of a possible 258 in the past year.

The management of reactor operations, maintenance, and equipment updating is being carried out with careful attention in order to ensure a high level of availability of the facility to users. The two NCNR operational groups, the Research Facility Operations Division and the Reactor Operations Engineering Division, meet prior to each shutdown to discuss the coordination required for maintenance activities. In addition, another group has been meeting to plan the activities that will take place before, during, and after the long shutdown required for the NCNR expansion. Furthermore, a relatively new Configuration Control Program has been established to coordinate all new hardware changes with both the Reactor Operations Engineering Division and the Research Facility Operations Division. This program will be very important for ensuring a smooth transition from the present structure of the facility to the new, expanded configuration to be established over the next few years.

Reactor operations is one of the major activities that have been identified and under study at the NCNR for some time. These activities include upgrading the reactor control room console, installing a new liner for the spent-fuel pool, repairing the secondary piping systems, and installing a new cold source in the reactor enclosure.

The lean and economical management style of the NCNR Reactor Operations Engineering Division has served the facility and the users well over the years. The safety record over the years has been excellent, and this aspect is a major component of the certification review that is nearing completion. However, there are now new challenges that, to be met successfully, will require additional human and financial resources. For the most part, major NCNR budget increases have been directed toward user support and instrumentation. While operations have been adequately supported, the new needs for additional engineering staff and funds for the repair of the reactor’s thermal heat shield will bring additional costs. In order to ensure excellent performance of the neutron source into the future with the expanded guide hall and instrumentation, it is important that the increased needs for expanded operations support not be forgotten.



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Facilities and Human Resources REACTOR OPERATIONS AND RESOURCE NEEDS OF THE EXPANDING FACILITY In recent years, the NCNR has been an extremely reliable and comprehensive neutron scattering facility and will continue to be a vital resource for meeting the broad spectrum of user needs for and scientific objectives related to neutron scattering in the future. Because the panel does not have quantitative data from the other neutron scattering centers, both national and international, it cannot provide a detailed comparative analysis of parameters such as beam delivery, user statistics, the number and quality of the experiments, publication statistics, and so on. Such a study is planned for the 2009 panel. The NCNR’s reactor has continued to perform very reliably, with 256 days of availability out of a possible 258 in the past year. The management of reactor operations, maintenance, and equipment updating is being carried out with careful attention in order to ensure a high level of availability of the facility to users. The two NCNR operational groups, the Research Facility Operations Division and the Reactor Operations Engineering Division, meet prior to each shutdown to discuss the coordination required for maintenance activities. In addition, another group has been meeting to plan the activities that will take place before, during, and after the long shutdown required for the NCNR expansion. Furthermore, a relatively new Configuration Control Program has been established to coordinate all new hardware changes with both the Reactor Operations Engineering Division and the Research Facility Operations Division. This program will be very important for ensuring a smooth transition from the present structure of the facility to the new, expanded configuration to be established over the next few years. Reactor operations is one of the major activities that have been identified and under study at the NCNR for some time. These activities include upgrading the reactor control room console, installing a new liner for the spent-fuel pool, repairing the secondary piping systems, and installing a new cold source in the reactor enclosure. The lean and economical management style of the NCNR Reactor Operations Engineering Division has served the facility and the users well over the years. The safety record over the years has been excellent, and this aspect is a major component of the certification review that is nearing completion. However, there are now new challenges that, to be met successfully, will require additional human and financial resources. For the most part, major NCNR budget increases have been directed toward user support and instrumentation. While operations have been adequately supported, the new needs for additional engineering staff and funds for the repair of the reactor’s thermal heat shield will bring additional costs. In order to ensure excellent performance of the neutron source into the future with the expanded guide hall and instrumentation, it is important that the increased needs for expanded operations support not be forgotten. 9

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THE NCNR EXPANSION PROJECT FUNDED UNDER THE AMERICA COMPETES ACT The NCNR Expansion Project, funded under the America COMPETES Act of 2007 in support of the ACI, is critical for maintaining the vitality and capability of the facility. The selection of a new suite of spectrometers and the reconfiguration, in order to maximize productivity, of the existing state-of-the-art instruments are coherent and well thought out. Specifically, the small-angle scattering instruments support a vibrant program and an operation that is among the world’s best. The addition of very small angle neutron scattering provides a vital link between the current 30 meter SANS and ultra small-angle neutron scattering instruments. The innovative design will enable good resolution without a loss of flux. The addition of a dedicated-phase imaging facility, driven by applications such as fuel cell design but also applicable to a wide range of other problems, will further develop this unique program and leadership in the field at the NCNR. Likewise, the reflectometers—Chromatic Analysis Neutron Diffractometer or Reflectometer (CANDOR) and Multiple Angle Grazing Incidence K [vector] (MAGIK)—are innovative, demonstrating the creativity and expertise of the staff. The potential of these instruments is high and may dramatically impact the science capabilities of reactor sources in the context of the SNS. The reconfiguration and isolation of magnetically sensitive instruments will enable further gains in the optimization of the facility. The BT-7 thermal triple-axis detector, essentially a new instrument, has been created to respond to perceived user need. The selection of new instruments and ancillary equipment has been and continues to be carried out in the context of the SNS pulsed source’s becoming increasingly operational. The Fundamental Neutron Physics Group has assembled cutting-edge beam-line capabilities on cold neutron lines 6 and 7 and has developed technologies that have been adopted at the other leading neutron science laboratories. For example, a potassium intercalated graphite monochromator was developed to scatter 8.9 angstrom neutrons into the ultracold neutron (UCN) beam line on NG6 as part of the neutron lifetime experiment. The technology for building monochromators has now been adopted at the Institut Laue-Langevin (ILL) in Grenoble, France, and it will also be used on the UCN beam line that feeds the neutron EDM target station at the SNS. The neutron interferometer and optics facility on line 7 is unique in the United States and has enabled the most precise measurements of neutron- few body scattering lengths and a new measurement of the neutron charge radius. Through improved guide performance and source upgrade, the NCNR Expansion Project promises a factor-of-six more neutrons on some beam lines. This is a very significant advance, bringing intensities close to what is achieved at ILL—the leader until now in fundamental neutron physics. It is conceivable that experiments now planned for the SNS could in the future move to the NCNR to take advantage of this intense flux, particularly for situations in which the characteristics of a pulsed beam are not essential. Additional opportunities may exist from recent developments in neutron microfocusing optics—for example, Kirkpatrick-Baez mirrors. These optics can now produce <100 micron beams and increase flux on samples by more than four orders of magnitude. These advances will open up new diffraction and spectroscopy experiments on small 10

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single crystals, heterogeneous materials, and samples in extreme environments. In general, neutron optics techniques, which continue to improve, could be adapted for a number of instruments, for example, the multi-axis crystal spectrometer. The NCNR also has the opportunity to establish important niche areas. For example, building on its strengths in sample environments by continuing to improve the instrumentation for variable temperature (both high temperature and cryogenic), high pressure (gas apparatus and anvil), and magnetic and electric fields is an opportunity for neutron scattering measurements on materials under multiple extreme environments that either are not possible or are limited at the SNS. In this context, the NCNR has purchased a new, large-bore magnet and has initiated a Small Grants Program to develop and build sample environments. This novel approach, implemented by the facility management, is to provide a funding opportunity call through the Grants.gov Web site to leverage the robust user community to develop new sample environments and capabilities. The panel recognizes the importance of facilities for a broad range of sample environments and views this as an area in which the NCNR should maintain an aggressive program for development. The Expansion Project poses significant challenges for continuing a vibrant user program in the presence of construction activities. The NCNR is well recognized for the exceptionally high quality of technical support provided to users of its facilities. The hiring of additional personnel is being aggressively pursued, and resources appear to be sufficient to navigate this process effectively. Significant progress has been made with the hiring of three new instrument scientists; recruitment for one more is proceeding. In addition, some progress has been made in the hiring of engineers needed for the new project workload. The completion of the Expansion Project and the hiring and development of the requisite scientific and technical support staff are critical components for the long-term health of the facility. In this area, the panel firmly endorses the overall NCNR staffing strategy and in addition recommends expanding its population of postdoctoral researchers. The availability of increased office space, which is part of the Expansion Project, should also allow for an expansion of the NCNR program for postdoctoral scholars. These talented individuals form the foundation for the next generation of neutron scientists and engineers, and their support and scientific nurturing should continue to be one of the NCNR’s highest priorities. As discussed earlier, synergistic collaborations within the NIST complex are currently being pursued, and joint hiring with other laboratories will help expand the scientific programs of both the NCNR and the other laboratory groups. These arrangements have high potential to further increase the vitality of the NCNR and NIST, more generally. Furthermore, the NCNR Expansion Project offers the possibility of further developing human resources external to the NIST complex through visiting sabbatical or joint positions. With the increased office and laboratory space, the opportunity to accommodate visitors from academia, industry, and other national laboratories will be enhanced. The infrastructure required to hold focused workshops and to facilitate extended stays of months to a year for researchers could provide a mechanism for developing new areas of scientific enterprise and assisting the training of the next generation of scientists with expertise in neutron scattering. Likewise, vigorous and continued efforts to leverage the local scientific community—for example, the 11

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, NIH, and universities—should be aggressively pursued. 12