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Posts Tagged ‘Project X’

Fermilab planning a busy 2012

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

This column by Fermilab Director Pier Oddone first appeared in Fermilab Today Jan. 3 .

We have a mountain of exciting work coming our way!

In accelerator operations, we need to give enough neutrinos to MINERvA to complete their low-energy run, enough anti-neutrinos to MiniBooNE to complete their run and enough neutrinos to MINOS to enable their independent neutrino velocity measurement that will follow up on last year’s OPERA results. We need to provide test beams to several technology development projects and overcome setbacks due to an aging infrastructure to deliver beam to the SeaQuest nuclear physics experiment. And we need to do all of this in the first few months of the year before a year-long shutdown starts. During the shutdown, we will modify the accelerator complex for the NOvA era and begin the campaign to double the number of protons from the Booster to deliver simultaneous beams to various experiments.

In parallel with accelerator modifications, we will push forward on many new experiments. The NOvA detector is in full construction mode, and we face challenges in the very large number of detector elements and large mechanical systems. Any project of this scale requires a huge effort to achieve the full promise of its design. We have the resources in our FY2012 budget to make a lot of progress toward MicroBooNE, Mu2e and LBNE. We will continue to work with DOE to advance Muon g-2. All these experiments are at an important stage in their development and need to be firmly established this year.

At the Cosmic Frontier, we will commission and start operation of the Dark Energy Survey at the Blanco Telescope in Chile, where the camera has arrived and is being tested. In the dark matter arena we will commission and operate the 60 kg COUPP detector at Canada’s SNOLAB and continue the run of the CDMS 15 kg detector in the Soudan Mine while carrying out R&D on future projects. We continue to have a major role in the operation of the Pierre Auger cosmic-ray observatory. In addition we should complete the first phase of the Fermilab Holometer, which will study the properties of space-time at the Planck scale.

At the Energy Frontier, we play a major role in the LHC detector operations and analysis. It should be a fabulously exciting year at the LHC as we push on the hints that we already see in the data.

Beyond construction and operation of facilities we continue our R&D efforts on the superconducting RF technology necessary for Project X and other future accelerators. We will be building the Illinois Accelerator Research Center and moving forward to connect our advanced accelerator program with industry and universities. Our rich program on theory, computation and detector technology will continue to support our laboratory and the particle physics community.

If we accomplish all that is ahead of us for 2012, it will be a year to remember and celebrate when we hit New Year’s Day 2013!

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Project X chopper challenge

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

This story appeared in Fermilab Today May 5.

Two Fermilab deflector prototypes being considered for the Project X chopper. In both cases, each rectangular copper plate sets up an electrostatic pulse that kicks the bunch farther and farther away from the beamline, chopping it out.

At the recent Project X collaboration meeting, attendees confronted the proposed accelerator’s wide-band chopper, a system that would allow scientists to cherry-pick particle bunches from beams to be routed to multiple experiments.

Though its design is a formidable challenge, researchers now believe it’s a workable problem.

“The meeting was the first time we were confident there’s a solution,” said Steve Holmes, Project X project manager. “There are options that look like they’ll work.”

The chopper would lend the proposed Project X a kind of maneuverability not seen in other accelerators.

Different particle physics experiments call for different bunch patterns. A chopper helps create the required pattern by using electric fields to selectively pick off bunches from a steady stream of particles. Bunches in the beam that are left alone accelerate toward an experiment’s target.

With only one target, the chopper’s job can be straightforward: leave every nth bunch alone.

With more than one target, as in the case of Project X, the chopper has to send a far more complicated bunch pattern down the particle conveyor belt. It must also work in concert with a splitter, or router, to direct the right bunches to the different experiments.

“A chopper combined with a splitter is a new twist on the idea,” said Sergei Nagaitsev of Fermilab’s Accelerator Division. This new twist will give scientists the freedom to put in any pattern they like while efficiently serving up bunches for multiple experiments.

“We wanted the project to be as flexible as possible,” Nagaitsev said. “So this chopper is one of the strongest selling points for Project X.”

Collaborators from Fermilab, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and SLAC are pursuing various technical options for the system.

“Nobody’s done anything like this before, but it’s the key to making the whole thing work,” Holmes said.

— Leah Hesla

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View this animation to see how Fermilab's Project X would be integrated into the laboratory's Accelerator Complex.

This story first appeared in Fermilab Today April 12.

According to the Nuclear Energy Institute, U.S. nuclear power plants have produced roughly 70,000 tons of radioactive waste over the last four decades. By 2025, scientists expect the amount of wa ste to be roughly 100,000 tons. The nuclear industry faces an ever-increasing waste problem, and Fermilab’s proposed Project X is developing the technologies that may contribute to a solution.

Last week at AccApp’11, an accelerator applications conference hosted by the American Nuclear Society and the International Atomic Energy Agency, Fermilab’s David Johnson explained how Project X could demonstrate the technologies required for accelerator-driven nuclear waste treatments.

“Fermilab has proposed the construction of a high-power proton linac for support of our high-energy physics program, and we are exploring the possibility to expand the application of the project to nuclear physics and energy applications,” Johnson said.

Project X is a proposed high-intensity proton accelerator complex that would support experiments in neutrino and rare processes physics. By using highly efficient superconducting radio frequency cavities, the technology of choice for next-generation accelerators, Project X would create a continuous-wave beam of protons. While the Project X mission is focused on particle physics, the beam that will be produced has uses that go beyond particle physics. The continuous-wave beam—as opposed to a pulsed one—makes it possible for Project X to also support experiments validating assumptions that underlie accelerator-driven waste treatment concepts. It would also demonstrate the associated accelerator and target technologies, Johnson said.

By hitting a lead-bismuth target with protons, a high-power, continuous-wave linac would create fast, or highly energetic neutrons. These fast neutrons would burn up the dangerous radioactive elements in nuclear waste, significantly reducing its half-life. In order to meet the requirements for treating nuclear waste on the industrial scale, the accelerator must operate reliably with virtually no downtime. Johnson explained that by advancing technologies and producing stable accelerator operations, Project X could serve as a proof of concept for the application.

“We would like to get the nuclear community excited about this potential facility,” Johnson said. “We welcome any and all participation.”

– Elizabeth Clements

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