Oak Ridge National Laboratory


News Release

Media Contact: Fred Strohl (strohlhf@ornl.gov)
Communications and External Relations


ORNL becomes center for developing national neutron source

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Oct. 15, 1996 — The Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is leading the design of a next-generation spallation neutron source for the Department of Energy (DOE).

During a recent lecture at ORNL's Wigner Auditorium, a team of researchers presented proposals for the construction of the National Spallation Neutron Source (NSNS) and an upgrade to the High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR). The initiatives are designed to meet the growing needs in the U.S. research community for more powerful neutron sources and to provide sources that are competitive with similar sources in Europe and Japan. ORNL projects NSNS to be completed in 2005.

The upgrade of HFIR, the highest thermal neutron flux reactor in the world, will bring it up-to-date with other major research reactors by adding a cold neutron source to it and extending ORNL's neutron scattering capacity. According to ORNL officials, HFIR was found to be the most economical reactor of its type in the United States to upgrade.

The proposals are still in the budget approval process. Congress allotted $8 million for the completion of the NSNS conceptual design report for fiscal year 1997 and an additional $23 million will be requested by the Clinton administration for the fiscal year 1998 budget. Ten million dollars has been appropriated for the HFIR cold source addition and another $60 million is being sought for the full completion of the upgrade.

The 1996 Basic Energy Sciences Advisory Committee panel on Neutron Sources for America's Future recommended the creation of a one megawatt neutron spallation source that could be upgraded to significantly higher power in the future and the upgrade of HFIR to ensure an ample supply of neutrons would be available until the completion of NSNS.

ORNL is responsible for managing the completion of the conceptual design for the NSNS. The Lab will collaborate with other national labs and has established international cooperation to access available research and development and technology.

The state of Tennessee has pledged $8 million to form the Joint Institute for Neutron Sciences to address the 1,000 to 2,000 users of the NSNS expected each year.

During the lecture, Dr. Bill Appleton, associate director of Advanced Materials, Physical, and Neutron Sciences, presented an overview of the neutron initiatives; Dr. Jose Alonso, NSNS Project coordinator, discussed the NSNS proposal; Dr. Colin West, Neutron Sciences Program manager, introduced the HFIR upgrade proposal; and Dr. Herb Mook, ORNL senior corporate fellow, discussed ORNL's opportunities in neutron scattering.

ORNL has pioneered research in neutron scattering since the late 1940s. Today this program conducts neutron scattering research for new materials development, materials irradiation and testing for future fission and fusion devices, isotope production for medical and industrial applications, neutron activation analysis for environmental and forensic applications and fundamental nuclear studies.

ORNL, one of DOE's multiprogram national research and development facilities, is managed by Lockheed Martin Energy Research Corp.