In May of this year we began a major shutdown of our accelerators that will last almost a full year. During this shutdown we will upgrade the Main Injector ring, the NuMI beam line and target, the Recycler ring, the Booster and the Linac. This will bring the accelerator complex to its “NOvA-era configuration,” delivering 700 kilowatts of beam power to NOvA. With additional improvements to the Proton Source, the complex will be capable of running other experiments off the Booster ring and providing test beams to the Meson Lab at the same time as NOvA operation The work is ahead of schedule, and in this week’s column I want to thank the many employees from across the laboratory who have come together to make such great progress over the past three months.
The word shutdown is misleading – rather than a time of slow activity it is probably the busiest time ever for many staff members. Approximately 75 people are working in the Main Injector and NuMI tunnels, including electricians, pipe fitters, riggers and technicians. Staff from across the laboratory have built such strong teams that it’s difficult to tell which division they work for. They are frequently working in tight spaces, which can be challenging, and many are learning new skill sets as they accomplish their goals. The work is ahead of schedule. So far we have:
- Removed more than 180 tons of material from the tunnels, including old magnets, beam pipe, vacuum components, radioactive materials and decommissioned beam lines.
- Installed 60 miles of cable in the Main Injector tunnel and have only 20 more miles to go.
- Completed decommissioning of the antiproton components in the Main Injector tunnel.
- Decommissioned the 800 feet of electron cooling components in the Main Injector tunnel. This is where the highest levels of radiation in the Main Injector tunnels are located, so it was imperative that the staff worked carefully and diligently to minimize exposure. We used more than 20 tons of shielding to reduce the radiation to a safe level for the workers.
- Completed 75 percent of beamline upgrades to NuMI.
- Completed several upgrades to the proton source, including recabling of the modulators, new filament control units for the low-energy Linac and repairs to the beam dump.
- Repaired the Booster magnet half-way to completion, converted half the Booster RF stations to solid state and completed the cabling for the remaining stations.
We are a long way from completing all the tasks necessary for the upgrades, but the progress so far has been stupendous and I want to thank all the folks who are keeping us on track.