Dan Johnson, head of Operations in the Accelerator Division, wrote this column.
Everyone at Fermilab knows that our accelerator complex has been through a 15-month shutdown period, and many have even participated in the work done during this time. Shutdowns have always brought the laboratory together to bring about major upgrades. Typically, shutdowns see the installation of many new devices, conceived to improve accelerator performance and capabilities. The shutdown we just completed was no exception.
A major thrust during the recent shutdown was to repurpose the Recycler storage ring for stacking protons to enable higher proton intensities in the Main Injector. Previously, the Recycler was used for stacking and storing antiprotons for the Tevatron.
Getting the Recycler ready for the new task required many changes to both the Main Injector and Recycler, including the installation of new injection and extraction lines to and from the Recycler. Many magnets, kickers and instrumentation also had to be added or improved for the new running mode.
One major change in the Recycler was the addition of two large RF cavities that will be used to place adjacent proton bunches on top of one another, creating space for additional protons in the beam.
Another major change made during the shutdown was the installation of a new neutrino target, one new focusing horn and a new target horn configuration designed to optimize the beam for the NOvA neutrino experiment. The Proton Source also received a major modification. The beam is now injected into the Linac from an RFQ.
Along with numerous other improvements, all the upgrades need to work together in the end. That’s the challenge faced by the machine commissioners and operators, who are charged with making it all work safely, effectively and reliably. This is as great a challenge as making the modifications in the first place. All of the new and old systems must work properly so that we can run our accelerators and beamlines and deliver beam to numerous experiments. If one system has problems, it often shuts down all operations.
It takes many people to bring it all together. FESS provides lighting in the tunnels, fire protection, process and comfort cooling, mowed berms and plowed roads, leak repairs and many other services. Procurement rushes orders and expedites delivery. Drivers move magnets across the Fermilab site. Machine shop workers make and modify parts. Drafters make drawings of parts, systems and beamlines. Physicists review beam optics, run simulations and verify layouts. Engineers design and modify equipment, which technicians install. Alignment personnel make final adjustments. Others work on controls and networks, RF systems, instrumentation and power supplies. The safety group provides enclosure interlocks, supports and monitors the tasks to be done. They also make sure everyone has the correct training and personal protection equipment and is familiar with the ALARA concept.
I love it when the accelerators are running. That may be why I tend to be optimistic when making startup schedules. I also realize how amazing it is that the more than 100,000 devices and systems that make up the Fermilab accelerator complex can be operational at the same time. When our accelerators are running, the Operations Department is fully engaged and our operators are eager to do what the years of training have prepared them for: get the machines back to routine operations and provide beam safely for Fermilab’s experiments.