Two new test stands for the Fermilab SRF program

Mike Tartaglia

Mike Tartaglia, head of the Test and Instrumentation Department, wrote this column.

The Technical Division facilities and capabilities to advance the laboratory’s strategic vision for future accelerators based on superconducting radio-frequency (SRF) technology have been under vigorous development for the past decade. The most recent development was the startup of operations of two vertical test stands. Arriving at this milestone required strong leadership and extensive time and resources.

The project to build the second and third SRF vertical test stands in the Test and Instrumentation Department began in 2008, following successful completion of the first stand, VTS-1. Funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act became available at the time and paid for the groundwork and major components. The project kicked off with the excavation and civil construction in 2009 of the underground pits that would house the new test vessels, or cryostats, in Industrial Building 1 (IB1). R&D funds for the proposed International Linear Collider also supported the construction, and the RRCAT laboratory in India made major contributions to the design and fabrication oversight of the cryostats, which were successfully delivered in 2011.

The project scope included two large cryostats, four complicated top-plate assemblies, a new preparation area to install and instrument accelerating cavities for tests, expansion of the radio-frequency power and instrumentation systems, and extension of radiation shielding and safety interlocks. It included adding a new labyrinth of cryogenic piping, valves and controls to make efficient use of liquid helium during test operations.

To enable full use of the new test stands, the project included and concurrently made several major improvements to the IB1 refrigeration plant and vacuum systems. The facility was built while also supporting several other large projects and maintaining a vigorous IB1 operations schedule in support of magnet and VTS-1 cavity testing.

Installation of the latest two test stands was completed in January 2014. Because of the cavity R&D test program intensity and complexity of the cryogenic safety considerations, it took until December 2014 to complete VTS-2 and VTS-3 acceptance tests and establish operational readiness for safe routine operation.

The same management team responsible for VTS-1 led the VTS-2 and VTS-3 design and construction, with Camille Ginsburg as project manager. My predecessor as Test and Instrumentation Department head, Ruben Carcagno, managed the IB1 construction project from inception to completion, along with project engineer Cosmore Sylvester, who led the major procurements and general coordination. Barry Norris provided the engineering lead in many areas and helped organize the final system installations. Yuriy Pischalnikov took over responsibility as VTS area leader from Joe Ozelis. Working closely with laboratory radiation safety organizations and SRF Department liaison Alex Melnychuk, Yuriy coordinated the final acceptance tests for the RF and safety systems. The Test and Instrumentation Cryogenic Operations Group under engineer Bruce Squires’ leadership demonstrated that the new stands meet their performance requirements and are now supporting routine operation to meet SRF project needs.

These accomplishments are the result of prolonged hard work by a large project team that deserves our grateful acknowledgment. We recognize and greatly appreciate the assistance and contributions of many unheralded experts and reviewers from around the lab who made the safe completion and operation of these facilities possible.