It’s been several months since I last updated you on the LBNF/DUNE team’s progress – so an update is overdue. A lot has been going on. During this period, the team has had two main focus areas: gaining the approvals necessary to start early construction at the project’s far site at Sanford Lab in 2017 and prototyping the various systems that will eventually be scaled up and installed in DUNE’s massive underground neutrino detector.
A key milestone was met in late February, when the DOE Office of Project Management, Oversight and Assessment completed an independent cost estimate for the “early start” construction work we are proposing at Sanford Lab and concluded that our estimates are well-founded with adequate contingency. Then, working closely with our DOE site office team, a lease for the areas LBNF/DUNE will occupy at Sanford Lab (including the underground area where the caverns will be excavated) was signed and paid for (we got a good price; see below). The contract package that we’ll use to execute the far site conventional facilities construction work has been finalized and is under review by a DOE Independent Review Board. And the FY2017 President’s budget has been submitted and is under review by Congress. Critically, the budget request included important language that would authorize the start of far site construction, pending DOE approval of our CD-3A milestone.
Many other important elements of the project are advancing, too many to list in this short update. But here’s a quick, somewhat arbitrary by-the-numbers summary to try to give you a sense of some of the events under way:
1 – The cost to DOE, in dollars per year, to lease the spaces that LBNF and DUNE will occupy at Sanford Lab. The lease officially started this past Sunday, May 1.
3A – The next major DOE Critical Decision (CD) milestone for the LBNF/DUNE project. Fermilab plans to request approval of this milestone later this year. When approved, in concert with the FY2017 Energy Bill, we will be able to start construction at the far site in 2017.
5 – Number of fascinating facts about DUNE in a recent Symmetry article.
445 – Pounds of explosives detonated between December 2015 and March 2016 in an underground drift near the area where the LBNF caverns will be constructed at Sanford Lab in four separate test blasts. The purpose of the test blasts was to validate assumptions about air over-pressure effects and vibration transmission through the rock mass. The data gathered confirmed preliminary design choices based on over 100 years of excavation experience at the former gold mine and will help minimize construction impacts on nearby experiments currently under way.
770 – Metric tons of liquid argon that will fill each of two protoDUNE detectors planned to be built at CERN in 2017. These two detectors, one using single-phase technology, the other using dual-phase technology, are prototypes that will be operated in a test beam in order to finalize the design of the roughly 20 times larger detector modules that will be installed underground at Sanford Lab.
856 – Current number of members in the DUNE collaboration. The collaboration is made up of scientists and students from 149 institutions in 29 countries, numbers that continue to grow as more groups around the world sign up to participate in the DUNE experiments.
3,741 – Depth, in feet, that the renovation of the Ross Shaft has reached. The renovation started at the surface in 2012 and needs to get down to 5,000 feet below ground to support LBNF/DUNE. The Ross shaft, one of two shafts providing underground access at Sanford Lab, will be the route that all rock excavated for LBNF takes to travel to the surface. This project is on schedule to be completed in July 2017.
4,415* – Number of meetings the DOE/LBNF/DUNE team has attended so far to advance the project, in which we viewed 127,548 PowerPoint slides.
26,923 – Number of views of the LBNF/DUNE video on YouTube—a great tool to help educate our family and friends who ask “What is this LBNF/DUNE thing, anyway?”
* This metric may or may not be a total guess and somewhat of an exaggeration.
The pace of progress continues to be exceptional, thanks to many dedicated people here at the lab and all over the world. Thanks to the hard-working LBNF project team, including our CERN partners; the DUNE team, including the spokespersons, coordinators, and working group and task force leaders; our DOE federal project director and site office team; the Sanford Lab staff; and the many experts at Fermilab and our partner national labs who continue to contribute their talent and expertise.