1. HRIBF Update and
(J. R. Beene)
In many respects, the prospects for HRIBF look extremely favorable. There are certainly good reasons for optimism. The IRIS2/HPTL upgrade project is essentially complete (see IRIS2 update in this newsletter). Improved operational efficiency due to the availability of two RIB production stations, as well as the impact of new beam production and purification capabilities, should soon be evident. The near-term budget outlook for the facility is more favorable than it has been for many years. Finally, we are free of the direct impact of the July 2008 Operational Emergency which crippled facility operation for more than a year.
In spite of a Continuing Resolution that extended deep into fiscal year (FY) 2009, the final 2009 budget for the facility was very favorable. This upward trend was continued in the FY 2010 appropriation, and, at a reduced rate, in the FY 2011 President's budget. The 2009 budget for the HRIBF was the first to exceed the inflation adjusted FY 2005 allocation since the large cuts imposed in FY 2006. These favorable budgets have enabled us to replenish badly depleted materials, supplies, and maintenance budgets. Even more important we have finally been able to proceed with the hire of two new accelerator operators, Justin Leach and Andrew Barclay. These two hires are the first elements of an HRIBF staff enhancement plan that was developed more than five years ago, but has been delayed due to funding. Once Justin and Andrew have completed necessary training, we will finally be in a position to operate the facility in a seven-day twenty-four hour mode for extended periods.
One of the indirect legacies of the extended shutdown period during the recovery from the July 2008 Operational Emergency has been a series of ORIC failures as we attempt a restart of routine operations. Chronic unreliability of this fifty year old cyclotron is the most important issue we face. Continuous operation should certainly help these chronic problems, but by far the best solution would be replacement of ORIC with a commercial accelerator. In November 2009, more than 150 scientists attended a two-day HRIBF users workshop devoted to discussions related to upgrade of the facility by addition of a commercial cyclotron. A Summary of the workshop is available in this Newsletter. Addition of an accelerator with capabilities similar to those of the IBA C70 cyclotron would dramatically improve efficiency, reliability and scientific reach of HRIBF. Annual operating costs could be reduced by well over $1M per year. We could take full advantage of the capabilities of IRIS2, and we should easily achieve 4000 hours of RIB delivered to experiments. Most important, we could take advantage of higher driver accelerator beam currents coupled with the developments in ISOL technology we have made in recent years to deliver neutron-rich beams with baseline intensities in excess of one thousand times greater than are now available.
ORNL has made an investment worth approximately $5M in the HRIBF utilities infrastructure by replacing the fifty year old cooling tower and many of our electrical substation circuit breakers. These improvements will have a direct impact on HRIBF reliability.
Experiments with neutron-rich beams are a centerpiece of our science
program. The Operational Emergency ended our last successful
neutron-rich campaign in July 2008, and the associated facility
shutdown has exacerbated the accumulation of a substantial backlog of
important neutron-rich beam experiments. Consequently, our highest
priority is to initiate an extended (up to six month long)
neutron-rich campaign as soon as we are able to do so.