Note: This story was updated at 10:15 a.m. Aug. 1.
Oak Ridge National Laboratory is pursuing two major upgrades to its Spallation Neutron Source that would allow new scientific research and could cost more than $1 billion.
The two proposed upgrades are a proton power upgrade and a second target station. The two projects are in different stages of review at the U.S. Department of Energy, ORNL spokesperson Morgan McCorkle said.
The proton power upgrade, or PPU, is being pursued first, and its current cost estimate is a little more than $200 million, McCorkle said. If approved, it would double the power of SNS’s proton beam from 1.4 megawatts to 2.8 megawatts.
The upgrade would allow new types of research at SNS, and it would increase the number of scientists who can use the facility each year, McCorkle said.
“The PPU will enable experiments that are not currently feasible, such as experiments on smaller or less concentrated samples, and experiments under more extreme environmental conditions,” McCorkle said. “The new scientific capabilities will support research in areas such as soft matter, quantum materials, chemistry, functional materials, and biology. Some examples of everyday products that may be improved by these discoveries include cell phones, batteries, computers, building materials, and drugs.”
The proton power upgrade would also eventually provide the extra power necessary for the proposed second target station, or STS. The design of the second target station is less mature, but the project could cost in the range of $1 billion and include about 300,000 square feet of new buildings, McCorkle said. The second target station would be on the east end of the SNS campus on Chestnut Ridge at ORNL.