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European Spallation Source (ESS)

The world's most advanced neutron source will start operation in Lund, southern Sweden, in 2019. The European Spallation Source (ESS) will enable unique research to be performed in the most varied disciplines – ranging from materials science to magnetism and geology and from soft matter to biology – thus securing Europe's leading position in research with neutrons. Around 5,000 researchers in Europe currently use neutrons to analyse their samples.

Research institutions from 11 European countries started working on joint plans for a European spallation source as early as 1993; however, initially, no decision was reached with regard to construction. Instead, the USA took over parts of the concept for its Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, which today is the world's most powerful spallation source. It took until 28 May 2009 for the European ministers of research in Brussels to finally decide on Lund as the site for ESS.

The foundation stone for the neutron source was laid in October 2014. After completing a design-update phase lasting several years, during which time the original plans were revised in order to take into account insights gained during the construction and operation of SNS and the also extremely powerful Japan Proton Accelerator Research Complex (J-PARC) located near Tokyo, the construction phase has now been in preparation since early 2015. After a five-year construction period, it is envisaged that the first instruments will be ready for research applications in 2019. A selection procedure will ensure that only the most promising applications are allocated measuring time on the instruments.

ESS is a joint European project funded by 17 countries. Decisions are taken by the governments of these countries on a joint basis. Around € 1.843 billion (as of 2013) has been earmarked for construction work and about € 140 million for annual operations. Approximately 400 to 500 employees will be responsible for ongoing operations. In addition to money, the partner countries will mainly make contributions in kind, such as instruments. Experience from the USA and Japan will help make ESS better and more affordable.

In so doing, ESS will aim to be both a scientific leader as well as a pioneer with respect to energy consumption. The first completely CO2-neutral facility is planned. Three strategies will make this possible. Special construction measures will reduce the energy demand by around 20 per cent from the very outset. In addition, the electricity used will be obtained solely from renewable energy sources such as wind energy, and the waste heat generated will be fed into Lund's district heating network.

Researchers from Germany are involved at all levels of the project. Prof. Sebastian Schmidt, member of Jülich's Board of Directors, has coordinated the German contributions for planning work since 2009. Since 2011, the ESS competence centre has focused the ESS activities of the various institutes involved at Jülich.

Further information:

Neutron Research in Jülich
ESS Competence Centre
How Spallation Works
History of Neutron Research in Jülich
World of Physics: Podcast on ESS and the contributions from Jülich (in German)
ESS Website
Film about ESS on YouTube