Installation of Neutron Beam Port Inserts and Plugs under way

International collaboration was key as ESS reached an important milestone with the start of installation of Neutron Beam Port Inserts and Plugs last week. The inserts and plugs constitute the first interface between the ESS target systems and the neutron instruments, as the inserts also contain the first part of the neutron optics, provided and integrated by the Neutron Scattering Systems.

Installation of Neutron Beam Port Inserts and Plugs under way
The first Neutron Beam Port Plug is pushed into one of the port tubes surrounding the Target Monolith.
Ulrika Hammarlund/ESS
Installation of Neutron Beam Port Inserts and Plugs under way
Schematic view of the Target and the 42 beam ports.

The design of the Neutron Beam Port Inserts and Plugs was developed by German in-kind partner ZEA-1 in collaboration with the ESS Target Division. Manufacturing was done by Fantini in Italy and neutron guide integration performed on the ESS site by Swiss Neutronics and S-DH, Germany.

The installation of the Neutron Beam Port Inserts and Plugs started on 23 February 2023, as the very first plug was inserted into beam port S1 in the south sector. This will be followed by two more plugs, and then the two inserts for instruments ODIN and DREAM. Ultimately, there will be 16 inserts for the 15 planned instruments and the Test Beamline, with the rest of the port tubes equipped with plugs.

The inserts and plugs are installed into the port tubes, which are welded to the Monolith vessel. A prerequisite for the installation to start was that the two pancake cooling blocks were in place inside the vessel, as they contain slits into which the inserts and plugs are placed. This installation was completed on 22 February.

Installation of Neutron Beam Port Inserts and Plugs under way
ZEA-1 project team with the milled main part of the NBPI assembly during a visit to Fantini.

The inserts contain neutron optics that will guide the moderated neutrons on the very first part of their journey towards the sample position of each instrument. Plugs – massive steel chunks – are installed into the port tubes currently not occupied by an instrument.

Each insert and plug is then equipped with a neutron beam window, which seals the Monolith atmosphere from the instrument beamlines. They also have an internal window made of aluminium through which the neutrons can pass. Only the inserts that contain optical guides will let through neutrons to the instruments, and these windows also contain a media connector. The neutron beam windows are a delivery of Nortemecanica, Spain.

Ongoing work and next steps

Now that the last 4 NBPIs were delivered in March, all of the 16 inserts have been delivered to ESS. Upon delivery, the inserts are set up in an on-site integration tent, where optics assembly, alignment and vacuum tests take place. All 26 plugs have been delivered and checked and are ready for installation. The installation on site of the first plug was performed by the Target design group, under supervision of the Target installation team who will be responsible for the remaining installation of plugs and inserts.

Installation of eight inserts and twenty-four plugs has been completed in the south, east and north sectors. Works will conclude over early summer in the west sector, until all 42 port tubes have been equipped with a plug or insert. The installation of inserts and plugs will pave the way for in-bunker installations to continue for all instruments at ESS.

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Last Modified: 16.05.2023