European Spallation Source

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European Spallation Source (ESS)
Location: Lund, Sweden
Scientific Purpose: Provide unique information about the structure and properties of materials across the spectrum of biology, chemistry, physics, and engineering.
Web site: [2]

The European Spallation Source (ESS) is a planned materials science research facility using the neutron scattering technique.[1] ESS is a pan-European project that will be built by at least 17 European countries, with Sweden and Denmark as host nations.[2] The facility will be built in Lund, Sweden whilst the 'ESS Data Management and Software Centre' will be located in Copenhagen, Denmark. The research facility is planned to be completed in around 2018—2019,[3] and it will enable scientists to see and understand basic atomic structures and forces.

The ESS will use spallation, a process in which fragments of material (spall) are ejected from a body due to impact or stress. The laboratory is designed around a linear accelerator in which protons are accelerated and collide with a heavy metal target. By this process, intense pulses of neutrons are emitted and led through beamlines to experimental stations, where research is done on different materials. This will help discover and develop new materials with applications in manufacturing, pharmaceutical drugs, aerospace, engines, plastics, energy, telecommunications, transportation, information technology and biotechnology.[2][4][5] According to its designers, the ESS will provide neutron beams up to 30 times brighter than any current neutron source.[3]


When the ISIS neutron source was built in England in 1985, its radical success to produce indirect images of molecular structures eventually raised the possibility of a spallation source far more powerful, and now less technically speculative. By 1993, the European Neutron Scattering Association began to advocate for what would be the most ambitious and broad-based spallation source in the world, ESS. [6]

Neutron science soon became a critical tool in the development of industrial and consumer products worldwide. So much so that the Organization for Economic Development, declared in 1999 that a new generation of high-intensity neutron sources should be built, one each in North America, Asia and Europe.[6] Europe's challenge was its diverse collection of national governments, and an active research community numbering in the thousands. A European international task force gathered in Bonn in 2002 to review the findings and a positive consensus emerged to build ESS. The stakeholders group met a year later to review the task force's progress, and in 2003 a new design concept was adopted that set the course for beguining operations by 2019.[6]

Over the next five years a competitive and yet collaborative site selection process played out and Lund, Sweden was chosen as the preferred site; the definitive selection of Lund was announced in Brussels on May 28, 2009.[6] In July 1, 2010, the staff and operations of ESS Scandinavia were transferred from Lund University to 'European Spallation Source ESS AB', a limited liability company set up to design, construct and operate the European Spallation Source in Lund. The company's headquarters are situated in central Lund.[7]

At present, 17 partner countries are represented in the ESS Steering Committee. No binding decision has yet been made regarding the funding of the facility,[needs update] its organizational form, or the legal arrangements of the collective ownership of the facility by several European countries.[8][needs update]

Site selection[edit]

Originally, three possible ESS sites were under consideration: Bilbao, (Spain), Debrecen (Hungary) and Lund (Sweden).

On 28 May 2009, seven countries indicated support for placing ESS in Sweden. Furthermore, Switzerland and Italy indicated that they would support the site in majority.[9] On June 6, 2009, Spain withdrew the Bilbao candidacy and signed a collaboration agreement with Sweden, supporting Lund as the main site, but with key component development work being performed in Bilbao. This effectively settled the location of the ESS; detailed economical negotiations between the participating countries are now taking place.[10] On December 18, 2009, Hungary also chose to tentatively support ESS in Lund, thus withdrawing the candidacy of Debrecen.[11][12]

ESS Scandinavia will be hosted jointly by Sweden and Denmark, with the source itself placed in Lund, and a data management facility in the Copenhagen area. Among special Danish competences is simulation of neutron scattering,[citation needed] since DTU Physics in Lyngby is the home of the McStas software collaboration (formerly Risø DTU), also comprising the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen Institut Laue-Langevin in Grenoble, France and Paul Scherrer Institute in Villigen, Switzerland.

The construction of the facility will probably start in early 2014,[citation needed] completion around 2018—2019,[3] and is planned to be fully operational by 2025.[citation needed]

The spallation target and its environmental impact[edit]

  • The ESS source will be built around a solid tungsten target, cooled by helium gas.[13][14]
  • Radioactive substances will be generated by the spallation process, but the solid target makes the handling of these materials easier and safer than if a liquid target had been used.
  • 40-50 MW of electrical power will be needed when the beam is in use, and most of the energy will be produced via renewable energy sources.[citation needed]
  • ESS, E.on, and Lunds Energi are collaborating in a project aiming to get the facility to be the world's first completely sustainable large-scale research centre through investment in wind power.[1] The ESS project is expected to include an extension of the Nysted Wind Farm.
  • Radioactive material storage and transport will be required, but the need is much less than that of a nuclear reactor.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "European Spallation Source - Homepage". ESS. 2014. Retrieved 2014-03-11. 
  2. ^ a b "ESS - Introduction". European Spalliation Source. 2013. Retrieved 2014-03-11. 
  3. ^ a b c "Neutron scattering" (PDF). Institute of Physics (IOP), London. 2011. Retrieved 2014-03-11. 
  4. ^ Berggren, K.-F. and A. Matic 2012. Science at the ESS: A brief outline. In O. Hallonsten (ed.) In pursuit of a Promise: Perspectives on the political process to establish the European Spallation Source (ESS) in Lund, Sweden (pp 31-47). Lund: Arkiv Academic Press, 2012.
  5. ^ Ghosh, Pallab (10 March 2014). "UK joins 'super-microscope' project". BBC News. Retrieved 2014-03-11. 
  6. ^ a b c d "The ESS Story". European Spallation Source. 2013. Retrieved 2014-03-11. 
  7. ^ "The European Spallation Source | ESS". Retrieved 2014-03-11. 
  8. ^ Hallonsten, O. 2012. Introduction: In pursuit of a Promise. In O. Hallonsten (ed.) In pursuit of a Promise: Perspectives on the political process to establish the European Spallation Source (ESS) in Lund, Sweden (pp 11-19). Lund: Arkiv Academic Press, 2012, p. 12.
  9. ^ "Clear support for ESS in Sweden: A great step for European science" (Press release). May 29, 2009. 
  10. ^ "Swedish-Spanish agreement on ESS in Lund the beginning of a new collaborative phase" (Press release). June 10, 2009. 
  11. ^ "ESS Magyarország". Retrieved 2014-03-11. 
  12. ^ [1][dead link]
  13. ^ Moormann, Rainer; Bongardt, Klaus; Chiriki, Suresh (2009-03-28). "Safety aspects of high power targets for European spallation sources" (PDF). Forschungszentrum Juelich. Retrieved 2009-04-01. 
  14. ^ Moormann, Rainer; Reiche-Begemann, Sigrid (2009-03-28). "Safety and Licensing of the European Spallation Source (ESS)" (PDF). Forschungszentrum Juelich. Retrieved 2009-04-01. 

External links[edit]