European Spallation Source

The European Spallation Source ERIC (ESS) is a multi-disciplinary research facility based on the world's most powerful pulsed neutron source.[1] It is currently under construction in Lund, Sweden.[2] The ESS Data Management and Software Centre (DMSC) will be located in Copenhagen, Denmark.[3] The 13 European member countries act as partners in the construction and operation of ESS.[4] ESS will start the scientific user programme in 2023, and the construction phase will be complete by 2025.[5] ESS is the world's most powerful next-generation neutron source, and will enable scientists to see and understand basic atomic structures and forces at length and time scales unachievable at other neutron sources.[6]

European Spallation Source ERIC
ESS East Instrument Hall 211221.jpg
Scientific Purpose: Provide unique information about the structure and properties of materials across the spectrum of biology, chemistry, physics, and engineering.
LocationLund, Sweden
StatusUnder construction
TypeResearch Laboratories
Start date2013
Completion date2025
ESS logo

The research infrastructure, owned by 13 European nations, is built close to the Max IV Laboratory. The colocation of powerful neutron and x-ray facilities is a productive strategy (e.g. the Institut Laue–Langevin with the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility; the ISIS Neutron and Muon Source with the Diamond Light Source), because much of the knowledge, technical infrastructure, and scientific methods associated with neutron and x-ray technologies are similar.

The construction of the facility began in the summer of 2014 and the first science results produced are planned for 2023. Scientists and engineers from more than 100 partner laboratories are working on updating and optimising the advanced technical design of the ESS facility, and at the same time are exploring how to maximise its research potential. These partner laboratories, universities and research institutes are also contributing human resources, knowledge, equipment, and financial support through In-Kind Contributions.

ESS will use nuclear spallation, a process in which neutrons are liberated from heavy elements by high energy protons.  This is intrinsically a much safer process than uranium fission. Unlike existing facilities, the ESS is neither a "short pulse" (micro-seconds) spallation source, nor a continuous source like the SINQ facility in Switzerland, but the first example of a "long pulse" source (milli-seconds) [7] .[8]

The future facility is composed of a linear accelerator in which protons are accelerated and collide with a rotating, helium-cooled tungsten target. By this process, intense pulses of neutrons are generated. Surrounding the tungsten are baths of cryogenic hydrogen which feed supermirror guides. These operate in a similar way to optical fibres, directing the intense beams of neutrons to experimental stations, where research is done on different materials. Many of the instruments benefit from more than a decade of development, and several of the designs are unique in order to maximise the benefits of the long pulse.

Neutron scattering can be applied to a range of scientific questions, spanning the realms of physics, chemistry, geology, biology and medicine. Neutrons serve as a unique probe for revealing the structure and function of matter from the microscopic down to the atomic scale. Using neutrons for research enables us to investigate the world around us as well as to develop new materials and processes to meet the needs of society. Neutrons are frequently used to address the grand challenges, to improve and develop new solutions for health, the environment, clean energy, IT and more.

ESS became a European Research Infrastructure Consortium, or ERIC, on 1 October 2015. The European Spallation Source ERIC is "a joint European organisation committed to constructing and operating the world's leading facility for research using neutrons."

ESS is designed to be carbon-neutral and is expected to reduce CO2 emissions in the region.

Though it is just over half way through the construction project, the ESS is already a scientifically productive organisation. Many world-leading experts are either directly employed or linked to the project via collaborations, and working on pressing societal problems. Examples include the determination of protein structure in COVID-19 [9] and the provision of deuteration services to other scientists.

The European Investment Bank made a €50 million investment in European Spallation Source. This investment is supported by InnovFin-EU Finance for Innovators, an initiative established by the EIB Group in collaboration with the European Commission under Horizon 2020, the EU's research and innovation program. [10][11]


Building of European Spallation Source, January 2017

When the ISIS neutron source was built in England in 1985, its radical success in producing indirect images of molecular structures eventually raised the possibility of a far more powerful spallation source. By 1993, the European Neutron Scattering Association began to advocate what would be the most ambitious and broad-based spallation source in the world, ESS.[12]

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 (OECD), declared in 1999 that a new generation of high-intensity neutron sources should be built, one each in North America, Asia and Europe.[12] Europe's challenge was its diverse collection of national governments, and an active research community numbering in the thousands. In 2001, a European roadmap for developing accelerator driven systems for nuclear waste incineration estimated that the ESS could have the beam ready for users in 2010.[13] 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 beginning operations by 2019.[12]

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 28 May 2009.[12] On 1 July 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.[14]

ESS became a European Research Infrastructure Consortium, or ERIC, on 1 October 2015. The Founding Members of the European Spallation Source ERIC are the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and United Kingdom.[15]

As of 2013 the estimated cost of the facility will be about €1.843 bn. Host nations Sweden and Denmark plan to give about half of the sum. However the negotiations about the exact contributions from every partner are still in progress.[16] From 2010 to 30 September 2015, ESS was operated as a Swedish aktiebolag, or AB.[12]

Site selectionEdit

Originally, three possible ESS sites were under consideration: Bilbao (Spain), Debrecen (Hungary) and Lund (Sweden).[17]

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.[18] On 6 June 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.[19] On 18 December 2009, Hungary also chose to tentatively support ESS in Lund, thus withdrawing the candidacy of Debrecen.[17][20]

The construction of the facility began in early 2014, with a groundbreaking event held in September of that year. The user programme will start in 2023, and it is planned to be fully operational by 2025.[5] ESS provides weekly updates of construction progress and live construction site webcams on its website.

The Linear AcceleratorEdit

The Accelerator Tunnel (December 2021).

The ESS uses a linear accelerator[21] (linac) to accelerate a beam of protons from the exit of its ion source at 75 keV to 2 GeV, at the entrance of the accelerator protons are traveling at ~1% of the speed of light and at the end of the accelerator, they reach a velocity of ~95% speed of light. The accelerator uses both normal conducting and superconducting cavities.

The normal conducting cavities are Radio Frequency Quadrupole, RFQ, working at a frequency of 352.21 MHz, and accelerating the proton beam up to an energy of 3.62 MeV. The next structure is a transport line for the medium energy protons, MEBT which transports the beam from the RFQ to the next structure for further acceleration. In the MEBT the beam properties are measured, the beam is cleaned from the transverse halo around the beam, and also the head and tail of the beam pulse are cleaned using a transversally deflecting electromagnetic chopper. The Drift Tube Linac, DTL, which is the structure downstream of the MEBT accelerates the beam further to ~90 MeV. At this energy, there is a transition from normal conducting cavities to superconducting cavities.

Three families of superconducting cavities accelerate the beam to its final energy of 2 GeV, firstly a section using double-spoke cavities up to an energy of ~216 Mev, then two families of elliptical cavities which are optimized for medium and high energy proton acceleration at a frequency of 704.42 MHz. Following the elliptical cavities, a transfer-line guides the beam to the target, and just before sending the beam to the target for producing spallation neutrons expands the beam and paints the target to dissipate the generated heat over a larger area.

The linac repetition rate is 14 Hz, and the pulses of protons are 2.86 ms long, making the duty factor of the linac 4%. The beam current within the pulse is 62.5 mA, and the average beam current is 2.5 mA.

Except in the RFQ which uses the same structure and field to accelerate and focus the beam, the transverse focusing of the beam of protons is performed using magnetic lenses. In the low energy beam transport, right after the ion source, magnetic solenoids are used, in the DTL permanent quadrupole magnets are used and the rest of the linac uses electromagnetic quadrupoles.

The spallation target and its environmental impactEdit

  • The ESS source will be built around a solid tungsten target, cooled by helium gas.[22][23][24]
  • 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.
  • 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.[25] 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.
  • ESS expects to be CO2-neutral.[26]
  • Recent design improvements will decrease energy usage at ESS.[27][28]

Neutron Scattering and Imaging Instruments at ESSEdit

The instrument LOKI (december 2021)

ESS has 15 instruments in its construction budget. They are


  • DREAM (Bispectral Powder Diffractometer)
  • HEIMDAL (Hybrid Diffractometer)
  • MAGiC (Magnetism Single Crystal Diffractometer)
  • NMX (Macromolecular Crystallography)


  • BIFROST (Extreme Environment Spectrometer)
  • CSPEC (Cold Chopper Spectrometer)
  • MIRACLES (Backscattering Spectrometer)
  • T-REX (Bispectral Chopper Spectrometer)
  • VESPA (Vibrational Spectrometer)

Large-scale structures:

  • ESTIA (Focusing Reflectometer)
  • FREIA (Liquids Reflectometer)
  • LoKI (Broadband Small Angle Neutron Scattering)
  • SKADI (General Purpose Small Angle Neutron Scattering)

Engineering and Imaging:

  • BEER (Engineering Diffractometer)
  • ODIN (Multi-Purpose Imaging)

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "European Spallation Source - Homepage". ESS. 2014. Archived from the original on 17 May 2014. Retrieved 5 August 2014.
  2. ^ European Spallation Source. "Construction Site Weekly Updates". Retrieved 17 July 2015.
  3. ^ European Spallation Source. "DMSC". Retrieved 17 July 2015.
  4. ^ "ESS - Introduction". European Spalliation Source. 2013. Retrieved 11 March 2014.
  5. ^ a b European Spallation Source (April 2015). Activity Report 2015 (PDF). Lund: ESS. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 July 2015. Retrieved 17 July 2015.
  6. ^ European Spallation Source. "Unique Capabilities of ESS". Retrieved 17 July 2015.
  7. ^ Mezei, Ferenc (1996). "The raison d'être of long pulse spallation sources". Journal of Neutron Research. 6 (1–3): 3–32. doi:10.1080/10238169708200095.
  8. ^ Mezei, Ferenc (1997). "Long pulse spallation sources". Physica B: Condensed Matter. 234–236: 1227–1232. Bibcode:1997PhyB..234.1227M. doi:10.1016/S0921-4526(97)00271-8.
  9. ^ Rogstam, Annika; Nyblom, Maria (2020). "Crystal Structure of Non-Structural Protein 10 from Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2". International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 21 (19): 7375. doi:10.3390/ijms21197375. PMC 7583907. PMID 33036230.
  10. ^ Bank, European Investment (2022-01-27). EIB Activity Report 2021. European Investment Bank. ISBN 978-92-861-5108-8.
  11. ^ "InnovFin EU Finance for innovators". Retrieved 2022-05-12.
  12. ^ a b c d e "The ESS Story". European Spallation Source. 2013. Retrieved 11 March 2014.
  13. ^ A European Roadmap for Developing Accelerator Driven Systems (ADS) for Nuclear Waste Incineration pretty layout with bad picturesugly layout with good pictures
  14. ^ "The European Spallation Source | ESS". Retrieved 11 March 2014.
  15. ^ European Spallation Source ERIC (20 August 2015). "European Commission Establishes ESS as a European Research Infrastructure Consortium". European Spallation Source. ESS. Retrieved 22 January 2016.
  16. ^ FAQ Funding and Costs - ESS
  17. ^ a b "ESS Magyarország". Archived from the original on 2014-03-11. Retrieved 11 March 2014.
  18. ^ "Clear support for ESS in Sweden: A great step for European science" (Press release). May 29, 2009. Archived from the original on 7 June 2009.
  19. ^ "Swedish-Spanish agreement on ESS in Lund the beginning of a new collaborative phase" (Press release). 10 June 2009. Archived from the original on 21 December 2009.
  20. ^ "Hungary will become the 14th Partner in the European Spallation Source research center. All three of the former site contenders now join forces to build the ESS in Sweden". Archived from the original on 21 December 2009.
  21. ^ Garoby, Roland; et al. (2018). "The European Spallation Source Design". Physica Scripta. 93 (1): 014001. Bibcode:2018PhyS...93a4001G. doi:10.1088/1402-4896/aa9bff.
  22. ^ Moormann, Rainer; Bongardt, Klaus; Chiriki, Suresh (28 March 2009). "Safety aspects of high power targets for European spallation sources" (PDF). Forschungszentrum Juelich. Retrieved 1 April 2009.[permanent dead link]
  23. ^ Moormann, Rainer; Reiche-Begemann, Sigrid (28 March 2009). "Safety and Licensing of the European Spallation Source (ESS)" (PDF). Forschungszentrum Juelich. Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 July 2011. Retrieved 1 April 2009.
  24. ^ Physics World. "Sights firmly set on target". Physics World. The Institute of Physics. Retrieved 22 January 2016.
  25. ^ "Our unique Sustainable Energy Concept". Archived from the original on 26 January 2012.
  26. ^ Videnskab DK. "Godt nyt for klimaet: Dansk-svensk forskningsanlæg vil være CO2-neutralt". Videnskab DK. Retrieved 22 January 2016.
  27. ^ European Spallation Source ERIC. "Innovation and Engineering Set ESS on Path to Sustainability". ESS. Retrieved 22 January 2016.
  28. ^ Parker, T. "ESS Energy Design Report 2013" (PDF). ESS. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 January 2016. Retrieved 22 January 2016.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 55°44′06″N 13°15′05″E / 55.7350°N 13.2514°E / 55.7350; 13.2514