Test cycle started!

News, 25 December 2019

On 23 December, technological tests of the booster of the NICA accelerating complex started in the Veksler and Baldin Laboratory of High Energy Physics. A festive event was attended by First Deputy Minister of Science and Higher Education Academician G. V. Trubnikov, JINR Director Academician V. A. Matveev, JINR Vice-Director B. Yu. Sharkov, Scientific Director of the NICA project Academician I. N. Meshkov, JINR Vice-Directors Corresponding Member V. D. Kekelidze and Professor M. G. Itkis, as well as leaders and staff members of VBLHEP departments.

“Today we have announced the launch of technological tests of all the major systems of the booster, a new superconducting accelerator constructed here, in VBLHEP, in the frames of the NICA project,” Head of the Accelerator Department A. V. Butenko said in the interview to journalists. “It means that today we officially start testing the systems, checking their operating capacity, interaction with and influence on each other. After that, we will prepare for the final stage: the first physical launch of the booster with a beam. It will take place in spring. In the meantime, we are starting a series of tests that will take three months or a little more and will end with cryogenic tests with inducing the current into the magnetic structure and achieving the parameters planned in the project.”

The launch of the power system inaugurated the start of the tests. The system was specially developed, created and set up for the NICA project. Since superconducting magnets are used in the booster, the power consumption would be 2.6 megawatts at peak loads, at maximum current and voltage. That is why we needed to decrease loads of power supply systems and equipment. A power supply system was developed with an intermediate storage ring that accumulates necessary energy through the power converter, and superconducting magnets are powered by stored energy through current converters. At the final stage of acceleration, the energy from magnets returns to the storage ring. Thus, the energy efficiency is increased, and the power consumption and the impact on the power network are decreased for dozens of times.

As for the local control panel, the power supply system was first prepared for the launch. Then, power supplies were turned on with the use of the automated switchboard for the equivalent load, a specially created device that is close in parameters to the superconducting structure of the booster. VBLHEP Director V. D. Kekelidze gave start to the technological launch by a siren signal. It is a traditional siren used every time a new accelerating run starts at the VBLHEP complex. Today, it marked the start of a series of technological tests. Then, V. A. Matveev and G. V. Trubnikov pushed a button thus inputting current from sources at the equivalent load, and the new, unique, most advanced power supply system was put into operation, including storage rings, current converters, switches, energy-evacuation switches.

The graph showed the voltage and current readouts. Since that moment, the system has operated with the real current of 4 kiloamperes. It was ready for the start of tests of the magnet and cryostat system of the booster.

At NICA JINR: the start was given to technological tests of the booster synchrotron , Video by the JINR Scientific Information Department

“I think that an optimal solution was found in the NICA project, i.e. to place the booster inside the yoke of the Synchrophasotron,” Academician G. V. Trubnikov said in the interview to journalists. “Thus, we preserved a legendary monument for our descendants and used it as the best radiation protection that we got from our ancestors, full free so to say. I think that it is the record time for the machine of such a size as the booster to be built because the ring, in fact, was constructed for several years. The technical project was approved in 2014. Since 2015, development and production of all the systems started. It includes not only the ring. It also includes brand-new super modern power supply systems, diagnostic systems, and the most advanced technological solutions in the ring of the booster. And we obtained a wonderful “green” facility. It is “green” because we show to the entire world that it is energy efficient, absolutely safe, beautiful and modern accelerator. I hope that we will produce the first beam in the booster until the middle of the next year. But today, we all witness a truly historic event that is important not only to the Institute but to all the Member States.”

The guests walked through the tunnel of the booster, saw the magnet structure, were acquainted with the work progress at the factory of superconducting magnets. Moreover, participants of the event visited a clean room for the assembling of time-of-flight chambers for the MPD detector. They are produced at a specially organized shop: due to the project, there should be 24 operating and 4 or 8 emergency chambers. Now, 8 of them are ready, 10 chambers are being produced, and another 10 are ordered. Then, they are assembled in the clean room where they will be tested being exposed to cosmic radiation. After that, the assembled detector will be placed at the NICA construction site to be set up further in the MPD pavilion. Nowadays, the outside case of the MPD detector is already built, and the inner structure will be constructed next year.

Galina Myalkovskaya, JINR Weekly Newspaper
Photos by Igor Lapenko