What is ESS-Bilbao?

ESS Bilbao is an internationally renowned strategic center for Neutron Technologies which brings knowledge and added value through its in-kind contribution to the European Spallation Neutron Source project, one of the biggest research infrastructures to be set up in Europe over the next decade.

In legal terms, it is a Consortium with two public administrations as stakeholders: the Spanish State Government (Ministry for the Economy and Competitiveness, Secretary of State for Research, Development and Innovation)and the Government of the Basque Autonomous Region (Department of Economic Development and Competitiveness, Department of Political, Linguistic and Cultural Education).

What is the main mission of ESS-Bilbao?

To contribute knowledge and added value to the European Spallation Source project through the work and projects that we take on for it.

How is ESS-Bilbao financed?

The two public administrations behind ESS Bilbao have approved a budget of €178 million to guarantee the viability of the project and ensure its standing within the science and technology community.

What is the European Spallation Neutron Source project?

ESS is a consortium of 17 European countries working together on the design and construction of one of the biggest scientific infrastructure projects currently underway throughout Europe.

Construction of the European Spallation Neutron Source has already begun in the Swedish city of Lund.

What work will ESS Bilbao be undertaking for the European project?

As part of the in-kind contribution that we are committed to in the European project, there are currently three confirmed work packages:

  • MEBT, Medium Energy Beam Transport, a complete subsystem for the accelerator, including the manufacture, design and testing in Bilbao along with the assembly in Lund.
  • RF Systems, the radiofrequency systems for the drift tubes (DTL), in a total of five acceleration chains.
  • Target, a wheel with a diameter of 2.5 meters made up of 33 different sectors of heavy material which turn on an axis. Each sector will contain several tungsten parts where the protons will collide and emit the neutron pulses. These high-energy pulses then pass through neutron guides to the instruments.
  • Instruments, a set of elements jointly known as neutron instrumentation for the European source: guides, choppers and detectors, all of which are optimized to allow users to carry out experimental work with techniques such as diffraction, spectroscopy and reflectometry. There will also be Spanish participation in Miracles, LoKI and Espresso.

It is a large-scale research facility designed to produce intense neutron beams using the spallation process, which involves shattering the nucleus of a heavy atom to make it emit neutron pulses.

In order to produce this process, a proton package has to be accelerated through electromagnetic fields until it acquires an enormous amount of energy. At that moment, it is made to collide with the atom of a heavy material (tungsten) to bring about the nuclear reaction which generates the neutrons.

What are neutrons used for?

Neutrons are particles with no electric charge which are used to study the condition, characteristics and properties of different materials.

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