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TRIUMF’s original main magnet power supply laid to rest

11 January 2018

(image: Ewart Blackmore poised to shut down the cyclotron main magnet power supply)

On the afternoon of Thursday, December 21st, 2017, employees and alumni gathered around Ewart Blackmore on the second basement level of the Meson Hall for a celebration of a unique nature: a grand unplugging, and the conclusion of an era in electrical engineering at TRIUMF. Blackmore, a TRIUMF laureate physicist and original founder, waited patiently for his colleagues to gather before turning to the large, red button on the main magnet power supply and calling out over the din of electrical machinery: “Well, here we go!”

Then, with the push of a button at 4:23pm, Blackmore laid to rest the TRIUMF cyclotron original magnet power supply after nearly 50 years of sterling operation. The power supply was first turned on to 10% on December 1st, 1972, and reached full current on December 10th, 1972. The activation allowed the TRIUMF community to begin the months-long magnetic field survey of the cyclotron itself.

As applause from the gathered TRIUMF community filled the lull left by the supply’s quiescence, one wonders if anyone had proclaimed that same phrase - “Here we go!” - in that exact same spot decades before when the magnet power supply was first turned on. It would seem a fitting reprise. Klaus Reiniger, the electrical engineer responsible for the magnet power supply through most of its life, looked on with a small smile as the rumble of the supply petered out. 

Providing the cyclotron with a steady, stable power supply is a crucial component of keeping many of TRIUMF’s scientific endeavours operating at full capacity. The team proudly recounted the years-long effort and eventual achievement of stabilizing the current output to about 1 ppm (part per million). This astounding degree of technical precision has ensured continuous and reliable operation for TRIUMF’s many cyclotron-dependent scientific programs for decades.

Planning the replacement of the main magnet power supply for TRIUMF’s cyclotron has been a years-long undertaking of vast proportions, and the installation of the new supply that is currently underway during the 2017-2018 shutdown period may bring new challenges and trials for TRIUMF’s electrical and plant services community. With the hard work and support of many across the lab, we look forward to a successful power supply install and well-earned recommencement of magnet operation as shutdown concludes in spring 2018.

(image: TRIUMF colleagues gathered to celebrate the main magnet power supply shutdown)

Of course, one question remains: who will push the ‘start’ button on the next era of power supply for the main cyclotron? Only time will tell, but we look forward to joining Ewart Blackmore and the rest of the TRIUMF community in saying, once again with feeling: “Here we go!”