US Department of Energy selects contractor for billion-dollar lab upgrade

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has picked American general contractor Hensel Phelps to upgrade its Oak Ridge National Laboratory, used for discoveries in neutron sciences, in Tennessee, US.

Render of the future Oak Ridge National Laboratory (Image: Hensel Phelps) Render of the future Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, US. (Image: Hensel Phelps)

The DOE estimated the total project would cost between US$1.8 billion and $3 billion. Neither the US executive department nor Hensel Phelps shared the exact value of the contract.

Hensel Phelps said it will serve as construction manager and general contractor for the preconstruction and construction phases.

“Hensel Phelps is currently in the preconstruction phase of the project, which includes design reviews, market analysis, value engineering and the development of a master project schedule,” said the company.

It noted the project will facilitate the need for skilled subcontractors and labourers.

“The construction phase is anticipating the need for 30 or more trade subcontractors contributing to the project, with more than 350 tradespeople expected during the peak of construction over the next eight years,” said Hensel Phelps.

The company’s timeline suggests the lab will be ready to start conducting research in 2032.

Oak Ridge laboratory to construct space for high-science

According to the US DOE, Oak Ridge National Laboratory is upgrading its Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) by adding a second “target station” to provide new neutron capabilities and to complement the existing SNS First Target Station and the lab’s High Flux Isotope Reactor.

“By optimising the design of the instruments with advanced neutron optics, optimized geometry for 15 Hz operation, and advanced detectors, the detection resolution will be up to two orders of magnitude higher than current capabilities, enabling new research opportunities,” explained the DOE.

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