Proekspert is one of 10 companies selected to develop the integrated control system for the European Spallation Source (ESS) based in Sweden. The ESS is set to become the world’s most powerful neutron radiation source. After a worldwide tender process, Proekspert’s selection was formalized with a contract signing this week.
The European Spallation Source (ESS) is a joint project involving 17 European countries, including Estonia, designed to build and operate next-generation research infrastructure for using neutrons to conduct research on materials. Neutron radiation can be used to study the magnetic properties, structure and other properties of materials beyond the capability of other methods. The ESS will be the world’s most powerful neutron radiation source, more than 100 times greater than other similar sources.
Proekspert lead Marko Sverdlik said being awarded the contract will allow the company to take part in developing key future technologies. “The framework agreement and the fact that Proekspert has an opportunity to work on a project of this magnitude can be seen as a testament to the quality of work Estonian IT companies are doing. The project also offers us a superb challenge in a key field for Proekspert – technologies that will be shaping our future not just 20 but 50 years down the road.”
ESS ICS will integrate and synchronize the huge array of software and hardware for the neutron radiation source. Consisting of about 1.5 million electronic control points, the system makes it possible to control and measure the flow of particles from the accelerator, target operating conditions and neutron generation. The control system also unifies control of all neutron measurement instruments. Proekspert has over 10 years experience developing similar control systems.
University of Tartu Institute of Physics expert and Estonia’s ESS Industrial Liaison Officer Ott Rebane says participating in the project will enrich Estonian science. “It will give Estonian researchers the opportunity to work at the cutting edge of world science,” said Rebane. “Estonian researchers will gain access to state of the art science, and neutron radiation data will open a window for us to make new discoveries in biomedicine, materials science, chemistry, pharmaceutical industry and many other fields. For example, we can use neutron radiation to explore various future energy sources. The neutron radiation source can be used in the pharmaceutical industry for studying bio distribution of drugs, for example. Other applications in life science include photosynthesis and the flow of water in plant tissues.”
University of Tartu Vice-Rector for Research Marco Kirm calls international research centres such as ESS “crucibles of future technologies” and said: “I’m particularly pleased that in addition to what our researchers are contributing, Estonian tech forms have thrived in stiff competition. Their high competence and prior experience give them strong qualifications to develop new and innovative solutions. This is the best way for Estonia to take part in international knowledge transfer, involving our scientific potential as well as our industry.”
In total, 100 companies from all over the world tendered for contracts to develop different components of the neutron radiation source. Twenty-nine of them were chosen as partners. Other Estonian companies involved in software development for the research centre are AS Helmes and OÜ Elvior.