Application of HazOp principles to a Liquid Noble Dark Matter R&D Platform

Kovvali, Nimmi; Frist, Bernie
(SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, Menlo Park, CA and Safety & Risk Management Group, Phoenix, AZ)

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The Lux Zeplin (LZ) collaboration is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and consists of 190 scientists in 32 institutions in the U.S., U.K., Portugal, Russia, and China. The LZ project is the next generation dark matter experiment searching for WIMP’s (weakly interacting massive particles). The project will install a detector nearly a mile below ground in the former Homestake gold mine in South Dakota. The LZ collaboration will search for these particles by looking for evidence of WIMPs colliding with xenon (Xe) nuclei inside the detector. The underground project will use a total of 10 tons of liquefied xenon and the detector will be surrounded by a jacket of nitrogen and water to eliminate background radiation. The LZ group at SLAC plays a major role in designing, fabricating and carrying out the experiment. SLAC recently invested in a central test platform that is being used to test LZ prototype detectors and will serve as a tool for R&D on the next generation Xe dark matter experiment. The SLAC LZ group is also responsible for determining how to best purify the liquid xenon that will be used in the detector, since radio-pure xenon is needed to ensure that the experiment can see the very faint signal of a dark matter particle behind the higher rate from natural radiation sources. The project review process at SLAC involves commissioning of a review committee that comprises representatives from various scientific and support areas. The principal scientific group presents their design and rationale to this review committee and addresses a set of recommendations provided before operating the system. This process ensures that scientific input is captured from other parts of the laboratory, where similar experiments have been designed and operated. This process, however is not collaborative and does not offer a solutions-based approach to the group that is presenting. For the LZ project, SLAC chose to pilot a Hazard Operability (HazOp) Study approach to review the platform design with the intention of promoting a more collaborative review environment. Following presentations on the R&D platform design by the researchers, the PHA Facilitator provided an overview of the HazOp methodology and explained that a successful analysis would result from a collaborative approach through dialogue, not defense. This presentation will provide an overview of the Liquid Noble Dark Matter R&D platform, and discuss lessons learned from applying a HazOp approach outside a traditional semiconductor facility to a larger project at a DOE National Laboratory.

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