Sandia National Laboratories is using its Ion Beam Laboratory (IBL) to study how to rapidly evaluate the tougher advanced materials needed to build the next generation of nuclear reactors and extend the lives of current reactors. Recent research was funded by NNSA’s Laboratory Directed Research & Development (LDRD) program.
Reactor operators need advanced cladding materials, which are the alloys that create the outer layer of nuclear fuel rods to keep them separate from the cooling fluid. Better alloys will be less likely to deteriorate from exposure to everything from coolant fluids to radiation damage.
Operating a reactor causes progressive microstructural changes in the alloys used in cladding, and that can hurt the materials’ integrity. However, present-day methods of evaluating materials can take decades.
The LDRD project worked with a variety of samples, everything from high-purity, single-crystal copper to materials used in today’s reactors. The Sandia team found that under the right conditions, a combinatorial approach can be used with new alloy compositions produced in-house. The LDRD project demonstrated a fundamental physics simulation of what’s happening to the material.
The United States and Sweden announced today at the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit the successful removal of plutonium from Sweden. The plutonium shipment was completed by NNSA’s Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI) and was the first shipment of plutonium to the United States under this program. Over 3 kilograms of plutonium was removed and included Swedish, UK, and U.S. origin material stemming from former research and development activities in Sweden. In order to complete this project and due to the sensitive nature of the material, NNSA and Sweden needed to develop facilities to stabilize and repackage the plutonium materials.
NNSA’s successful removal of all remaining highly enriched uranium (HEU) from Ukraine was featured on NPR’s “All Things Considered” this past Sunday. The completion of the mission was announced by President Obama and President Yanukovych during the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, South Korea where world leaders are meeting this week to renew commitments to global nuclear security.
NNSA today concluded International Radiological Assistance Program Training for Emergency Response (I-RAPTER) in Slovenia.
The training, co-sponsored by the International Atomic Energy Agency, was provided to 36 nuclear/radiological emergency responders, which included 15 participants from Slovenia and 21 students from 20 other countries.
The training was conducted with involvement of personnel from Sandia National Laboratories, the Remote Sensing Laboratory and Idaho National Laboratory.