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November 2013

In early November, medical isotope producers met with nuclear explosion monitoring experts at a workshop to improve the effectiveness of the International Monitoring System (IMS). The IMS uses radioactive isotope emissions to detect if a nuclear weapons test has taken place. Unfortunately, not everything that emits radioactive isotopes is a nuclear test. The production of medical isotopes like molybdenum-99 (Mo-99), for example, can result in emissions of xenon isotopes that the IMS interprets as potential nuclear tests. Minimizing these false positives is essential to the effectiveness of the IMS.

The fourth Workshop on Signatures of Medical and Industrial Isotope Production was a great success. Scientists from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) co-organized the workshop with the Preporatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), and helped produce “Zeroing in on Xenon,” a video that explains the effects of xenon isotope emissions. NNSA’s Office of Nonproliferation and International Security and the CTBTO are working with Mo-99 producers worldwide to reduce emissions.

This year, four additional producers signed a pledge to collaborate and address the problem, including Coquí RadioPharmaceuticals, this first U.S.-based potential Mo-99 producer to sign the pledge. Other U.S. firms that attended were SHINE Medical Technologies and NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes, which are working with NNSA’s Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI) to establish a domestic supply of Mo-99 without using highly enriched uranium (HEU).

PNNL experts, supported by NNSA and the Departments of State and Defense, will continue to work with the CTBTO and medical isotope producers to minimize radioxenon emissions in order to enhance the effectiveness of the IMS.

About the photo: The five current or potential Mo-99 producers that have signed a pledge to collaborate with the CTBTO.  Photo courtesy CTBTO.

Reducing emissions to improve nuclear test detection

From left:  In-Cheol Lim, Vice President of the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI); Carmen Irene Bigles, CEO of Coquí RadioPharmaceuticals; Lassina Zerbo, CTBTO Executive Secretary; Yudiutomo Imardjoko Bernadib, President Director of PT Batan Teknologi; Emmy Hoffmann, the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation’s (ANSTO) Manager of Nuclear Assurance Services; Benoit Deconninck from the Institute for Radioelements (IRE)

What do better batteries, reducing fuel consumption, improved cancer treatment, and making metals corrosion and heat resistant have to do with nonproliferation? NNSA’s Office of Nonproliferation and International Security promotes innovative solutions to global, regional and national security challenges, while at the same time advancing science best practices and applying cutting-edge science to support security policy priorities. NIS supports collaborative R&D projects that draw on expertise from both industry and U.S. national labs.

Recent projects include:

  • The Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology in Ukraine, in partnership with Brookhaven National Lab and GM, developed thermal management systems for Lithium-Ion batteries, extending battery life and output in mobile devices and electric cars.
  • The Russian Institute of High Current Electronics, in partnership with Los Alamos National Laboratory and Leonardo Technologies Inc., developed a highly efficient plasma-torch combustion systemreducing fuel consumption and combustion pollutants.
  • The Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology (KIPT) in Ukraine, in partnership with Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) and Alphamed Inc., developed a new method for the production of radioisotope copper-67, allowing it to be produced at a scale and proximity useful to U.S. hospitals and cancer treatment centers.
  • The Sukhumi Institute of Physics in the Republic of Georgia recently completed a project with DOE’sKansas City Plant to develop an aluminum-based corrosion and heat resistant coating for various metals.  Currently, most corrosion-proofing methods require increasingly scarce minerals like zinc, nickel and chromium, making abundant aluminum a financially and strategically preferable choice.

 Additional project information:

About the photo: Plasma-torch combustion system at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

International R&D Collaboration Develops Solutions to Global Challenges

Employees at the Savannah River Site have combined fun with athletic competition for the third annual “Dash for Bikes, Walk for Trikes” relay race, which raises thousands of dollars each year for the Savannah River Site’s annual Toys for Tots campaign.

The fun is profitable enough to raise a significant amount of money to surprise local children on Christmas day with a new bike or tricycle.  More than 100 underprivileged children had a wonderful Christmas last year due to the $6,000 that was raised.

This year the Dash for Bikes, Walk for Trikes race, with a field of ten teams, raised $7,600, enough to buy about 25 additional bikes and trikes over last year’s numbers.

About the photo:
The first heat of runners takes off, toy batons in hand, during this year's SRNS “Dash for Bikes, Walk for Trikes” relay race at SRS. More than $7,600 was raised and will be contributed to the annual SRS Toys for Tots campaign.

Dash for Bikes, Walk for Trikes

More than 86 Y‑12 employees and family members participated at this year’s Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Light the Night walk, held recently at the University of Tennessee. The B&W Y‑12 team, recognized as the largest corporate team at the event, raised more than $20,000. Participating in the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Light The Night Walk funds therapies and treatment advances for blood cancer patients.

Y-12 team raises more than $20,000 for Light the Night event

Pantex employees on Saturday got a chance to check out the 2013 Capitol Christmas tree and helped serve snacks to attendees at an event celebrating the visit. The 88-foot tall Engelmann spruce was harvested from the Collville National Forest in Washington and will be erected at the Capitol Building. Babcock & Wilcox was one of the corporate sponsors of the tree tour which will make 22 stops, including Amarillo, Texas, before arriving in Washington, D.C.

Capitol Christmas tree stops in Amarillo

Capitol Christmas tree stops in Amarillo

Tiffany A. Blanchard-Case has been selected as the recipient of the 2013 Linton Brooks Medal for Dedication to Public Service. She was recognized yesterday for her outstanding service to NNSA and the American people. Former NNSA Administrator Linton Brooks and Acting NNSA Administrator Bruce Held presented the medal to Tiffany.

Tiffany has served with distinction within the NNSA’s Office of Global Threat Reduction. She has led efforts within the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus to secure and remove vulnerable radioactive sources. She has spearheaded projects to improve transportation security and regulations on radioactive source security. Her efforts resulted in the recovery and disposition of thousands of radioactive sources representing the equivalent of more than 5,000 dirty bombs thus, making the United States and the international community safer from terrorism. Her dedication, creativity, and innovative spirit have helped to overcome technical and bureaucratic obstacles and furthered the success of the NNSA’s nonproliferation programs.

Prior to her current position, Tiffany worked within the Office of Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation as part of the Nonproliferation Graduate Fellowship Program.  Prior to her employment with the U.S. Department of Energy, Tiffany worked in the United States Congress, serving in the office of a legislator in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. 

Tiffany holds a Master of Science in Foreign Service degree from Georgetown University and a Bachelor of Science degree in Spanish Translation from Kent State University.

About the photos:
Top: Blanchard-Case with former NNSA Administrator Linton Brooks (left) and NNSA Acting Administrator Bruce Held (right).
Bottom: Blanchard-Case with her family.

Tiffany A. Blanchard-Case receives 2013 Linton Brooks Medal


More than 500 Pantexans and their families attended Pantex Night at the Don Harrington Discovery Center Sunday. The event featured an exhibit on the extinct Megalodon shark as well as a mummy in the Lost Egypt exhibit. B&W Pantex sponsored the shark exhibit.

Pantex night held at discovery center

Quality New Mexico, the New Mexico Performance Excellence Awards Administrator, has announced 13 quality award recipients for 2013, including two Sandia organizations.

Sandia’s Tech Area V earned a Roadrunner award. Roadrunner recipients demonstrate substantial progress in building sound and systematic processes to strengthen overall operations and attain improved outcomes. This is evaluated through an assessment and site visit.

Sandia’s Payroll Dept. earned a Piñon award. Piñon recipients demonstrate commitment and show evidence through their assessment and site visit that they are using systematic processes and data to strengthen overall operations and attain improved outcomes.

The New Mexico Performance Excellence Awards are modeled after the Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award. They provide applicants with feedback on strengths and opportunities for improvement, based on the time-tested Baldridge Criteria for Performance Exellence.

Read more.

Los Alamos National Laboratory researchers are investigating the complex relationships between the spread of the HIV virus in a population (epidemiology) and the actual, rapid evolution of the virus (phylogenetics) within each patient’s body.

The team models the uninfected population using traditional differential equations on the computer; this is done for computational speed, because an agent-based component is much more demanding. The team has developed novel ways of estimating epidemics dynamics such as who infected whom, and the true population incidence of infection versus mere diagnoses dates.

Read more.

About the photo:
Scanning electron micrograph of HIV-1 budding (in green) from cultured lymphocytes. The image has been colored to highlight important features. Photo credit: C. Goldsmith, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

LANL researchers use computer modeling to study HIV

NNSA’s Second Line of Defense (SLD) was awarded the 2013 Non-Conventional Threat (NCT): CBRNe Capability Award. This award is one of several given annually by IB Consultancy (IBC), a company that provides defence and security services and organizes related events worldwide to connect businesses, governments, NGOs and subject matter experts. The CBRNe Capability Award is given to a country or organization for improving its conventional, biological, radiological and nuclear explosives (CBRNe) capability, or for initiating or executing a capability development program that impacts another country or organization.

Some of the criteria for the award include proven end-user benefit; lasting impact on the CBRNe capability of a country, region or group of countries; and proven efficiency with regards to cost and avoiding duplication with other forms of assistance and/or development. Also nominated for the award were programs from the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) and the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA). SLD’s capacity-building work in the area of nuclear nonproliferation and nuclear security was selected as the winner for the award in September 2013.

NNSA’s SLD program works to strengthen the capabilities of partner countries to combat the illicit trafficking of special nuclear and other radiological materials at international border crossings and checkpoints. SLD accomplishes its mission by providing partner countries with radiation detection equipment, communications systems and training that will enable them to respond effectively to radiation alarms. The program also provides partners with support to further develop their capability to operate and maintain these detections systems over the long-term. To date, SLD has equipped 500 sites in more than 50 countries with radiation detection equipment.

About the photo:
The CBRNe Capability Award is presented to Elly Melamed (middle) and Dick Pappas (right) of the Office of the Second Line of Defense. The award was accepted on behalf of SLD by Guy Roberts (left).

NNSA’s Second Line of Defense Program Receives Capability Award