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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: http://nnsa.energy.gov/content/greenweek2011

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

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