NNSA Blog

The 2016 theme for the Earth Day observance raises expectations for everyone: “Earth Day, Every Day.” Instead of observing Earth Day only on April 22, the theme encourages us to think regularly about ways to save energy and live sustainably.

As NNSA celebrates Earth Day this week, its leaders are demonstrating that NNSA is taking the 2016 Earth Day theme seriously. NNSA’s Associate Administrator for Safety, Infrastructure and Operations Jim McConnell explains NNSA’s commitment and progress towards making facilities and infrastructure more sustainable and energy efficient. He also challenged all NNSA team members to commit to doing their part.

“There is always an opportunity for each of us to make a small change at home or on-the-job and see improvements,” McConnell said. “It’s the small increments that make a big difference over time. We each have an opportunity to be good stewards of the Earth every day.”

In response to McConnell’s challenge, NNSA team members will make personal pledges this week to protect the Earth’s resources both at home and at work. Such pledges might include changes such as adjusting our thermostats and expanding our recycling to turning off unneeded lights and electronics.

Learn more about the efforts throughout the NNSA enterprise to be more sustainable, the climate and energy work done at NNSA’s labs and sites, and the ways a personal commitment can help the Earth.

Apr 18, 2016 at 10:00 am

In 2015, President Obama directed federal agencies to work toward making facilities compliant with the Guiding Principles for Sustainable Federal Buildings. NNSA is pursuing the challenging high performance sustainable buildings goals and currently has 61 buildings that meet compliance, with 190 more buildings on their way to being compliant. NNSA is on track to meet or exceed sustainability goals for greenhouse gas reduction, energy intensity, water intensity, fleet, and renewable energy.

NNSA Blog

Improving the sustainability of NNSA facilities and infrastructure is an important part of NNSA’s ongoing efforts to modernize the enterprise and reduce annual operating costs. NNSA’s overarching strategy is to integrate sustainability goals into NNSA decision making and business processes. This strategic approach helps ensure all infrastructure investment decisions are made with sustainability in mind.

To learn more about NNSA’s green initiatives, follow NNSA’s blog, Twitter or Facebook posts.

Apr 18, 2016 at 10:00 am

A Sandia National Laboratories team works to improve computational models that describe ice sheet behavior and dynamics.

Teams working throughout NNSA sites and labs, partnering with academic institutions and industry experts, are using cutting-edge research to advance NNSA’s core missions, reduce environmental impact, and advance the body of knowledge on climate change and sustainability. During Earth Week, NNSA is highlighting some of the most innovative ongoing activities across the enterprise supporting environmental sustainability.

LLNL has worked to improved climate research in many ways, such as through rainfall studies.Recent research from NNSA’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) fine-tuned climate change measuring models for a more reliable snapshot of how the earth is changing. This helps identify more effective action to mitigate climate change effects. It adds to the long list of ways LLNL has improved climate research, from rainfall studies and plankton investigations, to award-winning pioneers of the global water cycle and underground batteries.

Research at Los Alamos National Laboratory  demonstrates that environmental factors and concerns affect every aspect of society.

Recent research from NNSA’s Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) demonstrates that environmental factors and concerns affect every aspect of society. The recent White House Water Summit featured a LANL safe water project. Other LANL work focuses on earth-saving carbon nanomaterials, forest health, permafrost, and photosynthesis. LANL also sponsors small businesses working to create clean technologies.

Research at Sandia National Laboratories helps the nation modernize the power grid.

Sandia National Laboratories recently developed groundbreaking technologies to make adoption of renewable energy smaller, cheaper, and better. Sandia’s work in engine efficiency has been nationally recognized, while its findings on water levels, ice sheet modeling, and offshore energy are literally making waves in the advancement of energy efficiency and modernization.

Bird conservation efforts at the Pantex Plant earned a national award nomination.

The Pantex Plant’s achievements in additive manufacturing greatly reduce waste, cost, and environmental impact while advancing NNSA’s mission. Migratory bird conservation efforts at Pantex have also earned national recognition.

NNSA's Y-12 National Security Complex recently received awards from the local chamber of commerce for its huge reductions in water usage, energy savings, corrosion control, and recycling programs, while powering the mission and giving back to the grid through a wind energy program.

NNSA’s Nevada National Security Site (NNSS) recently was recognized for having seven buildings with the highest level of sustainability certification and for its green fleet of vehicles.

These highlights demonstrate how the employees at NNSA’s sites and labs work diligently to advance mission while maintaining NNSA’s commitment to be good environmental stewards.

Apr 18, 2016 at 9:00 am

Graduate Fellow Temica Stewart listens as NNSA Associate Administrator for Management and Budget Randall Hendrickson speaks with Fellows and alumni at the Alumni Forum.

In late March, the NNSA Graduate Fellowship Program (NGFP) Alumni Forum brought together current and former fellows with leaders from across the national laboratories and the nuclear security enterprise. The annual event invites participants to share their career experiences as developing leaders within NNSA and fosters a network of professionals within the broader nuclear security community.

The event welcomed guests including NNSA Administrator Lt. Gen. Frank Klotz (Ret.) and NNSA Associate Administrator for Management and Budget Randall Hendrickson. The current class of fellows attended a roundtable hosted by Klotz, who discussed modern nuclear security challenges and the momentum NGFP fellows add to the future of NNSA.

Following the roundtable, current fellows, NGFP alumni, and invited guests convened for a networking and poster-display session. The current class of fellows, who began in June and comprise 38 students placed at locations across the country, shared accomplishments during their fellowships.  This was the first year that two fellows were placed at the Department of State. The fellowship term for the current class concludes in June.

NGFP is sponsored by NNSA’s Office of Management and Budget and administered by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to build future leaders in nuclear security and nonproliferation.

Apr 18, 2016 at 9:33 am

NNSA Blog

The first computers to contribute to the nation’s nuclear security work used thousands of vacuum tubes—which resembled fat light bulbs that gave off lots of heat—and consumed 125 kW of power to perform around 1,900 operations per second. This month NNSA’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) received a first-of-its-kind scalable supercomputing platform that can process the equivalent of 16 million neurons and 4 billion synapses and consume the energy equivalent of a hearing aid battery—just 2.5 watts.

The 16-chip IBM TrueNorth platform is “neuromorphic” – modeled after a brain – and capable of pattern recognition and integrated sensory processing. Each of the 16 chips in the system consists of 5.4 billion transistors wired together to create an array of 1 million digital neurons that communicate with one another via 256 million electrical synapses.

The new system will be used to explore new computing capabilities critical to NNSA’s missions through its Advanced Simulation and Computing (ASC) program. ASC is a cornerstone of NNSA’s Stockpile Stewardship Program to ensure the safety, security and reliability of the nation’s nuclear deterrent without underground explosive testing.

“Neuromorphic computing opens very exciting new possibilities and is consistent with what we see as the future of the high performance computing and simulation at the heart of our national security missions,” said Jim Brase, LLNL deputy associate director for Data Science. “The potential capabilities neuromorphic computing represents and the machine intelligence that these will enable will change how we do science.”

Learn more about the new True North system on the LLNL website.

 

Apr 15, 2016 at 9:44 am

From left, NNSA Director of Strategic Planning/Integration Andy Hood, STCU Executive Director Curtis Bjelajac, NNSA Deputy Administrator Anne Harrington, and NNSA Assistant Deputy Administrator Pete Hanlon.

Earlier this month, Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Anne Harrington traveled to Ukraine to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Science and Technology Center in Ukraine (STCU) and visit the Neutron Source Facility at the Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology.

The U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey R. Pyatt; diplomats from Georgia, Moldova, Azerbaijan, and the European Union; STCU Governing Board Chair Eddie Maier; STCU Executive Director Curtis Bjelajac; and Ukraine Deputy Minister for Education and Science Maksym Strikha spoke at the event, noting the center’s history, the 12,000 former Soviet weapon scientists it engaged in peaceful research projects, and the its future role in the region.

The STCU was established under a multilateral agreement in 1993, and became operational in 1995 with a mission to engage former weapons scientists and engineers in research and development for peaceful applications. Since then, the STCU has helped NNSA’s nuclear nonproliferation program implement several initiatives with STCU member states. These included $30 million in joint projects involving U.S. Department of Energy National Laboratory experts and Ukrainian and Georgian scientists. STCU also managed conceptual design studies with Argonne National Laboratory and the Kharkiv Institute for a Neutron Source Facility at the institute.

NNSA continues to play a major role in the center’s effort to address the threat of proliferation of nuclear and radiological materials. Working in close coordination with the State Department and the members of the STCU Governing Board, NNSA is funding several targeted initiatives focused on specific nuclear security priorities, including seismic monitoring, hazard mitigation, and radiological source risk mitigation in well-logging applications.

Harrington, with Assistant Deputy Administrator for Material Management and Minimization Peter Hanlon and Director for Strategic Planning/Integration Andy Hood, also traveled to the Kharkiv Institute to visit the Neutron Source Facility. The NSF is a state-of-the-art experimental facility consisting of an accelerator-driven subcritical assembly using low enriched uranium fuel that will allow for advanced scientific research and medical isotope production when fully operational.

DOE funded the construction of the NSF in exchange for the removal of the remaining 230 kilograms of Russian-origin highly enriched uranium (HEU) from Ukraine prior to the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit.This fulfilled a pledge made at the 2010 Summit.  

This cooperation follows Ukraine’s long and significant history in supporting nuclear nonproliferation. Following the break-up of the Soviet Union, the newly independent Ukraine inherited the third-largest nuclear warhead stockpile in the world. However, in 1994, Ukraine joined the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (as a non-nuclear weapon state and began voluntarily transferring its inherited nuclear weapons to Russia for elimination. Today, Ukraine is one of 29 countries and Taiwan to have eliminated all HEU from its territory through cooperative efforts with the United States.

Apr 14, 2016 at 10:39 am

NNSA Blog

NNSA is focused on the mission first, people always, and NNSA’s people make a difference, both on and off the clock. During National Volunteer Week, we recognize those across the enterprise who are active, energetic, and engaged in their communities. Every day, members of America’s nuclear security enterprise team across the country realize their potential to make a difference by embracing service to others.  

From building wheelchair ramps to starting a middle school robotics program, volunteers and managers at NNSA’s labs and sites are devoted to going the extra mile to make a difference in local communities. NNSA volunteers have given thousands of hours of community service through annual service programs—like Savannah River’s Project Serve and Days of Caring—and educational community outreach for science, technology, math and engineering (STEM)—to include science bowls in Kansas and Nevada, hip-hop physics education, STEM career introductions for young women, and giving away free microscopes.

In addition to giving their time, the workers and leaders of NNSA’s nuclear security enterprise provide material support for a plethora of charitable causes, like United Way in South Carolina and Texas, Coats for Kids, scholarships for college and high school students, pets for veterans, and food for hungry children in both Texas and Nevada.

Learn more about the great work NNSA’s sites and labs are doing in nuclear security and in their local communities, and learn more about National Volunteer Week from the White House.

NNSA team members who work at the Savannah River Site volunteered their time to build a wheelchair ramp for an Aiken, S.C. resident.

In addition to a donation from the M&O partner, volunteers from the Kansas City National Security Campus contributed their time to the Coats for Kids effort.

Nevada National Security Site team members gave their time to raise money for Pets for Vets, a charity that matches veterans with shelter dogs that share their personalities.

 

 

Apr 13, 2016 at 10:00 am

From left, Amanda Quiones of the Department of Energy's Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Joyce Kim of DOE's Office of Electricity Delivery & Energy Reliability, Anne Harrington of NNSA's Office of Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation, and Dr. Sara Richardson of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

NNSA BlogDepartment of Energy employees celebrated the legacy of women trailblazers, past and present, on the morning as Women’s History Month 2016 reached its conclusion at the end of March. With the theme “Working to Form a More Perfect Union: Honoring Women in Public Service and Government,” the event offered a chance to reflect on and honor women who have led the nation in their roles as business, labor, political, and community leaders.

After opening remarks by Deputy Secretary of Energy Dr. Liz Sherwood-Randall, event participants viewed a presentation about introducing young women to STEM, a goal to which NNSA labs contributed earlier this month with a variety of events.

NNSA’s Deputy Administrator for Nuclear Nonproliferation Anne Harrington joined in a panel discussion on “Women on the Rise: STEM and America’s Future,” along with Joyce Kim of DOE’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability,  and panel moderator Amanda Quinones of DOE’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

In keeping with the President’s Women’s History Month proclamation, during March we remember trailblazers of the past, including women who are not recorded in history books, and we honor their legacies by carrying forward the valuable lessons learned from the powerful examples they set. Visit NNSA’s Twitter for more about NNSA #WomeninSTEM

 

Apr 6, 2016 at 11:15 am

NNSA Blog

NNSA activities are vital to detecting nuclear explosions and helping verify compliance with the testing ban worldwide.

Recent developments at NNSA’s Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) will help NNSA meet this commitment. Using computer-generated models and field experiments, LLNL simulates how gases produced from nuclear tests leak out and mix with the air. Using this method, international inspectors can then locate and identify a clandestine underground explosion site within 1,000 square kilometer search areas.

This detection method is especially useful in cases when the site of the underground nuclear test is unknown, since gases from these tests can be carried by winds far from the point of detonation.

The new simulations take information gathered during field experiments conducted as part of CTBTO’s Integrated Field Exercise 2014 and combine it with new data generated by monitoring gases exiting old nuclear explosive cavities in different parts of the world. In addition to helping develop the computer models, the new tests reveal other potential indicators of hidden underground tests that are otherwise difficult to detect during an on-site inspection.

The new tests were performed as part of the multi-laboratory experimental effort, which is supported by NNSA’s Office of Proliferation Detection. Click to read more about the new LLNL techniques, and more about CTBT.

Apr 6, 2016 at 10:31 am

Members of the U.S. delegation, led by Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, were met by Chinese Vice Premier Ma Kai at the Center of Excellence on Nuclear Security in Beijing.

In March, National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Principal Deputy Administrator Madelyn Creedon traveled to China to participate in activities related to NNSA’s cooperative engagement with various Chinese ministries on nuclear security.

Creedon was accompanied by Principal Assistant Deputy Administrator Dave Huizenga and Associate Deputy Administrator Art Atkins. They later joined U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, who was also in China for meetings with Chinese counterparts.

The trip was a great success, according to Creedon. “When it comes to nuclear security, the U.S. and China have a very good relationship,” she said. “I was pleased to visit with colleagues at Customs and the China Atomic Energy Authority, as well as others involved in bilateral efforts with the Department of Energy.”

As part of the trip, the NNSA delegation visited the Port of Yangshan in Shanghai to observe a demonstration of a radiation detection system installed by China’s General Administration of Customs (GACC) with the technical assistance of NNSA. The system is designed to detect and intercept nuclear and other radiological materials.

The Port of Yangshan processes the more than 35 million shipping containers’ worth of cargo each year, making it one of the busiest ports in the world. Currently, the system at the port scans all outgoing cargo for the presence of radiation. GACC, on its own initiative and at its own cost, is expanding the system to cover all cargo entering the port. In addition, it is deploying a similar system to the Port of Tianjin, near Beijing. 

“Our relationship with GACC is particularly strong,” Huizenga said. “They have been a model partner, working jointly with NNSA in the Port of Yangshan and embracing the importance of radiation scanning as a key element of preventing nuclear smuggling. We are encouraged to see GACC implementing and expanding this work to other Chinese ports at their own cost.”

Later in the trip, the NNSA team joined Secretary Moniz in Beijing at the official opening of the Center of Excellence on Nuclear Security (COE). Other attendees included Chinese Vice Premier Ma Kai and representatives from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the European Commission, and several Asian countries. The China Atomic Energy Authority (CAEA) hosted the event.

“When I took part in the groundbreaking ceremony two and a half years ago, I had high expectations for the quality and scale of this Center, and you have exceeded those expectations,” Moniz noted.

Creedon added, “The COE opening capped off the trip. This new facility is truly a world-class venue for nuclear security training and best practices engagement, and I look forward to NNSA’s continued engagement there.”

The center was announced in a joint U.S.-Chinese statement at the first Nuclear Security Summit in April 2010. It will serve China’s domestic nuclear security training needs, offer a forum for sharing best practices, and provide an international venue for demonstrating advanced nuclear security technologies. The COE is a significant Chinese deliverable for the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit, March 31-April 1 in Washington.

The cost of the COE’s development was shared between DOE, the Department of Defense, and CAEA. China paid for the land and the facility. The United States provided technical advice during the design and construction phases and supplied some training equipment. Going forward, DOE and CAEA will continue to partner on curriculum development, train-the-trainer, and nuclear security best practices.

Creedon, middle by window, and the American group listens to a Chinese guide describe the training facility.

Secretary of Energy Moniz, and a group including Creedon (pink jacket) watch part of the dedication ceremonies.

Apr 4, 2016 at 3:00 pm