NNSA Blog

NNSA Blog

The team in front of Los Alamos' Trident Laser Target Chamber. Back, from left: Tom Shimada, Sha-Marie Reid, Adam Sefkow, Miguel Santiago, and Chris Hamilton. Front, from left: Russ Mortensen, Chengkun Huang, Sasi Palaniyappan, Juan Fernandez, Cort Gautier and Randy Johnson.

 

A transformative breakthrough in controlling ion beams allows small-scale laser-plasma accelerators to deliver unprecedented power densities. That development offers benefits in a wide range of applications, including nuclear fusion experiments, cancer treatments, and security scans to detect smuggled nuclear materials.

“In our research, plasma uses the energy stored in its electromagnetic fields to self-organize itself in such a way to reduce the energy-spread of the laser-plasma ion accelerator,” said Sasikumar Palaniyappan of Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Plasma Physics group. “In the past, most of the attempts to solve this problem required active plasma control, which is difficult.”

Laser-plasma accelerators shoot a high-energy laser into a cloud of plasma, releasing a beam of ions, or electrically charged particles, in a fraction of the distance required by conventional accelerators. The laser generates electromagnetic fields in the plasma.

Learn more about it here.

Jan 12, 2016 at 12:00 am

NNSA Blog

The last row of panels at the Whitethorn Solar Facility project site at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California was installed last week. When complete, the 3.3 MW fixed-tilt solar photovoltaic facility will represent the largest DOE/NNSA purchase of solar energy from an onsite facility. Electrical installation will continue for several more weeks, then start-up testing and commissioning will be necessary before commercial operation begins.

Click here to learn more about the project.

Jan 11, 2016 at 1:26 pm

Jan 11, 2016 at 10:00 am

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientist Les Nakae, front, shows off a liquid scintillator detector for measuring neutrons and gamma rays with nanosecond timing, which requires the new theoretical formulations detailed in a recent research paper. Joining him are team members, from left: Neal Snyderman, Jerome Verbeke and Ken Kim. Not shown is Manoj Prasad. Photo by Julie Russell/LLNL

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientists have created a new method for detecting and analyzing fission chains to assess and evaluate nuclear material.

The powerful mathematical tools enable the team to detect, analyze and assess unknown objects containing fissionable material in a wide range of applications, from safeguards and border security, to arms control and counterterrorism. The research appears in a recent edition of the journalNuclear Science and Engineering.

Special nuclear materials (SNM) -- highly enriched uranium (HEU) and plutonium 239 -- are unique among radioactive materials in sustaining neutron-induced fission chain reactions. Only SNM naturally create self-perpetuating fission chain reactions and in turn emit bursts of many neutrons and gamma rays.

Their new methods are designed to exploit the burst timing pattern of neutrons and gamma rays emitted by fission chains in HEU and plutonium. One of the goals is to determine the mass and geometric properties of the unknown material and its configurations.

Learn more about their method.

Jan 8, 2016 at 12:00 am

NNSA Blog
NNSA Administrator Frank Klotz, Dr. Steve Aoki, and Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz.

Colleagues:

It is with mixed emotions that we announce the retirement of Dr. Steve Aoki, Associate Administrator for Counterterrorism and Counterproliferation. Steve officially retired on December 31st after 33 years of Federal service. He served his country at the State Department and the National Security Council, and helped stand up NNSA in 2000. Steve is a valued colleague and a dedicated public servant who will be greatly missed. He made many significant contributions to the public welfare and advanced the national security throughout his distinguished career.

In accordance with NNSA’s succession policy, Jay Tilden will serve as Acting Associate Administrator for Counterterrorism and Counterproliferation. Jay has supported nuclear counterterrorism and incident response at DOE since 1996, and joined NNSA eight years ago as the Intelligence and Security Advisor to the Deputy Under Secretary of Energy for Counterterrorism and Counterproliferation. He has served as the Deputy Associate Administrator for Counterterrorism and Counterproliferation since 2012. Dave Bowman will fill in as the Acting Deputy Associate Administrator. We have extraordinary confidence and trust in both Jay and Dave.

We wish Steve well on his future endeavors, and welcome Jay and Dave to their new roles.

Frank Klotz and Madelyn Creedon
“Mission First, People Always”

Jan 7, 2016 at 5:00 pm

NNSA Blog

This integrated system would store carbon dioxide in an underground reservoir, with concentric rings of horizontal wells confining the pressurized CO2 beneath the caprock. Stored CO2 displaces brine that flows up wells to the surface where it is heated by thermal plants (e.g., solar farms) and reinjected into the reservoir to store thermal energy.

Researchers from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and its partners think they’ve found an answer to storing energy when the wind doesn't blow and the sun isn't shining.

The team’s paper, published in the December issue of Mechanical Engineering magazine, describes a subsurface energy system that could tap geothermal energy, store energy from above-ground sources, and dispatch it to the grid throughout the year like a massive underground battery, while at the same time storing CO2 from fossil-fuel power plants.

Learn more about the "underground battery" here.

Jan 6, 2016 at 2:00 pm

NNSA Blog

About 50 local business leaders made the second of their two annual trips out to Pantex recently, getting the chance to go tour the plant that remains a mystery for some many local residents.

The organization that arranged for the trip, Leadership Amarillo and Canyon, has been going strong for almost 40 years, providing tours of businesses and industries throughout the region for 10 months out of the year.

They kicked off the tour hearing from Pantex Site Manager Michelle Reichert followed by the history of the plant by Interim Historian Monty Schoenhals. Then the group loaded up in their tour bus and drove over to a replica of the first atomic bomb, dubbed “Fat Man,” where they got a group picture.

Read more about the visit.

Jan 5, 2016 at 12:00 am

NNSA Blog

From left: Brad Mattie, Bill Collins, Chris Byrd, Gary Guge and Jake Thompson were instrumental in protecting Y‑12 water quality.

Y‑12 recently received two awards at the 33rd Annual Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry Environment and Energy Conference. Representatives from Y‑12’s Infrastructure and Environmental Compliance groups accepted the awards at the ceremony held at Montgomery Bell State Park.

Y‑12 received the following awards for businesses with more than 250 employees: Water Quality Award and Solid and Hazardous Waste Management Award.

The Water Quality Award recognized Y‑12’s reduced water usage and improved water quality. The Solid and Hazardous Waste Management Award, recognized the Uranium Processing Facility for its sustainable practices. UPF has diverted more than 74 million pounds of material from landfill disposal in FY 2015 and more than 89 million pounds since FY 2013.

Read more about these awards on the Y-12 website.

Jan 5, 2016 at 12:00 am

NNSA Blog

Two NNSA supercomputers—Trinity and Sequoia—are among the top six systems in the world, according to the 46th edition of the twice-yearly TOP500 list of the most powerful supercomputers released this month. Sequoia has been the world’s third most powerful computer since June 2013, while Trinity is new to the top-ten list this fall in sixth place.

NNSA’s newest champion supercomputer was named after the Trinity Test of 1945—the world’s first nuclear detonation. Since the U.S. no longer conducts underground nuclear testing, Trinity’s primary purpose is to enable NNSA perform full-physics, 3-dimensional simulations to assess the nuclear weapons' performance, as their continued mission to ensure the safety, security and effectiveness of the U.S. nuclear deterrent.

Other than Sequoia, among other NNSA supercomputers that have occupied the number one spot on the TOP500 list are Roadrunner, BlueGene/L and ASCI Red.

NNSA set out to build Trinity in July 2014, and the first test beds for the next generation supercomputer were delivered in February 2015.

Click to read more about Trinity, Sequoia and the TOP500 list

Trinity:

NNSA Blog

Sequoia:

NNSA Blog

Jan 4, 2016 at 12:00 pm

NNSA Blog
"I really just love to help people," said Erik Timpson of the National Security Campus in Kansas City. "whether that’s teaching, researching, STEM, being an artist or scientist, being a husband or a dad...all that is just semantics ... I help people.”

National Security Campus Engineer Erik Timpson isn’t your typical engineer; he carries around a bag of supplies ranging from mini-scissors to tape, a flashlight and a wide-array of colored pens and pencils. Always with a new gizmo or gadget to help stimulate the mind for students and employees...Erik himself reminds you of a modern-day, Inspector Gadget.

Timpson followed the path of his father and earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Electrical Engineering with minors in Math, Physics and Biology.

With his doctorate complete, Timpson knew he wanted to focus his extra time towards engagement, outreach and metrology. He became the engagement focus area lead for the People Center of Excellence and increased his involvement with STEM activities.

“I think it is so important to introduce electrical engineering at a young age. I truly believe soon electrical engineer and computer classes will be a part of the elementary curriculum...technology is bound to benefit us.”

Read more about Timpson and the other news at the National Security Campus.

Jan 4, 2016 at 12:00 am