NNSA Blog

Sandia California researchers Irina Tezaur and Ray Tuminaro analyze a model of Antarctica. They are part of a Sandia team working to improve the reliability and efficiency of computational models that describe ice sheet behavior and dynamics.

The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets will make a dominant contribution to 21st century sea-level rise if current climate trends continue. However, predicting the expected loss of ice sheet mass is difficult due to the complexity of modeling ice sheet behavior.

To better understand this loss, a team of Sandia National Laboratories researchers has been improving the reliability and efficiency of computational models that describe ice sheet behavior and dynamics.

This research is part of a five-year project called Predicting Ice Sheet and Climate Evolution at Extreme Scales (PISCEES), funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Scientific Discovery through Advanced Computing (SciDAC) program. PISCEES is a multi-lab, multi-university endeavor that includes researchers from Sandia, Los Alamos, Lawrence Berkeley and Oak Ridge national laboratories, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Florida State University, the University of Bristol, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of South Carolina and New York University.

Sandia’s biggest contribution to PISCEES has been an analysis tool, a land-ice solver called Albany/FELIX (Finite Elements for Land Ice eXperiments). The tool is based on equations that simulate ice flow over the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets and is being coupled to Earth models through the Accelerated Climate for Energy project.

Read more.

Mar 2, 2016 at 1:00 am

WASHINGTON, DC — Lt. Gen. Frank Klotz (Ret.), Administrator of the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration, hosted two members of the New Mexico congressional delegation on Feb. 18 for a tour of the aging facilities occupied by 1,200 NNSA employees at the Albuquerque Complex on Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico.

“NNSA’s missions—to maintain a safe, secure, and effective nuclear deterrent; to reduce global dangers from nuclear and radiological threats; and to power our nuclear Navy—are critical to protecting America's national security interests,” Klotz said following the tour. “Unfortunately, our highly talented and dedicated employees in Albuquerque are forced to work in substandard conditions at facilities that are decades old and inadequate for our current mission. The President's Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Request asks Congress to continue authorizing and appropriating the funds needed to design and construct a new facility for NNSA and other DOE employees in Albuquerque. A quality workforce deserves a quality workspace.”

Klotz told Sen. Martin Heinrich and Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham that the existing site does not meet the same facility standards maintained at other NNSA facilities. Portions of the current facility, a former military barracks, date back to the early 1950s and are in poor condition. Because of the age of the buildings, routine maintenance is costly and inefficient. He said construction of a new facility at Kirtland would allow for modern and efficient office space that will improve productivity, morale, and retention.

“The current NNSA Albuquerque Complex is too large, too old, and too costly to continue to effectively meet the needs of the agency,” Sen. Heinrich said after the tour of the current complex. “NNSA maintains the safety and security of our nation's nuclear deterrent, and their 1,200 NNSA employees who work here deserve a modern facility. I was proud to help secure more than $10 million for engineering and design of a new complex and look forward to seeing the new facilities take shape in the coming years."

“The 1,200 employees of the NNSA here at the Albuquerque complex perform some of the most important work on behalf of our national security mission,” said Rep. Grisham. “I appreciate what they do. I also appreciate the need to modernize the infrastructure and facilities where these employees work. Some facilities are over 60 years old with safety, health and quality of life concerns."

The Albuquerque Complex houses staff who support a wide variety of NNSA programs and offices including the Office of Secure Transportation, emergency operations, defense programs, management and budget, acquisition and project management, and nuclear security.

Feb 26, 2016 at 2:00 pm

NNSA Blog

Y-12’s Site Manager Bill Tindal (right) presents a $10,000 donation to East Tennessee Children’s Hospital CEO Keith Goodwin in support of the hospital’s capital campaign.

NNSA’s management and operations partner Consolidated Nuclear Security (CNS) continued its legacy of community giving this month with a $10,000 donation to the East Tennessee Children’s Hospital expansion project. CNS manages NNSA’s Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas, and Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn.

CNS, Y-12, and employees are consistently invested in the local community, including donations of school supplies, giving for a children’s museum, and STEM outreach. This latest contribution will help expand services for children with chronic conditions such as cystic fibrosis and other special needs. The expansion will include 44 private neonatal intensive care unit rooms and a rooftop garden, and is expected to be completed in two years.

Annually, East Tennessee Children’s Hospital admits about 6,000 patients, sees 70,000 emergency patients, and performs about 12,000 surgeries along with 150,000 tests and physician office visits, according to the hospital’s website.

Watch the progress of the construction and learn more about the expansion, now supported in part by CNS, live here. Read more about CNS’ contribution here.

Feb 26, 2016 at 11:00 am

One of the gravest threats the world faces is the possibility that terrorists will acquire nuclear weapons or the necessary materials to construct a weapon. Part of the work of NNSA’s Office of Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation and the national laboratories is to support investigations into the diversion, trafficking, or illicit use of those materials using laboratory analysis and characterization of nuclear materials, commonly known as nuclear forensics.

This month, analytical chemists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) explain nuclear forensics in the cover feature article of the journal Analytical Chemistry. The publication’s podcast also features an interview one of the paper’s authors, LLNL Nuclear Forensics/Materials Analysis Associate Program Leader Michael J. Kristo.

What distinguishes nuclear forensics from traditional forensics, Kristo said, is the specific questions it is intended to answer.

“What is the material? What was its intended use? Where was the material last processed? Where might it have been produced or stored? And who might have been associated with the material?” Kristo said. “Analytical chemistry is employed throughout the process to make measurements of materials chemical and physical properties and composition to allow investigators to draw nuclear forensic conclusions relevant to those questions.”

The paper explains that because there is not currently any single method for identifying all unknown nuclear materials for forensic purposes, scientists must gather different types of information using multiple analytical techniques. The authors demonstrate the importance of nuclear forensics and the work NNSA and its labs do by detailing two occasions in which LLNL’s analytical chemistry techniques helped identify and trace the origins of nuclear material in international incidents.

Read the article in Analytical Chemistry here, and learn more about LLNL’s analytical chemists here.

Feb 25, 2016 at 3:19 pm

NNSA Blog

The team from Amarillo's Ascension Academy won $1,000 for the school science department and an all-expenses paid trip to Washington, D.C. and the national competition

More than 200 students from 25 Middle and Junior High schools across the Texas Panhandle gathered together for a meeting and competition of the minds: Science Bowl 2016.

Set up like a game show with buzzers, toss up and bonus questions, these groups of 4 students with one substitute, were challenged by the questions and their counterparts at the Pantex Regional Middle School Science Bowl at West Texas A&M University.

The questions were based on subjects from life science, physical science, earth and space science, energy and mathematics… and these questions weren’t typical of what your mom and dad learned in school. Each round consisted of a moderator, timekeeper, rules judge and science judge in case questions and answers were challenged. All in all, a very serious competition based in the world of science and math.

Ascension Academy took home top honors, winning $1,000 for their science department and an all-expenses paid trip to Washington, D.C. and the national competition.

Borger Middle School Team Red earned $500 for their school by garnering second place  and St. Andrews Episcopal School Team Red placed third, earning $250.

Pantex, which had about 100 volunteers staffing the event, has sponsored the regional competitions for more than 20 years with a goal to educate students.

Feb 24, 2016 at 1:00 am

NNSA Blog

Part of NNSA’s commitment to maintaining the nation’s safe, secure, and effective nuclear deterrent are relentlessly high standards for technically capable nuclear enterprise personnel qualifications for all aspects of Defense Nuclear Facility operations. In December 2015, the Department of Energy (DOE) granted Technical Qualification Program (TQP) Accreditation to NNSA’s Office of Safety (NA-51) for superior knowledge, skills, and abilities in technical personnel support, management, oversight, and operation of defense nuclear facilities.

Deputy Secretary Liz Sherwood-Randall presented NNSA’s Office of the Deputy Associate Administrator for Safety with the TQP accreditation plaques in a ceremony at DOE/NNSA headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Sherwood-Randall recognized NNSA’s Office of Safety as the first TQP-accredited DOE headquarters organization since the program’s inception in the early 1990s. TQP accreditation signifies an organization’s desire to further enhance technical capabilities and continuously improve performance in defense nuclear facility technical personnel qualification activities. The NNSA Office of Safety joins four other previous TQP-accredited NNSA organizations: the former Y-12 Site Office, Sandia Field Office, the former NNSA Service Center, and the Nevada Field Office.

It was NA-51’s rigorous commitment and pursuit of headquarters leadership in nuclear security enterprise technical personnel defense nuclear facility safety qualifications that pushed DOE’s unanimous TQP Accreditation Board approval of the TQP accreditation, according to the Deputy Secretary. 

Sherwood-Randall commended two NNSA employees who were responsible for aggressively pursuing the accreditation. Deputy Chair, DOE Federal Technical Capability Panel and senior advisor to the NNSA Office of Safety Capt. Dave Chaney, USN (Ret.)/Esq., and TQP Coordinator for the NNSA Office of Safety, Infrastructure, and Operations Shari Crandell received the plaques on behalf of NNSA commemorating the accreditation.

Learn more about DOE nuclear and facility safety directives here.

 

Feb 23, 2016 at 1:00 pm

NNSA Blog

Pantex Emergency Services now uses the Emergency Management Information System, or EMInS. From left: Maribel Martinez, Brenda Graham and Greg Roddahl.

One of NNSA’s missions is emergency response, so it only makes sense that our sites and labs excel at emergency management on the local level. When an emergency strikes, communicating accurate and timely information is essential to effective response and resource management. Thanks to a system newly implemented at NNSA’s Pantex Plant, superior coordination efforts are the new normal at two NNSA sites—Pantex and Y-12.

The Emergency Management Information System, or EMInS, is a computerized system to manage disaster response. It pulls together meteorological data, site maps, building and material guides, video capabilities, and status boards. EMInS also gives responders in the field an easy means of communicating multifaceted, real-time information with emergency managers in operations centers and other locations.

During its initial implementation at Y-12, site communicators improved the system by adding public information functionality, including social media updates.

“This is all a result of our collaborative team scrutinizing every step and questioning how we could do things better,” said Steven Wyatt, NNSA Production Office public affairs manager about the Y-12 implementation. “EMInS is perfect for delivering information as quickly as possible. Now we’re sharing our successes with sites around the Nuclear Security Enterprise.”

In bringing the system to Pantex, emergency managers are including local responders in cooperative emergency planning. The collaboration via EMInS will help NNSA sites and the local community remain ready in case of an emergency, and effectively communicative during both drills and real events.

Read more about the system’s new implementation at Pantex here.

Feb 23, 2016 at 1:00 am

NNSA Blog

The micro-architectured, ultra-lightweight supercapacitor material is able to retain energy on par with those made with electrodes 10 to 100 times thinner.

For the first time ever, scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and UC Santa Cruz have successfully 3D-printed supercapacitors using an ultra-lightweight graphene aerogel, opening the door to novel, unconstrained designs of highly efficient energy storage systems for smartphones, wearables, implantable devices, electric cars and wireless sensors.

Using a 3D-printing process called direct-ink writing and a graphene-oxide composite ink designed at the Lab, the LLNL team was able to print micro-architected electrodes and build supercapacitors able to retain energy on par with those made with electrodes 10 to 100 times thinner.

Learn more about this breakthrough.

Feb 22, 2016 at 1:00 am

NNSA Blog

From left, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researchers Ibo Matthews, a principal investigator leading the lab’s effort on the joint open source software project; Wayne King, director of the Accelerated Certification of Additively Manufactured Metals Initiative; and Gabe Guss, engineering associate — examine a 3D-printed part manufactured using the selective laser melting process.

While the most common method of metal 3D printing is growing exponentially, moving forward from producing prototypes to manufacturing critical parts will only be possible by reaching a fundamental understanding of the complex physics behind the process, according to a new paper authored by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) researchers. 

The powder bed fusion process, also known as selective laser melting (SLM), requires thin layers of a metal powder to be spread across a build area, where they are fused by a laser or electron beam based on a 3D computer-aided design (CAD) model. The process is repeated until a part is produced, layer-by-layer from the bottom up.

Even though the method has quickly progressed into a production technology, 3D printing of metal parts (also known as metal additive manufacturing) for industries such as aerospace and health care is hampered, according to the LLNL’s Wayne King, by a lack of confidence in the finished parts. This hurdle, he said, can be overcome by a combination of physics-based modeling and high-performance computing to determine the optimal parameters for building each part.

Learn more about it at this link.

Feb 19, 2016 at 1:00 am

NNSA Blog

The Supply Chain Management Center (SCMC) has been an important tool for NNSA to save taxpayer dollars. At the event on Feb. 18, NNSA leadership and the New Mexico congressional delegation were well represented. From left, Scott Bissen, SCMC Director; Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM); NNSA Administrator Frank Klotz; Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM); Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM); Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM); Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM); and Mark Holecek, manager of NNSA's Kansas City Field Office.

In 2006 NNSA established the Supply Chain Management Center (SCMC) to pool spending across the Nuclear Security Enterprise on commodity purchases such as office supplies, commercial software, travel and safety glasses.

This week the SCMC hosted several current and potential small business partners in New Mexico to generate dialogue about the tools used by SCMC and how local small businesses can engage with NNSA and broader DOE opportunities. About 350 people attended with 15 persons watching online. In addition, the SCMC website trended up with eight suppliers submitting applications online.

Since its inception, the SCMC has awarded over 60 percent of its agreements to small businesses and just last fiscal year NNSA contractors saved the taxpayer over $185 million – and more than $600 million since its inception -- by using SCMC tools and agreements and other strategic sourcing efforts. 

New Mexico and its local communities are important to the NNSA in small business engagement, economic health, and employment at Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories. There have been many successful small business engagements, including a $200 million national-level agreement for Dell computers awarded to Wildflower International of Santa Fe and a $35 million, multi-year regional agreement for industrial supplies awarded to Frank’s Supply Company, a local, woman-owned small business.

NNSA looks forward to many more such success stories.

NNSA Blog

At the SCMC event, Klotz had a chance to chat with Mayor Richard J. Berry of Albuquerque.

NNSA Blog

Gen. Klotz, Mayor Berry and Kay Carrico of the National Association of Women Business Owners-Northern New Mexico visited at the SCMC event.

Feb 18, 2016 at 12:00 pm