Sequoia, a supercomputer built for NNSA, has been named the fastest in the world by Top500. Operating at 16.32 petaflops (quadrillion floating point operations per second), Sequoia helps monitor the nation's nuclear weapons stockpile by simulating weapons performance in high detail. Simulating weapons performances permits NNSA to ensure the safety, reliability and effectiveness of our nuclear weapons without the use of nuclear explosive testing. The IBM BlueGene/Q system is housed at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

The semi-annual Top500 is an industry standard list that was released June 18 at the International Supercomputing Conference (ISC12) in Hamburg, Germany. The last time a supercomputer from the United States placed number one on the list was November 2009.

Jun 18, 2012 at 2:00 pm

Sandia hardware

Sandia recently upgraded the critical assembly (a small nuclear reactor) in Tech Area 5 to permit a new class of experiments as part of the development of a reactor experiments training course for NNSA. Hardware was designed and installed that allows experiments to safely approach critical conditions by varying the amount of water in the assembly. This provides the capability to simulate a critically accident caused by flooding, something that is at the heart of many safety analyses for the storage of nuclear material across the DOE enterprise.

About the photo:
The upgraded hardware (the large black cylinder to the right) that permits criticality experiments by varying the amount of water in the reactor is shown installed on the Sandia critical assembly in Tech Area 5.

Jun 15, 2012 at 4:00 pm

Pantex volunteers

Pantex engineers Mitchell Jefferis, from left, and Halianne Crawford help camper Peter Keller with a project at the West Texas A&M University Summer Engineering Camp. Engineers from Pantex are volunteering this week to help out at the camp, which is in its fourth year and hosts students as young as 14 who are interested in engineering.

Jun 14, 2012 at 3:00 pm


LANL’s newest facility, the Radiological Laboratory Utility Office Building (RLUOB), is the first to achieve both the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) status and LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

At more than 200,000 square feet, this building is the only radiological facility within the Department of Energy to have attained LEED Gold, which contributes to NNSA's achievement towards the high performance sustainable building goals.

The facility contains laboratories for analytical chemistry and materials characterization of special nuclear material, along with space for offices, training and emergency operations. Its multi-functional purpose makes RLUOB a unique project for which LEED certification was sought.

Click here to read more.

Jun 14, 2012 at 3:00 pm

Y-12 Photo vintage

Y-12 Photo today

Work by 90-year-old photographer Ed Westcott, the federal government’s photographer for Oak Ridge during the Manhattan Project, can be seen throughout the walls of Y-12 National Security Complex buildings and in other locations in Oak Ridge. His work is also featured in A Nuclear Family: Y-12 National Security Complex miniseries which aired on East Tennessee PBS.

During the 1940s, Westcott was charged not only with capturing images of government work under way but also with documenting the daily lives of Oak Ridge’s residents. A 20-ft-high by 50-ft-wide mural of a photograph commonly called “Shift Change” covers part of the north wall of Y-12’s cafeteria in Jack Case Center.

The A Nuclear Family miniseries can be viewed online at http://www.y12.doe.gov/about/history/video.php.

To read more click here.

Jun 13, 2012 at 3:00 pm


Today, the MOX project at the Savannah River Site reached 10 million safe working hours – representative of nearly two years of continuous work during heavy construction without a lost workday.

”The first construction project of its kind in the United States, the MOX project is being executed with precision and safety because of the shared commitment between everyone involved to successfully completing the mission while making safety the first priority,” said Clay Ramsey, NNSA federal project director. “To reach this milestone during such a heightened level of construction is a remarkable achievement.”  

Read the press release here.

Jun 13, 2012 at 2:00 pm

The May 2012 NNSA quarterly summary of experiments conducted as part of its science-based stockpile stewardship program is now available here.

The quarterly summary prepared by NNSA’s Office of Defense Programs provides descriptions of key NNSA facilities that conduct stockpile stewardship experiments. These include some of the most sophisticated scientific research facilities in the world including, the Dual Axis Radiographic Hydrodynamic Test (DARHT) facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory, National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and the Z machine at Sandia National Laboratories. The summary also provides the number of experiments performed at each facility during each quarter of the fiscal year.

The U.S. Stockpile Stewardship Program is a robust program of scientific inquiry used to sustain and assess the nuclear weapons stockpile without the use of underground nuclear tests. The experiments carried out within the program are used in combination with complex computational models and NNSA’s Advanced Simulation and Computing (ASC) Program to assess the safety, security and effectiveness of the stockpile. An extraordinary set of science, technology and engineering (ST&E) facilities have been established in support of the stockpile stewardship program.

Jun 13, 2012 at 1:00 pm

The NNSA 2012 Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) Program Symposium was held today in Washington, DC. The event, "Discovery and Innovation for National Security," featured keynote presentations by Dr. Charles Shank, inventor of the DFB laser and former Director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and Dr. Norman Augustine, retired Chairman and CEO of Lockheed Martin Corporation. Thomas Kalil, Deputy Director for Policy for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), discussed the White House priorities for science, technology, and Innovation. Neile Miller, Principal Deputy Administrator for NNSA, provided a DOE/NNSA perspective of the NNSA TriLab LDRD program.

Jun 12, 2012 at 4:00 pm


Red Storm, a massively parallel processing supercomputer, was recently decommissioned at Sandia National Laboratories. Red Storm was part of NNSA's Advanced Simulation & Computing (ASC) supercomputer program and helped monopolize world computing records.

Red Storm was designed by Sandia and Cray, Inc., to address the highly complex nuclear weapons stockpile computing problems. Red Storm allowed modeling and simulation of complex problems in nuclear weapons stockpile stewardship that were thought impractical, if not impossible.

Red Storm was used to run simulations during Operation Burnt Frost, a U.S. military operation, to intercept and destroy a nonfunctioning U.S. satellite before it could reenter the atmosphere and release its potentially toxic fuel supply.

To read more about the stand down of Red Storm see:


Jun 11, 2012 at 2:00 pm

White House Science Advisor John Holdren

White House Science Advisor John Holdren, right, and Gilbert Herrera, director of Sandia National Laboratories’ microsystems technology center, during a tour of Sandia’s Microsystems and Engineering Sciences Applications (MESA) facility. During his June 7 visit to Sandia, Holdren was briefed on a wide range of Labs’ capabilities. Holdren is the senior advisor to President Barack Obama on science and technology issues through his roles as Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Co-Chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

Jun 11, 2012 at 11:00 am