Thanks to research at Sandia National Laboratories, magnetically imploded tubes called liners, intended to help produce controlled nuclear fusion at scientific “break-even” energies or better within the next few years, have functioned successfully in preliminary tests.

The work, funded by Sandia’s Laboratory Directed Research and Development program and NNSA, has been accepted for publication by Physical Review Letters (PRL).

To exceed scientific break-even is the most hotly sought-after goal of fusion research, in which the energy released by a fusion reaction is greater than the energy put into it — an achievement that would have extraordinary energy and defense implications.

That the liners survived their electromagnetic drubbing is a key step in stimulating further Sandia testing of a concept called MagLIF (Magnetized Liner Inertial Fusion), which will use magnetic fields and laser pre-heating in the quest for energetic fusion.

In the dry-run experiments just completed, cylindrical beryllium liners remained reasonably intact as they were imploded by huge magnetic field of Sandia’s Z machine, the world’s most powerful pulsed-power accelerator. Had they overly distorted, they would have proven themselves incapable of shoveling together nuclear fuel — deuterium and possibly tritium — to the point of fusing them. Sandia researchers expect to add deuterium fuel in experiments scheduled for 2013.

Read about the liners.

Sandia researcher Ryan McBride

About the photo:
Sandia researcher Ryan McBride pays close attention to the tiny central beryllium liner to be imploded by the powerful magnetic field generated by Sandia’s Z machine. The larger cylinders forming a circle on the exterior of the base plate measure Z’s load current by picking up the generated magnetic field. (Photo by Randy Montoya)

Sep 17, 2012 at 12:00 pm


NNSA’s Chief Technology Officer Travis Howerton, and M&O Chief Technology Officer Anil Karmel, recently participated in the VMworld 2012 conference in San Francisco. Howerton and Karmel delivered a presentation that detailed NNSA’s new cloud computing solution, YOURcloud, due to roll out later this year.

YOURcloud will provide NNSA with its own cloud computing environment to manage data more securely, efficiently and effectively. During the conference, both officials shared with several hundred people how they have worked with industry partners to leverage existing marketplace solutions to engineer a result that will cater to the agency’s specific needs.

In keeping with President Obama’s vision for a Digital Government, the NNSA Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) is working in partnership with the Department of Energy OCIO and other NNSA labs to modernize IT infrastructure, drive down costs and secure networks to better enable the agency’s mission.NNSA Blog


Here are some highlights from last week’s presentation:

YOURcloud’s service broker model: “Think travel search engine meets cloud server creation. Users will be able to input their server requirements into a dashboard tool developed specifically for NNSA, and then get options for solutions that best match their criteria sorted by price and performance. This will cut the traditional server spin up process from 30 days to 30 minutes, saving both time and money.”

YOURcloud service broker enclaves: “YOURcloud will provide a secure hybrid community cloud containing service broker enclaves. This ‘cloud of clouds’ model allows enclaves to be partitioned to allow an organization to use one cloud, while protecting sensitive data from users who lack the credentials to access the information.”

Sep 14, 2012 at 1:00 pm

Members of NNSA Radiological Assistance Teams (RAP) attended intensive training classes this week in Albuquerque, N.M. In the exercise scenario, a vehicle deliberately crashed into the side of an NNSA Office of Secure Transportation tractor-trailer rig on Interstate-25 in Albuquerque. The training sessions are held four times a year. The training exercise involved OST federal agents, RAP team members from throughout the U.S., FBI agents, the State of New Mexico and Albuquerque law enforcement and fire officials. A team from the Argonne National laboratory Risk Communication and Management Center for Integrated Emergency Preparedness provided mock media support for the training. The training was coordinated by RAP Region 4 RAP federal team leader Kent Gray.

News Conference Prep News conference prep:  Members of the unified command at an NNSA Radiological Assistance Program (RAP) training exercise in Albuquerque prepare for a mock news conference to answer questions about the scenario.

Mock News Conference
Mock news conference: Pictured here (from left) are Johnafred Thomas, RAP Region 2 Team Captain; Doug Hildebrand, RAP Region 8 Team Leader; and representatives of the New Mexico State Police, the FBI and the State of New Mexico during a mock news conference.

Sep 13, 2012 at 1:00 pm

For the 3,600 proud Americans working at Pantex on that fateful day, the events of September, 11, 2001, can never be forgotten. The impact of the airliners crashing into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and an open field in Pennsylvania reverberated at the nuclear weapons plant near Amarillo, Texas. The nation that Pantexans had worked to defend for more than 50 years had been attacked.

11 years later, in a ceremony outside the Pantex Fire Department, a memorial was dedicated that will ensure the memories of that terrible day will long outlive us all. Etched in marble, flanked by two quartz towers and topped with a piece of steel from the World Trade Center, the memorial to all who lost their lives in the attack has now become a permanent part of the landscape at Pantex.

“9/11 has become a day of special commemoration across our nation,” said B&W Pantex General Manager John Woolery, speaking at the dedication. “Taking the time to remember the tragic events and the loss of life has been woven into the fabric of our lives, and we should never forget that day.”

Pantex Fire Department Battalion Chief Donavon Morgan led the initiative to acquire the 100-pound, 42-inch steel beam that was the centerpiece of the memorial. The steel, which was sent to Pantex by the New York/New Jersey Port Authority, was placed on top of the 1,600 pound monument at the end of the ceremony Tuesday.

Mark Padilla, Assistant Manager for Programs and Projects with the NNSA Production Office (NPO), also spoke at the ceremony, capturing the emotion of Sept. 11.

“It is extremely appropriate that we place this memorial in front of the building that houses our first responders, because it serves as a symbol of our gratitude for the service they provide to this plant,” Padilla said. “It also serves as a bridge between our first responders and the first responders who gave their lives on that fateful day.”

The ceremony featured the Pantex Honor Guard presenting the colors and lowering them to half-staff, followed by the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance and a moment of silence for those who died. Following comments by Pantex leadership, Pantex Security Police Officer Jamie Johnson sang “America the Beautiful” before the steel was placed in the memorial. Two smaller pieces of steel in display cases were presented to Woolery and Padilla for display at B&W Pantex and NPO offices.

About the photos:
A memorial in honor of the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks is dedicated at Pantex Tuesday. The memorial, which features a steel beam recovered from the rubble of the World Trade Center, was built in front of the Pantex Fire Department.

Sep 11, 2012 at 3:00 pm

NNSA BlogA new website has been created that provides location-based radiation dose estimate reports for adults and children comprised of the Department of Defense (DoD)-affiliated population on or near mainland Japan following the earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011.

Data for the Operation Tomodachi Registry was collected and provided by NNSA following the incident.

DoD-affiliated members who were in Japan during the nuclear reactor crisis, medical providers, and the public at large will be able to download location-based radiation dose estimate reports from the website. These reports include medical interpretations and provide comparisons of the Operation Tomodachi radiation doses with more commonly experienced radiation doses.  

See the registry for additional details.

Sep 6, 2012 at 9:00 am

The Weapon Intern Program last week held its graduation ceremony at Sandia National Laboratories. Don Cook, Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs, addressed the graduating class and thanked the interns for their dedication to the national nuclear enterprise.

The nuclear weapons mission requires the transfer of decades of nuclear weapon-related knowledge and experience to new generations of nuclear weaponeers. The program is structured to significantly accelerate this process.

Since its inception, almost 300 individuals from the nation’s weapons community have gone through the program. Through a combination of classroom study taught by active and retired weaponeers, site visits, and individual and team projects, weapon interns have honed their skills, broadened their knowledge base, and expanded their network of colleagues in the nuclear weapons community.

Read more about the Weapon Intern Program (page 4).

About the photos:
Don Cook, Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs, addresses the Weapon Intern Program.

Weapon Intern Program Graduating class.

Geoff Beausoleil, Sandia Site Office Manager, Jerry McDowell, Sandia Deputy Laboratories Director and Executive Vice President for National Security Programs, and Don Cook, Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs, attended the ceremony.

Sep 4, 2012 at 10:00 am

Jim Haynes displays the congratulatory plaque given to Y-12 Construction

A celebration was held yesterday to mark the safety milestone of Y-12’s Direct-Hire Construction team for working one million hours, covering a 633-day period, without a lost-time injury. Some 285 people including building trade crafts, non-manual staff and escorts worked without a lost-time accident during this period. The Construction team’s last lost workday was in September 2010.

Y‑12 Direct-Hire Construction craft worked on more than 125 projects and supported another 35 subcontracted projects important to the Y‑12 mission.

Read about the one million-hour milestone.

About the photos:
Jim Haynes, B&W Y-12 senior vice president and deputy general manager for projects, displays the congratulatory plaque given to Y-12 Construction and the Knoxville Building and Construction Trades Council for accomplishing 1 million safe man-hours.

Aug 31, 2012 at 9:00 am

This week, a NNSA helicopter has been flying at a low-level altitude over portions of California's Bay Area. The helicopter crew has been taking measurements of naturally-occurring background radiation. The survey is expected to be completed on Saturday, Sept. 1.

The flyovers are a part of a joint research project between NNSA and the Department of Homeland Security’s Domestic Nuclear Detection Office. NNSA’s twin-engine Bell 412 helicopter is operated by the Remote Sensing Laboratory Aerial Measuring System in Las Vegas, Nev.

Photo by Victor Negut, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Aug 29, 2012 at 2:00 am

NNSA’s Global Threat Reduction Initiative holds a Feds Feeds Family face-off

In support of DOE/NNSA’s efforts to support the Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) Feds Feed Families campaign to collect non-perishable food items for food banks across the country, NNSA’s Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI) holds a Feds Feed Families face-off. The face-off is a friendly intra-office competition to see who between the three GTRI program offices can bring in the most donations for local families in need. This year, GTRI’s Office of European and African Threat Reduction won the face-off with a donation of 416.5 pounds of food. Most importantly, GTRI as a whole shattered its goal of 700 pounds, donating 1115.6 pounds of food to Washington, D.C., area food banks.

About the photo:
GTRI’s Office of European and African Threat Reduction won this year’s Feds Feed Families face-off.

Aug 28, 2012 at 1:00 pm

Project Manager Janice Clark gives a safety briefing.

NNSA’s Pantex Plant took a significant step toward energy modernization last week by installing new metering technology at its steam plant.

Electric and gas meters were installed on the steam plant’s utilities to provide detailed data on energy usage, which will then provide the information needed to reduce energy intensity.

Pantex has been aggressively executing the metering plan along with dozens of other energy and environmental initiatives, establishing itself as a leader within the nuclear security enterprise.

Read more about Pantex’s new meters.

About the photo:
Project Manager Janice Clark, right, points out potential hazards during a safety briefing prior to the installation of electric and gas meters at the Pantex Steam Plant. Workers installed the “smart meters” in the steam plant, which uses over half the energy consumed on the site, as part of an effort to better track and control energy usage.

Aug 27, 2012 at 11:00 am