Savannah River Site (SRS) Tritium Programs recently completed a project to design, build and relocate a new system for separating and capturing helium-3. This form of helium gas is primarily used in radiation detectors employed by the United States Department of Homeland Security to detect neutron activity from nuclear material.

Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, LLC, the management and operations contractor at SRS, is responsible for the recovery and management of helium-3 as one of its key missions for NNSA. The recovery system upgrade project paves the way for a larger initiative to maintain and modernize Tritium operations while reducing operational footprint and costs.

The Tritium Responsive Infrastructure Modifications initiative will leverage technology advancements, so that the large, aging and more expensive processes will move from Cold War-era facilities into newer, smaller and less expensive accommodations, thereby reducing operating expenses by $28 million annually.

Read more about the upgrade.

Helium-3 Cylinder Loading at Savannah River Site

Helium-3 Glove Box at Savannah River Site

Jul 24, 2012 at 2:00 pm

Construction crews prepare to pour concrete at the new High Explosives Pressing Facility (HEPF) project at Pantex this month. Workers have performed several major concrete pours on the site and are beginning to erect the walls of the 45,000-square-foot facility.

The HEPF project, which is being managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, is on budget and on schedule for completion in 2014. The project will combine the operations of half a dozen aging buildings into one state-of-the-art facility, greatly reducing the movement of high explosives at Pantex. Reduced movement benefits safety and also aids in production, as high explosives moves can restrict other plant operations.

Jul 24, 2012 at 11:00 am

NNSA Administrator Thomas D’Agostino yesterday awarded the first ever NNSA Science and Technology Excellence Award to Dr. Michel McCoy from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory for his groundbreaking computer science research and leadership with the Advanced Simulation and Computing program.

The newly-established NNSA Science and Technology Excellence Award is the highest level of recognition for science and technology achievement in NNSA. It recognizes accomplishment that can include vision, leadership, innovation and intellectual contributions. The award is intended to draw attention to the remarkable scientific and technological successes that are achieved by the researchers that support the NNSA mission, and will be awarded at the sole discretion of the administrator.

"Dr. McCoy’s groundbreaking work in the field of computer science and his commitment to the Advanced Simulation and Computing program is unmatched,” said D’Agostino. “The award presented to Dr. McCoy represents our deep commitment to the science and technology that serves the breadth of our national security missions. His leadership, ingenuity and dedication not only helped NNSA’s Sequoia supercomputer become the fastest supercomputer in the world, but also led to discoveries that will define our work for decades to come. We are fortunate to have dedicated professionals like Dr. McCoy who are truly leaders in their fields, and I am proud to have him part of our enterprise.”

Read more about the NNSA Science and Technology Excellence Award.

About the photos:
NNSA Administrator Thomas D’Agostino presents Dr. Michel McCoy from LLNL with the newly-established NNSA Science and Technology Excellence Award.

Jul 20, 2012 at 10:00 am

Y-12 recently honored six small businesses for their exceptional contributions to Y-12’s missions during Fiscal Year 2011. In addition, two Y-12 employees also were acknowledged for their role as small-business advocates.

During the annual Socioeconomic Programs Awards reception, Y-12 highlighted the valuable role small businesses and entrepreneurs play in Y-12’s transformation from the nation’s 20th century Cold War nuclear weapons complex into a 21st century nuclear security enterprise.

Read more about the Y-12 honorees.

Socioeconomic Programs Awards ceremony

About the photo:

Darrel Kohlhorst, president and general manager of B&W Y-12, at right, and Gary Johnson, president of CG Services Corporation, sign a Mentor-Protégé agreement as his wife and CG Services Corporation Vice President Cindy Johnson looks on at the annual Socioeconomic Programs Awards ceremony held at Y-12’s New Hope Center on July 12. CG Services’ capabilities include environmental restoration, waste management, waste transportation and pollution prevention.

Jul 18, 2012 at 4:00 pm

Senior leaders from various agencies are meeting in Kansas City, Mo., this week to take part in Amber Waves 2012, a radiological dispersal device (RDD) exercise series sponsored by DOE and NNSA. Leaders from various counties and federal agencies representing Missouri, Kansas and Iowa are taking part in the incident management table-top exercise. The goal of the exercise is to foster interagency collaboration among federal, state and local organizations. The Federal Radiological Management and Assessment Center, coordinated by DOE/NNSA, is a major player in the exercise.

Amber Waves 2012 emergency exercise

About the photo:

Dave Bowman, NNSA's director or Office of Emergency Response, (fourth from left) takes part in a session of the Amber Waves 2012 emergency exercise.

Jul 18, 2012 at 10:00 am

Photo credit:  Los Alamos National Laboratory

Photo credit:  Los Alamos National Laboratory

In 2007, the Office of Nonproliferation and International Security (NIS) launched the Next Generation Safeguards Initiative (NGSI) to develop the policies, concepts, technologies, expertise, and infrastructure necessary to sustain the international safeguards system as its mission evolves over the next 25 years. One of the major goals of this initiative is to develop the next generation of safeguards professionals who have the qualifications and experience necessary to tackle the emerging challenges facing the nuclear safeguards regime. To meet this goal, the NGSI Human Capital Development subprogram recruits, educates, and trains students from U.S. universities for safeguards positions at the national laboratories, encourages U.S. experts to seek employment at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and supports young and mid-career professionals new to the safeguards field.  To date, the program has sponsored more than 350 undergraduate, graduate, and post-doctoral students in internship and research positions, and provided further safeguards education across the DOE/NNSA National Laboratory complex.

A key focus for the NGSI program is to ensure that incoming staff have the technical and policy expertise necessary to contribute effectively to the international safeguards system. One former intern, Amanda Rynes, spent a summer at Idaho National Laboratory (INL) developing a metric to assess proliferation risk using political, economic, and social factors in addition to technical capability. Through NGSI, she was able to participate in intensive training sessions, tour nuclear facilities, and gain hands-on experience with many of the tools and devices used in safeguards implementation today. She commented that “the NGSI internship program gave me a solid understanding of basic safeguards issues and technologies that I wouldn’t have been able to get anywhere else.” Amanda, who was hired by INL following her internship, is currently on detail to the State Department’s Office of Nuclear Energy, Safety, and Security. She will begin graduate studies at the University of Chicago’s Committee on International Relations in the fall.

NGSI’s unique challenges require the cultivation of professionals from a variety of backgrounds. Evan Wyse, a former intern at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), used his background in economics to research alternative funding strategies available to the IAEA. He will present his findings on possible funding models to supplement the IAEA’s budget at the 2012 Institute for Nuclear Materials Management Annual Meeting. Evan’s background in Arabic has also allowed him to participate in NIS’s international engagement efforts, particularly in the Middle East. After earning his Bachelor’s degree in International Studies and Economics from the University of Washington, he was hired full-time at PNNL, where he conducts economic analyses in a nonproliferation context and continues to support NIS’s international engagement work.

Interested in participating in the NGSI internship program? Contact Melissa Scholz at melissa.scholz@nnsa.doe.gov.

Jul 17, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Directors of ROSATOM and DOE institutes and laboratories

The Russian Federal Nuclear Center recently hosted a meeting of directors of ROSATOM and DOE institute and laboratory directors. Representatives at the meeting discussed cooperation in the areas of nuclear- and energy related scientific research and development. During the past year, there have been multiple technical workshops and meetings to pursue specific ideas for joint work in a broad range of areas that will benefit the U.S. and Russia.

About the photo:

Don Cook, NNSA Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs (second from bottom left) and Anne Harrington, NNSA Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation, (third from bottom left) participated in the meeting that brought together directors of ROSATOM and DOE institutes and laboratories.

Jul 17, 2012 at 10:00 am

NMSBA logoThe New Mexico Small Business Assistance (NMSBA) Program has received the 2012 Manufacturing Advocate of the Year award from the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) under the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The MEP award recognized the program’s “commitment to the business growth and transformation of U.S.-based manufacturing through work in the manufacturing sector.” Specifically, the NMSBA was honored for its significant impact in helping drive new product innovation among New Mexico small businesses and contributing to state economic growth.

NMSBA is a public-private partnership among Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories and the state of New Mexico that connects small business owners with scientists and engineers who give the companies technical assistance. The program provided $4.6 million worth of help last year.

Read the full press release for more information.

Jul 13, 2012 at 3:00 pm

NIF preamplifier beam transport system

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s National Ignition Facility (NIF) made an historic record-breaking laser shot on July 5. The NIF laser system of 192 beams delivered more than 500 trillion watts (terawatts or TW) of peak power and 1.85 megajoules (MJ) of ultraviolet laser light to its target. Five hundred terawatts is 1,000 times more power than the United States uses at any instant in time, and 1.85 megajoules of energy is about 100 times what any other laser regularly produces today.

The shot validated NIF’s most challenging laser performance specifications set in the late 1990s when scientists were planning the world’s most energetic laser facility. Combining extreme levels of energy and peak power on a target in the NIF is a critical requirement for achieving one of physics’ grand challenges — igniting hydrogen fusion fuel in the laboratory and producing more energy than that supplied to the target.

In the historic test, NIF's 192 lasers fired within a few trillionths of a second of each other onto a 2-millimeter-diameter target. The total energy matched the amount requested by shot managers to within better than 1 percent. Additionally, the beam-to-beam uniformity was within 1 percent, making NIF not only the highest energy laser of its kind but the most precise and reproducible.

Read more about NIF's record-breaking laser shot.

About the photo:
A portion of the NIF preamplifier beam transport system. This system transports and resizes the laser beam prior to injection in the main laser. The system precisely controls the energy of each beamline as required for ignition experiments.

Jul 12, 2012 at 4:00 pm

Peter Hanlon, Associate Deputy Administrator for the National Nuclear Security Administration’s office of Fissile Material Disposition, attended a ribbon cutting ceremony at the MOX Technical Support Building at the Savannah River Site yesterday. The technical support building will house security, operations and maintenance staff for the MFFF, and personnel will begin moving into the building next week.

“The completion of the technical support building is another milestone in the progress of the MOX project which will remove surplus weapon-grade plutonium from the U.S. nuclear stockpile,” Hanlon said during the ceremony.

MOX Technical Support Building ribbon cutting ceremony

Jul 12, 2012 at 11:00 am