NNSA Blog

John Bounds, Los Alamos National Laboratory

A new concept for a reliable nuclear reactor that could be used on space flights has been demonstrated by a team of researchers, including engineers from Los Alamos National Laboratory.

The research team recently demonstrated the first use of a heat pipe to cool a small nuclear reactor and power a Stirling engine at the Nevada National Security Site’s Device Assembly Facility near Las Vegas. The Demonstration Using Flattop Fissions (DUFF) experiment produced 24 watts of electricity. A team of engineers from Los Alamos, the NASA Glenn Research Center and National Security Technologies LLC (NSTec) conducted the experiment.

A heat pipe is a sealed tube with an internal fluid that can efficiently transfer heat produced by a reactor with no moving parts. A Stirling engine is a relatively simple closed-loop engine that converts heat energy into electrical power using a pressurized gas to move a piston. Using the two devices in tandem allowed for creation of a simple, reliable electric power supply that can be adapted for space applications.

Read about the work.

See animation of the new reactor concept.

About the photo:
John Bounds of Los Alamos National Laboratory's Advanced Nuclear Technology Division makes final adjustments on the DUFF experiment, a demonstration of a simple, robust fission reactor prototype that could be used as a power system for space travel. DUFF is the first demonstration of a space nuclear reactor system to produce electricity in the United States since 1965.

Nov 26, 2012 at 4:00 pm

Three distinguished members of Los Alamos National Laboratory scientific staff are being honored with appointments as Laboratory Fellows for 2012. They are Charles Farrar, Steven Elliott and Mikhail Shashkov.

LANL Fellows are selected for sustained, high-level achievements in programs of importance to LANL and for making a fundamental or important discovery that has led to widespread use. In addition, a Fellow must be a recognized authority in the field, indicated by outside recognition and an outstanding record of publications.

Read more about the new LANL Fellows.

Charles Farrar, LANL FellowMikhail Shashkov, LANL FellowSteven Elliott, LANL Fellow

From left to right, Charles Farrar, Mikhail Shashkov and Steven Elliott.

Nov 20, 2012 at 4:00 pm

NNSA Blog

B&W Pantex was recently honored for its charitable giving during National Philanthropy Day ceremonies in Amarillo, Tex.

John Woolery, B&W Pantex General Manager, accepted the Outstanding Business/Corporation Award on behalf of Pantex from the Texas Plains Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

The award pointed out the generous support of Pantexans for the Coffee Memorial Blood Center, which held a total of 24 blood drives at the plant and collected more than 750 units of blood last year. Pantex was also praised for support of the United Way of Amarillo and Canyon, High Plains Food Bank, Family Support Services, the Discovery Center, Big Brothers Big Sisters and several other agencies.

About the photo:
B&W Pantex General Manager John Woolery receives the Outstanding Business/Corporation Award on behalf of Pantex.

Nov 20, 2012 at 4:00 pm

B&W Pantex was honored last week with a pair of awards for its exemplary safety record.

The President’s Award for Best Performing Business Unit and the Target Zero Award were presented on behalf of Babcock and Wilcox Technical Services Group (B&W TSG) President George Dudich. “I am happy to honor the thousands of men and women who do the critical work at Pantex with such a high commitment to safety,” Dudich said.

The President’s Award is presented to the large site that demonstrates “Best in Class” safety performance, while the Target Zero Award goes to sites that complete the year without a lost time injury.

“The key to the outstanding safety performance at Pantex is employee involvement. Pantex employees lead numerous safety committees and initiatives,” said B&W Pantex General Manager John Woolery.

During 2012, Pantexans worked more than seven million man hours without a lost time injury and continue to lead the nuclear security enterprise in several measures of safety.

Earlier this year, Pantex was also honored with the Department of Energy’s Voluntary Protection Program’s Star of Excellence.

Nov 20, 2012 at 1:00 pm

Ray Rempe, KCP employee for 55 yearsIn the summer of 1957, a postage stamp cost three cents, Russia launched the first earth-orbiting satellite, Leave it to Beaver premiered on CBS, and Ray Rempe embarked on his career as a draftsman at the Kansas City Plant. Now, 55 years later, Ray is still serving the same customer as a Senior CAD Designer to help support national security for NNSA.

A lot of things have changed in technology and in Kansas City since Rempe joined the company.

Rempe says he’s enjoyed designing circuits when it was done on the board. “We drew designs on paper or Mylar,” he said. “That changed dramatically in 1975 when we went to computers. Now we draw circuits using a CAD system, and I like that even more. Circuit boards are now much smaller and more intricate and sophisticated."

Nov 19, 2012 at 3:00 pm

NNSA Blog

Supercomputer simulations of blast waves on the brain are being compared with clinical studies of veterans suffering from mild traumatic brain injuries by researchers at Sandia National Laboratories and University of New Mexico. The intent is to help improve helmet designs.

The research team hopes to identify threshold levels of stress and energy on which better military and sports helmet designs could be based. They could be used to program sensors placed on helmets to show whether a blast is strong enough to cause injuries.

Read about the work.

About the photo:
Each millimeter square in this model represents the type of tissue in that square. Sandia and UNM researchers are comparing supercomputer simulations of the physical effects of blast waves on the brain with Ford's analyses of patients who have suffered such injuries. (Photo by Randy Montoya)

Nov 19, 2012 at 9:00 am

NNSA’s Sequoia supercomputer, housed at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, is ready to shake out and fully develop its capabilities required to fulfill its national security missions, starting early next year.

Researchers from NNSA's three nuclear weapons laboratories are testing Sequoia's power and versatility by running unclassified science codes relevant to NNSA missions. Science being explored by Lawrence Livermore researchers includes high energy density plasmas and the electronic structure of heavy metals.

The early science runs are part of the "shakeout" of the 20-petaflop peak IBM BlueGene/Q system, which will transition in March 2013 to classified work for NNSA's Advanced Simulation and Computing program, a cornerstone of the effort to ensure the safety, security and effectiveness of the nation's nuclear deterrent without underground testing. Sequoia's mammoth computational power will be used to assess physical weapons systems and provide a more accurate atomic-level understanding of the behavior of materials in the extreme conditions present in a nuclear weapon.

Read more about Sequoia.

Sequoia

Nov 15, 2012 at 3:00 pm

Criticality safety expert Michaele C. “Mikey” Brady RaapCriticality safety expert Michaele C. “Mikey” Brady Raap, from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, was recently appointed a member of the U.S. Department of Energy Criticality Safety Support Group (CSSG). The CSSG supports the DOE Nuclear Criticality Safety Program by providing operational and technical expertise involving experiments, nuclear data, methods, training, organizational structures and criticality safety evaluations. As a CSSG member, She will provide technical support to DOE missions including stockpile stewardship, materials stabilization, transportation, storage, facilities decommissioning and waste disposal.

Brady Raap was selected for her exceptional experience and knowledge, including 25 years of contributions in criticality safety and nuclear engineering. She has supported NNSA across a variety of programs. She was the lead criticality safety engineer supporting the disposition of excess plutonium from the nation’s dismantled nuclear weapons.

She contributed to nuclear criticality safety assessments at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the Y-12 National Security Complex. Currently she provides technical expertise for NNSA’s Global Threat Reduction Initiative, to reduce and protect vulnerable nuclear and radiological materials at civilian sites worldwide. She has also supported DOE projects related to waste tank storage and the transportation, storage and disposal of commercial spent nuclear fuel.

Nov 14, 2012 at 2:00 pm

Jolie A. Cizewski, APS November Woman Physicist of the Month

Jolie A. Cizewski of Rutgers University has been selected as the Woman Physicist of the Month for November by the American Physical Society (APS). She is the director of NNSA’s Stewardship Science Academic Alliance (SSAA) Center of Excellence for Radioactive Ion Beam Studies for Stewardship Science and has served in that capacity since 2003. The Center conducts leading-edge nuclear physics research using short-lived nuclei produced at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory, Michigan State University and elsewhere.

“The award by the American Physical Society is a tribute to the excellent work done by Professor Cizewski and her team,” said Dr. Chris Deeney, NNSA’s Assistant Deputy Administrator for Stockpile Stewardship. “We are extremely proud of the NNSA’s academic programs and the superb scientists we support.”

The award recognizes female physicists who have positively impacted other individuals’ lives and careers.

Read more about Cizewski.

About the photo:
Jolie A. Cizewski and her former postdoc Nick Fotiades who is currently a LANL staff member check out the GEANIE array of Compton suppressed Ge detectors at The Los Alamos Neutron Science Center (LANSCE).

Nov 14, 2012 at 1:00 pm

Scholarship winners Sara Lemmonds and Wes Jenkins

In its ongoing support of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, Y-12 recently awarded a total of $5,000 in scholarships to Roane State Community College freshmen Wes Jenkins and Sara Lemmonds.

Recipients of the Y-12 STEM Scholarship must be full-time students at Roane State pursuing a degree in one of the STEM fields of study. Jenkins is a Harriman High School graduate and plans to major in biology. Lemmonds graduated from Oak Ridge High School and is enrolled in the college’s pre-med program.

Read more about the scholarships.

About the photo:
From left: Y-12 Commercialization manager Jeremy Benton chats with STEM Scholarship winners Sara Lemmonds and Wes Jenkins about Y-12’s opportunities for students pursuing a degree in one of the STEM fields of study.

Nov 14, 2012 at 10:00 am