NNSA Blog

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

The quarterly summary prepared by NNSA’s Office of Defense Programs provides descriptions of key NNSA facilities that conduct stockpile stewardship experiments. These include the Dual Axis Radiographic Hydrodynamic Test facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory, National Ignition Facility 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 the last quarter of FY 2012.

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 Program to assess the safety, security and effectiveness of the stockpile.

Dec 6, 2012 at 5:00 pm

NNSA’s Office of Nonproliferation and International Security (NIS) applies its technical, policy and programmatic resources to advance technical solutions in support of future arms control requirements, including verification of limits on total warhead stockpiles. NIS is able to conduct this work by leveraging assets and technology available across NNSA and throughout the nuclear security enterprise.

Currently, NIS is leading the integration of different disciplines and areas of expertise with the development of a 3rd Generation Attribute Measurement System, or 3G-AMS. This project involves a team of specialists from Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Pantex Plant.

The objective of this team is to conceptually design a measurement system that can confirm declared attributes (or properties) of a nuclear weapon or weapon component safely without revealing classified information, and in a manner that can be authenticated by a monitoring party such that they have confidence that the system is functioning properly and delivering accurate measurement results. For 3G-AMS, this involves the integration of different measurement and analysis techniques, including determining the presence of plutonium, highly enriched uranium, and high explosives, into a system that can be certified and authenticated.

Work on the conceptual design of verification systems such as 3G-AMS can inform and enable negotiations for future arms limitation and reduction initiatives. This type of research provides essential understanding of potential monitoring system requirements and deployment challenges, and can lead to the development of certification and authentication concepts and processes to reduce negotiating time in the future, and help manage expectations along the way.

NNSA Blog

Dec 5, 2012 at 10:00 am

Pantexans have displayed their generosity for 57 years through the Christmas Project, which is featured this month in Amarillo Magazine. Pantex employees adopt “angels” on Christmas trees located throughout Pantex. By adopting an angel, they gift a child in need with a brand new set of clothes, socks, underwear and a pair of shoes.

NNSA Blog

Dec 3, 2012 at 1:00 pm

NNSA’s Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI) recently launched a project management mobile app for both Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS, a first for NNSA. The app is part of G2, GTRI’s awarding winning project management information system. The app will further support GTRI project and program managers’ ability to manage complex projects to secure vulnerable nuclear and radiological materials around the world.

G2 incorporates all the project management tools into a single, comprehensive, and agile IT platform, allowing GTRI project managers to quickly and effectively filter and analyze large amounts of real time, geo-spatial linked information and integrate that data with scope, schedule, cost and infrastructure information for the entire portfolio of GTRI projects. This app will allow the GTRI team to manage projects wherever they are in the world, all from the palm of their hand. Because of G2, GTRI has been able to increase the scale and scope of its work and manage large increases in its budget without having to hire additional staff.

This app is a further demonstration of NNSA’s commitment to project management, and an example of how NNSA is innovating to improve program effectiveness and efficiency. As NNSA works around the world to reduce nuclear dangers, to keep the American people safe, and enhance global security, NNSA is committed to ensuring it has the best project management tools and practices in place to ensure NNSA is a good steward of the taxpayers’ money.

NNSA Blog

Nov 29, 2012 at 5:00 pm

The public face of Pantex on the Internet has a new look following a project to redesign its homepage.

Pantex unveiled its new website this week which features updated information, easier navigation and new search tools. A prime objective of the redesign was to provide up-to-date information to the public and stakeholders in an efficient manner. The site features a new section on doing business with Pantex that will be beneficial to subcontractors and others who work with the site. Plant status and emergency information is also more easily accessed. New content will continue to roll out on the site over the coming months.

The site was created over the past several months by Pantex’s Chief Information Officer Division, the Public Affairs Department and an external Web development contractor.

Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories also recently redesigned their sites.

Pantex unveils new Website

Nov 29, 2012 at 3:00 pm

Cleanroom inventor Willis Whitfield

When retired Sandia National Laboratories physicist Willis Whitfield invented the modern-day cleanroom 50 years ago, researchers and industrialists didn’t believe it at first. But within a few short years, $50 billion worth of laminar-flow cleanrooms were being built worldwide and the invention is used in hospitals, laboratories and manufacturing plants today.

Whitfield was dubbed “Mr. Clean” by TIME Magazine at the time, but the travel, scientific presentations and accolades didn’t change the unassuming scientist, who was always modest about the invention that revolutionized manufacturing in electronics and pharmaceuticals, made hospital operating rooms safer and helped further space exploration.

Read about more about the cleanroom.

About the photo:
Cleanroom inventor Willis Whitfield, who passed away this month at age 92, steps out of a transportable cleanroom at Sandia National Laboratories, which could be transported to remote sites.

Nov 27, 2012 at 10:00 am

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