NNSA Blog

Electronic wakeLawrence Livermore National Laboratory researchers have for the first time simulated and quantified the early stages of radiation damage that will occur in a given material. A full understanding of the early stages of the radiation damage process provides knowledge and tools to manipulate them to the fullest advantage.

Nuclear radiation leads to highly energetic ions that can penetrate large distances within matter, often times leading to the accumulation of damage sites as the projectile passes through the material.

During this process, the energetic ions eventually slow down as energy is lost by friction with the materials’ electrons. Like a speedboat moving through a calm body of water, the passage of fast ions creates a disturbance in the electron density in the shape of a wake.

Click here to read more.

About the graphic:

Model of the electronic wake (blue surfaces) generated by an energetic proton (red sphere) traveling in an aluminum crystal (yellow spheres). The resulting change in electronic density is responsible for modification of chemical bonds between the atoms and consequently for a change in their interactions.

Jun 5, 2012 at 2:00 pm

Logs and trucks

Maintenance Support and Utilities Management personnel at NNSA's Y-12 National Security Complex have taken steps to make sure old utility poles aren’t sent to the landfill. The Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s Forestry Division and Y-12 staff collaborated to deliver utility poles to Lone Mountain State Forest’s parking lots.

Mike Disney, Y-12 Power Operations section manager, said, “It’s good that we can help other agencies, save tax dollars, and help save the environment all at the same time. Opportunities like this don’t happen very often.”

After the old utility poles were inspected and approved for off-site use, six forestry service employees brought five lumber trucks on site in October 2011. Y-12’s line crew cut the 90-foot poles into smaller sections and helped load the trucks. The lumber trucks eventually hauled away more than 100 poles.

Cables pass through holes in waist-high sections of the poles, creating a border and confining vehicles and horse trailers to designated parking areas. In the near future, forestry personnel will use some of the poles as structure posts for a much-needed pavilion that will provide cover for Morgan and Roane County wildland firefighting equipment. Other sections of the poles will be used to block motorized vehicles from using the horse trails. 

Additional uses for the old poles have been found. The U.S. Department of Energy is using some of the old poles at its secure transportation courier training facility in Oak Ridge. Some of the poles have been used to build a façade for a bunker on a live firing range. Additional poles have been stockpiled, and a combat conditioning course will be built as soon as funding is provided.

May 31, 2012 at 3:00 pm

Captain David Stewart

Pantex volunteers recently made lunch for 350 honor roll students as part of the plant’s ongoing efforts to support academic achievement in area youth, particularly in areas such as science and math. This is the second year in a row Pantex has cooked lunch for the A and A-B honor roll students from Sam Houston Middle School in Amarillo.

Education Outreach Coordinator Debra Halliday

May 30, 2012 at 1:00 pm

NNSA BlogThanks to Sandia technology, radioactive material from more than 43 million gallons of contaminated wastewater have been removed at Japan’s damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power.

Sandia developed a technology that uses crystalline silico-titanate, or CST, as a molecular sieve that can separate highly volatile elements from radioactive wastewater.

The CSTs  were developed in the early 1990s response to a need for materials to remove radioactive contaminants from wastewater. During that time, researchers found that a certain class of synthetic zeolite is more effective in capturing some radioactive elements, like cesium, than other technologies.

To read more about the technology click here.

About the image:
Crystalline silico-titanate, or CST, is an inorganic molecular sieve that can capture and separate highly volatile elements from radioactive wastewater.

May 29, 2012 at 4:00 pm

 

NNSA BlogNNSA Blog

Members of the B&W Pantex Explosives Technology Division celebrated a significant safety milestone Thursday with a cookout to commemorate working three million man hours without a lost time injury.

Managers from the division grilled up lunch for approximately 150 workers to mark the achievement, which is made even more significant by the nature of the work done by Explosives Technology employees.

According to David Cole, acting division manager, safety is the absolute priority for Pantex and it is something they talk about every day.“Explosives operations are a high-consequence area,” he said. “If you have a mistake, the consequences can be very grave. We have to make sure we never forget that and never become complacent.”

Explosives Technology staff have worked diligently to make sure everyone works safely, said Monty Cates, manager of the Materials and Analytical Services Department. At daily standup meetings, safety is always the first topic, and every month, department safety meetings are held. Explosives Technology staff also participate in the many safety programs that operate plant wide.

B&W Pantex Acting Deputy General Manager Rod Johnson said the fact the Explosives Technology Division was able to achieve such a milestone is testament to the dedication of the staff. “Safety, security and quality are the basis of all of our activities at Pantex,” he said.

The hard work of the members of the division led to Pantex being named the High Explosives Center of Excellence for High Explosives Manufacturing by the Department of Energy.

May 25, 2012 at 9:00 am

NNSA BlogSome 345 tons of steel came tumbling down yesterday as a world record was set at the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS), when a 1,527-foot steel tower used in above-ground nuclear experiments in the 1960s was demolished.

The BREN (Bare Reactor Experiment -- Nevada) Tower was the tallest structure of its kind ever to be brought down. The tower was taller than the Empire State Building (1,454 feet, to the top of lightening rod) and taller than the Stratosphere Tower in Las Vegas (1,148 feet). 

The tower was brought down due to safety concerns for personnel working nearby and risk to aircraft flying in the area. Contributing factors included lack of use, maintenance issues, and an uneconomical cost of more than $1 million that would have been required return the tower to a usable state.

DEMCO, Inc. of West Seneca, N.Y., partnered with Controlled Demolition, Inc. of Phoenix, Md., to bring down the tower. Because the tower was so tall, highly controlled demolition techniques were employed. Explosives were used to remove a small section of one leg of the tower at ground level and sever the tensioned guy wires and the anchor/stanchions on the opposite side.

See video here.  

May 24, 2012 at 11:00 am

NNSA BlogJohn Mitsunaga from NNSA's Los Alamos Site Office (LASO) has been named as a New Mexico Federal Employee of the Year by the New Mexico Federal Executive Board. His award is listed in the Professional, Administrative and Technical category.

Mitsunaga, a physical security specialist for LASO, also has a federal role in the lab’s Emergency Operations Center where he ensures the security and protection of sensitive assets on lab property.

Additional accomplishments for which Mitsunaga was recognized include oversight for technical security requirements for a sizable construction project that will provide state of the art security protection for the lab’s plutonium facility. He was also instrumental in obtaining funding to modernize protective force training facilities necessary to enable them to protect special nuclear material. The funding included construction of indoor and outdoor shooting ranges, a tactical training facility and a fitness track.

May 24, 2012 at 11:00 am

Chu tools

NNSA has approved a special tooling system designed to improve the processing time of the B83. The tools were created by NNSA’s Pantex Plant and announced last fall. See press release here.

The tooling system for the B83 program is now part of NNSA’s Seamless Safety for the 21st Century (SS-21) process. The SS-21 process fully integrates the weapon system with the facility, tooling, operating procedures and personnel involved in the dismantlement program to form a safe, efficient and effective operating environment. The SS-21 process has been incorporated into all current Pantex weapon programs.

Approval for the special tooling system took a few months longer than originally expected because of the rigorous approval process. Final tools were delivered and the Hazard Analysis Report was published and approved by Pantex Site Office. In addition, the Nuclear Explosive Safety Study was conducted with no pre-start findings.

The goal of the project was to streamline the B83 disassembly and inspection and dismantlement processes. The new tooling process is designed to have multi–purpose functions, which includes the ability to support future B83 assembly operations.

The tooling system supports a safe, secure and effective strategic deterrent and is being used to support stockpile surveillance and dismantlement work. The new tooling system will be used to support the upcoming concurrent retrofit of the Gas Transfer System and Neutron Generators (ALT 353/753 respectively), scheduled for first production to occur in July 2014.

The B83 program team includes members from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Pantex Plant and Sandia National Laboratories.

About the photo:

U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu last year got an overview of the B83 tooling system from Steve Erhart, NNSA Production Office Manager.

May 23, 2012 at 2:00 pm

Anton Tran

Anton Tran, from NNSA’s Office of Nuclear Weapon Surety and Quality, has received this year's General Charles A. Horner Award from the Air War College. Tran received the honor for his paper, titled "An American Vital Interest: Preserving the Nuclear Enterprise Supplier Base.” The paper studies the impact of an eroding supplier base on the nuclear security enterprise's ability to adequately sustain the nuclear weapon stockpile, upon which the United States national security strategy and defense posture rely. The paper identifies current supplier base challenges, evaluates case studies from other industries, explores and examines potential solutions and offers recommendations.

The General Charles A. Horner Award is presented by the Air Force Counterproliferation Center each year to an Air War College student for the best study of an issue of most immediate and important utility to the US counterproliferation program.

Following his graduation from Air War College on May 28, 2012, Tran will return to Albuquerque, N.M., and be reassigned to NNSA’s Office of Nuclear Weapon Stockpile.

May 23, 2012 at 11:00 am

Employees, family and friends of the Y-12 National Security Complex fanned out across the region recently to help nonprofit agencies in a variety of ways – painting, landscaping, building and repairing, stocking food and school supplies, and much more.

With more than 1,100 participants – including employees, their family members and other volunteers recruited by Y-12 employees – working some 60 projects, this year marks the largest turnout in the ten years of the program.

The work took place primarily over the weekend, with some projects scheduled on other dates, and all of the projects benefit local individuals and organizations due to the generosity and dedication of the volunteers.

Projects this year included making quilts for NHC Health Care, loading boxes of food at the Valley View Mobile Pantry and at Second Harvest, painting rooms at the Scarboro Learning Center, building a sidewalk at Lenoir City’s North Middle School, and washing dogs for the Shelter Animals Rescue Group.

May 22, 2012 at 1:00 pm