NNSA Blog

NNSA BlogGlenn York, cyber security specialist at the Los Alamos Site Office (LASO), has been named a fellow in the Information Systems Security Association (ISSA) and recognized as a distinguished leader in the information security community.

York serves on the cyber security team for LASO’s Safeguards and Security office. Prior to joining LASO, he worked as a senior IT security engineer and team lead contractor at LASO. As a contractor, he led a team of three guiding an effort of 150 people in revising IT security policies and accrediting 67 unique systems in less than a year.

The ISSA, of which York has been a member since 2003, is the community of choice for international cyber security professionals dedicated to advancing individual growth, managing technology risk and protecting critical information and infrastructure. ISSA has more than 10,000 members in 150 chapters worldwide.

York has worked tirelessly over the years to raise quality and quantity of Information Security college courses, as well as promote participation in professional organizations.

York founded and serves as president of the Northern New Mexico Chapter of the ISSA. He is currently leading the planning effort for the Information Technology Security Summit New Mexico, scheduled for May 3, 2012, at Santa Fe Community College. The one-day conference will offer IT and information assurance professionals and entrepreneurs from all industries the opportunity to learn about the latest computer security trends, to network with peers, and to share remediation strategies.

Apr 2, 2012 at 2:00 am

Guy painter  Girl painter

A number of Pantexans volunteered Friday, March 30, to help renovate two Habitat for Humanity homes in Amarillo, Texas. B&W Pantex provided breakfast and lunch for the volunteers, who were encouraged to bring family members to help with the homes. Workers spent most of the day painting the exteriors, and also helped with other small jobs. Pantexans have built or helped with six Habitat homes, working alongside eventual homeowners.

Mar 30, 2012 at 4:00 pm

Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory's biggest magnet facility recently produced magnetic fields in excess of 100 tesla while conducting six different experiments. The hundred-tesla level is roughly equivalent to 2 million times Earth's magnetic field.

The team used the 100-tesla pulsed, multi-shot magnet, a combination of seven coils sets weighing nearly 18,000 pounds and powered by a massive 1,200-megajoule motor generator. There are higher magnetic fields produced elsewhere, but the magnets that create such fields blow themselves to bits in the process. The system at Los Alamos is instead designed to work nondestructively, in the intense 100-tesla realm, on a regular basis.

To read more about the work see: http://www.lanl.gov/news/releases/magnetic_field_researchers_target_hundred_tesla_goal.html

To see the video go to: http://www.lanl.gov/news/stories/magnet-lab-video.html

Mar 30, 2012 at 2:00 pm

Japan RSL

The Consul General Of Japan, San Francisco Counsel, Hiroshi Inomata (center) is pictured with members of the Remote Sensing Laboratory (RSL), Las Vegas, who responded to the Japanese earthquake and tsunami in 2011. Inomata honored the group at a reception recently in Las Vegas. The group was cited for their service to Japan and the people of Japan. Federal and contractor staff from the RSL responded and provided radiological data to support the Japanese as they made crucial health and safety decisions to protect their citizens in the wake of Fukishima Diachi nuclear power plant emergency. Also pictured, far left, is Stephen A. Mellington, Manager Nevada Site Office. 

Mar 30, 2012 at 1:00 pm

Seoul, South Korea: U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu today joined Dr Bernard Bigot, head of French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), Deputy Prime Minister of Belgium, Mrs. Joelle Milquet, and Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Uri Rosenthal from the Netherlands in announcing their common understanding to help minimize the use of highly enriched uranium (HEU) in the production of medical isotopes.


(Note: This blog post has been cross-posted from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy)

Every year 30 million people around the world undergo medical diagnostic procedures that use the radioactive isotope technetium-99 metastable (Tc-99m), which is the most commonly used medical radioisotope.  The Tc-99m procedures include tests that can tell doctors how well the heart is functioning, whether cancer is present, and other critical medical information.  Of the 30 million Tc-99m procedures conducted worldwide every year, over half are performed in the United States. 

Tc-99m is derived from molybdenum-99 (Mo-99).  Most of the world’s supply of Mo-99 is produced today in nuclear reactors where targets containing highly-enriched uranium (HEU) are irradiated and subsequently processed into pure Mo-99.  But HEU is a very dangerous substance and is one of the materials slated to be secured under the President’s four-year lock-down agenda.  These dangers were central to the work plan of the 2010 Nuclear Security Summit.  Luckily, new technology is allowing Mo-99 to be produced without using HEU, andmost of the world is in the process of converting to non-HEU-based technology. 

The United States Government is deeply committed to both a reliable supply of the critical medical radioisotope Mo-99 and eliminating the use of HEU in its production.  To balance these two goals, high-level officials of Belgium, France, the Netherlands and the United States announced this week during the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul a commitment to a set of activities designed to concurrently minimize the use of HEU and ensure a reliable supply of medical radioisotopes for patients worldwide.  The four countries agreed, subject to regulatory approvals, to support conversion of European Mo-99 production facilities  to non-HEU-based processes by 2015.  The quadrilateral statement can be found at http://www.nnsa.energy.gov/mediaroom/pressreleases/jointquadleu32712, and a fact sheet on the statement is provided at http://www.nnsa.energy.gov/mediaroom/factsheets/heuminimization

As announced at the Summit, in the interest to ensure uninterrupted production of Mo-99, the United States is prepared to supply the European isotope producers with limited quantities of HEU target material.  To minimize HEU in their countries, Belgium, France, and the Netherlands will eliminate HEU scrap material in their ownership that is no longer suitable for Mo-99 production by recycling or disposing of this scrap material with the support of the United States and other countries. 

As part of efforts to minimize HEU use in Mo-99 production, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA, a semiautonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy) works with existing, large-scale international producers to assist in the conversion of their Mo-99 production facilities from the use of HEU targets to low enriched uranium (LEU) targets. These efforts are part of the NNSA Global Threat Reduction Initiative’s mission to minimize and, to the extent possible, eliminate the use of HEU in civilian applications worldwide.  The NNSA has also partnered with four U.S. domestic commercial entities to accelerate the establishment of a diverse, reliable supply of non-HEU-based Mo-99 within the United States.  The NNSA cooperative agreement partners include Babcock and Wilcox Technical Services Group to develop LEU solution reactor technology; General Electric Hitachi Nuclear Energy to develop neutron capture technology; NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes, LLC. to develop accelerator technology; and the Morgridge Institute for Research to develop accelerator technology with LEU fission.  For more on NNSA’s efforts to minimize HEU use in Mo-99 production, see http://www.nnsa.energy.gov/mediaroom/factsheets/factsheet20100125

A very challenging issue in the current Mo-99 market is below-cost Mo-99 supplies caused by direct foreign government support to the current Mo-99 industry.  The prohibitively low cost of Mo-99 undermines the ability of the current international producers to convert from HEU targets to LEU targets, and challenges the ability for new producers to enter the Mo-99 supply chain to replace the aging infrastructure.  In order to develop a reliable supply of Mo-99, the market must transition to full cost recovery.

OSTP will continue to work with US Government departments and agencies to ensure a reliable supply of non-HEU-based Mo-99; speed the conversion of existing Mo-99 production processes to those that no longer use HEU; and move the industry to an economically-sustainable model that does not rely on government subsidies to produce the isotope.

John J. Szymanski is a Senior Policy Analyst at the Office of Science and Technology and Parrish Staples is the Director of the Office of European and African Threat Reduction, National Nuclear Security Administration

Mar 28, 2012 at 2:00 pm

Ion

Sandia National Laboratories is using its Ion Beam Laboratory (IBL) to study how to rapidly evaluate the tougher advanced materials needed to build the next generation of nuclear reactors and extend the lives of current reactors. Recent research was funded by NNSA’s Laboratory Directed Research & Development (LDRD) program.

Reactor operators need advanced cladding materials, which are the alloys that create the outer layer of nuclear fuel rods to keep them separate from the cooling fluid. Better alloys will be less likely to deteriorate from exposure to everything from coolant fluids to radiation damage.

Operating a reactor causes progressive microstructural changes in the alloys used in cladding, and that can hurt the materials’ integrity. However, present-day methods of evaluating materials can take decades.

The LDRD project worked with a variety of samples, everything from high-purity, single-crystal copper to materials used in today’s reactors. The Sandia team found that under the right conditions, a combinatorial approach can be used with new alloy compositions produced in-house. The LDRD project demonstrated a fundamental physics simulation of what’s happening to the material.

To read more about the research see: https://share.sandia.gov/news/resources/news_releases/reactor_materials/

Mar 27, 2012 at 2:00 pm

NNSA Blog 

The United States and Sweden announced today at the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit the successful removal of plutonium from Sweden. The plutonium shipment was completed by NNSA’s Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI) and was the first shipment of plutonium to the United States under this program. Over 3 kilograms of plutonium was removed and included Swedish, UK, and U.S. origin material stemming from former research and development activities in Sweden.  In order to complete this project and due to the sensitive nature of the material, NNSA and Sweden needed to develop facilities to stabilize and repackage the plutonium materials.

NNSA Blog

Mar 27, 2012 at 12:00 am

 

NNSA Blog

NNSA’s successful removal of all remaining highly enriched uranium (HEU) from Ukraine was featured on NPR’s “All Things Considered” this past Sunday. The completion of the mission was announced by President Obama and President Yanukovych during the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, South Korea where world leaders are meeting this week to renew commitments to global nuclear security. 

Click here to listen to NPR's coverage of NNSA's removal of HEU from Ukraine.

Mar 27, 2012 at 12:00 am

NNSA BlogNNSA today concluded International Radiological Assistance Program Training for Emergency Response (I-RAPTER) in Slovenia.

The training, co-sponsored by the International Atomic Energy Agency, was provided to 36 nuclear/radiological emergency responders, which included 15 participants from Slovenia and 21 students from 20 other countries.

The training was conducted with involvement of personnel from Sandia National Laboratories, the Remote Sensing Laboratory and Idaho National Laboratory.

To read more about the training see: http://www.nnsa.energy.gov/mediaroom/pressreleases/slovenia

 

Mar 22, 2012 at 5:59 pm

NNSA Blog
The NNSA’s National Ignition Facility (NIF) surpassed a critical milestone in its efforts to meet one of modern science's greatest challenges: achieving fusion ignition and energy gain in a laboratory setting.

NIF's 192 lasers fired in perfect unison, delivering a record 1.875 million joules (MJ) of ultraviolet laser light to the facility's target chamber center. This historic laser shot involved a shaped pulse of energy 23 billionths of a second long that generated 411 trillion watts (TW) of peak power (1,000 times more than the United States uses at any instant in time).

The ultraviolet energy produced by NIF (after conversion from the original infrared laser pulse to the final ultraviolet light) was 2.03 MJ before passing through diagnostic instruments and other optics on the way to the target chamber. As a result, NIF is now the world's first 2 MJ ultraviolet laser, generating nearly 100 times more energy than any other laser in operation.

To read more about the March 15 record-breaking shot see: https://www.llnl.gov/news/newsreleases/2012/Mar/NR-12-03-02.html

Mar 22, 2012 at 11:44 am