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  • richardmitnick 5:26 pm on August 25, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Nuclear Science   

    From Argonne Lab: “Argonne, KAERI to develop prototype nuclear reactor “ 

    News from Argonne National Laboratory

    August 25, 2014
    No Writer Credit

    The U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory has teamed up with the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI) to develop the Prototype Generation-IV Sodium-cooled Fast Reactor (PGSFR). KAERI’s Sodium-cooled Fast Reactor Development Agency has provided $6.78 million funding to date for Argonne’s contributions through a Work-for-Others contract.

    Argonne will support the Korean Atomic Energy Research Institute’s development of a Prototype Generation-IV Sodium-cooled Fast Reactor that incorporates an innovative metal fuel developed at Argonne. The fuel’s inherent safety potential was demonstrated in landmark tests conducted on the Experimental Breeder Reactor-II. Image credit: KAER I.

    Jong Kyung Kim, President of KAERI, visited Argonne today to execute the memorandum of understanding between KAERI and Argonne for a broad field of technical cooperation on nuclear science and technology, including the PGSFR project. “The technical cooperation between KAERI and Argonne plays a critical role in advancing cutting-edge technologies in nuclear energy,” said Argonne Director Peter Littlewood.

    The PGSFR is a 400 MWth, 150 MWe advanced sodium-cooled fast reactor that incorporates many innovative design features; in particular, metal fuel, which enables inherent safety characteristics. With Argonne support, KAERI is developing the reactor system while the Korean engineering and construction firm KEPCO E&C is designing the balance of the plant. The PGSFR Project aims to secure the Korean licensing authority’s design approval by the end of 2020, and the schedule calls for PGSFR to be commissioned by the end of 2028.

    The metal fuel technology base was developed at Argonne in the 1980s and ‘90s; its inherent safety potential was demonstrated in the landmark tests conducted on the Experimental Breeder Reactor-II in April 1986. They demonstrated the safe shutdown and cooling of the reactor without operator action following a simulated loss-of-cooling accident.

    “We are very excited about our collaboration on the PGSFR,” said Mark Peters, Argonne’s Associate Laboratory Director for Energy Engineering and Systems Analysis. “PGSFR is the world’s first new fast reactor that will use the technology developed at Argonne, and also the world’s first fast reactor that exploits inherent safety characteristics to prevent severe accidents.”

    The Argonne-KAERI collaboration on PGSFR was established following the U.S. Government authorization of the 10 CFR Part 810 request to transfer sodium-cooled fast reactor and low-enriched uranium fuel technology to the Republic of Korea.

    See the full article here.

    Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation’s first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America’s scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science. For more visit http://www.anl.gov.

    The Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory is one of five national synchrotron radiation light sources supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science to carry out applied and basic research to understand, predict, and ultimately control matter and energy at the electronic, atomic, and molecular levels, provide the foundations for new energy technologies, and support DOE missions in energy, environment, and national security. To learn more about the Office of Science X-ray user facilities, visit http://science.energy.gov/user-facilities/basic-energy-sciences/.

    Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science

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  • richardmitnick 8:12 am on June 16, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Nuclear Science,   

    From Sandia Lab: “Moly 99 reactor using Sandia design could lead to U.S. supply of isotope to track disease “ 

    Sandia Lab

    June 16, 2014
    Nancy Salem

    An Albuquerque startup company has licensed a Sandia National Laboratories technology that offers a way to make molybdenum-99, a key radioactive isotope needed for diagnostic imaging in nuclear medicine, in the United States. Known as moly 99, it is made in aging nuclear reactors outside the country, and concerns about future shortages have been in the news for years.

    Eden Radioisotopes LLC was founded last year and licensed the Sandia moly 99 reactor conceptual design in November. It hopes to build the first U.S. reactor for making the isotope and become a global supplier.

    Dick Coats, right, Eden Radioisotopes’ chief technology officer and a retired Sandia National Laboratories researcher, talks to Sandia nuclear engineer John Ford at the Annular Core Research Reactor, where they helped develop a molybdenum-99 reactor concept in the 1990s. Eden recently licensed the technology with the goal of producing a U.S. supply of moly 99 for use in nuclear medicine. (Photo by Randy Montoya)

    “One of the pressing reasons for starting this company is the moly 99 shortages that are imminent in the next few years,” said Chris Wagner, Eden’s chief operating officer and a 30-year veteran of the medical-imaging industry. “We really feel this is a critical time period to enter the market and supply replacement capacity for what is going offline.”

    Moly 99 is the precursor for the radioactive isotope technetium-99m, used extensively in medical diagnostic tests because it emits a gamma ray that can be tracked in the body, letting physicians create images of the spread of a disease. And it decays quickly so patients are exposed to little radiation.

    Moly 99 is made in commercial nuclear reactors using weapon-grade uranium and 50 to 100 megawatts of power. Neutrons bombard the uranium-235 target. The uranium fissions and produces a moly 99 atom about 6 percent of the time. Moly 99 is extracted from the reactor through a chemical process in a hot-cell facility and used by radiopharmaceutical manufacturers worldwide to produce moly 99/technetium-99m generators. The moly 99, with a 66-hour half-life, decays to technetium-99m, with a six-hour half-life. The generators are shipped to hospitals, clinics and radiopharmacies, which make individual unit doses for use in a wide variety of patient-imaging procedures.

    “It’s a $4 billion a year market,” Wagner said. “There are 30 million diagnostic procedures done worldwide each year, and 80 percent use technetium-99m. More than 50 percent of the procedures are done in the United States, and 60 percent of those are cardiac-related. This issue is very important to U.S. health care because there is no domestic production supplier on U.S. soil.”

    Unreliable reactors cause moly shortages

    The world’s five primary moly 99 production reactors are often closed for repairs, causing periodic shortages that can last months, Wagner said. Two of the largest could either stop producing moly 99 or be decommissioned in the next 10 years. “They represent more than 60 percent of the global supply,” Wagner said. “There is a new reactor due in France, but even if the two go offline and new replacement capacity comes on, Eden still predicts a 20 to 30 percent global shortage to meet today’s demand, and greater future shortages as demand rises.”

    A search has been on for a number of years for a way to make moly 99 in the United States without using weapon-grade uranium. Several companies have explored new kinds of reactors and different methods to produce the isotope but none are in commercial production. “Eden would be the first reactor in the U.S. specific for medical isotope production,” Wagner said. “We feel that science wise, this has the most potential for success in the market.”

    Dick Coats, Eden’s chief technology officer, is a retired Sandia Labs researcher who helped develop the moly 99 reactor concept in the 1990s. Based on technology developed in the Department of Energy-funded Sandia medical isotope production program of that era, the team created a reactor concept tailored to the business of producing moly 99. “This reactor is very small, less than 2 megawatts in power, about a foot-and-a-half in diameter and about the same height, but very efficient,” Coats said.

    The reactor sits in a pool of cooling water 28 to 30 feet deep. It has an all-target core of low-enriched uranium — less than 20 percent U-235 — fuel elements. “The targets are irradiated and every one can be pulled out and processed for moly 99. The entire core is available for moly 99 production,” Coats said. “Every fission that occurs produces moly. The reactor’s only purpose is medical isotope production. This is what is new and unique. Nobody thought about approaching it that way.”

    Eden reactor could meet demand

    Sandia’s Ed Parma, who was on the original team, said the world demand for moly 99 can be met with a small, all-target reactor processed every week. He said larger reactors aren’t cost effective because they use so much power to drive the targets. “They’re using 150 megawatts to drive a 1 megawatt system,” he said. “When you add in fuel costs, operations, maintenance, it’s hard to make money.”

    He said there has never been a reactor system designed just to make moly 99. “They all started as something else,” he said. “Our design is scaled down just for the production of moly. The reactor is only the size you need. It’s more efficient and economically viable.”

    Eden is raising investment capital to meet initial costs through production, estimated at about $75 million.

    It hopes to be in production in about four years. During that time it will build the reactor and facilities and seek a license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and Food and Drug Administration approval of the manufacturing process. Wagner said the preferred location is Hobbs, N.M., which has a labor force familiar with nuclear work due to the nearby URENCO USA uranium enrichment facility. Eden would employ about 140 people.

    “Our intent is not to make something just for the United States,” Wagner said. “We will be U.S.-based so U.S. health care has domestic coverage. But our production capacity will be enough to meet the entire global demand.”

    Business team has nuclear medicine experience

    On the business side, two companies provide 100 percent of U.S. production and distribution of moly 99/technetium-99m generators: Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals in Missouri and Lantheus Medical Imaging in Massachusetts. Wagner is a former Mallinckrodt vice president and Eden advisory board member Peter Card is a former Lantheus vice president. On the technical side, Coats works at Eden with Milt Vernon, another retired Sandia researcher who worked on the technology. “We have all the bases covered to be successful,” Wagner said.

    Bob Westervelt of Sandia’s licensing group said the lab pursued an exclusive license for the technology. “We didn’t want multiple people trying to build it,” he said. “We wanted one company that could actually commercialize it.”

    The licensing department advertised the opportunity last summer, and interested parties had to demonstrate they had the financial resources and technical know-how to build the reactor and get regulatory and environmental approvals.

    “There were 10 responses and only one, Eden, came with a full package proposal,” Westervelt said. Eden was given an exclusive license for the term of the patent, which is pending.

    “It’s very exciting to be part of a project that could be commercialized,” Parma said. “I think this is the future. There’s no doubt in my mind.”

    See the full article here.

    Sandia National Laboratories is a multiprogram laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corporation, for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. With main facilities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., Sandia has major R&D responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies, and economic competitiveness.

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  • richardmitnick 4:45 pm on November 25, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Nuclear Science, ,   

    From PPPL- “Multinational achievement: PPPL collaborates on record fusion plasma in tokamak in China” 

    November 25, 2013
    John Greenwald

    A multinational team led by Chinese researchers in collaboration with U.S. and European partners has successfully demonstrated a novel technique for suppressing instabilities that can cut short the life of controlled fusion reactions. The team, headed by researchers at the Institute of Plasma Physics in the Chinese Academy of Sciences (ASIPP), combined the new technique with a method that the U.S. Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) has developed for protecting the walls that surround the hot, charged plasma gas that fuels fusion reactions.

    Interior view of EAST tokamak(Photo by Institute of Plasma Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences )

    The record-setting results of the tests, conducted on the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) in Hefei, China, could mark a key step in the worldwide effort to develop fusion as a clean and abundant source of energy for generating electricity. “This is a very good example of multinational collaboration on EAST,” said ASIPP Director Jiangang Li. “I very much appreciate the effort of our collaborators.”

    First reporting the results was a paper published online in the November issue of the journal Nature Physics. U.S co-authors included PPPL physicists Jon Menard and Rajesh Maingi, who headed the wall-conditioning effort, and General Atomics physicist Gary Jackson, a plasma-control expert who helped draft the paper.

    The findings could hold particular promise for developers of future fusion facilities such as ITER, the international experiment under construction in France. Controlling instabilities that erupt at the edge of the plasma will be crucial to the success of the huge donut-shaped ITER tokamak, which is designed to demonstrate the feasibility of fusion power.

    The EAST experiments set a record for the duration of what is called an H-mode, or high-confinement plasma — the type that will be employed in ITER and other future tokamaks. To achieve this duration, the EAST team beamed what are known as “lower hybrid wave current drive” microwaves into the plasma. The antenna-launched beams reshaped the magnetic field lines confining the plasma and suppressed instabilities at the edge of the gas near the interior walls of the tokamak. Controlling these fast-growing instabilities, called “edge localized modes” (ELMs), produced a record life span of more than 30 seconds for the H-mode plasma.

    These results suggested a potent new method for suppressing ELMS to create an extended, or long-pulse, plasma. Many methods already exist. Among them are the use of external magnetic coils to alter the field lines that enclose the plasma, and the injection of pellets of deuterium fuel into the plasma during experiments.

    Contributing to the EAST results was the PPPL-designed wall treatment, which coated the plasma-facing walls of the tokamak with the metal lithium and inserted lithium granules into experiments to keep the coating fresh. The silvery metal absorbed stray plasma particles and kept impurities from entering the core of the plasma and halting fusion reactions. “When lithium has been used to coat the walls of fusion devices, higher plasma temperature, pressure, and confinement have been achieved,” PPPL physicists Menard and Maingi said in an interview.

    “This was good physics,” Jackson of General Atomics said of the experiments, noting that long-pulse plasmas will be required for fusion power plants to generate electricity.

    Combining microwave beams for ELMs suppression with the advanced lithium wall treatment could thus provide a fruitful new direction for fusion-energy development. This combination of techniques, the Nature Physics paper said, offers “an attractive regime for high-performance, long-pulse operations.”

    See the full article here.

    Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory managed by Princeton University.

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  • richardmitnick 7:24 pm on November 21, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    From Berkeley Lab: “Searching for Cosmic Accelerators Via IceCube” 

    Berkeley Lab

    Berkeley Lab Researchers Part of an International Hunt

    November 21, 2013
    Lynn Yarris (510) 486-5375 lcyarris@lbl.gov

    In our universe there are particle accelerators 40 million times more powerful than the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN. Scientists don’t know what these cosmic accelerators are or where they are located, but new results being reported from “IceCube,” the neutrino observatory buried at the South Pole, may show the way. These new results should also erase any doubts as to IceCube’s ability to deliver on its promise.

    IceCube is a neutrino observatory whose detectors are buried more than a mile below the surface of the South Pole. (Photo by Emanuel Jacobi of the National Science Foundation)

    “The IceCube Collaboration has announced the observation of 28 extremely high energy events that constitute the first solid evidence for astrophysical neutrinos from outside our solar system,” says Spencer Klein, a senior scientist with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and a long-time member of the IceCube Collaboration. “These 28 events include two of the highest energy neutrinos ever reported, which have been named Bert and Ernie.”

    Lisa Gerhardt and Spencer Klein with an IceCube Digital Optical Module (DOM). IceCube employs 5,160 DOMs to detect the Cherenkov radiation emitted by high-energy neutrino events in the ice. (Photo by Roy Kaltschmidt)

    The new results from IceCube, which were published in the journal Science, provide experimental confirmation that somewhere in the universe, something is accelerating particles to energies above 50 trillion electron volts (TeV) and, in the cases of Bert and Ernie, exceeding one quadrillion electron volts (PeV). By comparison, the LHC accelerates protons to approximately four TeV in each of its beams. While not telling scientists what cosmic accelerators are or where they’re located, the IceCube results do provide scientists with a compass that can help guide them to the answers.

    The IceCube observatory consists of 5,160 basketball-sized light detectors called Digital Optical Modules (DOMs), which were conceived and largely designed at Berkeley Lab. The DOMS are suspended along 86 strings that are embedded in a cubic kilometer of clear ice starting one and a half kilometers beneath the Antarctic surface. Out of the trillions of neutrinos that pass through the ice each day, a couple of hundred will collide with oxygen nuclei, yielding the blue light of Cherenkov radiation that IceCube’s DOMs detect.

    Cherenkov radiation glowing in the core of the Advanced Test Reactor

    “Each of IceCube’s DOMs was designed to be a mini-computer server that you can log onto and download data from, or upload software to,” says Robert Stokstad, a senior scientist with Berkeley Lab’s Nuclear Science Division who led the development of the DOMs and was one of the original proponents of IceCube. “It is rewarding to see how well they are performing.”

    The 28 high-energy neutrinos reported in Science by the IceCube Collaboration were found in data collected from May 2010 to May 2012. In analyzing more recent data, Berkeley Lab’s Lisa Gerhardt discovered another event that was almost double the energy of Bert and Ernie. Dubbed “Big Bird,” this new event was presented by Klein at the International Cosmic-Ray Conference.

    See the full article here.

    A U.S. Department of Energy National Laboratory Operated by the University of California

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  • richardmitnick 4:09 pm on June 24, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Nuclear Science   

    From Livermore Lab: “Livermorium and Flerovium join the periodic table of elements” 

    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

    Anne M Stark, LLNL, (925) 422-9799, stark8@llnl.gov

    “The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) today officially approved new names for elements 114 and 116, the latest heavy elements to be added to the periodic table.

    No image credit

    Scientists of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL)-Dubna collaboration proposed the names as Flerovium for element 114, with the symbol Fl, and Livermorium for element 116, with the symbol Lv, late last year.

    Flerovium (atomic symbol Fl) was chosen to honor Flerov Laboratory of Nuclear Reactions, where superheavy elements, including element 114, were synthesized. Georgiy N. Flerov (1913-1990) was a renowned physicist who discovered the spontaneous fission of uranium and was a pioneer in heavy-ion physics. He is the founder of the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research. In 1991, the laboratory was named after Flerov — Flerov Laboratory of Nuclear Reactions (FLNR).

    Livermorium (atomic symbol Lv) was chosen to honor Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and the city of Livermore, Calif. A group of researchers from the Laboratory, along with scientists at the Flerov Laboratory of Nuclear Reactions, participated in the work carried out in Dubna on the synthesis of superheavy elements, including element 116. (Lawrencium — Element 103 — was already named for LLNL’s founder E.O. Lawrence.)

    The IUPAC states Livermorium was chosen because over the years scientists at Livermore have been involved in many areas of nuclear science: the investigation of fission properties of the heaviest elements, including the discovery of bimodal fission, and the study of prompt gamma-rays emitted from fission fragments following fission; the investigation of isomers and isomeric levels in many nuclei; and the investigation of the chemical properties of the heaviest elements.

    ‘These names honor not only the individual contributions of scientists from these laboratories to the fields of nuclear science, heavy element research, and superheavy element research, but also the phenomenal cooperation and collaboration that has occurred between scientists in these two countries,’ said Bill Goldstein, associate director of LLNL’s Physical and Life Sciences Directorate.

    See the full article here.

    Operated by Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC, for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security
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  • richardmitnick 7:32 pm on June 20, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    From INL: “Uranium crystals could reveal future of nuclear fuel” 

    INL Labs

    Idaho National Laboratory

    June 19, 2013
    Kortny Rolston

    “Mention the word “crystals” and few people think of nuclear fuel.

    A university team recently created uranium crystals that could help INL researchers design higher performance nuclear fuels. No image credit.

    Unless you are Eric Burgett.

    The Idaho State University professor is on a quest to create pure, single crystals of uranium and uranium oxide so researchers at Idaho National Laboratory and elsewhere can better understand the material and design higher performance fuels to power nuclear reactors.

    Idaho State University researcher Eric Burgett works at the Research in Science and Engineering (RISE) facility in Pocatello.

    Burgett and his team of graduate students have successfully manufactured cerium oxide crystals as a practice run (cerium can be a nonradioactive surrogate for uranium or plutonium). The team produced its first uranium oxide crystals last week at ISU’s Research in Science and Engineering (RISE) facility in Pocatello.

    ‘A single crystal allows researchers to test and study a material in its simplest form,’ said Burgett, a professor affiliated with the Center for Advanced Energy Studies, a partnership between INL and Idaho’s three public research universities.'”

    See the full article here.

    INL Campus
    In operation since 1949, INL is a science-based, applied engineering national laboratory dedicated to supporting the U.S. Department of Energy’s missions in nuclear and energy research, science, and national defense. INL is operated for the Department of Energy (DOE) by Battelle Energy Alliance (BEA) and partners, each providing unique educational, management, research and scientific assets into a world-class national laboratory.

  • richardmitnick 1:53 pm on March 25, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Nuclear Science   

    From INL: “French nuclear designers tap American expertise” 

    INL Labs

    Idaho National Laboratory

    March 25, 2013
    Nicole Stricker, INL
    Angela Y. Hardin, Argonne

    The world’s nuclear experts have reached out to U.S. Department of Energy engineers for help evaluating a new nuclear reactor design that could increase safety margins while reducing waste. The project marked a series of firsts for nuclear engineers on both sides of the Atlantic. They fostered a new collaboration and tapped state-of-the-art analysis tools to evaluate a first-of-a-kind reactor design.

    INL nuclear engineer John Bess helped perform INL’s portion of an advanced reactor analysis, which was a collaboration with Argonne National Laboratory and France’s Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies Commission. No image credit.

    France’s Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies Commission (CEA) collaborated with nuclear engineers at DOE’s Idaho National Laboratory and Argonne National Laboratory for the project. Its goal: assess safety and performance parameters for a new fast reactor design. The effort used cutting-edge analysis tools, and the findings verified French predictions while highlighting where to focus future efforts.

    ‘We have tools and data today that we didn’t have 15 years ago,’ said INL Fellow Giuseppe Palmiotti, who led the lab’s contribution. ‘Plus, this enabled young American engineers to evaluate a unique design with a promising outlook.’

    Hussein Khalil, director of Argonne’s Nuclear Engineering Division, added, ‘Enhancing safety is a key priority for future-generation reactors, and international collaboration is very beneficial for establishing safety criteria and verifying that new reactor designs meet or exceed these criteria.'”

    France’s Advanced Sodium Technological Reactor for Industrial Demonstration (ASTRID) fast reactor design. No image credit

    he ASTRID design includes passive safety systems and a fuel design that would naturally slow the fission process if reactor shutdown capability was lost. No image credit.

    See the full article here.

    INL Campus
    In operation since 1949, INL is a science-based, applied engineering national laboratory dedicated to supporting the U.S. Department of Energy’s missions in nuclear and energy research, science, and national defense. INL is operated for the Department of Energy (DOE) by Battelle Energy Alliance (BEA) and partners, each providing unique educational, management, research and scientific assets into a world-class national laboratory.

  • richardmitnick 12:20 pm on March 7, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Nuclear Science, ,   

    From SLAC: “Unexpected Allies Help Bacteria Clean Uranium From Groundwater” 

    March 7, 2013
    Lori Ann White

    Since 2009, SLAC scientist John Bargar has led a team using synchrotron-based X-ray techniques to study bacteria that help clean uranium from groundwater in a process called bioremediation. Their initial goal was to discover how the bacteria do it and determine the best way to help, but during the course of their research the team made an even more important discovery: Nature thinks bigger than that.

    From left to right: Sam Webb, John Bargar and Juan Lezama-Pacheco used X-rays from the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource to discover Nature’s housecleaning secrets. Since the housecleaning involves uranium, their curiosity may have important benefits. (Credit: Matt Beardsley)

    The researchers discovered that bacteria don’t necessarily go straight for the uranium, as was often thought to be the case. The bacteria make their own, even tinier allies – nanoparticles of a common mineral called iron sulfide. Then, working together, the bacteria and the iron sulfide grab molecules of a highly soluble form of uranium known as U(VI), or hexavalent uranium, and transform them into U(IV), a less-soluble form that’s much less likely to spread through the water table. According to Barger, this newly discovered partnership may be the basis of a global geochemical process that forms deposits of uranium ore.

    And it’s all done using one of the most basic types of chemical reactions known: oxidation and reduction, commonly known as ‘redox.’ Redox reactions can be thought of as the transfer of electrons from donor atoms to atoms that are hungry for electrons, and they are a primary source of chemical energy for both living and non-living processes. Photosynthesis involves redox reactions, as does cell respiration. Iron oxidizes to form rust; batteries depend on redox reactions to store and release energy.

    ‘Redox transitions are a very fundamental process,’ Bargar said. ‘It’s the stuff of life. It’s how you breathe.'”

    The study, published Monday in the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences, was conducted at the Old Rifle site on the Colorado River, a former uranium ore processing site in the town of Rifle, Colo. The aquifer at the site is contaminated with uranium and is the focus of bioremediation field studies conducted by a larger team of scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and funded by the Department of Energy’s Office of Biological and Environmental Research. As part of their study, the LBNL team added acetate – essentially vinegar – to the aquifer in a series of injection wells to “feed the bugs,” as Bargar put it, allowing acetate to flow throughout the aquifer around the wells.

    See the full article here.

    SLAC is a multi-program laboratory exploring frontier questions in photon science, astrophysics, particle physics and accelerator research. Located in Menlo Park, California, SLAC is operated by Stanford University for the DOE’s Office of Science.

    SLAC Campus

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  • richardmitnick 5:05 pm on January 8, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Nuclear Science   

    From Argonne Lab via Medill Reports: “Out from the shadows: Argonne’s quest to demystify nuclear energy 


    Dec 12, 2012
    Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory

    Argonne National Laboratory is trying to set the record straight on nuclear energy as a clean fuel that can be generated safely. No carbon emissions and no need for imports.
    But the scientists working inside it want the world to know they’ve got nothing to hide.

    Argonne grew out of the Manhattan Project that created the atomic bomb at a secret location in New Mexico during World War II. ‘Argonne has really been the reactor laboratory,’ [Argonne nuclear engineer Roger] Blomquist said. Now Argonne scientists are putting the cabash on the nuclear-related stigma and promoting public awareness of the reality and potential of nuclear energy. ‘We’ve never done bombs, nuclear weapons—anything like that,’ he said.

    Argonne National Laboratory

    The lab, focusing on nuclear energy, alternative energy and battery development among a long list of interdisciplinary research programs, is operated by the U.S. Department of Energy. Argonne’s dedication to public education is especially pertinent in society’s current interest in nuclear energy as a potentially green solution, according to Tom Ewing, Associate Division Director of Argonne’s Nuclear Engineering Division.

    During a private tour of a nuclear energy museum on Argonne’s campus, Blomquist explained that the laboratory’s work includes reactor materials construction and safety, fuel recycling and general reactor safety. Argonne developed the world’s first nuclear reactor able to produce electricity and then produced the first prototype reactor used to power the whole town of Arco, Idaho, as part of proving the stability of boiling-water reactors.

    ‘We’re not trying to do something secretive here,’ said Emily Wolters, also an Argonne nuclear engineer, in an interview. ‘We’re just trying to show people it’s a safe technology.'”

    See the full article here.

    Argonne Labs Banner

    Medill Reports is written and produced by graduate journalism students at Northwestern University’s Medill school.

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  • richardmitnick 2:18 pm on December 19, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Nuclear Science   

    From Berkeley Lab: “Assembling the First Detector Units of the MAJORANA DEMONSTRATOR” 

    Berkeley Lab

    December 19, 2012
    Paul Preuss

    On Dec. 6, working nearly a mile underground in the cleanest space in South Dakota, Ryan Martin of Berkeley Lab’s Nuclear Science Division (NSD) assembled the first of 70 detector units for the . Each unit consists of a polished slice of pure germanium crystal the size of a hockey puck, attached to an electronics board on a wafer-thin disk of fused silica.…”

    The MAJORANA Demonstrator (Wikipedia).

    A MAJORANA Demonstrator copper vacuum cryostat showing strings of detectors (Wikipedia) (turquoise).

    “…MAJORANA DEMONSTRATOR, now under construction in the ultraclean facilities of the Davis Campus on the 4,850-foot level of the Sanford Underground Research Facility (Sanford Lab), will look for the as-yet-unseen phenomenon of neutrinoless double-beta decay. The current executive committee chair of the MAJORANA Collaboration, comprised of more than 100 researchers from the U.S., Canada, Russia, and Japan, is Berkeley Lab’s Alan Poon…..”

    See the full article here. Paul Preuss gives a very detailed report of this complex task.

    Ryan Martin assembles a detector unit in the glove box of the MAJORANA DEMONSTRATOR assembly room. Inset is the low-mass front-end board with electronics mounted on a copper leaf spring.

    A U.S. Department of Energy National Laboratory Operated by the University of California



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