Friday, June 28, 2013

Small, Laser-Beam Box Detects Clandestine Nuclear Materials

More bad news today for bad guys. The scientific brain trust at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico has discovered a powerful new method for detecting clandestine nuclear materials.

In February, an international team of researchers used laser-driven neutrons to confirm the presence and quantity of nuclear material inside of a closed container. The experiment is likely to lead to table-top-sized or truck-mounted neutron generators that could be used to catch nuclear smugglers. (full story)

Los Alamos/Tribogenics Create Highly Portable Imaging System

Los Alamos National Laboratory and Tribogenics, the pioneer of innovative X-ray solutions, havepartnered to create a unique, lightweight, compact, low-cost X-ray system that uses the MiniMAX (Miniature, Mobile, Agile, X-ray) camera to provide real-time inspection of sealed containers and facilities. The innovative technology will be featured at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) International Conference on Nuclear Security: Enhancing Global Efforts, July 1-5, in Vienna, Austria. (full story)

This story also appeared in R&D magazine, the Sacramento Bee, Albuquerque Business First, the LA Daily Post, the Los Alamos Monitor and many, many more
LANL investigates the properties of a novel cellulose structure

Improved methods for breaking down cellulose nanofibers are central to cost-effective biofuel production and the subject of new research from Los Alamos National Laboratory  and the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center. Scientists are investigating the unique properties of crystalline cellulose nanofibers to develop novel chemical pretreatments and designer enzymes for biofuel production from cellulosic—or non-food—plant derived biomass. (full story)

This story also appeared in Daily Fusion and Lab Manager

HPC geeks ponder 100 petafloppers and quantum supercomputers

The next big barrier for supercomputing is punching through 100 petaflops peak performance, which frankly could be done in a heartbeat if someone had a few hundred millions dollars lying around. And now that Google and NASA are monkeying around with a quantum computer, thoughts are turning to how a QC might be deployed to replace some of the work done by traditional supercomputer clusters.

And, as it turns out, the RFP for NERSC-8 will also include a second system called "Trinity" that is expected to be installed at Los Alamos National Laboratory to help manage the US government's stockpile of nuclear weapons. The exact floppage of Trinity has not been divulged, but this is a winner-take-all deal and it looks like Trinity will be about twice the size of NERSC-8. So that should be in the range of 200 petaflops. (full story)

Electric automakers address battery anxiety

Ever wish you had a clone or a replacement to handle those more anxiety-riddled moments in life? The electric car industry is building off that premise by offering replacement batteries to solve the biggest issue car buyers have in considering electric vehicles: range anxiety.

Earlier this month, it was reported that researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory discovered a way to manufacture low cost electric vehicle batteries, which at upwards of $10,000, are the single largest cost of an electric vehicle. (full story)

Bragging rights: A Gates scholar and kudos from Capitol Hill

In light of 2013 being the 10th anniversary of the state Legislature designating UNM-Taos a branch of the state’s flagship university, we have already seen some events worthy of celebration, or at least a little bragging.

After several years of setting aside funds, resources are being applied to student amenities such as indoor social and study areas, outdoor seating in the Pueblo Hall patio, and what will likely be one of the safest outdoor camera monitoring systems in the county, covering the bulk of the Klauer Campus.

The University of New Mexico-Taos campus is a prime example of the public and private sectors working together to employ cleaner energy. Their campus is home to one of the largest solar arrays in the state — a project that was successful thanks to a partnership with Los Alamos National Labs and Kit Carson Electric Cooperative. (full story)

The Terrible Chemistry of New Mexico’s Latest Fires

As I read Ray Monk’s new biography of Robert Oppenheimer, which I reviewed for the forthcoming issue of the New York Times Book Review, the parts that affected me most deeply were about northern New Mexico. I’d long known the story of Oppenheimer and Los Alamos, the secret atomic city he presided over in the Jemez Mountains. (full story)

LANL taking steps to remediate chromium plume

Los Alamos National Laboratory environmental program experts are one step closer to determining the best way to remediate a chromium plume in groundwater beneath Mortandad Canyon. Members of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and laboratory environmental cleanup offices began pumping tests last week at the well known as R-42. The well is east of the lab’s Technical Area 55. These tests are the first key steps directed at addressing the chromium contamination. (full story)

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