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04/29/2014    

 

 

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National Security

Throughout its history, SRNL has strongly supported the national defense through its capabilities and experience in defense, homeland security, and nuclear material issues.

Since its earliest days, SRNL has developed technologies to enhance the safety and cost-effectiveness of the Savannah River Site’s work with tritium, a radioactive form of hydrogen gas that is a vital component of the nation’s nuclear defense. SRNL continues its support of a robust nuclear weapons stockpile through deployment of improved technologies and testing of components to ensure stockpile safety and reliability.

The laboratory’s researchers are also recognized world leaders in technologies to separate, stabilize, package, transport, store, account for, and disposition spent fuel, plutonium and other nuclear materials. Earlier in its history, SRNL and SRS supported national defense through the production of plutonium as a feedstock in the manufacture of nuclear weapons. Emphasis now is on the recovery, storage and safe disposition of nuclear materials to ensure they do not represent a proliferation or environmental risk and to support global threat reduction.

SRNL provides support for homeland security initiatives in fields that include emergency response, urban search and rescue, border protection and law enforcement support, utilizing several of the areas of expertise for which SRNL is known.

Historically, the laboratory’s experts have developed highly sensitive analytical equipment and techniques to measure the environmental impact of the Savannah River Site’s radiological operations. That same expertise goes into the development of technologies and techniques for detecting and identifying chemical, biological and radiological materials to address homeland security goals. SRNL’s expertise in robotics, surveillance systems and specialty equipment is being applied to a broad range of needs, from vision systems for use in search-and-rescue missions, to low-cost robots for the disabling of improvised explosive devices, to medical devices for first responder physicians.

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Innovations in National Security

Hybrid Microwave
Hybrid Microwave
In collaboration with Hadron Technologies, SRNL has developed a microwave system to support gas sample analysis as part of the SRS national defense mission. Laboratory experimentation has shown that the new form of hybrid microwave is capable of performing functions that traditional microwave systems could not achieve. The system achieves extremely high temperatures by enabling materials that usually do not react to absorb microwave energy and rapidly heat up. Metals, which normally cannot be introduced into a microwave system, can not only be treated in thesystem, but are actually used to help increase the temperature of the lower chamber, enabling faster degradation of waste materials.

Equipment using these technologies could be used to destroy a wide variety of substances ranging from medical wastes to harmful viruses and drugs such as methamphetamine, while still allowing for DNA analysis of the destroyed material.

Medical Isotope Production
Molybdenum-99 (Moly-99), which is a critical part for many diagnostic medical procedures, is produced outside of the US using highly enriched uranium. This presents both nonproliferation and supply chain risks. As a result, NNSA's Global Threat Reduction Initiative is seeking safe new processes.

SHINE is a hybrid technique being developed by SHINE Medical Technologies to address both of these concerns by producing Moly-99 in the US without using highly enriched uranium. The accelerator-based neutron generator used in the production process requires tritium, therefore SHINE turned to SRNL to leverage state-of-the-art tritium technology used in the current NNSA tritium mission.

Medical Isotope Production


Mobile Plutonium Facility

Mobile Plutonium Facility
The Mobile Plutonium Facility (MPF) is the world’s only rapid response capability that can be deployed to characterize, stabilize and package plutonium for shipment to a recipient location. This stand-alone operating environment is completely self-sufficient. The MPF allows for rapid recovery of nuclear materials from a foreign weapons program with no prior knowledge of material characteristics.

 

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