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Los Alamos National Laboratory

  • NNSA honors LA in 2014 Sustainability Awards

    The National Nuclear Security Administration this week awarded 15 Sustainability Awards for innovation and excellence to its national laboratories and sites, and Los Alamos National Laboratory is among the winners, with honorees in both the Best in Class and Environmental Stewardship categories.
    “Los Alamos has worked hard to increase efficiency and protect natural resources across our site,” said Laboratory Director Charlie McMillan. “Innovative approaches to sustainability and greenhouse gas reduction are just two areas where we seek to be the best possible stewards of the environment and we share with the communities of northern New Mexico. It is through the cumulative effect of these efforts over time that we can accomplish our mission in a sustainable manner.”
    The awards recognize exemplary individual and team performance in advancing sustainability objectives through innovative and effective programs and projects that increase energy, water and fleet efficiency and reduce greenhouse gases, pollution and waste.

  • Lab to hold full-scale homeland security drill

    Los Alamos National Laboratory Emergency response personnel, Protective Force guards, federal officials, the Los Alamos Police Department and the FBI will participate in an extensive, full scale homeland security emergency exercise for two full days Saturday and Sunday.
    The exercise will take place within a small section of Technical Area 3, the laboratory’s main administrative area. All other parts of the laboratory will be unaffected.
    On Saturday, from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. vehicle access to the laboratory through the east and west Jemez Road access control points will be limited to DOE badge holders only.
    Vehicles can bypass the TA-3 exercise area by using West Road. There will be no access restrictions on Sunday.
    There will be limited period of time on Saturday when there will be no access through the Vehicle Access Portals on East and West Jemez Roads. During that period of time, which could be up to two hours, all vehicles will asked to use West Road to bypass the TA-3 area of Los Alamos National Laboratory.
    The field simulation of the exercise will last a short period of time on Saturday, and will imitate a real-life scenario involving a hostile event.
    Loud noises from simulated explosives and the sound of weapons using blank ammunition may be heard in the surrounding area.

  • LANL employees pledge $217M

    The work of more than 250 community and social service organizations will benefit from the more than $2.17 million pledged by Los Alamos National Laboratory employees to United Way and other nonprofits during the laboratory’s 2015 Employee Giving Campaign.
    “We are proud to help the many community focused non-profit organizations working hard to improve the lives of so many people in Northern New Mexico,” said Alan Bishop, Los Alamos’ principal associate director for Science, Technology and Engineering and this year’s campaign champion. “The list of organizations receiving support from the Lab’s giving campaign runs the gamut from after-school services to elder care, and from job training to providing safe havens to victims of domestic violence.”
    The amount pledged is a record for a giving campaign by Los Alamos employees. Los Alamos National Security, LLC plans to prorate its $1 million match among the selected nonprofit organizations, bringing the total donation to nearly $3.2 million.

  • BPU draws solar supporters

    A special Board of Public Utilities meeting held Friday to discuss proposed changes to the electric rate structure drew approximately 15 members of the public.
    Most of the public comment centered on a proposal to charge customers with home photovoltaic systems a $10 distributed generation fee beginning in January, increasing to $12 in July, in order to recover infrastructure costs.

    Solar supporters asked BPU to take a broader look before agreeing to that rate structure, such as analyzing cost/benefits and looking at alternatives such as selling Renewable Energy Credits from home PV generation to recover costs.

    "I think it's important that the board realize that this is not simply a simple economic calculation that you can use to calculate a rate structure. What you are really facing is a matter of public policy in this county as to how we're going to treat distributed power production, green energy, etc," Mike Wheeler said.
    So while I understand your concerns and dilemmas on the rate structure, it's most important that this board consider the public policy that comes about because of your decision."
    Several citizens asked the board to delay implementation until options were thoroughly evaluated, since the number of home solar households just recently increased from 36 users to 44.

  • DOE IG report: Sandia misused federal funds

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — Managers at one of the nation’s premier federal laboratories improperly used taxpayer funds to influence members of Congress and other officials as part of an effort to extend the lab’s $2.4 billion management contract, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Inspector General said in a report Wednesday.
    A review of documents determined that Sandia National Laboratories formed a team and worked with consultants beginning in 2009 to develop a plan for securing a contract extension without having to go through a competitive process.
    That plan called for lobbying Congress, trying to influence key advisers to then-Energy Secretary Steven Chu and reaching out to a former director of the National Nuclear Security Administration and former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, a Democrat who led the Energy Department under the Clinton administration.
    One consultant suggested the lab’s message to decision-makers should be that competition was not in the best interest of the government.
    “We believe that the use of federal funds for the development of a plan to influence members of Congress and federal officials to, in essence, prevent competition was inexplicable and unjustified,” the inspector general said in its report.

  • LANL celebrates 100 supercomputers — VIDEO added

    From the 1952 MANIAC to Bonanza deployed just this month, Los Alamos National Laboratory has deployed 100 supercomputers in the last 60 years — a showcase of high-performance computing history.
    “The computing capability in our data centers in any given year dwarfs what was there 10 years before,” said Randal Rheinheimer of the High Performance Computing division, “and Los Alamos has been on that curve for 60 years.”
    The Los Alamos computers deployed along the way include the MANIAC II, which started its nearly 20-year service life with over 5000 vacuum tubes, all of which were replaced over time with circuit boards. Any computing device today would have to be purpose-built to compute as slowly as the MANIAC computers. But compared to a room full of people with mechanical calculators, those early computing tools were significant advances, Rheinheimer notes. “It was the first and only triumph of serial over parallel computing.”

  • Lab scientist to discuss earthquakes

    Earthquakes and their possible causes is the topic of the next series of Frontiers in Science lectures by Paul Johnson of Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Geophysics group. The first lecture is at 7 p.m. Nov. 12 at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, 1801 Mountain Road NW in Albuquerque.
    “What is it that makes the Earth move under our feet?” Johnson asks. “How is it that earthquakes can cause other earthquakes? Can human activities also trigger earthquakes?”
    Additional Frontiers in Science lectures at 7 p.m. are scheduled for:
    Nov. 17 at Crossroads Bible Church, 97 East Road, Los Alamos
    Nov. 18 in the James A. Little Theater New Mexico School for the Deaf, 1060 Cerrillos Road, Santa Fe.
    About the Speaker
    Johnson is a Los Alamos National Laboratory Fellow and in 2011 was selected as an American Geophysical Union Fellow. He earned a doctoral degree in physical acoustics from the Université Pierre et Marie Curie at the Sorbonne, Paris. He also is a Fellow of the Acoustical Society of America and a Fulbright Scholar to France. He has worked at the Laboratory more than 35 years.

  • Explosives performance key to stockpile stewardship

    As the U.S. Nuclear Deterrent ages, one essential factor in making sure that the weapons will continue to perform as designed is understanding the fundamental properties of the high explosives that are part of a nuclear weapons system.
    “As we move forward with our stockpile and as it’s aging and as we’re replacing components, we want to make sure that we have confidence that those materials perform as intended,” said Dana Dattelbaum, a chemist in the laboratory’s Shock and Detonation Physics group. “And that we are also continuing to improve on safety.”
    As nuclear weapons go through life extension programs, some changes may be advantageous, particularly through the addition of what are known as “insensitive” high explosives that are much less likely to accidentally detonate than the already very safe “conventional” high explosives that are used in most weapons.
    “We’re very interested in understanding chemical dynamics in extreme conditions,” said Dattelbaum. “Chemical reactions are occurring in very extreme environments with very fast reaction rates, and we really don’t fully understand the first bond-breaking steps and the subsequent bond-breaking steps as an explosive detonates.”

  • Venture fund earns honor

    The Venture Acceleration Fund, created by Los Alamos National Security, LLC received the 2014 entrepreneurship award from the International Economic Development Council.
    The award was presented at IEDC’s annual conference this week in Fort Worth, Texas.
    “Since the VAF was initiated in 2006, LANS has invested approximately $3 million in 49 New Mexico businesses,” said David Pesiri, director of Los Alamos’ Feynman Center for Innovation. “Now it’s a community effort, with Los Alamos County, the city of Santa Fe and the New Mexico Manufacturing Extension Partnership stepping forward to partner with us.”
    Kathy Keith, the executive director of the Regional Development Corporation, said the fund has been an excellent resource for small businesses.
    “The Venture Acceleration Fund has effectively helped entrepreneurs start new businesses, grow existing businesses and contribute to a more diverse economy,” Keith said. “It all began with an investment from LANS…and we continue to work closely with the lab’s Feynman Center and Community Programs Office to administer the program.”
    The IEDC annually recognizes the world’s best economic development programs and partnerships, marketing materials and most influential leaders.

  • LANL scientists test new rocket design flight

    Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists recently flight tested a new rocket design that includes a high-energy fuel and a motor design that also delivers a high degree of safety.
    “What we’re trying to do is break the performance versus sensitivity curve, and make a rocket that’s both very high-energy, as well as very safe,” said Bryce Tappan, an energetic materials chemist at the laboratory. “Typically, when you look at a propellant that’s high-performance, it’s not as safe a material.” See the flight tests and hear how Tappan and his research partners at New Mexico Tech and Penn State accomplished a fully successful flight in a new video on the laboratory’s YouTube Channel.
    Conventional solid-fuel rocket motors work by combining a fuel and an oxidizer, a material usually rich in oxygen, to enhance the burning of the fuel. In higher-energy fuels this mixture can be somewhat unstable, and can contain sensitive high explosives that can detonate under high shock loads, high temperatures, or other conditions.
    The new rocket fuel and motor design adds a higher degree of safety by separating the fuel from the oxidizer, both novel formulations that are, by themselves, not able to detonate.