ORNL’s Benjamin Manard places a swipe on the extraction stage of Advion’s Plate Express, a microextraction tool that has been paired with a mass spectrometer. (Photo: Carlos Jones/ORNL, DOE)
International nuclear safeguards verification relies on a precise count of isotope particles collected on swipes during International Atomic Energy Agency inspections of nuclear facilities and isolated through a series of lengthy chemical separations that can take about 30 days to complete. On October 15, Oak Ridge National Laboratory—a member of the IAEA’s Network of Analytical Laboratories (NWAL)—announced that analytical chemists at the site have developed a faster way to measure isotopic ratios of uranium and plutonium collected on swipes, which could help IAEA analysts detect the presence of undeclared nuclear activities or material.
The EU’s Massimo Garribba (left) and the IAEA’s Lydie Evrard met at last week’s 65th IAEA General Conference to extend a 2013 cooperation agreement. (Photo: C./Silva Villareal)
Some of the major achievements of the nuclear safety cooperation agreement between the International Atomic Energy Agency and the European Union (EU) include more than 100 nuclear safety review missions, environmental remediation at former uranium sites in Central Asia, and more effective radioactive waste management in Africa.
U.S. energy secretary Jennifer Granholm and IAEA director general Rafael Mariano Grossi pose for a photo before their September 21 meeting announcing the next International Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Power in the 21st Century. (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA)
U.S. energy secretary Jennifer Granholm and International Atomic Energy Agency director general Rafael Mariano Grossi met in Vienna yesterday during the agency’s 65th General Conference to launch preparations for the next IAEA International Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Power in the 21st Century, slated for October 26–28, 2022, in Washington, D.C.
During the week-long mission, the IAEA team is carrying out practical NDT training with specialized equipment. (Photo: Abel Domato/BAC)
In the aftermath of a devastating explosion in the port of Beirut, Lebanon, in August 2020, an International Atomic Energy Agency team visited the country at the government’s request and found no evidence of artificial radionuclides and no increase in radiation levels. The powerful blast, which was caused by an explosion of improperly stored ammonium nitrate, killed more than 200 people and leveled numerous buildings while leaving other buildings standing with possible structural damage. The IAEA recently announced that a different team of experts has traveled to Lebanon with a new mission: to assist the nation in the use of non-destructive testing (NDT) to check the structural soundness of buildings that were impacted by the explosion.
Left: The University of Texas at Austin SBD Challenge team: from left, Michael Butero, Matthew Frangos, Daniel Gutierrez, and John (Jack) Whelan. Right: The University of Rhode Island team: from left, Jay Macchia, Sean Babin, and Peter Tillinghast. (Photo: NNSA)
The National Nuclear Security Administration's Office of Nonproliferation and Arms Control has been partnering with national laboratories and universities to introduce engineering students to the field of international safeguards. Safeguards ensure that nuclear material and facilities are not used to illicitly manufacture nuclear weapons, the NNSA noted in a July 27 article.
Rendering of the multipurpose building that will house the Nuclear Security Training and Demonstration Centre. (Photo: IAEA)
The International Atomic Energy Agency has broken ground for a new building designed to help countries combat nuclear terrorism in areas such as illegal material trafficking and physical protection of facilities.
Tuber magnatum, or European white truffles, may be the most expensive food on earth per kilogram. (Photo: Evan Sung)
Scientists from the Jozef Stefan Institute in Slovenia, with technical advice and analytical support from the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, are studying the composition of truffles—a rare and expensive type of mushroom—in order to determine their origin and help detect fraud. Thanks to a database and the techniques developed, other laboratories worldwide can also test truffles, establish their geographical origin, and verify whether they are genuine.
Plastic waste on a Galapagos beach. Sunlight, wind, and waves break down large plastic debris into smaller and smaller pieces to become microplastics. (Photo: F. Oberhaensli/IAEA)
The International Atomic Energy Agency has created a new program, NUclear TEChnology for Controlling Plastic Pollution (NUTEC Plastics), to address the global environmental impact of plastic pollution in oceans. It uses nuclear technology to monitor pollution and also to decrease the volume of plastic waste by using irradiation to complement traditional plastic recycling methods.
Scientists studied the migration of six butterflies (from top left to bottom right): American Snout butterfly, Queen butterfly, Cloudless Sulphur butterfly, Empress Leilia butterfly, Variegated Fritillary butterfly, and Southern Dogface butterfly. (Composite photo: IAEA; photo credits: S. Bright, V. Charny, J. Gallagher, J. Green)
While scientists can tag migrating birds, mammals, and other animals to track their movements, the precise migration patterns of butterflies and other insects too small for tagging evaded scientists’ scrutiny for decades. That changed in 1996, when Leonard Wassenaar and Keith Hobson, working at the time as isotope scientists for Environment Canada, demonstrated that isotopic techniques could be used to determine the origin of individual monarch butterflies and deduce the species’ annual migration routes. Now, the same technique is being used to study other butterfly species.