New method produces curium crystals for research in a radiochemistry first

September 21, 2022, 7:00AMNuclear News
A new compound of curium photographed at LLNL during crystallography experiments. Crystals of this curium compound are uncolored under ambient light but glow an intense pink-red when exposed to ultraviolet light. (Image: LLNL/Deblonde)

Scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Oregon State University (OSU) have developed a promising new method to isolate and study some of the rarest elements on Earth. Focused first on curium, they have identified three new complexes containing curium ions and revealed the molecules’ 3D structures, as well as previously unknown features.

One year later: Three peer-reviewed papers tell the story of NIF’s record yield shot

August 11, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News
A stylized image of a cryogenic target used in NIF experiments. (Image: James Wickboldt/LLNL)

Just over one year ago, on August 8, 2021, researchers achieved a yield of more than 1.3 megajoules (MJ) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s National Ignition Facility (NIF) for the first time, achieving scientific ignition and getting closer to fusion gain.

The scientific results of the historic experiment were published exactly one year later in three peer-reviewed papers: one in Physical Review Letters and two (an experimental paper and a design paper) in Physical Review E. In recognition of the many individuals who worked over decades to enable the ignition milestone, more than 1,000 authors are included on the Physical Review Letters paper.

Radiography unit at SRS verifies contents of TRU shipments to WIPP

February 16, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear News
Operators load a TRU waste drum into a real-time radiography unit for characterization at the Solid Waste Management Facility at the Savannah River Site. (Photos: DOE)

Operators at the Savannah River Site’s Solid Waste Management Facility can now characterize and certify newly generated TRU waste through the use of a real-time radiography unit that uses an X-ray system to examine the contents of waste containers. The equipment was recently installed to meet updated requirements set by the Department of Energy’s National TRU Program that involve evaluating the containers for chemical compatibility and oxidizing chemicals.

The shipments of TRU waste from SRS, in South Carolina, are sent to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), in New Mexico, for disposal.

Burning plasma state achieved at Lawrence Livermore Lab

January 27, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear News
An illustration of the two inertial confinement fusion designs reaching the burning plasma regime, as published in a recent article in Nature. (Image: LLNL)

One of the last remaining milestones in fusion research before attaining ignition and self-sustaining energy production is creating a burning plasma, where the fusion reactions themselves are the primary source of heating in the plasma. A paper published in the journal Nature on January 26 describes recent experiments at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s National Ignition Facility (NIF) that have achieved a burning plasma state.

Omar Hurricane: Scientific proof of principle at the NIF

January 14, 2022, 7:00AMNuclear News


In 2012, Omar Hurricane, a distinguished member of the technical staff at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, was asked by the laboratory director to lead a team to delve into studying the physics and engineering obstacles preventing fusion ignition at the National Ignition Facility (NIF). The team’s efforts led to a new exploratory “basecamp” strategy and the creation of several pivotal experiments that revealed some of the underlying problems with the ignition point design, while also delivering improved fusion performance and the first evidence of significant alpha particle self-heating.

Hurricane was appointed chief scientist of the Inertial Confinement Fusion Program in 2014, a position he has held ever since. He was named a Fellow of the American Physical Society’s Division of Plasma Physics in 2016 and was recently awarded the Edward Teller Medal from the American Nuclear Society for his work on inertial confinement fusion physics.

Biden picks ANS Fellow to lead NNSA defense programs

December 16, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News


President Biden yesterday announced his intent to nominate Marvin Adams, an ANS Fellow, for the position of deputy administrator for defense programs at the National Nuclear Security Administration.

The announcement drew the following response from energy secretary Jennifer Granholm: “Marvin is a unique success story, having started his career at a DOE lab and now regarded as the nation’s foremost academic expert on safeguarding our nuclear stockpile. If confirmed, Marvin will work to keep our nation—and our world—safe from nuclear threats. I am deeply grateful for Marvin’s willingness to serve and look forward to his speedy confirmation.”

Texas A&M to lead isotope R&D traineeship program

December 9, 2021, 9:31AMNuclear News

The Department of Energy is dedicating $2 million to the establishment of a first-of-its-kind program to train undergraduate and graduate students in isotope research and development, production, and processing. Texas A&M University will serve as the Isotope Traineeship Coordination (ITC) site, collaborating with a team of 14 colleges and universities and three national laboratories: Argonne National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Protein shows potential to accelerate cancer therapy research and application

October 25, 2021, 3:05PMNuclear News
LLNL and Penn State researchers developed a new approach to study and purify medical isotopes, including actinium. (Image: Thomas Reason/LLNL)

Scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Pennsylvania State University have demonstrated that a natural protein found bonded to rare earth elements can be recovered and used as a tool to purify and effectively manage radioactive metals that show promise for cancer therapy and the detection of illicit nuclear activities.

Biochemistry research could have implications in nuclear waste remediation

September 22, 2021, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
During a fluorescence spectroscopy experiment at LLNL, the protein lanmodulin makes radioactive curium glow when exposed to UV light in the sample to the right. The schematic (left) represents the structure of the curium-protein complex, with three curium atoms bound per molecule of protein. (Photo: LLNL)

Scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, working in collaboration with researchers at Penn State University and Harvard Medical School, have discovered a new mechanism by which radionuclides could spread in the environment.

The research, which has implications for nuclear waste management and environmental chemistry, was published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society on September 20.

National Ignition Facility experiment achieves record-breaking yield

August 18, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News
A color-enhanced photograph of the NIF target bay. (Photo: LLNL/Damien Jemison)

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is celebrating the yield from an experiment at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) of more than 1.3 megajoules of energy—eight times more than the yield from experiments conducted this spring and 25 times more than NIF’s 2018 record yield.

NNSA to host virtual job fair

June 17, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News

A virtual job fair for the Department of Energy’s Nuclear Security Enterprise (NSE) is being held on Wednesday, June 23, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (EDT). The job fair will be hosted by the DOE's National Nuclear Security Administration.

The NSE is looking for the next generation of nuclear security professionals and is planning to hire more than 2,500 new employees in 2021.

Interested candidates are encouraged to register online for the event.

The power to save the world … from asteroids

April 12, 2021, 6:59AMANS Nuclear Cafe
In this illustration of the effects of two neutron yields (50 kt and 1 Mt) and two neutron energies (14.1 MeV and 1 MeV), the black dots represent the location of a nuclear device. Dark blue indicates where the asteroid remains solid, while all other colors show where material has been melted or vaporized. The illustration depicts asteroids with 0.8-m and 5-m diameters—much smaller than the 300-m asteroid simulated in the study—to enhance the visibility of the area of the energy deposition. Image: LLNL

A research collaboration between Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) has investigated how the neutron energy generated by the detonation of a nuclear device could affect the path and speed of an asteroid on a collision course with Earth by melting and vaporizing a portion of the asteroid. The research, which compared the deflection caused by two different neutron energies—14.1 MeV and 1 MeV, representing fusion and fission neutrons, respectively—is described in an article published by LLNL on April 8.

LLNL expands release of energy flowcharts

August 24, 2020, 12:24PMNuclear News

This flowchart is housed in a library of Sankey diagrams at and is also available as a PDF. Source: Department of Energy/LLNL, based on EIA data

Every year, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory releases flowcharts illustrating U.S. energy consumption and use. The flowcharts, called Sankey diagrams, allow scientists, analysts, and other decision makers to compare the contributions made by various energy sources, including nuclear power, and the end uses of those sources, including residential, industrial, commercial, and transportation markets. Taken as a series of annual snapshots, energy use trends and opportunities quickly become apparent.

This year, in addition to releasing the 2019 energy flowchart, the lab issued state-by-state energy flowcharts for 2015–2018 and carbon emissions charts for 2014–2017. It is currently at work on charts of international energy use that it hopes to release by the end of the year.