Jan 31, 2008

Long-Awaited Nuclear Weapon Research Tool Ready for U.S. Scientists, Laboratory Announces

U.S. scientists are ready to begin full operation of a long-delayed X-ray tool designed to simulate the exploding cores of nuclear weapons, the Los Alamos National Laboratory announced Tuesday (see GSN, April 2, 2007).

The Dual-Axis Radiographic Hydrodynamic Test facility features two enormous electron beam generators that create X-rays to produce images of extremely fast-moving materials. One beam generator has been working, but the second was postponed for years and could now be tested at full power as soon as this week, according to a laboratory release. Scientists expect to conduct the first full test involving both beams in early summer.

“The achievement of this capability at DARHT is a major accomplishment in stockpile stewardship,” said Glenn Mara, the New Mexico laboratory’s principal associate director for nuclear weapons programs, in a press release. “Such tools assure the continued safety, security, and reliability of the nation's nuclear deterrent without the need to return to nuclear testing” (Los Alamos National Laboratory release, Jan. 29).

The Energy Department’s National Nuclear Security Administration has pursued the DAHRT facility for years, but has faced numerous technical obstacles. If the facility achieves full operations this year, it would be two decades after the project’s inception, according to a 2004 report by nuclear weapons expert Christopher Paine of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

“It also will be considerably less capable than planned, thereby conveniently bolstering the argument that NNSA needs an even more powerful and capable radiographic facility,” the report says. “Weapons lab managers have perfected the art of turning costly technical failures into categorical improvements for the next big machine” (Greg Webb, Global Security Newswire, Jan. 31).

Meanwhile, laboratory managers have disclosed that an equipment failure allowed a small release of radiation last week in a chemistry laboratory, the Albuquerque Journal reported yesterday (see GSN, Oct. 25, 2007).

As technicians worked with a sample of germanium 68 — a radioactive isotope used for medical imaging — the safety cell holding the material lost power to its negative pressure system. Such systems are designed to prevent any gaseous leaks from the cell.

Some of the germanium did leak and triggered radiation alarms at the site, initiating an evacuation, the Journal reported. Parts of the building remain closed, but could reopen this week said laboratory spokesman Kevin Roark. Tests for radiation exposure among some workers came up negative.

“All the safety systems worked exactly as designed,” Roark said (Raam Wong, Albuquerque Journal, Jan. 30).

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

My, my. The Lab is bringing up the leak in the hotcells even in articles dealing with DARHT. No cover up? R-i-g-h-t. Sounds like now that they know none of the workers had any intake, they are all about talking about it.

Anonymous said...

Hey - I'd bring up the leak in an article like this to distract people from actually noticing the long drawn out drama with the second axis.

Anonymous said...

“It also will be considerably less capable than planned, thereby conveniently bolstering the argument that NNSA needs an even more powerful and capable radiographic facility,” the report says. “Weapons lab managers have perfected the art of turning costly technical failures into categorical improvements for the next big machine”

Looks like a good reason to cut all further funding and give it up. The mission of testing is over. Nukes are a threat to the global economy and the corporate giants are going to see to their abolishment to assure their pockets continue to stay full of fresh green euro's as like the new coin that good in US, Canada and Europe, Yes the idea of having one currency for the world is well on its way. Accept global economy or stick your head in the sand and get wanged. It's simple people.It's all about money people, it's all about greed whereby there will only be two classes of people. Rich and Poor.

Anonymous said...

Looks like a good reason to cut all further funding and give it up. The mission of testing is over.
================

Not at all. The purpose is to make sure
the weapons stockpile is both reliable
and SAFE. That mission will be with us
as long as nuclear weapons exist in the
stockpile.

I don't see nuclear weapons going away
in the near future.

See

http://www.fas.org/nuke/control/ctbt/
news/ctbprio.htm

"In this regard, President Clinton
established on August 11, 1995....

The President considers the maintenance
of a safe and reliable nuclear
stockpile to be a supreme national
interest of the United States. In his
August 11 announcement, the President
noted that if the Secretaries of
Defense and Energy...."

Anonymous said...

8:51 sounds like Chris Mechels is in da house.

Anonymous said...

8:51 am: "Yes the idea of having one currency for the world is well on its way"

Yeah, right. Among which countries? A handful of western European quasi-socialist states? Get real. Ask Russia or China if they'll adopt the Euro.

Anonymous said...

The chief reason for having the second beam on DARHT was so that 3-D imaging of hydro-tests could be performed. That is how it was sold to DOE back in the early 90's.

There were some scientists at LANL who tried to speak up and tell management that the design of DARHT was such that 3-D imaging would never work. It is my understanding that many of these scientists were informed by LANL management to shut up and stop talking about this subject.

In reading the news articles I saw little about the 3-D capability of DAHRT. Since 3-D imaging was the chief selling point of the project when it was sold to DOE, I'm curious if 3-D imaging capability has finally shown success with DAHRT. The LANL PR release says:

"The DARHT second axis provides the nation with a unique, world-class scientific facility with the potential to not only provide four-frame "movies" of tests, but also to give scientists the data to create the first-ever three-dimensional images, critical data to meet the needs of the stockpile for decades to come."

Have the scientists at LANL who spoke up against the design been proven correct in their analysis regarding DARHT's inability to achieve 3-D imaging? LANL appears to still be selling this 3-D imaging feature to the public. Anyone know the story of were this all stands?

peanuts said...

1. three d imaging requires massive computing powers, did any one think it would occur by magic?
2.Is anything planned and projected ever achieved at first blush?
3. Who benefits in a non-nuke world? A It t'aint us.

To keep the edge of the sword sharp is difficult, but the alternative is unthinkable...Hadrian