Alumnus of NASA program administered by ORAU wins presidential award

Josh Alwood and PECASE Award

Joshua Alwood in the Bone and Signaling Lab at NASA’s Ames Research Center. (Image Credit: NASA Ames/Dominic Hart)

Top presidential honor recognizes research initiated during fellowship, continued at NASA’s Ames Research Center 

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Joshua S. Alwood, a former participant in the NASA Postdoctoral Program, was awarded the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) at a ceremony in April. PECASE is the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government for science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers. Alwood received the award in recognition of advances in space bioscience he achieved at NASA’s Ames Research Center.

The NASA Postdoctoral Program contributes to national priorities for scientific exploration, confirms NASA’s leadership in fundamental research, and complements the efforts of NASA’s partners in the national science community. Oak Ridge Associated Universities has administered NPP for NASA since 2005. [Read more...]

Retired Air Force general sworn in as NNSA administrator

Frank Klotz, Nancy Klotz, and Ernest Moniz at NNSA Swearing-in Ceremony

NNSA Administrator Frank Klotz, his wife Nancy Klotz, and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz at a swearing-in ceremony on Thursday. (Photos courtesy NNSANews)

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz swore in Frank G. Klotz as the U.S. Department of Energy’s undersecretary for nuclear security and administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration in a private ceremony on Thursday afternoon. Klotz was joined by his wife Nancy and Acting Administrator Bruce Held.

“I am very pleased that Gen. Klotz has now been sworn in as the fourth undersecretary of nuclear security and administrator for the National Nuclear Security Admiration,” Moniz said. “With his years of service to our country, his vision for NNSA’s nuclear security programs, and his dedication to supporting the men and women of the organization, I am confident Gen. Klotz will bring strong leadership and management to this critical Department of Energy mission. I look forward to working closely with Frank in support of the President’s nuclear security priorities.”

The Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge is an NNSA site. The NNSA is a separate agency within DOE.

Klotz is a retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant general. He is the former commander of Air Force Global Strike Command, a position he held from 2009 to 2011. He was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on April 8. [Read more...]

ORNL’s John Wagner receives E.O. Lawrence Award

John Wagner

John Wagner is a 2013 recipient of the Department of Energy’s Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory researcher John Wagner has been named a 2013 recipient of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award for his work in advancing computer, information, and knowledge sciences.

Wagner, a nuclear engineer who serves as national technical director for DOE’s Nuclear Fuels Storage and Transportation Planning Project, was recognized for his leadership in the field of computational radiation transport.

“The Lawrence Award recipients announced today have made significant contributions to the national, economic and energy security of the United States—strengthening U.S. leadership in discovery and innovation,” said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. “I congratulate the winners and thank them for their work on behalf of the Department of Energy and the nation.” [Read more...]

NNSA awards $25 million nonproliferation grant to group that includes ORNL

Oak Ridge National Laboratory Sign

Federal officials on Wednesday announced they had awarded a $25 million nonproliferation grant to a consortium that includes ORNL.

The National Nuclear Security Administration on Wednesday announced a $25 million nuclear nonproliferation grant to a consortium that is led by North Carolina State University and includes Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

The grant from the NNSA’s Office of Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Research and Development is for research and development that will enable nonproliferation capabilities, a press release said. The consortium will receive $5 million per year for five years. The grant is in response to a funding opportunity announcement issued in May 2013.

“This grant will provide the U.S. government with cutting-edge research and development to identify and address multi-disciplinary and cross-functional technology and research needs that are critical to detecting foreign nuclear weapon proliferation activities,” the press release said. “Specifically, the research projects pursued by the consortium will include technologies to enhance simulation capabilities, algorithms, and modeling; new test and evaluation models for detection sensors; new remote sensing capabilities; and applications of data analytics and data fusion to better characterize and detect special nuclear materials.” [Read more...]

Review team develops UPF alternative, sends report to NNSA

Thom Mason

Thom Mason

The projected cost had passed $10 billion and the completion date pushed back to 2038, so federal officials were looking for an alternative approach to the proposed Uranium Processing Facility at the Y-12 National Security Complex.

Earlier this year, the National Nuclear Security Administration asked Thom Mason, Oak Ridge National Laboratory director, to lead a team—a so-called “Red Team”—that would develop an alternative approach.

The team’s task was to find a faster, more efficient solution, NNSA Acting Administrator Bruce Held told a House subcommittee on April 3.

On Tuesday, the deadline for submitting a report, Mason said the team has identified a possible alternative and provided information on how the proposal could be implemented if the NNSA adopts it. The next step will be up to the NNSA. Y-12 is an NNSA site.

The goal is to still allow workers to get out of Y-12’s aging Building 9212 by 2025 and keep the cost within an approved range of $4.2 billion to $6.5 billion, Mason said late Tuesday afternoon, when the report was being polished before transmittal. [Read more...]

Anasys licenses ORNL nanoscale mass spectrometry imaging technology

Heated Atomic Force Microscope Cantilever Probe

A heated atomic force microscope cantilever probe touches a surface to be analyzed with vapor from surface material that is thermally desorbed. The heat is drawn into the ion source of the mass spectrometer, ionized, and then detected and analyzed by a mass spectrometer. (Submitted photo)

Anasys Instruments Corp. has licensed an Oak Ridge National Laboratory technology that allows for simultaneous chemical and physical characterization and could lead to advances in  materials and drug development.

The technique, which combines the power of atomic force microscopy and mass spectrometry, fills a void and streamlines analytical processes that are vital to science and industry, said Roshan Shetty, chief executive officer of Anasys Instruments. He also noted that the technology improves the current spatial resolution of ambient methods for mass spectrometry imaging by a factor of more than 100, resulting in imaging resolution as small as 250 nanometers, or 1/400th the thickness of a human hair.

“This capability could have a tremendous impact on a broad field of applications in materials and life sciences ranging from single-cell imaging to polymer composites,” Shetty said. [Read more...]

ORAU, DOE seeking students, grads for EM internships, research


Oak Ridge Associated Universities and the U.S. Department of Energy are currently seeking students and recent graduates for paid internships and research opportunities in a variety of disciplines through the Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management Science Education and Internship Program.

The mission of OREM is to remove environmental legacies resulting from decades of uranium enrichment activities and energy and scientific research. Students and recent college graduates will learn about this mission and receive specialized training and practical experience in the safe cleanup of environmental projects.

This workforce development program offers internships and research opportunities in disciplines ranging from chemical, nuclear, and other engineering fields to environmental and physical sciences, information technology, and occupational safety and health. The goal is to give participants a chance to explore a federal career with DOE and to create a pipeline of highly qualified professionals to support critical DOE missions for years to come. [Read more...]

USEC centrifuge agreement extended, but future uncertain as workers receive WARN notices

Centrifuge Machine Manufacturing

In Oak Ridge, USEC workers take part in centrifuge operations, testing, and manufacturing for the American Centrifuge Project. (Photos courtesy USEC)

Note: This story was last updated at 11:11 a.m.

The American Centrifuge Project, a program that would enrich uranium for commercial nuclear power plants and has operations in Oak Ridge, got a little extra time this week.

Several billions have already been spent and funding was set to expire April 15, but USEC announced Tuesday morning that the research, development, and demonstration agreement was extended through April 30. That was done at no additional cost to the taxpayer through “prudent management of existing program funds by USEC,” the company said in a press release.

In the meantime, USEC said it continues its discussions with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which could take over the management of the project for national security purposes. The DOE takeover was announced by Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz during a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing earlier this month.

The future of the project is not clear and several hundred workers have received notices that they could be laid off. On Friday, USEC Inc. spokesperson Paul Jacobson said the 60-day notices, which were effective March 19, were sent to 174 USEC employees in the Oak Ridge area and a total of 400 workers. Most of the other workers are in Piketon, Ohio, but there are also a few at USEC headquarters in Bethseda, Md. [Read more...]

Council approves stoplight project at SR 95, Bethel Valley Road

Highway 95 and Bethel Valley Road Stoplight

Note: This story was updated at 11:30 p.m. March 14.

Hoping to improve safety, state officials plan to install a stoplight west of Oak Ridge National Laboratory at the intersection of State Route 95 and Bethel Valley Road.

The stoplight and other geometric improvements have been endorsed by Johnny O. Moore, U.S. Department of Energy manager at the ORNL Site Office.

“This intersection poses safety problems for the general public, as well as employees of ORNL, and these proposed improvements would be greatly appreciated,” Moore said in a Feb. 6 letter to Oak Ridge City Manager Mark Watson.

The project could cost $200,000. The Tennessee Department of Transportation would fund it through the Federal Highway Administration Highway Safety Project. Oak Ridge City Engineer Steve Byrd said this type of project qualifies for 100 percent federal funding.

On Monday, the Oak Ridge City Council approved an agreement that would make the city responsible for maintenance after the stoplight is built. The annual maintenance cost for the city is expected to be about $1,500. [Read more...]

With K-25 demolition complete, DOE plans to preserve building ‘footprint’

K-25 Building Demolition March 2014

Demolition work at the K-25 Building in west Oak Ridge is complete, and cleanup work is expected to be complete this summer. Pictured above is the former south end of the east wing. (Photo by John Huotari)

Demolition of the K-25 Building in west Oak Ridge has been completed. Now, the U.S. Department of Energy looks toward the future and preserving the footprint of the Manhattan Project building.

The building was about 44 acres “under roof,” according to Susan Cange, deputy manager of DOE’s Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management. K-25 was built to enrich uranium for atomic bombs during World War II.

“There was a lot of discussion over the years about whether we could retain a portion of the building as a part of historic preservation,” Cange said. “From a safety and security perspective, it really wasn’t a viable alternative.”

In 2012, Cange and others signed a Memorandum of Agreement, and they envisioned completion of a preservation project within five to seven years. They also agreed to retain the footprint of the building and dedicate it in some way to allow visitors to see the enormity of the former mile-long, U-shaped building. [Read more...]

NIOSH renews ORAU contract for sick worker program

Andy Page

Andy Page

Contract could be worth about $150 million over five years

For the second time in about five years, a federal health and safety institute has renewed its contract with Oak Ridge Associated Universities for the support it provides on a sick worker program. The new contract could be worth about $150 million during a five-year period.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health awarded the contract to a team headed by ORAU in Oak Ridge. Under the new contract, ORAU and its partners Dade Moeller and Associates Inc. and MJW Technical Services Inc. will continue to support NIOSH and its work under the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act, or EEOICPA, a press release said.

Last renewed in 2009, this contract has been managed by ORAU for more than a decade, and this is the second time NIOSH has renewed with ORAU and its partners, the release said. [Read more...]

Alexander: Red Team Review of UPF could be model for other DOE projects

Uranium Processing Facility

Pictured above is the proposed Uranium Processing Facility at Y-12 National Security Complex, with the administrative area in the front and the fortified section of the building in the rear. (Submitted image)

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander on Wednesday called for a special Senate hearing on whether an ongoing review of the Uranium Processing Facility in Oak Ridge could serve as a model to improve oversight of U.S. Department of Energy projects, a press release said.

In a hearing held by the Appropriations Subcommittee for Energy and Water Development, of which he is the lead Republican, Alexander noted that Thom Mason, director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, is currently conducting a “Red Team” review of UPF. Mason’s Red Team members are using the same process that has made the Office of Science the only office in DOE that successfully manages efficient and cost-effective projects, said Alexander, a Tennessee Republican. [Read more...]