NNSS Engineers, UNLV Grads Recruit Next Generation at TechConnect 18
The Nevada National Security Site (NNSS) reached out to the next generation of employees at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) TechConnect 2018 fair in early March. TechConnect is an annual student/employer networking event that promotes the availability of technology career opportunities.
Mechanical engineers Oscar Pereira Avilez and Ricardo Rivera, two recently hired employees who are also UNLV graduates, joined Principal Project Manager Von Sudderth in representing the NNSS and engaging interested students.
Participating in events like this is extremely important for students, Pereira Avilez said.
“If you don’t know what’s out there being offered, and you don’t get involved in internships, it’s going to be extremely difficult for you to get a job,” he added.
He and Rivera both started off as NNSS interns in 2016 and became full-time employees after graduating from UNLV in December 2017.
“When students find out about the opportunities we provide, they are really excited about the technology and the capabilities we bring to keep the nation safe,” Sudderth said.
At the end of the event, Pereira Avilez was a member of a panel of graduates hired in the tech field who answered questions from interested students about their success so far. He shared his story of how he became a mechanical engineer right after graduating from UNLV, thanks to his NNSS internship, and gave advice to students looking to stand out in the industry.
“Beef up your resume. Highlight your accomplishments,” he said.
Pereira Avilez recognizes the need to hire employees capable of carrying on the work when others retire.
“We need to make sure we have people who are following in their footsteps – and not only just learning, but learning under them, so they can get that information, that experience and that wisdom, to pass it down,” he said.
As for Rivera, he also sees a bright future ahead of him at the NNSS.
“It’s very flexible; you can work anywhere,” he said. “You never know – today engineering, tomorrow project management.”
If you're interested in current job opportunities at the NNSS, please visit our Careers page.
The NSSAB is comprised of volunteer members who review and comment on environmental restoration and waste activities at the NNSS. The members bring a variety of perspectives to the Board on issues of significant concern to the region. Rural interests, environmental concerns, and local government viewpoints are discussed and considered by the Board before making recommendations to the DOE EM Nevada Program.
Interested in joining? The NSSAB is currently recruiting new members to represent Amargosa Valley, Goldfield, and Tonopah, Nevada; and Tecopa and Shoshone, California. Applications are being accepted through March 31, 2018. To download an application or to learn more about the NSSAB, visit www.nnss.gov/NSSAB and/or attend the March 14, 2018, meeting in Las Vegas.
Advisory Board Moves Forward with Plan to Gauge Community Perspectives
The Nevada Site Specific Advisory Board (NSSAB) recently approved a plan for its members to gather information from fellow community residents regarding their level of interest and/or any concerns about U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Environmental Management (EM) Nevada Program activities.
Six NSSAB members, a student intern with the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV), and the liaison representing the Consolidated Group of Tribes and Organizations formed the Community Analysis Committee to develop the plan for pulsing more than a dozen communities located near the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS). The approach involves meeting one-on-one with individuals, discussing questions, requesting completion of a survey, and compiling the results of their efforts.
Both the NSSAB and the EM Nevada Program hope the results of the work plan will identify new ideas that the EM Nevada Program can implement to enhance its outreach program. “We’re excited that the NSSAB chose this work plan and believe their efforts will help us better understand the level of interest communities have in our program,” said Kelly Snyder, strategic communications manager for DOE’s EM Nevada Program. “For more than 20 years, our outreach has evolved to expand the availability of information through the use of technology, and now we are looking to the NSSAB to help us focus our efforts based on feedback from multiple communities.”
Steve Rosenbaum, chair of the advisory board, commended Community Analysis Committee members at the January 2018 meeting for their extensive efforts to assemble the very detailed plan, “the product put together is quite impressive!” Following an overview briefing on the plan by Committee Chair Richard Stephans, the NSSAB discussed implementation of the plan and voted unanimously to move forward upon DOE EM Nevada Program approval.
In February, the EM Nevada Program approved the plan and Community Analysis Committee members are now working to schedule one-on-one interviews with key community leaders and residents in Beatty, Pahrump, Goldfield, Boulder City, Mesquite, Las Vegas, Henderson and North Las Vegas. In addition, committee members will be reaching out to students and staff at UNLV, and tribal members from the 16 American Indian tribes that form the Consolidated Group of Tribes and Organizations.
The NSSAB anticipates that the information gathering process and survey will continue into May. Completion of their analysis and a recommendation to the EM Nevada Program is planned for submittal in July.
If you’re interested in having your perspectives included in the NSSAB’s assessment, please contact the NSSAB office at 702-630-0522 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Day One of Nevada National Security Site Contract Begins for SOC
SOC LLC, a Day & Zimmerman company, initiated its services March 1, 2018, starting day one of the Protective Force Contract for the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS) under the Department of Energy (DOE)’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). The NNSS plays a critical role in maintaining the nation’s nuclear deterrent and supporting other vitally important national security missions. SOC is supported by integrated small business subcontractors Longenecker & Associates, Protection Strategies Inc., and MCH Corporation. SOC’s services include static, rolling and perimeter security, escort services, facility inspections, force-on-force exercises, training, technical security and systems monitoring, as well as other special and emergency response activities.
“SOC is honored to be a part of the important change taking place now at Nevada National Security Site. After a long tenure from the previous contractor, the Department of Energy has chosen SOC,” stated Anthony Mendez, General Manager SOC NNSS. “It is the people who make this operation successful and we have a commitment to lead the transitioning workforce into the future, as they are an important part of the NNSS history and success,” he added.
“Our team of SOC leaders will apply our foundation of strong core values and collective team experience to bring a fresh approach to sustain and strengthen all Nevada National Security Site Protective Force operations,” said Billy Conner, Senior Vice President, SOC. “As the first new contractor to manage protective force services at NNSS in more than 50 years, we understand the importance of establishing success early on and look to build important partnerships in the community,” he added.
With a company history of nearly 75 years supporting DOE, Day & Zimmermann and SOC together have provided safeguards and security services, maintenance and perations, and architecture and design services to protect national security assets that include nuclear research, development, and manufacturing environments.
In addition to SOC's work at the NNSS, SOC is a Joint Venture partner of Consolidated Nuclear Security LLC (CNS). CNS currently manages and operates the Pantex Plant and Y-12 National Security Complex on behalf of the NNSA. SOC also provides protective force services for a major multidisciplinary national security engineering laboratory supporting the NNSA. For more than 20 years, SOC provided best-in-class protective force services at one of the largest national laboratories supporting NNSA, safeguarding national security assets in a federally-funded research and development environment.
SOC, with a 38-year history operating in Nevada, has been serving the U.S. National Security Mission for nearly four decades at Hawthorne Army Depot, one of the largest demilitarization sites in the world.
Southern Nevada Firefighters Get Hazardous Materials Training at the NNSS
Recently, NNSS’ Fire & Rescue (F&R) hosted a series of training classes for local firefighters in Southern Nevada. Five instructors, subject matter experts from Louisiana State University (LSU)’s National Center for Biomedical Research and Training, traveled to the NNSS to teach advanced hazardous materials sampling. The F&R students, already trained in basic sampling, were from the NNSS as well as Las Vegas, Henderson and Nye County.
“This was a great opportunity for the NNSS to capture all the departments training together,” said NNSS F&R Supervisor Jemmy Castro.
The 39 students practiced how to don latex gloves and properly bag and tag items and substances they may encounter during emergency calls that involve biomedical or hazardous materials. The items they used were from heavy black F&R equipment trunks full of gauze rolls, boxes of gloves, bags, tags and labels, swabs, urine containers, vials, hemostatic clamps, biohazard stickers and other such items. They also learned how to use common household item such as dish detergent, isopropyl alcohol, even Ben-Gay ointment when out in the field.
The LSU instructors included: Jeff Borkowski (senior lead instructor), Chuck Counts, Charles Smith, Joe Wilson and John Larocchia.
This training was made available through the National Domestic Preparedness Consortium (NDPC). LSU's National Center for Biomedical Research and Training is among seven federal training partners who make up the NDPC that “prepares the nation through training.” The NDPC is a Department of Homeland Security/Federal Emergency Managment Agency training partner providing high-quality training to emergency responders throughout the U.S. and its territories under NDPC’s Homeland Security National Training Cooperative Agreement. The National Nuclear Security Admnistration's CTOS-Center for Radiological/Nuclear Training at the NNSS is also an NDPC partner.
Preparedness is a shared, national responsibility requiring our active participation to prepare America to address its threats. For more information, visit: www.ndpc.us.
Bill Wilborn Selected as DOE EM Nevada Program Deputy Program Manager for Operations
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Environmental Management (EM) Nevada Program is pleased to announce the selection of Bill Wilborn as the Deputy Program Manager for Operations. In his new position, Bill is responsible for all operations related to soil remediation, deactivation and decommission of historic nuclear testing facilities, groundwater characterization, waste disposal activities, and long-term monitoring at the Nevada National Security Site and specific locations on the surrounding Nevada Test and Training Range.
Bill will take on the role (effective March 4) with more than 25 years of experience in the EM Nevada Program leading the Underground Test Area Activity, supporting the Soils Activity and Offsites Project, and obtaining his certification as a Project Management Professional and Federal Project Director. Prior to joining DOE in 1992, Bill served in the U.S. Navy for four years and earned a BS in Geology from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Bill joins Catherine Hampton (Deputy Program Manager for Operations Support) and Rob Boehlecke (Program Manager) in rounding out the EM Nevada Program management team.
Lisa E. Gordon-Hagerty Sworn in as NNSA Administrator
Lisa E. Gordon-Hagerty was sworn in today by Secretary Rick Perry as the Department of Energy (DOE)’s Under Secretary for Nuclear Security and Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA).
Administrator Gordon-Hagerty is responsible for the management and operation of NNSA in support of President Trump’s and Secretary Perry’s nuclear security agenda.
“Lisa Gordon-Hagerty exemplifies the leadership and institutional knowledge required to oversee the National Nuclear Security Administration,” said Secretary Perry. “I am especially proud of the fact that she is the first woman in history to lead the NNSA and look forward to working together to address the Administration’s goal of modernizing our nuclear security enterprise.”
Administrator Gordon-Hagerty brings more than 30 years of national security experience to the position.
“I would like to express my gratitude to President Trump and Secretary Perry for their trust and confidence in me to lead the National Nuclear Security Administration,” said Administrator Gordon-Hagerty. “What an honor and privilege it is to serve my country and strengthen our nuclear security.”
To read more about the new NNSA Administrator, please visit the NNSA website.
The NNSS falls under the jurisdiction of the NNSA, a semi-autonomous agency within the DOE.
New NNSS Crane Gets Name
Cranes have been an integral part of work at the NNSS since the nuclear testing days. Over the years, it’s been a tradition to name most of the Site’s cranes. For example, “Big Blue,” or “Old Blue,” a Manitowoc Truck 4600 Series 5; “Old Glory,” also a Manitowoc Truck 4600 Series 5; “Old Yeller,” a Manitowoc Ringer 4600; “Big Foot,” a Manitowoc 750 4600 Heavy Life TMS 5145; “6000,” a Manitowoc Crawler 6000; and “the Lampson,” a Lampson Translift LTL-800.
A new crane – a Manitowoc Grove GMK6300L – recently joined the ranks of the Site’s equipment family, and it needed a name.
The NNSS decided to hold a contest to name the new crane. In January, name suggestions were solicited from all NNSS employees and contractors to see who could come up with the best work-appropriate name. More than 220 unique names were submitted, and the list was narrowed down to seven.
From there, the finalists were brought to social media, where the public voted for their favorite names on the NNSS’ Facebook and Twitter pages (@NNSANevada). Polling ended at 11:59 p.m. Friday, Feb. 9.
With 28.78 percent of the vote, Leona – submitted by Adam DaeGorn – was the clear winner. Adam’s name suggestion was inspired by Leona Harriet Woods (aka Leona Woods Marshall and Leona Woods Marshall Libby), the youngest and only female member of the team that built and experimented with the world’s first nuclear reactor, Chicago Pile-1.
The first runner-up, with 21.33 percent of the vote, was Craneosaurus, submitted by Heath Petersen. The second runner-up, with 18.63 percent of the vote, was Ichabod, submitted by Eddie Solis. Total, 483 people voted in the online poll to select the winner.
Native Americans Share Rich Heritage with NNSS
The National Nuclear Security Administration Nevada Field Office (NNSA/NFO) manages an ongoing American Indian Consultation Program (AICP) that interacts with 16 culturally affiliated tribes that have distinct ties to the NNSS. The AICP engages in tribal discussions relating in response to topics of interest including but not limited to cultural resources, archaeological sites, plant and animal resources, traditional cultural properties and sacred sites on the NNSS. As part of this program, NFO hosted an American Indian cultural awareness presentation on Jan. 30, focused primarily on gaining a glimpse into tribal cultures, beliefs and their ongoing interactions at the NNSS.
AICP Coordinator Richard Arnold provided an overview of the program, including the federal drivers, cultural affiliation between the tribes and the NNSS and tribal involvement in Department of Energy (DOE) activities. For the American Indians, protection of the land is sacred. This program ensures that the critical mission work occurring at the NNSS is not infringing on the culturally sensitive areas on the NNSS.
The National Environmental Policy Act (1970), along with the American Indian Religious Freedom Act (1978), the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (1991), Executive Order 12898 and DOE Order 144.1 serve as the federal drivers for the AICP. A cultural affiliation study conducted in 1986 identified the 16 tribes with cultural and historic ties to the NNSS. These 16 tribes from three ethnic groups (Southern Paiute, Western Shoshone and Owens Valley Paiute and Shoshone) aligned to form the Consolidated Group of Tribes and Organizations (CGTO), following the creation of the AICP in 1991.
NNSS tribal involvement has served as a model for integrating tribal text into the Sitewide Environmental Impact Statement (Appendix C), evaluating and commenting on experimental activities and a series of ethnobotany and ethnofaunal studies that have identified numerous traditional plants and animals that are found on the NNSS. As Arnold stated, "We are working with DOE to become better managers of the resources at the NNSS without impeding the mission."
To further demonstrate the cultural perspectives, three American Indians – Kenny Anderson, Las Vegas Paiute Tribe; Danelle Gutierrez, Big Pine Paiute Tribe; and Maurice Frank-Churchill, Duckwater Shoshone Tribe – briefly spoke about their connections to the land at the NNSS.
Anderson shared stories about how the Paiutes traveled great distances and gathered essential elements (food and medicines) from the land that is now the NNSS. The Paiutes share a deep connection with this land, which is kept alive through such stories, songs and sharing by tribal members.
Gutierrez shared similar sentiments when speaking about the Owens Valley tribe. "The land is sacred to our people. The land took care of our people," she stated. She expressed her gratitude for the AICP and the work that is done to protect the land, the animals and the spiritual connection that exists among American Indians. "We honor them through songs and ceremonies," she added.
Frank-Churchill also spoke about the importance of songs, stories and beliefs. "We are like everyday people, but we follow and continue our traditions, our songs and stories," Frank-Churchill stated. He echoed the importance of maintaining the spiritual connection to the land because as he said, "The land is disconnected from tribal voices." Through this AICP program, the American Indians are working to share their storied knowledge with the people currently occupying and performing work at the NNSS.
Arnold wrapped up the presentation with some insight on the balance American Indians have in their lives, tying back to their spiritual connection with the land. He spoke about how most of us are guided by four basic directions (north, south, east and west). American Indians recognize six additional directions: up, down, past, present and future, all of which tie to ourselves and where we fit in the world. A fitting sentiment that aligns with the spiritual connection American Indians share with the land.
Clark High School Crowned Nevada Science Bowl Champions
Clark High School was crowned champion during the 27th annual regional Nevada Science Bowl, hosted by the Nevada National Security Site at
Vegas PBS on Saturday, Feb. 3.
The Clark students took home a $5,000 first prize for their math/science department and won a free trip to Washington D.C. in April to compete in the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Science Bowl, the largest and most prestigious national science competition.
Nevada Science Bowl features a fast-paced, nine-round format where students “buzz-in” and answer tough questions covering biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, astronomy and more. Thirty-two teams from 29 high schools competed for first place, and the top 12 teams received cash prizes for their school’s math/science department. The final six teams were all from Clark County public high schools, with Coronado taking second place ($2,500), Palo Verde placing third ($1,500), Rancho taking fourth ($1,000), and Green Valley and Clark’s second team tying for fifth ($500 each).
The more than 150 Nevada participants joined 15,000 other high school students across the United States in an effort to qualify for the finals.
Nevada Science Bowl sponsors include: U.S. Department of Energy National Nuclear Security Administration Nevada Field Office (signature sponsor), Mission Support and Test Services LLC, Bureau of Reclamation, Vegas PBS and Navarro. Longtime local personality Nathan Tannenbaum served as master of ceremonies.
Participating schools included (located in Southern Nevada unless otherwise noted): Advanced Technologies Academy, Arbor View High School, Bishop Manogue High School (Reno, Nevada), Cedar City High School (Cedar City, Utah), Centennial High School, Clark High School (two teams), Coral Academy of Science-Las Vegas, Coral Academy of Science-Reno, Coronado High School, The Davidson Academy of Nevada (Reno, Nevada), Douglas High School (Minden, Nevada), Faith Lutheran High School, Foothill High School, Green Valley High School (two teams), Laughlin High School, Legacy High School, Liberty High School, The Meadows School, Northwest Career & Technical Academy (two teams), Pahrump High School, Pershing County High School (Lovelock, Nevada), Palo Verde High School, Rancho High School, Reno High School (Reno, Nevada), Sierra Vista High School, Southeast Career & Technical Academy, Timpview High School (Provo, Utah), West Career & Technical Academy, and Whittell High School (Zephyr Cove, Nevada).
In addition to the teachers and students, the Nevada Science Bowl would not be possible without the many volunteers who make it a success each year. Thank you!
For more information on the Nevada Science Bowl, visit @NevadaScienceBowl on Facebook. For more information on the U.S. Department of Energy's National Science Bowl, visit: https://science.energy.gov/wdts/nsb.
R100 Diesel: Cleaner Fleet Performance, Environment
The NNSS has taken the initiative to research and procure R100 fuel—that is, it is 100 percent renewable diesel fuel. This fuel provides the NNSS the opportunity to claim 100 percent alternative fuel tax credits for saving the environment.
The R100 fuel replaces the B20 biodiesel fuel that has been powering our light- and heavy-weight vehicles; it is stored in the Area 6 tank farm storage tank.
"We only got half-way through our pilot program on the R100 fuel at the Site when we saw this was a win-win as being the first Site to test and use this product on a wide and diverse scale and for keeping our unique environment clean,” says Rick Medina, Site Services division manager. “Our goal is to use as much renewable fuel as possible and claim credit for alternative fuel usage, which is an executive [U.S. presidential] order from the past administration. We’ve phased out the old B20 fuel with R100. We’re looking forward to other NNSA [National Nuclear Security Administration] sites following us on this. It will also enhance the Site’s sustainability efforts for decades to come."
The NNSS, hallmark of preserving the security and safety of our nation, has 856 GSA vehicles and more than 60 agency-owned assets. The fleet is comprised of electric vehicles, sedans, pickups, special purpose trucks and a multitude of equipment. The Site has recently taken on a revolutionary change in powering its equipment by using R100, the cleanest fuel possible.
The NNSA doesn’t have the diversity of equipment that the Site has, given the Site’s arid climate and rugged terrain. Filling the NNSS’ entire fleet with R100 fuel is a smart choice for various reasons:
- Climate affects diesel and biodiesel. “Regular fossil fuel emits carbon into the atmosphere, so while we’re compliant with the DOE [Department of Energy], we could be doing a better job in working toward cleaner air. That gets us to biodiesel. But if it gets too cold, the biodiesel fuel separates, then we spend man hours emptying all of our tanks and refueling. That’s a waste of labor, equipment down-time and money. However, the R100 does not separate no matter what the weather, hot or cold, and there’s no need to empty and refuel again,” says Rick.
- Less emissions is huge. Since the R100 fuel contains no petroleum and is 100 percent biodegradable, it benefits the air and our environment.
- It’s time- and cost-efficient. R100 renewable diesel is said to keep engines cleaner longer, thus decreasing labor hours and material costs against vehicles and equipment wear.
- Our goal: Use as much renewable fuel as possible (driven by Executive Order 13693, Planning for Federal Sustainability in the Next Decade). Using biodiesel is like using No. 2 diesel plus cooking oil: Only 20 percent of this is renewable.
To see for themselves how the fuel reacts to differing temperatures, Site Services tested each type of fuel—R100, No. 2 diesel and biodiesel—in an overnight refrigeration process (top photo). During the first six hours of day one, the biodiesel separated. The following morning revealed the separation of the No. 2 Diesel. After the overnight test, the three samples were removed. The R100 fuel exhibited no signs of separation. The R100 was returned to the refrigeration stage for an additional week; the R100 never gelled within that period (bottom photo).
NNSS Auction Site Now Live
The new and improved NNSS government surplus property auction site is now live on www.NNSS.gov. The monthly auction features items such as appliances, file cabinets, cameras and photo equipment, printers, electronics, furniture, heavy equipment, machinery, office supplies, tools and vehicles. Auctions are open for two weeks, and bidders must be registered in order to bid. Please read the Terms and Conditions thoroughly before accepting and entering the auction site.
To access the auction site, hover over the Public Affairs/Outreach menu and click on Government Property Auction, or go directly to the auction site at: https://apps.nnss.gov/auction/. Happy bidding!
NNSA certifies four more NNSS structures as high-performance sustainable buildings
The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has certified four additional Nevada National Security Site (NNSS) buildings – Maintenance Facility, B-07; Field Engineering Building, 06-902; Area 6 Warehouse, 06-914; and Administration Facility, 23-118 – as high-performance sustainable buildings (HPSB).
“These buildings meet the 2008 Federal Guiding Principles for HPSB and exemplify high standards in integrated design, integrated management, energy and water efficiency, and enhanced indoor environmental quality,” said James J. McConnell, NNSA associate administrator for safety, infrastructure and operations, in a congratulatory letter accompanying official HPSB-status plaques, which will be displayed in each building.
McConnell noted that the plaques – sustainably made themselves, produced using bamboo and aluminum – “exemplify the best-in-class performance of the building, building operators and professionals who enable NNSA’s success.”
Additionally, McConnell wrote, “You should take great pride in this accomplishment. Fewer than seven percent of NNSA’s buildings can claim that they meet the HPSB ‘green’ building standard. We trust that the current and future occupants of these buildings will benefit from their high performance. You have clearly demonstrated our commitment to Mission First, People Always.”
The achievement supports the Department of Energy’s goal to have 17 percent of its buildings meet sustainability certifications by 2025.
The 17 percent goal can be met by number or total square footage of an agency’s existing buildings above 5,000 gross square feet (GSF). Currently, 13 of the NNSS’ 109 buildings meet the requirement. NNSS owns or leases 109 buildings at and above 5,000 GSF, totaling 2,055,025 GSF. Nineteen of these buildings, or 349,354 GSF, represent the goal of 17 percent. The DOE’s original goal was 15 percent, but according to the DOE’s 2016 Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan, that target was increased to 17 percent.
“Meeting this one particular goal, of many other sustainability goals, is an important part of the overall federal effort to improve the sustainability efforts at each of the Nuclear Security Enterprise (NSE) sites, one facility at a time, with an overall objective to educate our DOE employees on living ‘greener’ within their work environments,” said Savitra Candley, PMP, LEED AP O+M, who serves as an energy management manager for Mission Support and Test Services, LLC (MSTS), the management and operating contractor for the NNSS.
Without any extra effort, NNSS’ four buildings already met many of the criteria required for HPSB status. Because of their location, the buildings at the Site are naturally surrounded by desert landscaping, while the fourth building – located at the North Las Vegas Facility – already had desert landscaping thanks to a previous initiative that changed out all of the building’s grass. Additionally, the Site exceeds water reduction requirements, so no changes needed to be made on that front either.
To officially qualify for HPSB status, all four buildings received recycle centers, green educational signage, no smoking signage, retro-commissioning and validation of meeting ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers) requirements. Only 23-118’s HVAC system proved to need some work, and it received new dampers in FY17.
“I have to clearly acknowledge that our success in working toward this goal has completely revolved around the expertise of our team plus many of our onsite SMEs (e.g., site maintenance and facility managers),” Candley said. “Without many of them, the progress to achieving this goal would not be possible; we are truly grateful for all the help and support we have received.”
The NNSS buildings earned the HPSB designations in accordance with standards outlined in Executive Order 13693, Planning for Federal Sustainability in the Next Decade, which outlines requirements federal agencies must implement to increase efficiency and improve environmental performance.
While bringing buildings built in 1988 (23-118), 1992 (B-07 and 06-914) and 1993 (06-902), respectively, to meet the current high performance criteria was no small task, the NNSS met the challenge through minimal targeted investment and operational adjustments.
Kilopower: What's Next?
When astronauts someday venture to the moon, Mars and other destinations, one of the first and most important resources they will need is power. A reliable and efficient power system will be essential for day-to-day necessities, such as lighting, water and oxygen, and for mission objectives, like running experiments and producing fuel for the long journey home.
That’s why NASA is conducting experiments on Kilopower, a new power source that could provide safe, efficient and plentiful energy for future robotic and human space exploration missions.
This pioneering space fission power system could provide up to 10 kilowatts of electrical power – enough to run two average households – continuously for at least 10 years. Four Kilopower units would provide enough power to establish an outpost.
About the experiment
The prototype power system was designed and developed by NASA’s Glenn Research Center in collaboration with NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and the Los Alamos National Laboratory, while the reactor core was provided by the Y12 National Security Complex. NASA Glenn shipped the prototype power system from Cleveland to the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS) in late September.
The team at the NNSS recently began tests on the reactor core. According to NASA Glenn’s Marc Gibson, the Kilopower lead engineer, the team will connect the power system to the core and begin end-to-end checkouts this month. Gibson says the experiments should conclude with a full-power test lasting approximately 28 hours in late March.
The Kilopower advantage
Fission power can provide abundant energy anywhere we want humans or robots to go. On Mars, the sun’s power varies widely throughout the seasons, and periodic dust storms can last for months. On the Moon, the cold lunar night lingers for 14 days.
“We want a power source that can handle extreme environments,” says Lee Mason, NASA’s principal technologist for power and energy storage. “Kilopower opens up the full surface of Mars, including the northern latitudes where water may reside. On the Moon, Kilopower could be deployed to help search for resources in permanently shadowed craters.”
In these challenging environments, power generation from sunlight is difficult and fuel supply is limited. Kilopower is lightweight, reliable and efficient, which makes it just right for the job.
For more information about the Kilopower project, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/directorates/spacetech/kilopower.
Five Patents, Copyright Prove an Innovative Year in Inventions
For decades, the NNSS has realized revolutionary technology instrumental to our mission. But we are not one to rest on our laurels. In fiscal year 2017, NNSS’ scientists earned five patents (with another pending) and a copyright that serve our national security.
Optic Probe for Multiple Angle Image Capture and Optional Stereo Imaging, Pat. US 9,507,024 B2 (Robert M. Malone and Morris Kaufman) – Enhanced state-of-the-art optics helps scientists better understand the physics performance of a nuclear weapon. Optics measures certain characteristics along the surface of test material. System instrumentation records the data, creating a comprehensive picture of materials under extreme stress.
The new optic probe, including a multiple lens array, can measure velocity distribution of a moving surface along many lines of sight. Laser light, directed to the moving surface, is reflected back from the surface, is Doppler-shifted, collected into the array, and then directed to detection equipment through optical fibers. The received light is mixed with reference laser light, and using photonic Doppler velocimetry, a continuous time record of the surface movement is obtained. Imaging a portion of the surface during initial travel can determine how the surface is breaking up under shock loading. The probe measures quantities relevant to the shock physics experiment along the surface of test material. Then its instrumentation records data, creating a comprehensive picture of materials under extreme stress.
The Geometrically Enhanced Photocathode Pat. US 9,837,238 (Dr. Katerina Opachich and Andrew MacPhee) – With colleagues and collaborators, Dr. Opachich developed the recessed geometrically enhanced photocathode designed to improve high-energy efficiency in X-ray detectors and images without changing or compromising the data’s accuracy. The project also recently won an R&D 100 Award (see Nevada National Security Site’s Project Wins Prestigious R&D 100 Award). Long considered the most globally prestigious recognition of invention and innovation, the R&D 100 Awards honor the 100 most innovative technologies of the past year. This is the NNSS’ fifth R&D 100 win since 2009.
Autofocus System and Autofocus Method for Focusing on a Surface, Pat. US 9,658,444 B2 (Mary O’Neill) – Distinguished Engineer Mary O’Neill invented a new microscope autofocus method directly applicable to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation mission. Detection of fissionable (i.e., uranium) material via microscopic particle samples is critical to the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons. This invention speeds up this process by automatically creating clear microscope images that can be analyzed like never before. Beyond its use in the DOE, it can be licensed to microscope manufacturers for inclusion in their systems since the filter size can be altered to favor the desired objects being imaged.
Hyperchromatic Lens for Recording Time-Resolved Phenomena, Pat. US 9,706,094 B2 (Daniel K. Frayer) – Recording ultrafast events has been part of Nevada’s DNA since the earliest days of nuclear testing at the Site. Technological advances over the decades have enabled improvements, but recording images at very fast timescales remains an outstanding challenge. This patent describes a method, developed under the Site-Directed Research and Development program, for combining (1) active laser illumination using a chirped-pulse laser to map moments of time onto optical frequency, (2) an innovative hyperchromatic lens design which focusses images of differing wavelengths at differing image planes, mapping optical frequency onto focal position, and (3) commercial plenoptic imaging technology which can separate multiple focal planes, effectively recording many frames of data at once. The method offers a new, unique way to achieve ultrafast movies, potentially up to 10 GHz. The heart of the innovation is the hyperchromatic lens, which transforms phenomena in the temporal domain into spatially separated snapshots. The patent covers both the specifics of the hyperchromatic lens design and the general recording scheme.
Electromagnetic Spectrum Management System (ESMS), Pat. US 9,559,803 B2 (Doug Seastrand, Rudolpha Jorgensen, Ryan Martin, Eric Schmidthuber) – Seastrand and his team invented a way to control radio frequency (RF) airwaves. This is especially helpful to bomb disposal technicians out in the field who are disabling an improvised explosive device (IED) and variations of them. Typically, they would worry that wireless radio signals may remotely set off the explosive. Therefore it is common practice to employ RF jamming technology to prevent remote detonation while disarming the device. The ESMS controls the RF airwaves, instead of simply jamming them. This prevents unwanted RF signals in a user-determined area while allowing friendly signals (like voice communications) to operate unimpeded. The ESMS has an advantage over traditional methods because it does not require any foreknowledge about the adversaries’ RF threat. Because it only responds to unfriendly signals, it uses less power than traditional jamming techniques.
The NNSS awards $2,000 for each patent. Having the exclusive rights allows the NNSS to sell/license the technology to other companies, with the DOE National Nuclear Security Administration’s approval. Patents are a visible means of promoting DOE and NNSS technology transfer missions. The patent demonstrates that DOE dollars are being spent effectively on cutting-edge research.
Image Segmentation Tool (Marylesa Howard, Timothy Meehan, Aaron Luttman, Margaret Hock) – The Image Segmentation Tool is a software tool this team created for extracting information from images to visually understand material changes. To compute quantities such as density, scientists need to determine the boundaries of the material in the image. To this end, Howard’s team developed a mathematical analysis technique specifically for images with special qualities such as low contrast and materials whose color varies throughout the image. This tool has been successfully demonstrated on current experiment radiographs and data.
Howard’s team collaborated with Los Alamos National Laboratory and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, both of whom have images of this type that need analyzing. Her paper on this technique was accepted into the Journal of Applied Physics and highlighted as a paper of broad scientific interest in Scilights (see Article Co-Authored by NNSS Scientists Chosen for Journal of Applied Physics "Scilight").
Nevada National Security Site and H3D Partnership Yields Successful Results in Radiation Detection
A partnership between the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS) and H3D, Inc. is improving the ability to detect and identify radioactive sources. The partnership holds promise for using unmanned aerial systems to measure radioactivity in places where manned aircraft access may be a challenge.
Mission Support and Test Services, the management and operating contractor for the NNSS, and H3D, Inc. have entered into a cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) to test H3D’s high-efficiency radiation detector on unmanned aerial systems provided by the NNSS.
The NNSS Remote Sensing Laboratory (RSL) relies upon state-of-the-art sensors to detect, measure and identify radioactive sources. The sensors are used by the NNSS’ counterterrorism and radiological incident response teams stationed at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada and at Joint Base Andrews in the National Capitol Region.
As part of the research and development efforts, scientists and engineers from the NNSS integrated the H3D sensors with unmanned aerial systems, creating a more flexible and agile vehicle for measuring radiation. The first tests were completed in September at the Unmanned Systems Inc. (USI) facility in Columbia Falls, Montana and data analysis was finalized in December.
"The first test flights provided even better results than we anticipated," said NNSS Site-Directed Research and Development (SDRD) Program Manager Howard Bender. "This CRADA has allowed us to leverage commercialized radiation detectors and UAS technology, enabling us to deploy them an entirely new way and develop a new asset to respond to nuclear emergency situations."
H3D’s technology grew out of research conducted at the Nuclear Engineering department at the University of Michigan. The technology was further funded in large part by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA). The ongoing partnership between H3D and the NNSS will provide research into the trade-offs between sensitivity and resolution of the compact radiation detectors. Integrating the sensor technology with unmanned aerial vehicles has the potential to enhance the next generation radiation detection capabilities for RSL and other emergency response agencies.
"H3D views aerial radiation detection platforms as a key growth area for our organization and are fortunate to have NNSS as a partner in this effort," stated H3D President Willy Kaye.
Cooperative research and development agreements like this one allows the federal government to partner with private entities to complement the National Nuclear Security Administration missions, foster mutually beneficial partnerships to facilitate cutting-edge research and development, enable U.S. scientific discovery and economic competitiveness, and improve our security and quality of life through innovations in science and technology.
NNSS dosimetry program accreditation renewed
NNSS’ program has never failed to meet DOELAP’s high standards
The NNSS’ dosimetry program has once again successfully met the requirements for a three-year accreditation by the Department of Energy Laboratory Accreditation Program (DOELAP).
Working safely among radiation and radioactive materials is a top priority. Every three years, the NNSS undergoes a vigorous accreditation program to ensure employees working in a radiation environment do so safely. Successful completion of DOELAP protects the safety of workers for years to come by monitoring their exposure to radiation – a federal regulation. This accreditation ensures the adequacy and compliance of personnel dosimetry programs.
“Maintaining this accreditation is critical to the continued success of our mission, and meeting DOELAP’s high standards to receive re-accreditation is no easy task,” said Senior Director of Mission Support Raymond Alexander. “My hat goes off to all of our team members who worked so hard to make this happen.”
Team members heading up the re-accreditation process include: Doug McBride, manager; Rob Etnire, scientist; Rahim Ghanooni, scientist; Danny R. Adams, supervisor; Michael Johnson, technician; and Calvin Jones Jr., scientist.
The NNSS wants to make sure employees feel safe when they come to work and trust their employer is looking out for them every step of the way. The mission depends on the DOELAP accreditation, and the NNSS Dosimetry Program has never failed.
“It’s not easy to maintain an accredited program,” said Radiological Control Manager Jeffrey Smith. “It takes a lot of time and effort on a lot of people’s parts. For us to have it as long as we have without any major findings or issues is a real accomplishment.”
To closely monitor employees’ radiation exposure levels in the workplace, the NNSS’ Radiological Control Department provides dosimeters to all workers who need to enter radiation areas or handle radioactive material. Workers can be assured that if they are required to enter areas where radiation exists, their radiation doses will be identified and reported accurately. When individuals or areas are monitored by a dosimetry program, it must be accredited by DOELAP.
“If the radiation safety prime contractor were not accredited by DOELAP to perform dose monitoring for the NNSS, all radiological work activity would stop until an accredited contractor or vendor could be brought in to perform this monitoring,” said Radiological Health and Engineering Manager Doug McBride.
DOELAP performance testing for a new three-year accreditation was completed in March 2017, and technical experts found no programmatic deficiencies during their onsite assessment. In November 2017, the NNSS’ performance evaluation results were presented to the DOELAP Oversight Board. Accreditation is effective through Dec. 14, 2020.
NNSS “Wraps Up” Holiday Giving
Thanks to the generous employees of the NNSS, thousands of toys, bicycles, gift cards, clothing and food items, and dollars were donated to local community organizations over the holiday season. As part of the Site’s annual giving campaigns, contributions were made to Toys for Tots in Las Vegas, Nevada and Livermore, California; the Salvation Army of Southern Nevada’s Angel Tree program; the Firefighters of Southern Nevada Burn Foundation toy drive; the LA Cares Food Bank; St. Elizabeth Shelters and Supportive Housing in Los Alamos, New Mexico; the Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth; local Southern Nevada military families; families at Manch Elementary School and through the Clark County Court system; and Pets for Vets.
Check out our holiday giving video, and thank you again to all who gave.