NNSA grant funds UT’s new Radiochemistry Center

A new Radiochemistry Center of Excellence at the University of Tennessee is being launched with a $1.2 million grant from the National Nuclear Security Administration, UT announced today. The university said there is potential funding of $6 million over five years.

“The center will focus on research and education to advance UT and NNSA laboratories such as the nearby Y-12 National Security Complex, Los Alamos National Laboratory and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory,” the announcement said. The research activities could lead to better ways of tracking the origins of a materials used in a nuclear detonation and related tasks.

“Currently, the process of analyzing weapons debris to understand the performance or design of the device is painstakingly slow,” UT said.

In a statement, Howard Hall, who holds a UT-ORNL Governor’s Chair and is director of UT’s Nuclear Security Institute, said in a statement:

“Radiochemistry is perhaps the most important means of understanding nuclear explosions after the fact. Through radiochemical analysis, we can determine the fuel type, the performance of the device and perhaps even the non-nuclear materials associated with the device. Radiochemistry is the core of nuclear forensics, telling us what kind of weapon it was and where it came from. In such an event, we need to know who might have done it and, equally importantly, who didn’t do it.”

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About Frank Munger

Senior Writer Frank Munger covers the Dept. of Energy's Oak Ridge facilities and many related topics — nuclear weapons, nuclear waste and other things nuclear, environmental cleanup and science of all sorts. Atomic City Underground is, first and foremost, a news blog, but there's room for analysis, opinion and random thoughts that have no place else to go.