Director looks at Lab's technical challenges

Describing himself as very optimistic about Lawrence Livermore's progress and future, Director Bruce Tarter says that in the coming year, the Laboratory will "have to deliver on major products" in addition to "first rate R&D" in the areas of national security, energy, and biotechnology.
With the country committed to no nuclear testing under the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, Lawrence Livermore must "focus on providing Congress and the President with high confidence in the stockpile," the Director said. "This means an enhanced effort on surveillance and life extension of the current stockpile and rapid progress on major initiatives." He stressed that the National Ignition Facility (NIF) must remain on schedule and within costs and that the Accelerated Strategic Computing Initiative (ASCI) must be a "fast-track program." NIF and ASCI are two key components of the effort to ensure the integrity of the nation's nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing.
Tarter said the Laboratory's challenge in energy is proving, with the U.S. Enrichment Corp. (USEC), that "laser isotope separation can work in the commercial environment." USEC has designated the Lab's isotope separation technology as the way to make reactor fuel in the 21st century (see AVLIS news item next column).
In biotechnology, Tarter said, stronger production capability will be needed to sequence the human genome. Explained the Director: "For the last half dozen years, we have been mapping with markers to lay out the structure of the genome; now we have to sequence it, that is, fill in all the details-a much more production-oriented activity that is driven by national and international competition."
Tarter outlined the challenges facing the Laboratory in the coming year in an address to employees in early October. Discussing the budget for FY 1997, Tarter said the Lab's total costs will be $1,057 million, with $929 million going to operating costs and the remainder to construction and major capital procurements.
Contact: Jeff Garberson, LLNL Media Relations, (510) 422-4599 (garberson1@llnl.gov).


Reis dedicates ASCI-Blue Pacific

Mission, partnership, and technology were the themes as Vic Reis, the DOE's assistant secretary for Defense Programs, visited the Laboratory in late October. At Livermore, he dedicated ACSI-Blue Pacific, the 3-trillion-calculations-per-second supercomputer being built as part of the DOE's Accelerated Strategic Computing Initiative (ASCI). Targeted for demonstration in December 1998, the supercomputer is a collaboration between Livermore and IBM in which, said Reis, "both partners bring unusual talent." "The deterrence mission remains the underpinning of our national security," Reis noted, and the ASCI supercomputer will be a "central tool" in efforts to keep the nation's stockpiled nuclear weapons safe and reliable.
Contact: Jeff Garberson, LLNL Media Relations, (510) 422-4599 (garberson1@llnl.gov).

AVLIS team puts enrichment technology through its paces

The Laboratory's Atomic Vapor Laser Isotope Separation (AVLIS) team has a new goal: extend operating hours for the Livermore-developed uranium enrichment technology, demonstrating the reliability required of a fully functioning enrichment plant by the end of the calendar year. Achieving that goal means around-the-clock, seven-day-a-week operation of the key AVLIS Demonstration Facility areas: lasers, separators, and control devices.
AVLIS personnel have been running ever-lengthening endurance tests at Livermore for the U.S. Enrichment Corp. (USEC). These design verification runs are aimed at bringing the technology to the point where USEC can use it for commercial production of enriched uranium.
USEC, a U.S. government corporation in the process of privatizing, produces and markets uranium enrichment services worldwide. It selected Lawrence Livermore-developed AVLIS enrichment technology as the "technology of choice" to ensure that the U.S. maintains its lead in the world uranium enrichment market.
In a 200-hour test in September, the AVLIS separator operated around the clock for 6 days, processing 3 metric tons of uranium.
Contact: Bruce Warner, Lawrence Livermore AVLIS Program Manager, (510) 422-9237 (warner2@llnl.gov) or Victor Lopiano, USEC Director of AVLIS Enrichment and Livermore Operations, (510) 424-2851 (lopiano1@llnl.gov).

Nonproliferation, arms control focus of Lab workshop

As a followup to a 1995 workshop in Snezhinsk, Russia, Russian and American scientists met at Livermore in September to explore the possibility of joint projects in arms control and nonproliferation technologies. Discussed at the workshop were possible collaborations on technical approaches to a wide range of international problems.
Principal attendees were from the Russian Ministry of Atomic Energy, the All Russian Institute of Experimental Physics, the All Russian Institute of Technical Physics, and Los Alamos, Sandia, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories. Also represented were the U.S. Departments of Energy, Defense, and State and the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Contact: Paul Herman (510) 423-0945 (herman2@llnl.gov).