U.S. Department of Energy

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory



Rad Revelations from Noble Metals

NPSI researchers are removing a shroud of mystery surrounding the behavior of certain metal particles in nuclear fuel.

Authors Gather to Sign Separations Book

Researchers who worked on the NPSI-supported “Engineering Separations Unit Operations for Nuclear Processing” got together in early February 2020 to sign copies of the book.


NPSI Completes Separations Book

The initiatiave led development of a book, published in December, that examines processes used to separate nuclear materials. Read more.

Two Perspectives of NPSI Progress

With NPSI set to conclude in 2020, the initiative's Advisory Committee chair and the PNNL Energy and Environment Directorate's Chief Science and Technology Officer discuss NPSI progress and accomplishments.

A Window into the Hidden Nuclear World

A multi-institute effort, funded by NPSI, develops an imaging method that reveals information about the nuclear fuel uranium dioxide (UO2) and how the material reacts with air. This could improve fuel development and opens a new domain for imaging the group of radioactive elements known as actinides.

Tough Materials for Tough Environments

NPSI researchers apply numerical simulations to understand more about a sturdy material and how its basic structure responds to and resists radiation. The outcomes could help guide development of the resilient materials of the future.

NPSI Activities Featured in Laboratory Director's Column

In May, PNNL Director Steven Ashby highlighted several of the initiative's research advances in his column in the local newspaper, the Tri-City Herald.

Researchers Study Radioactive Material Behavior--Without the Radioactivity

A novel NPSI-funded particle inquiry and its outcomes are featured on the cover of a prominent journal.

Cover reprinted with permission from the Journal of Physical Chemistry C, copyright 2019, American Chemical Society.


New Microscope Reveals Xenon in Fuel Cladding

In a pioneering discovery, NPSI researchers, using a new instrument at the Radiochemical Processing Laboratory (RPL), have detected and imaged xenon in a section of cladding, or the thick outer layer of a fuel rod.

Paper and Graphic Earn Journal Cover

A NPSI-funded paper and image were featured on the cover of the July 17, 2018, edition of Analytical Chemistry.

Plutonium Experiment Expands Capability Use

A groundbreaking experiment at PNNL that employed novel methods to safely create and analyze plutonium samples could prove influential in future studies of the radioactive material.

Publication on Particle Study Method Includes Video

A NPSI-developed technique to study particles in liquid using high-vacuum scanning electron microscopy (SEM) serves as the basis for a great journal paper, but NPSI researchers are also showcasing their discovery in a very visual way. When the Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE) accepts a paper, authors work with the peer-reviewed publication to create a video to accompany the written product.

Seiner Named NPSI Deputy Lead

Dr. Brienne Seiner recently assumed the role of deputy lead for the Nuclear Process Science Initiative. She succeeds Matt Douglas, who had served in the position since the beginning of the initiative.

Journal Paper’s Detailed Look at Hanford Site Waste Offers Insights, Ideas

A groundbreaking, NPSI-funded paper authored by researchers representing Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Washington River Protection Solutions and Washington State University provides a view into the radioactive waste stored in the Hanford Site’s underground tanks and offers some new perspectives on understanding of tank waste properties.


Chun Receives KIChE's Lee Memorial Award

One of NPSI's principal investigators, Jaehun Chun, has been honored by the Korean Institute of Chemical Engineers (KIChE), U.S. Chapter, for his exceptional leadership in chemical engineering.


Journal Article Shares New Insights into Stability, Dissolution of Aluminium Minerals

A PNNL research team’s work could inform better methods for metal processing and the nuclear fuel cycle, including strategies for treating radioactive waste on the Hanford Site. Specifically, the research, recently published, examined stability and dissolution mechanisms of boehmite and gibbsite, two layered aluminium oxyhydroxide minerals present in Hanford tank waste that pose processing challenges.

Peterson Selected to Lead Initiative

Dr. Reid Peterson has been named the Lead of the Nuclear Process Science Initiative, effective October 5, succeeding Dr. Sue Clark. Dr. Clark recently was promoted to the position of Chief Science and Technology Officer for PNNL's Energy and Environment Directorate. Dr. Peterson was involved with the initiative prior to its inception and has led one of its three science thrusts. 

Groundbreaking research approach enhances discovery

NPSI's Richard Clark and his team have made it possible to study important degradation processes in irradiated uranium oxide (UO2) in a manner that is safer, less complicated and costly, and more versatile, which could lead to important new discoveries.

Initiative sponsors April 20 Navrotsky seminar at PNNL

Internationally-recognized scientist Alexandra Navrotsky of the University of California-Davis presented the seminar, "Lanthanides and Actinides - Why Thermodynamics Matter," at PNNL on April 20. Approximately 50 PNNL staff attended the event, which was sponsored by NPSI.

NPSI organizes ACS symposium

The symposium, "Evolving Nanoparticle Reactivity Throughout Nucleation, Growth and Dissolution," was held April 5 at the 253rd American Chemical Society National Meeting & Exposition in San Francisco. The symposium was organized by NPSI researchers Michele Conroy, Frannie Smith, and Jennifer Soltis, and R. Lee Penn of the University of Minnesota.

Peterson named AIChE Fellow

Dr. Reid Peterson, who leads the Nuclear Process Science Initiative’s science thrust focused on linking interfacial phenomena to bulk properties, has been elected a Fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE).


Initiative gains visibility at international meeting

The Energy and Environment Directorate’s Edgar Buck, a project lead for the Nuclear Process Science Initiative, spoke by invitation at “Plutonium Futures - The Science 2016”—a prestigious international gathering held in mid-September in Baden-Baden, Germany.

NPSI researcher earns presentation honor

October 6, 2016. Sean Kessler has received the award for best oral presentation at this year’s PNNL Post Graduate Research Symposium. Sean spoke on the ab-initio alloy thermodynamics of molybdenum- and ruthenium-containing metallic nanoparticles in spent UO2 fuel. The research seeks to resolve lingering discrepancies between existing models and experiments and to provide a useful foundation for future computational efforts.

NPSI's Clark takes part in Lab Day

September 13, 2016. Nuclear Process Science Initiative Lead Sue Clark participated in a panel discussion for Lab Day on the Hill in Washington, D.C. The event focused on environmental management research taking place at national laboratories, and included participation from Energy Secretary Moniz. 

NPSI Lead meets with Energy Secretary, Senator during visit

August 16, 2016. In photo, clockwise from left, NPSI Lead Sue Clark discusses radioactive waste treatment with Sen. Maria Cantwell, Dawn Wellman (PNNL) and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. Moniz, joined by Cantwell, toured facilities during his first visit to PNNL as secretary. Clark and Wellman provided updates on PNNL’s progress on DOE Office of Environmental Management programs, and Clark briefed the visitors on NPSI and the new Energy Frontier Research Center led by PNNL...

EFRC win underscores PNNL nuclear capabilities

July 18, 2016. The Department of Energy has selected Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to lead a new Energy Frontier Research Center. The center will apply basic science to better understand radiation impacts on—and aging of—materials and constituents in radioactive waste stored in tanks at DOE sites. 

Scientist-educator talks microscopy in elementary school

Microscopy as a tool for observation holds rich connections with Washington State Science Learning Standards; however, it is not always clear where this tool fits into existing curriculum.

The Mid-Columbia STEM Education Collaboratory works with classroom teachers to develop story-based design challenges related to materials science and microscopy so that this tool might fit more seamlessly into existing classroom activities.


Sue Clark appointed to DOE BESAC

Jan. 4, 2016 - NPSI Initiative Lead Sue Clark has been appointed to serve as a member of the DOE Basic Energy Sciences Advisory Committee (BESAC), providing expert advice in the fields of chemistry, physical biosciences, and geosciences. BESAC gives independent advice to DOE on the complex scientific and technical issues that arise in the planning, management, and implementation of the Basic Energy Sciences program.


Jaehun Chun delivers guest lecture at WSU Tri-Cities

Dec. 28, 2015 - Jaehun Chun delivered a special lecture on waste and melter feed rheology for a course on nuclear waste vitrification at WSU Tri-Cities on Dec. 10, 2015. The lecture covered general concepts of rheology such as shear stress and rheology measurements, mainly related to suspension rheology. A key message was correlations between particle interactions and rheological properties of Newtonian and non-Newtonian suspensions, which is being investigated by an NPSI project.

Frannie Smith featured in NWPR series on Daughters of Hanford

Nov. 4, 2015 - Frannie Smith was recently featured as part of a series and exhibit on the Daughters of Hanford. Frannie is an enviornmental researcher in PNNL's Energy and Environment Division and supports the NPSI.

Edgar Buck featured speaker at Migration 2015

Oct. 27, 2015 - Edgar Buck was a featured speaker at the Sept. 13-18 MIGRATION 2015 Conference. He presented on plutonium behavior at the Hanford Site's Z9 crib, acknowledging the NPSI, based on a paper that was recently published on this topic.

PNNL Researcher Dr. Gregg Lumetta Recognized with Chemical Separations Award

A chemist at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory has been selected to receive the Glenn T. Seaborg Actinide Separations Award recognizing significant and lasting contributions to separating actinide elements, such as plutonium and uranium. Gregg Lumetta was honored for his contributions which are being used to treat high-level radioactive waste in Hanford waste tanks and for the design and application of new ligands (molecules that bond to metal ions) to bind...

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