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[Sandia Lab News]

Vol. 56, No. 17                August 20, 2004
[Sandia National Laboratories]

Albuquerque, New Mexico 87185-0165    ||   Livermore, California 94550-0969
Tonopah, Nevada; Nevada Test Site; Amarillo, Texas

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F14 on carrier flight deck

Nonproliferation measures inspect train cargoes Conferring on Global Nuclear Futures
Sandia assists Navy in shaping future of aircraft carrier operations by gathering, analyzing data Nonproliferation experts helping foreign governments lock up dirty-bomb ingredients Global Nuclear Future offers comprehensive
energy vision
 



Sandia assists Navy in shaping future of aircraft carrier operations by gathering, analyzing data

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By Michael Padilla

Sandia is helping the US Navy create the next generation of aircraft carriers by reviewing and analyzing current Carrier Air Wing (CVW) flight operations, maintenance, and support functions.

The primary goal of Sandia’s project is to assist the Navy in achieving manpower reductions of at least 10 to 30 percent while increasing the amount of technology on board an aircraft carrier to reduce the overall workload per sailor.
“We will be probing each of these areas to find ways to maintain or improve airwing performance while reducing personnel and making the remaining jobs more desirable,” says Jeff Brewer (6861), principal investigator. “This will be done while simultaneously improving the airwing staffing decision-making process.”

The first phase of the project is a four-month evaluation of current Navy air wing operations, structure, and improvement alternatives. The second is a six-month phase in which Sandia will conduct an in-depth analysis of the alternatives established during the evaluation.
Sandia is assisting with the Navy’s CVN 21 program to develop the next-generation aircraft carrier. The actual carrier that will result in FY 2013 or 2014 will be designated as the CVN 78, the Navy’s 78th aircraft carrier.

“The idea is not to simply have fewer people on board who work harder than previous crews,” says Jeff, “but to enable organizational changes, technology improvements, and work practice changes to achieve the desired operational capability of the airwing and make jobs more desirable for the personnel in the system.”

The Sandia team will be reviewing Navy documentation for aircraft currently in use and those anticipated to be in service in 2020.
The team will discuss how flight operations, maintenance, and other support operations are performed both in the Atlantic and Pacific fleets. Jeff says there are differences between documented procedures and actual practice revealed by subject matter experts within the two fleets.

Sandia will work with various Navy teams that have developed computational models of how these operations are currently performed. The team will work with the designers of the new aircraft carrier to generate substantial changes that may improve flight operations and support functions.
Sandia will also be gathering raw data by observing flight operations, maintenance, and support tasks.

Items of particular interest include the definitions and scope of the tasks and functions performed within individual jobs, and staffing levels for various types of jobs and tasks. This includes formal schooling, on-the-job training, self-study, testing of skills involved to prepare people for those jobs, and the tools and techniques used to execute these tasks.

In-depth analysis

Jeff says the actual execution methods for flight operations, support jobs, and the design of the spaces aboard current aircraft carriers where these tasks are performed will be analyzed. This knowledge will be combined with the designs envisioned for the next-generation aircraft carrier. The complexity of carrier flight operations and the associated support functions require an unusually high level of system understanding and computational modeling to achieve optimal combinations of personnel, equipment, and procedures.

“The concept of operations under which an aircraft carrier is asked to function can change rapidly,” Jeff says. “There currently isn’t a detailed, rapid, and robust analytical tool for probing this particular complex system.”

System of systems

Creating a “system of systems” analysis capability that enables greater quantitative understanding of the aircraft carrier environment is key to the project, says Jeff.

System of systems refers to a collection of systems that result in emergent behaviors that cannot be explained by individual system analysis.
This includes monitoring system performance at a sufficient level of detail and enabling rapid “what if” or tradeoff analyses to aid in decision making by Navy leaders.

In this project, building a comprehensive system of systems capability to monitor and analyze carrier air wing operations may involve linking a number of computer models that have been developed independently. In addition, new models may be built where necessary, and merged into a computational architecture that becomes a system-wide metric-based computational engine including a mix of discrete event simulation and optimization algorithms, says Jeff.

“The hope is that we will be able to utilize a number of the modeling and simulation technologies developed for other major programs such as the Army’s Future Combat System and Lockheed Martin’s Joint Strike Fighter program,” says Robert Cranwell (15242), project manager for the Navy Manpower Study program. “Use of these technologies has proven to be very successful in supporting these programs,” says Robert.

The Army has incorporated a number of these technologies as part of its Test and Evaluation Center capabilities, Robert says.
Three Sandians recently visited the USS Harry S. Truman and received a brief introduction to flight operations, aircraft maintenance operations, and flight operation planning techniques. An extended visit to the USS Nimitz was planned for mid-to-late- August.

Sandians involved in the project include Jeff Brewer (6861), Robert Cranwell (15242), Dwight Miller (15242), Paul Werner (6252), Kelly Lowder (15242), Craig Lawton (15242), and Dan Briand (15242). -- Michael Padilla

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Nonproliferation experts helping foreign governments lock up dirty-bomb ingredients

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By John German

Sandia nonproliferation experts are working with NNSA and other DOE laboratories and the governments of four foreign countries to help locate, repackage, move, and secure large quantities of medical and industrial radioactive materials that currently are stored in facilities that offer little protection.

The goal is to lock up radiation sources that could become the ingredients of a terrorist dirty bomb.

Efforts are under way in Lithuania, Greece, Russia, and Tanzania. Similar projects in other countries are expected to begin this year. The project is funded through NNSAs Radiological Threat Reduction Program.

The safekeeping around some large radiation sources in some countries isnt up to the standards we are used to in the United States, says Bill Rhodes, Manager of International Physical Protection Program 6952. The goal is to go to the source where a terrorist group might try to steal radioactive material and try to help secure that material.

Protocols for tracking shipments of radioactive materials also can be less rigorous than they are in the US, he says. In Lithuania, for instance, where many government records have been misplaced or removed in the transition from the former Soviet government, large radiation sources that have been lost in the shuffle are being found and accounted for before being locked up.

We give guidance; they implement their own rules and regulations, Bill says.

Recommendations include physical security devices, like video motion detection and sensors, he says, or they can focus on revision of administrative procedures and standards for the storage, transport, tracking, and inventory of materials.

A scoping team first traveled to Lithuania in June 2003 to meet with officials of the Lithuanian Radiation Protection Centre (RPC) and other agencies at the invitation of Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas, who asked for assistance in a letter to US Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham.

The visit team included Ioanna Illiopulos (NNSA), Tom Coulter (Coulter and Associates), Michael Hasse (Aquila Technologies Group, Inc.), and Rhodes.

Never intended as secure sites

The Lithuanians identified 300 sites they thought contained large quantities of radioactive materials, then culled the list down to 25 high-priority sites where radiation sources needed to be located and secured first. Included in the list were several hospitals where 5,000- to 6,000-curie cobalt-60 sources had been used.

As hospitals they were never intended to be high security areas, says Bill.

Former Soviet military bases, industrial processing sites, and one nuclear waste repository were also included.

Teams of Sandians, including Dan Lowe (6952), Keith Young (6952) and Scottie Walker (6952) have returned several times to advise the Lithuanian government and oversee security upgrades at some facilities, and to repackage and transport some sources to more secure locations. In addition, surplus Sandia radiation-measurement equipment has been donated to the Lithuanian government.

Basically they needed modern diagnostic equipment to accomplish the objectives of the project, Bill says. They did not have enough equipment for the RPC to monitor the whole country.

Lithuania was the first of four governments Sandia is now working with.

Sandia personnel also have participated in visits to Tanzania and Greece, where contracts for security upgrades were negotiated. Fred Harper (4117) and Paul McConnell (6142) also provided training to Greek officials in preparation for the 2004 Summer Olympic Games.

Future projects include work in Russia, Egypt, and additional countries of the Former Soviet Union. -- John German

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Global Nuclear Future offers comprehensive energy vision

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By Will Keener

The US needs a systems approach to the problems of providing energy for the world in the 21st century, says Sandia President C. Paul Robinson, and Sandia can help. Nuclear energy is a key part of that solution: It can offer economic growth for developing nations, reduce environmental threats from greenhouse gases and water scarcity, and provide political stability by removing the dangers of nuclear proliferation.

But nuclear power has to be done right — and gaining acceptance for global nuclear power is a tough sell, he concedes. Last spring Paul accepted the position of chair of the US delegation of seven national laboratory directors, who met in Vienna, Austria, with nine Russian laboratory directors to discuss issues around nuclear power (Lab News, Aug. 4). The directors issued a joint statement on sustainable nuclear energy for the new century and agreed to pursue the cause with their respective governments.

Paul and the US laboratory directors are working closely with DOE, where Kyle McSlarrow, deputy energy secretary, has been a major supporter of the concept. With elections coming up, policy is now taking a back seat to politicking in Washington and elsewhere, but Paul recognizes the importance of working with either party. “Our aim is to provide the right technical answers to whichever party is in power,” he says. “We are setting goals and moving ahead.”

The global nuclear future concept got a big boost from an earlier Bush-Putin summit in Moscow, Paul notes. It makes sense for US and Russian scientists to have technological answers available for a future summit, following the elections.

US laboratory directors are also working with industry, says Paul. At a Decision-Makers Forum before the Vienna conference, held in Crystal City, Va., industry executives weighed in on the issues. “It was very well attended by key manufacturing and energy supply companies,” says Paul. The large nuclear plant vendors of the 20th century are now largely gone, he notes. Many have moved into other energy generating areas. “A key question now is where will the manufacturing be done?” says Paul.

Recognizing that only nuclear power is capable of meeting the growing world demands for safe, clean, plentiful electricity, fresh water, and hydrogen for the critical transportation segment, the directors have outlined a plan to provide 30 to 40 percent of world electricity by 2050.
Using advanced reactor designs and fuel cycle concepts capable of also burning “surplus nuclear materials” from weapons work “we can extend the electricity available from our initial fuel estimates of 100 to 500 years up to 1,000 years,” says Paul. This approach would require a change in US policy to use certain materials, particularly plutonium, as fuel.

Russian scientists have been doing a surprising amount of research on reactor designs and fuel cycles, with a variety of cooling systems, says Paul. “Their nuclear engineering capability is very highly developed.” The role for US labs in supporting new policy involves their experiences in improving plant reliability, reactor control systems, and efficiencies to get the most electricity for the investor’s dollar.

“In this country we have improved our reactors to the point where they are now operating so much better in producing electricity that we have created the equivalent of 27 additional plants to the grid,” Paul told the Lab News. And that’s important because no new nuclear plants have actually been built in the US since the Palo Verde nuclear plant in Arizona in the 1970s (although a number of plants started earlier and work stopped in the 1970s have now been completed).

Sandia’s modeling and simulation capabilities can be valuable in predicting reliability of new plant designs. “We can build them and test them in cyberspace, and when we’re sure a design has the required reliability we can build it. The Russians are keenly interested in this capability.”
Spreading the cause beyond the US and Russia is another goal of the consortium of laboratory directors. France, a major nuclear power player, has expressed an interest and will discuss the concepts with US representatives, says Paul. Russia has committed to approaching Japan, another key player.
To make this nuclear dream a reality, the US government may have to intercede, as it did in the first nuclear era, to build some pilot plants to demonstrate the effectiveness of the new designs, says Paul. “Sandia’s job will be system integration. We need to keep the consortium of talent we have together to provide leadership and move forward.”

“We are doing our homework as a system of national laboratories to predict reliability and address safety concerns. We are addressing proliferation concerns as a centerpiece of the effort. This is a huge research task, but as a system of labs we can accomplish it.”. -- Will Keener


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Last modified: August 23, 2004

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