New Gas Gun Helping Scientists Better Understand Plutonium Behavior

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One of the most daunting scientific and engineering challenges today is ensuring the safety and reliability of the nation's nuclear arsenal. To effectively meet that challenge, scientists need better data showing how plutonium, a key component of nuclear warheads, behaves under extreme pressures and temperatures. On July 8, 2003, Lawrence Livermore researchers performed the inaugural experiment of a 30-meter-long, two-stage gas gun designed to obtain those data. The results from a continuing stream of successful experiments on the gas gun are strengthening scientists' ability to ensure that the nation's nuclear stockpile is safe and reliable. The JASPER (Joint Actinide Shock ... continued below

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PDF-file: 8 pages; size: 0.8 Mbytes

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Hazi, A September 20, 2005.

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One of the most daunting scientific and engineering challenges today is ensuring the safety and reliability of the nation's nuclear arsenal. To effectively meet that challenge, scientists need better data showing how plutonium, a key component of nuclear warheads, behaves under extreme pressures and temperatures. On July 8, 2003, Lawrence Livermore researchers performed the inaugural experiment of a 30-meter-long, two-stage gas gun designed to obtain those data. The results from a continuing stream of successful experiments on the gas gun are strengthening scientists' ability to ensure that the nation's nuclear stockpile is safe and reliable. The JASPER (Joint Actinide Shock Physics Experimental Research) Facility at the Department of Energy's (DOE's) Nevada Test Site (NTS) is home to the two-stage gas gun. In the gun's first test, an unqualified success, Livermore scientists fired a projectile weighing 28.6 grams and traveling about 5.21 kilometers per second when it impacted an extremely small (about 30-gram) plutonium target. This experiment marked the culmination of years of effort in facility construction, gun installation, system integration, design reviews, and federal authorizations required to bring the experimental facility online. Ongoing experiments have drawn enthusiastic praise from throughout DOE, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), and the scientific community. NNSA Administrator Linton Brooks said, ''Our national laboratories now have at their disposal a valuable asset that enhances our due diligence to certify the nuclear weapons stockpile in the absence of underground nuclear weapons testing.''

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PDF-file: 8 pages; size: 0.8 Mbytes

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  • Report No.: UCRL-TR-215967
  • Grant Number: W-7405-ENG-48
  • DOI: 10.2172/883591 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 883591
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc875288

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  • September 20, 2005

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Sept. 21, 2016, 2:29 a.m.

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  • Nov. 30, 2016, 12:50 p.m.

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Hazi, A. New Gas Gun Helping Scientists Better Understand Plutonium Behavior, report, September 20, 2005; Livermore, California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc875288/: accessed August 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.