News & Media
Solving an ergonomic problem to enable safeguards research
PNNL-WSU collaboration develops the future workforce
Performing nuclear safeguards work safely and developing the next generation workforce are complementary goals of a longstanding program sponsored by the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Office of International Nuclear Safeguards. This program pairs PNNL research staff with Washington State University engineering students to provide solutions to enable nuclear safeguards research at PNNL.
In December, a team of WSU students delivered their solution to some ergonomic issues faced by PNNL physicist Mike Cantaloub and his team in a laboratory containing sensitive high-purity germanium detectors. These detectors are arranged in a tall fixture containing lead shielding to reduce the effects of naturally occurring atmospheric radiation and enable the accurate identification of radioactive isotopes in samples. Staff members using this instrument have to remove a 25-lb. plug detector, reach down to place samples, and then replace the plug detector. These activities have the potential for ergonomic injury to staff members and damage to the detectors.
WSU students Darin Malihi, Jared Oshiro, Martin Gastelum, Jacob Lazaro, Nicholas Takehara, and Saul Ramos designed and fabricated equipment that works similar to the weight training machines found in a gym—a lifting arm with a counter weight. The team also developed a solution to place the sample, a holder that is affixed to the bottom of the plug detector. Their solutions allow researchers to remove the detector quickly and efficiently and avoid reaching down to place the sample for detection.
“The solution devised by the team makes day-to-day operations in this laboratory safer and more efficient for the nuclear safeguards research team," said PNNL mechanical engineer and advisor to the WSU team, Patrick Valdez.
PNNL Launches Marine Renewable Energy Database
Tethys Engineering addresses industry’s technical and engineering challenges
Marine renewable energy (MRE) has the potential to provide 90 gigawatts of power in the United States through waves and tidal and ocean currents.
To harness the ocean’s energy, the MRE industry needs to understand how to address technical and engineering challenges such as efficient power takeoff, device survivability, and grid integration.
PNNL developed Tethys Engineering in September 2019 to allow sharing resources around the deployment of devices in corrosive, high-energy marine environments. The recently launched Tethys Engineering online database includes collected and curated documents surrounding the technical and engineering development of MRE devices. Users can search and filter results to intuitively identify information relevant to developers, researchers, and regulators.
Tethys Engineering includes more than 3,000 journal articles, conference papers, reports, and presentations related to wave, current, salinity gradient, and ocean thermal energy conversion technologies. The database contains information from around the world.
The Tethys Engineering database was created as a companion to the already established Tethys website, which focuses on the environmental effects of the MRE industry.