A multi-institutional team of researchers and collaborators successfully executed a built-in vessel confinement system (VCS) experiment at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), within an experimental campaign to review how nuclear materials respond to high explosives without conducting a normal nuclear test.
The experimentdubbed Miramarwas a thorough collaboration across LLNL, Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), the United Kingdom’s Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) and the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS). This is a major milestone within an upcoming subcritical experiment series, named “Nimble.” The Nimble series is made to remain below the threshold of nuclear criticality relative to the U.S. commitment never to go back to nuclear explosive testing. The Nimble series will play an integral role in assessing the safety, security and effectiveness of the U.S. nuclear stockpile, in addition to providing data essential to certifying that modernized warheads will perform needlessly to say.
Miramar may be the penultimate dress rehearsal experiment before the Nimble series at NNSS’s underground U1a facility in Nevada. The experiment can help make sure that there will never be vessel confinement or data-return surprises once the Nimble experiments are conducted in U1a. This is a completely integrated test, and therefore all the different parts of the vessel and confinement system were set up, in addition to diagnostic and experimental components, using relevant materials.
“Miramar is what’s referred to as a vessel mitigation experiment,” said LLNL design physicist Fady Najjar, who helped spearhead the experiment. “The primary goal was to prove that the mitigation system design will protect the integrity of the confinement vessel from debris and damage, and that diagnostics will perform needlessly to say.”
Miramar contains multiple experiments detonated inside a fully enclosed steel vessel. The team also leveraged this experimental possibility to collect hydrodynamic physics data from novel diagnostics designed for upcoming subcritical experiments to gauge the momentum of the detonation.
“Demonstration of the recently implemented novel diagnostic to measure areal mass, developed collaboratively by NNSS and LLNL, was a significant accomplishment and testament to the innovative and responsive nature of our scientific collaboration,” said Ed Daykin, project experimental physicist. “Preliminary results indicate high-quality data return and successful execution of most experimental packages within the vessel.”
Miramar operations and data collection included: design and assembly of a test area at LLNL’s remote experimental test site at Site 300 to simulate the U1a facility, implementation of the intended VCS blast mitigation design, in addition to assembly and demonstration of the timing and firing system. The experiment included extensive velocimetry and ranging, temperature and vessel diagnostics.
“Not only is it your final proof-test of a novel diagnostic developed under an extremely tight timeline, Miramar provided valuable physics validation data that provide us further confidence inside our final designs for the Nimble subcritical experiment packages,” said Garry Maskaly, design physicist. “The effort of the team can help make sure that we have the finest quality data in future experiments, enabling us to best support future stockpile modernization programs.”
“Completion of the experiment supplies the information and confidence essential to progress with upcoming activities and experiments in the Nimble series,” Najjar said. “Overall, Miramar was an extremely successful test out excellent data return and allowed the team to judge and verify procedures in preparation for fielding and execution of the subcritical experiments at U1a.”
Citation: Researchers successfully execute experiment to aid U.S. stockpile modernization efforts (2022, July 29) retrieved 31 July 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-07-successfully-stockpile-modernization-efforts.html
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