The Catholic University of America

Jan. 17, 2013

Energy Officials Visit Catholic University Laboratory

A U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) delegation, led by Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, visited Catholic University’s Vitreous State Laboratory (VSL) on Jan. 15.

  VSL Director Ian Pegg in discussion with Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, at right.

The group, which also included Dave Huizenga, the head of DOE’s Office of Environmental Management, participated in a nearly three-hour tour of the various VSL labs and projects, most notably to see work in support of the safe immobilization of nuclear wastes at DOE sites around the country.

During the tour, Chu and VSL Director and Professor of Physics Ian Pegg discussed potential glass formulation and melter operations enhancements related to the Hanford Tank Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant, a DOE nuclear and chemical waste processing facility under construction in Washington state, for which VSL is providing research and development support.

The plant will treat and immobilize significant quantities of “legacy” nuclear waste left from the manufacture of plutonium during World War II and the Cold War. Clean-up of the site began in 1989.

VSL experts have developed processes to more efficiently transform highly radioactive nuclear waste into stable glass that can be disposed of safely. VSL provides support to various nuclear facilities in the United States, Japan, and the United Kingdom.

VSL partners with EnergySolutions, an international nuclear waste processing and disposal company, at the Hanford plant.

During his tour Chu, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, also made stops at VSL labs doing research on biophysics and nanotechnology led by physics professors Abhijit Sarkar and John Philip.



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