NNSA project to advance stockpile stewardship reaches key milestone

New diagnostic capability will expand possibilities for study of plutonium

The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA) has approved the conceptual design and cost range for the Advanced Sources and Detectors (ASD) project.

ASD will lead to a more robust stockpile stewardship program by generating high-speed, high-fidelity X-ray images of subcritical experiments to maintain the U.S. nuclear deterrent. Subcritical experiments do not produce any nuclear yield.

“This new diagnostic capability will allow scientists to better understand how plutonium reacts under extreme conditions and further our ability to ensure the safety, security, and effectiveness of the U.S. nuclear deterrent without the need for full-scale underground nuclear testing,” said Dr. Charles P. Verdon, NNSA’s Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs.

The ASD project is a cornerstone of NNSA’s Enhanced Capabilities for Subcritical Experiments (ECSE) portfolio. ECSE will help ensure the capability, capacity and responsiveness of the Nation’s nuclear weapons infrastructure, as called for in the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review.

Los Alamos National Laboratory is leading this initiative in partnership with Sandia National Laboratories, the Nevada National Security Site, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Based on the conceptual design, the cost of the ASD project is up to $1.1 billion and is expected to be completed in 2025.