Isotopes, elements, and critical minerals

30 Jun 2017

Last week, the House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources discussed draft legislation to facilitate the production of helium on federal lands. As helium is vital to several sectors including academic research, members expressed concerns about the impending closure of the Federal Helium Reserve.

14 Oct 2016

In a new report, the American Physical Society, the American Chemical Society, and the Materials Research Society recommend actions that the U.S. government and scientific societies should take to make researchers less vulnerable to liquid helium price increases, price volatility, and supply interruptions—all of which could be exacerbated by the impending closure of the Federal Helium Reserve. 

12 Sep 2016

If the energy bill is to become law before the end of this Congress, the conference committee led by Sen. Lisa Murkowski will have to successfully hash out differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill, including on research and advanced nuclear reactor development at the Energy Department and critical minerals exploration at the Interior Department.

13 Sep 2016

A congressionally mandated report released yesterday by the National Academies warns that severe shortages of molybdenum-99 and its radioactive decay product technetium-99m, an isotope used in medical imaging procedures, are possible after a key Canadian supplier ceases production in October 2016.

28 Apr 2016

A controversial amendment which would prevent the U.S. from purchasing excess heavy water from Iran has dimmed hopes for smooth passage of the Senate appropriations bill which funds the Department of Energy.

22 Apr 2016

The Senate approved its first major energy policy bill in nine years, and it includes a slew of provisions which are relevant to the science community.

7 Apr 2016

Recent reports of terrorists attempting to acquire nuclear materials have given greater urgency to efforts to secure and reduce nuclear materials, including the development of non-radioactive alternatives to certain radioisotopes used widely in the civilian sector.

1 Apr 2016

In a letter addressed to attendees of the Nuclear Security Summit occurring this week, a group of 35 Nobel laureates urge transition away from use of highly enriched uranium in naval and research reactors and encourage development of non-radioactive alternatives to certain radioisotopes used in medical and research applications.

2 Feb 2016

A joint NASA-DOE effort to restart production of plutonium-238 has borne its first fruit: a 50 gram demonstration batch created at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Although this development comes as a relief to those concerned about the U.S.’ dwindling supply of plutonium-238 essential for powering deep space missions, some in Congress are still seeking details on potential ways to reduce demand for the material by using more efficient technologies such as advanced Stirling generators.

27 Jan 2016

The Senate begins debate on a major energy policy bill that would authorize increases in basic research funding at the Department of Energy Office of Science, boost technology transfer activities at the national laboratories, advance exascale computing, and modernize national critical mineral policy.


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