Savannah River National Lab puts science to work

May 24, 2016

It is an exciting time for Aiken, especially Aiken’s academic world.

The Savannah River National Laboratory chose Aiken to build its latest research facility, a 70,000-square-foot Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative that will be a part of SRNL, to be built on the USC Aiken campus.

SRNL Director Dr. Terry Michalske spoke to the Aiken Rotary Club on Monday about the exciting things going on with the National Lab and what it would mean to Aiken.

“The Savannah River National Laboratory puts science to work to create and deploy practical, high-value, cost-effective technology solutions,” he said. “The new Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative facility will be the perfect place where academics, industry, and government can work without all the labels and badges, and just share ideas.

While the Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative facility will be located on the USC Aiken campus, USCA will not own the facility, according to sources. The facility will be located on the USCA campus but the Aiken Advanced Manufacturing Partnership, which is a subsidiary of the Economic Development Partnership, will own the building. The National Lab will lease space from Aiken Advanced Manufacturing Partnership, who will lease the ground from USCA.

“We can’t do this from behind the fence,” Michalske said. “We’re very excited about where all this is going. We’re excited about it and we hope the community is, as well.”

There are some very smart people working at Savannah River Site, Michalske said. A workforce of 940 very smart people.

“What we do is try to help our nation get through its biggest problems. We never want to be second when it comes to our nuclear deterrent.”

Michalske said in winning the Cold War, the U.S. generated a lot of nuclear waste. “It’s threatening the health of our people and threatening the stability of our environment. We spent $150 million so far and we have quite a long ways to go in taking care of this waste. We need to find a way to spend our money more cheaply and in a shorter amount of time.”

There are people out there making a real difference.

“We’re working to find out how to keep these dangerous materials from spreading throughout the world and to keep these materials stay in safe hands,” Michalske said. “We now have a permanent task force helping the Japanese government in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster.”

Not all SRNL’s solutions are world savers. Some save money, too.

“There are more than 200,000 cellphone towers in the U.S.,” Michalske said. “Each tower is held up by guy-wires, which are basically tension wires that add stability to a free standing structure. Currently it costs more than $1,000 to excavate each support base at a cellphone tower to test and inspect the cell tower’s stability.

“At the SRNL, we figured out a way to do this thousand dollar test for ten bucks,” he said.

This new Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative laboratory space will help promote partnerships between industry, academia and government in the creation and implementation of new technology. The planned site property is owned by USC Aiken and is located near SRNL. The new lab will include chemistry labs, engineering fabrication labs, high bay and industrial work space and staff offices, Michalske said.

“We look forward to creating a more open environment for collaborative research and development in areas such as process intensification, smart manufacturing, cyber, virtual simulation, and advanced robotics,” Michalske said. “This space will allow SRNL to build the future of innovation. By thinking creatively, we can more effectively partner our talent with industry and academia to address a multitude of technology needs.”

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