2015 DOE Fellows WebSummer is here and 11 FIU STEM students from the DOE Fellow Program have traveled across the U.S. to participate in 10-week summer internships at Department of Energy (DOE) facilities. The internships are an integral part of the DOE-FIU Science and Technology Workforce Development Program in which the DOE Fellows spend the summer working at DOE program offices or on environmental research projects under the guidance of their site mentors. This summer, the DOE Fellows are interning at DOE Headquarters in Washington D.C., Savannah River National Lab (Aiken, SC), Savannah River Ecology Lab (Aiken, SC), Pacific Northwest National Lab (Richland, Washington State), Washington River Protection Solutions (Richland, Washington State), Los Alamos National Lab (Los Alamos, NV) and National Energy Technology Lab (Morgantown, WV). Descriptions of their summer assignments are provided below.

Congratulations to our Fellows: Sarah Bird, Silvina Di Pietro, Maximiliano Edrei, Erim Gokce, Hansell Gonzalez, Alejandro Hernandez, Awmna Rana, Alexis Smoot, Christopher Strand, Gene Yllanes, and Sebastian Zanlongo!

Alexis Smoot (Environmental Engineering)

Alexis Smoot (Environmental Engineering)

Sarah Bird (Environmental Engineering)

Sarah Bird (Environmental Engineering)

Sarah Bird & Alexis Smoot

Location: DOE HQ   Mentor: Skip Chamberlain

Ms. Sarah Bird  and Ms. Alexis Smoot will be working on a high level sustainability analysis of the F-Area treatment system at the Savannah River Site, evaluating aspects of the pump-and-treat system relative to the funnel-and-gate based passive treatment system. The goal of this research at the F-Area site is to provide an example for other DOE sites of a sustainable solution to the very difficult challenge of treating radionuclide contamination in the soil and groundwater.  The Fellows are also working on a virtual model of the F-Area with Lawrence Berkeley Lab that will be used to test various monitoring scenarios and determining the controlling variables for the area. This work will help to minimize the number of different parameters that must be monitored while providing sufficient information to the site regulators for assurance that the contaminants are contained.  The sustainability analysis will aid in the determination of which parameters to monitor.

Silvina Di Pietro (Chemistry)

Silvina Di Pietro (Chemistry)

Silvina Di Pietro

Location: PNNL   Mentor: Jim Szecosdy / Nik Qafoku

Ammonia gas injection is being considered as a potential field remediation technique for vadose zone contamination at the Hanford Site in Washington State. During her 10-week summer internship at PNNL, Ms. Silvina Di Pietro will be assisting with research on the dissolution rate of pure minerals and Hanford sediments in synthetic porewaters under anaerobic (oxygen-free) conditions. The experiments will be conducted using two different aqueous NH3 concentrations (3.1 mol/L and 0.3 mol/L) as well as NaOH for comparison. Major cations and anions in the aqueous phase will be monitored to determine the rate of mineral dissolution. Investigating the rate of mineral dissolution will help to understand how different cations/anions affect ammonia gas treatment under anaerobic environment conditions.

 

 

Maximiliano Edrei (Mechanical Engineering)

Maximiliano Edrei (Mechanical Engineering)

Maximiliano Edrei

Location: NETL   Mentor: Chris Gunter

During the summer of 2016, Mr. Maximiliano Edrei will be involved in both experimental and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) based research regarding the pulse jet mixing (PJM) process at the National Energy Technology Laboratory in Morgantown, WV. In particular, his work will involve investigating parameters affecting mixing times for a multiphase PJM process through CFD analysis. Also, the availability of a quarter-scale PJM vessel on site will allow for various experiments to be conducted on the same topic in which Mr. Edrei will be assisting.  One crucial question regarding the PJM vessels is the scalability of the process. Mr. Edrei’s summer research will help shed some light on this crucial question.

 

 

Erim Gokce

Location: WRPS   Mentor: Ruben Mendoza / Dennis Washenfelder

Erim Gokce (Mechanical Engineering)

Erim Gokce (Mechanical Engineering)

Mr. Erim Gokce is spending his summer internship making improvements in the technical basis information to support the underpinning for the direct feed low-activity waste (DF LAW) and single-shell tank (SST) retrieval OR model and assessment initiatives. Specifically, Mr. Gokce is researching and compiling failure data and forecast recommendations for waste transfer lines, spare jumpers, and SST retrieval equipment. Tasks associated with these three efforts include:

 

    1. Update waste transfer line failure reliability, availability, and maintainability (RAM) data by researching previous waste transfer line failure events, determining the cause of failure, categorizing these failures and providing this information for incorporation into the RAM data.
    2. Develop recommendations for the spare jumpers by assessing the types and number of spare jumpers needed for WFD transfer efforts.
    3. Update SST retrieval RAM data based on investigation of previous equipment failures for both sluicing and mobile arm retrieval vacuum systems (MARS). Once the types of failures are determined, and categorized, this information can be incorporated into the existing SST Retrieval RAM data.

 

Hansell Gonzalez (Electrical Engineering)

Hansell Gonzalez (Electrical Engineering)

Hansell Gonzalez

Location: SRNL   Mentor: Miles Denham

Mr. Hansell Gonzalez is researching Huma-K coated sediments for the sorption of silver (Ag+) and zinc (Zn2+). Silver and zinc can serve as homologues for the +1 and +2 oxidation state which could serve as a comparison with current experiments pertaining to U(VI) sorption on Huma-K coated Savannah River Site sediments. Sorption of the heavy metals may be investigated at different pH values. Additional parameters will be explored during the course of experiments such as concentration and competition between Ag+ and Zn2+ for binding sites.

 

 

 

 

Alejandro Hernandez

Location: SRNL   Mentor: Miles Denham

Alejandro Hernandez (Chemistry)

Alejandro Hernandez (Chemistry)

Mr. Alejandro Hernandez is working alongside Ralph Nichols and Miles Denham at SRNL on column studies, testing in situ precipitation of AgCl to treat I-129 contamination in groundwater, which relies on the successful injection of dissolved Ag into an aquifer and reaction with chloride. Laboratory-scale microcosm experiments will be conducted to simulate the anticipated field scale process. Additionally, Mr. Hernandez will help to initiate similar tests with iodate as the contaminant and analyze samples to determine iodine, nitrate and silver concentrations.

 

 

 

 

Awmna Rana (Chemistry)

Awmna Rana (Chemistry)

Awmna Rana

Location: REU/SREL   Mentor: John Seaman (SREL)

Ms. Awmna Rana’s internship includes evaluating the dynamics of non-exchangeable organically-bound tritium and its accumulation properties by studying the tritium (3H) cycle in a variety of contaminated aquatic biodata from Fourmile Pond at the Savannah River Site. Specific internship tasks include:

  • Design and perform experiments as an independent lab technician.
  • Assist in assembling the Carbolite MTT Carbon-14 & Tritium Analyzer and performing an analytical technique to combust the freeze-dried aquatic biodata samples to completion, aided by a catalyst, and selectively trapping the chief combustion products (i.e., carbon dioxide and water).
  • Assess the concentration of the carbon-14 and tritium (tritiated water) in the trapping agents using a liquid scintillation counting technique.
  • Calculate the sample tritium and carbon-14 concentrations using the data collected.
  • Understand why gaps exist in tritium environmental science in regards to the radionuclides properties of accumulation, and use data to support existing disagreement.
  • Research more about non-existing OBT standard, which is needed to validate the combustion procedure.
  • Use data to support claims of bio magnification in the environment as OBT has a much higher accumulation factor in marine species.
Christopher Strand (Civil and Environmental Engineering)

Christopher Strand (Civil and Environmental Engineering)

Christopher Strand

Location: LANL   Mentor: Bill Foley

Mr. Christopher Strand is working at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) as an intern for the summer. Mr. Strand is supporting the Surface Water Program through the Environmental Remediation Division – Environmental Services (ER-ES). Specific areas of work include using LIDAR data to evaluate sediment movement and/or retention volumes as requested by ER-ES staff. LIDAR, which stands for light detection and ranging, is a remote sensing method that uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure ranges to the Earth. These light pulses combined with other data generate precise three-dimensional information about the shape of the Earth and its surface characteristics. LIDAR systems allow scientists and mapping professionals to examine both natural and manmade environments with accuracy, precision, and flexibility. In addition, Mr. Strand will be performing a limited number of field visits to individual storm water sites may be completed in a site visitor role.

 

Gene Yllanes (Electrical Engineering)

Gene Yllanes (Electrical Engineering)

Gene Yllanes

Location: SRNL   Mentor: Mike Serrato

Mr. Gene Yllanes is participating in an internship with Savannah River National Lab under the mentorship of Senior Engineer, Matthew Folsom. Mr. Yllanes research focus for the internship is to develop and code scenes, objects, and animations using virtual reality (VR) technology for a software platform which can develop training scenarios for Savannah River Site employees. The scenarios and functions developed will be made available to the engineering staff on site for demonstration and developing purposes. Site specific tools will be made so that the employees may generate their own training scenarios in a VR environment. Additional projects for Mr. Yllanes include PCB board replacement for faulty radiological sensor amplifiers and robotic platform development for dynamic 3D 360º scanning.

 

 

Sebastian Zanlongo (Computer Engineering)

Sebastian Zanlongo (Computer Engineering)

Sebastian Zanlongo

Location: LANL   Mentor: David Mascarena

Mr. Sebastian Zanlongo’s summer project, under the direction of Dr. Mascarenas at Los Alamos National Laboratory, draws inspiration from Jungian psychology to design an artificial personality that can demonstrate different reactions and behaviors depending on its environment and internal state. These actions and behaviors will be designed so that they select the appropriate set of actions for a given set of inputs. Creating a more dynamic model of personalities than is found in current personality projects will allow for a wider range of actions, possibly resulting in emergent behaviors.

One of the goals of the internship is to develop a demonstration of some of the features of this personality model. This work could be applied to human-robot interaction, and allow robots to behave more independently in unknown environments. Robots would be able to interpret their current state, and their surrounding environment, and respond accordingly.

 

At the conclusion of the internships, the DOE Fellows will document their summer activities and results in a summer internship technical report, and will have the opportunity to present their accomplishments during the annual DOE Fellow’s Poster Exhibition & Competition (held in October at FIU) and/or at the upcoming Waste Management Symposia in March 2017 in Phoenix, Arizona. The following table details the DOE Fellows summer 2016 internships, location and mentors.

Table 1. Summer 2016 Internships

DOE Fellow Location Summer Internship Mentor
Erim Gokce WRPS Ruben Mendoza / Dennis Washenfelder
Gene Yllanes SRNL Mike Serrato
Max Edrei NETL Chris Gunter
Sebastian Zanlongo LANL David Mascarena
Alejandro Hernandez SRNL Miles Denham
Alexis Smoot DOE HQ Skip Chamberlain
Awmna Rana REU/SREL John Seaman (SREL)
Christopher Strand LANL Bill Foley
Hansel Gonzalez SRNL Miles Denham
Sarah Bird DOE HQ Skip Chamberlain
Silvina Di Pietro PNNL Jim Szecosdy / Nik Qafoku

For additional information, please visit the DOE Fellows webpage at https://fellows.fiu.edu/ or contact Dr. Leonel Lagos at (305) 348-1810 or via email at lagosl@fiu.edu.