Nuclear materials contractor links with special Mississippi State lab

Contact: Sammy McDavid

A national leader in the development of hazardous-waste treatment technologies is the latest company to link with Mississippi State's largest research project.

The Westinghouse Savannah River Co. is a new industrial affiliate of the university's Diagnostic Instrumentation and Analysis Laboratory (DIAL). The Aiken, S.C., company is a long-time producer of special nuclear materials for defense purposes, as well as a specialist in storage and treatment of waste arising from that production.

DIAL, a $50 million one-of-a-kind laboratory, is an interdisciplinary research department funded primarily by the U.S. Energy Department. Using lasers and other sophisticated equipment and analysis techniques, its researchers can take measurements in extremely hot, highly corrosive atmospheres where conventional techniques are ineffective.

DIAL director Steve Shepard said the affiliates program seeks industry's participation in research and development. "Their support, guidance and focus are vital for our future," he said.

Savannah River's John Plodinec said Mississippi State will help his company in two primary ways.

"First, DIAL has unique capabilities to help us solve waste management problems of interest to us and the entire country," the manager of advanced applications said. "Secondly, compared to the costs of carrying out research and development in government labs, DIAL is a bargain. We can get much more for our money and get the answers we need faster."

Ralph Powe, Mississippi State's research vice president, said collaboration between the laboratory and American industry offers many benefits for both. Among industry benefits "is the increased speed of technology transfer through direct involvement" with developing research.

"The university benefits from the direct involvement of industry and the early feedback into the academic program," Powe added.

For additional information on DIAL's Industrial Affiliates Program or its new linkup with Westinghouse Savannah River, telephone Bob Kirkland at (601) 325-2105.