RICHLAND — “Tritium Production in a Commercial Reactor” will be presented this Friday, Oct. 16, at WSU Tri-Cities.
This nuclear-related engineering professional development seminar starts at 12:10 p.m. in the West Building, Room 210, at 2710 University Drive. It also is available by videoconference at WSU Pullman in Murrow, Room 53. Admission to the seminar is free and open to the public.
The presenter is Cheryl Thornhill, project manager for the tritium program at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland. She also is responsible for business development activities with the Office of Defense Programs and the Office of Fissile Material, Disposition, both in the National Nuclear Security Administration of the Department of Energy.
“A key part of our strategic national defense is the maintenance of strategic nuclear weapons,” Thornhill said. “For these weapons to function as designed they require tritium, which due to the short half-life has to be periodically replenished. In the heyday of the Cold War, dedicated reactors were used to produce tritium. Those reactors have been shut down and a technology has been developed to produce tritium as needed, using commercial nuclear power reactors. PNNL designed, developed and assisted the U.S. Department of Energy with the deployment of this technology.” 
Thornhill has a bachelor’s of science in chemical engineering from the University of New Mexico and an MBA from the University of Washington. She has been at PNNL for about 30 years, with research activities in nuclear waste management, spent fuel storage and tritium production.
For more information, contact seminar coordinator Richard Stout at or 509-528-7023.