The American Nuclear Society (ANS) is bestowing one of its highest honors, the Seaborg Medal, on Terry Kammash, a professor emeritus of Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences. The medal, named for Glenn Seaborg, the first recipient and a Nobel laureate, recognizes contributions to the peaceful uses of nuclear technology. The ceremony takes place Monday, November 12th at the ANS Winter Meeting.
Kammash’s explorations of fission-fusion hybrid reactors and of magnetic mirror machine fusion reactors may one day inform the design of powerful, high-efficiency thrusters for long-haul space flights. The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics also recognized this work with the 2012 Pioneer Award.
In addition to driving space ships, fission-fusion hybrid reactors can generate electricity here on Earth, potentially improving the safety of the power plants and the security of the radioactive waste. The fusion reaction would feed neutrons into thorium fuel, creating uranium-233 and causing it to fission. Because the fission would stop without the fusion reaction, and because the fusion reaction requires energy input to continue, runaway reactions would be impossible. Moreover, the used thorium fuel would contain highly radioactive uranium-232. This isotope and its decay products are too hot to handle – their high-energy gamma ray emissions make the spent fuel too dangerous to work with for building nuclear weapons.
“I feel fortunate and honored to receive these awards,” said Kammash.