He is a laboratory fellow and director of the Fuel Cycle Science and Technology Division at Idaho National Laboratory (INL). His primary focus is directing research and development of advanced technologies for spent nuclear fuel recycling and other chemical separation applications. He also serves as the national technical director for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Nuclear Technology Research and Development Material Recovery and Waste Form Development Program and is also the director of the Glenn T. Seaborg Institute at INL. He has 35 years of experience in chemical separation technologies involving spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemical engineering from Montana State University and a doctorate degree in chemical engineering from Khlopin Radium Institute in St. Petersburg, Russia. He has published over 200 journal articles, reports and conference proceedings, and awarded 23 U.S. patents and six Russian patents, as well as received numerous awards, including an R&D 100 Award. He serves on the editorial board for the journal, Solvent Extraction and Ion Exchange. He is a fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and the American Nuclear Society and the founder of an endowed chemical engineering scholarship at the University of Idaho. He has served on numerous international conference scientific advisory boards and technical program committees.
His experience at Idaho National Laboratory involves research, development, and engineering of processes and equipment, as well as managing projects and personnel in the treatment of various materials of interest for the U.S. Department of Energy, which includes spent nuclear fuel and associated high-level, transuranic and low-level wastes. The activities have primarily involved pyrochemical and electrochemical techniques and processes to separate and recover actinides from spent nuclear fuel, while directing fission and activation products into appropriate waste forms for disposal. He has a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Brigham Young University and a master’s from Idaho State University. He is a professional engineer in chemical and nuclear engineering.
He is a staff scientist at Idaho National Laboratory (INL) and a recognized expert in materials characterization and instrumentation. He has a doctorate in materials science and condenser matter physics from the University of California, Davis. His work has spanned global and nationwide collaborations. He has worked at premier nanocharacterization facilities at national laboratories and universities and has expert knowledge of scanning transmission electron microscopy, atom probe tomography and electron loss spectroscopy. His primary research interests lie in the investigation of materials and the origins of their physical properties. He has heavily leveraged the use of multidimensional microscopy, diffraction and artificial intelligence to address delays in data access and extraction, which has led to a new frontier in advanced microscopy. At INL, he continues to focus on the development and application of machine and deep learning in order to decipher and decimate information from images, spectra, and diffraction patterns to maximize the effectiveness, efficiency and utility of advanced microscopy. He is an invited academic faculty member and manager for a diverse group of postdoctoral research scientists, graduate students, and technicians across several national laboratories and universities. He is an author of 45 peer-reviewed publications, a recognized reviewer, and a technical contributing member to energy materials research. He was awarded two patents and has three patents pending, including an innovative approach to computational microscopy using machine learning.
He is a research scientist from Idaho National Laboratory (INL) with extensive experience in the fields of materials electrochemistry as applied to reactive and refractory metals, process metallurgy, synthesis and characterization of high-temperature metals and materials, energy-efficient manufacturing processes, and materials recycling. While working at Bhabha Atomic Research Center, India, he developed an entirely new (molten salt based) process flow-sheet for the production of vanadium metal with a view to fabricate a self-powered beta detector. He also worked on the development of a new high-temperature process for the production of commercial-grade zirconia and silica powders from the indigenously available zircon mineral. His other projects have been aimed at recovering valuable materials from waste, secondary resources, and lean ore bodies. His team could successfully develop a technology for the conversion of Zr-2.5Nb alloy scrap to high purity zirconium crystal bar by van Arkel de Boer process. This technology can be adopted to successfully transform the alloy scrap into high purity zirconium crystal bar, a metal of significant importance to the nuclear energy program. At the University of Cambridge, he worked on the process optimization studies pertaining to the preparation of titanium metal and its alloys by a novel molten salt electrochemical process. He developed a preparative process for titanium-lanthanum alloy from their mixed oxides. At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he worked on a high-temperature electrochemical process to generate oxygen from the lunar regolith. This is one of the two technologies shortlisted by NASA for its eventual deployment to produce breathable oxygen from in situ (lunar) resources. At INL, the scientific underpinning of his research activities has been to study the behavior of metals and materials under a given set of conditions. His diverse research pursuits include materials electrochemistry, energy-efficient manufacturing processes, and materials recycling.
Dr. Brenda L. Garcia-Diaz is the manager of the Energy Materials Group in SRNL. She has a PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of South Carolina with a specialization in electrochemical engineering. She has developed Nb-doped TiO2 electrocatalysts and developed models to better understand DMFC operation. Dr. Garcia-Diaz helped develop electrochemical synthesis methods for aluminum hydride. She has worked on novel electrochemical methods for nuclear fuel processing including the development of an electrochemical fluorination method for processing used nuclear fuel, direct LiT electrolysis for tritium recovery in fusion applications, and reduction of oxide nuclear fuels utilizing a solid oxide conducting anode. Dr. Garcia-Diaz is the principal investigator on a DOE SunShot program to investigate and mitigate corrosion in high temperature molten salt heat transfer systems for concentrating solar power (CSP) applications. She is the molten salt corrosion consultant to NREL for the development of a Gen 3 CSP system. Dr. Garcia-Diaz has also led research on the development of MAX phase coatings for accident tolerant nuclear fuel. She has led collaborations with multiple industrial partners, universities, and national laboratories.
Dr. Garcia-Diaz was awarded the ASM International Silver Award, the South Carolina Governor’s Young Researcher award, and the SRNL Early Career Award. In 2018, her project on electrochemical fluorination also won the inaugural SRNL award for LDRD return on investment. Dr. Garcia-Diaz serves as a Board Member for the American Institute of Chemical Engineers RAPID program for process intensification. She is an adjunct faculty member at the University of South Carolina in the Chemical Engineering Department. Dr. Garcia-Diaz is a member of the Hanford Tank Integrity Expert Panel.
He is a distinguished scientist for the Aqueous Separations and Radiochemistry Department at Idaho National Laboratory. He has expertise in nuclear fuel separations (aqueous and pyrochemical), high-level waste treatment, decontamination, nuclear processing off-gas treatment, and low-level waste treatment. His areas of decontamination expertise include chemical, strippable coatings and laser decontamination methods. In 1991, he began the study of decontamination of stainless steel nuclear fuel reprocessing equipment and waste minimization. In 2004, he began developing decontamination technologies to remediate radioactive contamination from a dirty bomb for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. His expertise in decontamination and decommissioning (D&D) was recognized by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) with a consultancy on decommissioning spent fuel pools and as a teacher for the IAEA D&D courses. He holds seven patents and won an R&D 100 Award in 2011. He is a founding member of the National Analytical Management Program (NAMP) and continues to serve as the High Dose/Hot Cell Subcommittee chairman. He serves as a member of the Waste Management Symposia Program Advisory Committee for the last 12 years and annually as the session chairman for Novel Decontamination Techniques. He is also a member of the ASTM Subcommittee E10.03, Radiological Protection for Decontamination and Decommissioning of Nuclear Facilities and Components.
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