Savannah River National Laboratory chemical engineer receives Orth Lifetime Achievement Award

AIKEN, S.C. (December 1, 2017) – Savannah River National Laboratory has named Tracy S. Rudisill as the 2017 winner of the Donald Orth Lifetime Achievement Award, the highest honor given by the laboratory for technical excellence and leadership. Rudisill is a principal investigator in the lab’s Separations and Actinide Science Group, leading a team developing chemical engineering flowsheets for the dissolution of used nuclear fuels and other nuclear materials.

“Tracy is a world-renowned expert in actinide materials who time and again has demonstrated his ability to provide practical solutions to our nation's most difficult and pressing problems,” said Dr. Terry A. Michalske, Director of Savannah River National Laboratory. “He is personally involved in many national and international programs but always makes it a priority to mentor and help develop the next generation of scientists and engineers.”

Rudisill has worked for Savannah River National Lab for more than 30 years, conducting research and development for uranium, neptunium, plutonium, americium, and curium processing. His accomplishments include developing chemical engineering flowsheets for plutonium metal finishing, scrap recovery, dissolution of plutonium materials and the recovery of enriched uranium from research reactor fuels. He also developed processes to save valuable americium and curium isotopes, which are used in the manufacturing of californium-252, a neutron emitter for radiation therapy and other applications, from disposal as waste.

In addition, Rudisill worked with the team of Savannah River National Lab scientists and engineers that made the first successful demonstration of the uranium extraction (UREX) process as part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fuel Cycle Technologies Material Recovery and Waste Form Development campaign. The UREX process is a nuclear reprocessing technique that can be used to save space inside high-level nuclear waste disposal sites by removing uranium from waste, which makes up the vast majority of the mass and volume of used nuclear fuel.

Earlier this year, Rudisill received the 2017 Glenn T. Seaborg Actinide Separations Award, given annually to recognize a U.S. scientist or engineer who has made outstanding and lasting contributions to the development and application of actinide separations processes and methodology.

The Orth Award is named in honor of Dr. Donald Orth, a former Savannah River National Lab researcher who retired in 1992 after a distinguished 41-year career at the Savannah River Site. This annual award recognizes an individual “who by character and leadership best exemplifies Dr. Orth’s character and contributions.”

Savannah River National Laboratory is a multi-program national laboratory for the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Environmental Management. Savannah River National Laboratory puts science to work providing practical, cost-effective solutions for the nation’s environmental, nuclear security, energy and manufacturing challenges.