Y‑12’s 60 years of rich lithium operational history and expertise make it the clear choice for deployment of new lithium-based technologies and capabilities. There is no other U.S. site, government or commercial, that comes close to the breadth of Y‑12’s lithium expertise and capabilities.
The Y‑12 National Security Complex supplies lithium, in unclassified forms, to customers worldwide through the DOE Office of Science, Isotope Business Office. Historically, the typical order of 6Li was only gram quantities used in research and development. However, over the past three years demand has increased steadily with typical orders of around 10–20 kg each. Such increase in demand is a direct result of the use of 6Li in neutron detectors.
Y‑12’s 6Li is used as scintillation material for neutron detectors being purchased by the Department of Homeland Security, NNSA Office of Second Line of Defense (NA‑25), other domestic and international government agencies, and research laboratories. Typical neutron detectors can be purchased as hand-held devices, backpacks, and portal monitors detectors used to detect illicit smuggling of special nuclear materials at border crossings, ports, airports, etc.
Another future growth area for Y‑12’s 6Li is use in breeder blankets to make tritium in fusion energy applications. Y‑12 has recently received a request to supply 6Li for a test breeder blanket that will be used in the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor project currently under construction in France.