Jim Marra, an advisory engineer in the Materials Science and Technology Directorate of the Savannah River National Lab, is an expert on using ceramic and glass materials to convert extremely dangerous Cold War era liquid nuclear wastes to a solid form that can last for thousands of years. Untreated wastes typically have been stored in million-gallon tanks that can corrode and leak. While not eliminating the overriding dangers of highly radioactive materials, glassification can literally lock up the wastes in solid forms that prevent their escape for long, long times – until the solid wastes can be converted to safer forms or used for alternative purposes. (The transmutation of long half-life radioactive elements of short half-life elements is also underway at SRNL. John Marra, Jim’s brother, discusses some of these cutting edge techniques in this lecture.)
Marra received a B.S. degree in ceramic science and a B.A. degree in mathematics from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, an M.S. in materials engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and a Ph.D. in ceramic and materials Engineering from Clemson University. An ACerS Fellow, Marra is a member and past chair of the Nuclear and Environmental Technology Division and is a member of the National Institute of Ceramic Engineers.