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Chemists ID Catalytic 'Key' for Converting CO2 to Methanol

Results from experiments and computational modeling studies that definitively identify the "active site" of a catalyst commonly used for making methanol from CO2 will guide the design of improved catalysts for transforming this pollutant to useful chemicals.

Cryo-Electron Microscopy Achieves Unprecedented Resolution Using New Computational Methods

Cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM)--which enables the visualization of viruses, proteins, and other biological structures at the molecular level--is a critical tool used to advance biochemical knowledge. Now Berkeley Lab researchers have extended cryo-EM's impact further by developing a new computational algorithm instrumental in constructing a 3-D atomic-scale model of bacteriophage P22 for the first time.

New Study Maps Space Dust in 3-D

A new Berkeley Lab-led study provides detailed 3-D views of space dust in the Milky Way, which could help us understand the properties of this dust and how it affects views of distant objects.

Single-Angle Ptychography Allows 3D Imaging of Stressed Materials

Scientists have used a new X-ray diffraction technique called Bragg single-angle ptychography to get a clear picture of how planes of atoms shift and squeeze under stress.

New Feedback System Could Allow Greater Control Over Fusion Plasma

A physicist has created a new system that will let scientists control the energy and rotation of plasma in real time in a doughnut-shaped machine known as a tokamak.

Towards Super-Efficient, Ultra-Thin Silicon Solar Cells

Researchers from Ames Laboratory used supercomputers at NERSC to evaluate a novel approach for creating more energy-efficient ultra-thin crystalline silicon solar cells by optimizing nanophotonic light trapping.

Study IDs Link Between Sugar Signaling and Regulation of Oil Production in Plants

UPTON, NY--Even plants have to live on an energy budget. While they're known for converting solar energy into chemical energy in the form of sugars, plants have sophisticated biochemical mechanisms for regulating how they spend that energy. Making oils costs a lot. By exploring the details of this delicate energy balance, a group of scientists from the U.

High-Energy Electrons Probe Ultrafast Atomic Motion

A new technique synchronized high-energy electrons with an ultrafast laser pulse to probe how vibrational states of atoms change in time.

Rare Earth Recycling

A new energy-efficient separation of rare earth elements could provide a new domestic source of critical materials.

Two-Dimensional MXene Materials Get Their Close-Up

Researchers have long sought electrically conductive materials for economical energy-storage devices. Two-dimensional (2D) ceramics called MXenes are contenders.


Three SLAC Employees Awarded Lab's Highest Honor

At a March 7 ceremony, three employees of the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory were awarded the lab's highest honor ­- the SLAC Director's Award.

Dan Sinars Represents Sandia in First Energy Leadership Class

Dan Sinars, a senior manager in Sandia National Laboratories' pulsed power center, which built and operates the Z facility, is the sole representative from a nuclear weapons lab in a new Department of Energy leadership program that recently visited Sandia.

ORNL, HTS International Corporation to Collaborate on Manufacturing Research

HTS International Corporation and the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory have signed an agreement to explore potential collaborations in advanced manufacturing research.

Jefferson Lab Director Honored with Energy Secretary Award

Hugh Montgomery, director of the Department of Energy's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (Jefferson Lab), was awarded The Secretary's Distinguished Service Award by the Secretary of Energy earlier this year.

New Projects to Make Geothermal Energy More Economically Attractive

Geothermal energy, a clean, renewable source of energy produced by the heat of the earth, provides about 6 percent of California's total power. That number could be much higher if associated costs were lower. Now scientists at the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have launched two California Energy Commission-funded projects aimed at making geothermal energy more cost-effective to deploy and operate.

Southern Research Project Advances Novel CO2 Utilization Strategy

The U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Fossil Energy has awarded Southern Research nearly $800,000 for a project that targets a more cost-efficient and environmentally friendly method of producing some of the most important chemicals used in manufacturing.

Harker School Wins 2017 SLAC Regional Science Bowl Competition

After losing its first match of the day to the defending champions, The Harker School's team won 10 consecutive rounds to claim victory in the annual SLAC Regional DOE Science Bowl on Saturday, Feb. 11.

Francis Alexander Named Deputy Director of Brookhaven Lab's Computational Science Initiative

Alexander brings extensive management and leadership experience in computational science research to the position.

Kalinin, Paranthaman Elected Materials Research Society Fellows

Two researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Sergei Kalinin and Mariappan Parans Paranthaman, have been elected fellows of the Materials Research Society.

Two PNNL Researchers Elected to Membership in the National Academy of Engineering

Two scientists at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory will become members of the prestigious National Academy of Engineering.


High-Energy Electrons Probe Ultrafast Atomic Motion

A new technique synchronized high-energy electrons with an ultrafast laser pulse to probe how vibrational states of atoms change in time.

Rare Earth Recycling

A new energy-efficient separation of rare earth elements could provide a new domestic source of critical materials.

Modeling the "Flicker" of Gluons in Subatomic Smashups

A new model identifies a high degree of fluctuations in the glue-like particles that bind quarks within protons as essential to explaining proton structure.

Rare Nickel Atom Has "Doubly Magic" Structure

Supercomputing calculations confirm that rare nickel-78 has unusual structure, offering insights into supernovas.

Microbial Activity in the Subsurface Contributes to Greenhouse Gas Fluxes

Natural carbon dioxide production from deep subsurface soils contributes significantly to emissions, even in a semiarid floodplain.

Stretching a Metal Into an Insulator

Straining a thin film controllably allows tuning of the materials' magnetic, electronic, and catalytic properties, essential for new energy and electronic devices.

How Moisture Affects the Way Soil Microbes Breathe

Study models soil-pore features that hold or release carbon dioxide.

ARM Data Is for the Birds

Scientists use LIDAR and radar data to study bird migration patterns, thanks to the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Climate Research Facility.

The Future of Coastal Flooding

Better storm surge prediction capabilities could help reduce the impacts of extreme weather events, such as hurricanes.

Estimating Global Energy Use for Water-Related Processes

Scientists find that water-related energy consumption is increasing across the globe, with pronounced differences across regions and sectors.


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New Way to Make Biodiesel Creates Less Waste From Alligator, and Likely Other Animal Fats

Article ID: 614241

Released: 2014-03-03 08:00:00

Source Newsroom: American Chemical Society (ACS)

EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE: Monday, March 17, 2014, 9 p.m. Eastern Time

Note to journalists: Please report that this research was presented at a meeting of the American Chemical Society.

DALLAS, March 17, 2014 — Chicken fat, pork fat or beef fat –– none is the cornerstone of a healthful diet –– but animal fats, including those from alligators, could give an economical, ecofriendly boost to the biofuel industry, according to researchers who reported a new method for biofuel production here today. The report, following up on their earlier study on the potential use of gator fat as a source of biodiesel fuel, was part of the 247th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society.

The meeting, attended by thousands of scientists, features more than 10,000 reports on new advances in science and other topics. It is being held at the Dallas Convention Center and area hotels through Thursday.

“Conversion of animal fat to biodiesel has been around for some time, but the traditional biodiesel process generates significant quantities of solid waste,” said Thomas Junk, Ph.D. “Our new method creates hardly any such residues.” He also said that the new study concluded that using fat from such common sources as chicken, pork and beef could be much more practical for commercial implementation than from the limited amount available from alligators and could be just as effectively turned into biodiesel.

Junk, who is with the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, explained that in the earlier alligator fat study, they used a batch reactor, but switched to a flow reactor to process the fat in the new work. “We set up a flow reactor, and the reaction converting alligator fat to biodiesel happened within a few minutes,” said Junk. “That’s important for commercial manufacturing, where you want to produce as much fuel as quickly as possible.” With batch reactors, reactions occur one-at-a-time in discrete batches. But in a flow reactor, the reactions run in a continuous stream.

He said that fuel produced from various animal fats is very similar to biodiesel manufactured by traditional, well-established methods, such as producing ethanol from corn. “So this approach is not really about a brand-new fuel, but the manufacture of a known type of fuel (biodiesel) using a more efficient, less wasteful process that largely eliminates solid-waste byproducts,” he explained. This method does not require a catalyst, which creates a residue, he explained. Instead, they use “supercritical methanol,” which is heated to pressures and temperatures high enough to take on properties in between those of a liquid and a gas.

Another advantage of the supercritical method is that the fat doesn’t have to be extracted for the process to work, Junk said. It can be used in its raw form. Crude fat and methanol would be homogenized into a slurry (semiliquid mixture) and pumped into the system. This should be a straight-forward, simple process for a manufacturer, he added.

In the earlier study, Junk and the team noted that most of the 700 million gallons of biodiesel produced in the United States (2008 data) came from soybean oil. But there has been growing concern that using soybeans and other food crops for this purpose could raise food prices.

In searching for alternative biodiesel materials, they discovered that waste alligator fat, millions of pounds of which are thrown out every year, could also work. Their experiments showed that oil extracted from alligator fat can easily be converted into biodiesel. And now they plan to test other waste animal fats, such as those from chickens and cows. They predict that these fats also can be easily converted to biodiesel with the flow reactor system.

As a pilot project, the work was largely funded by the Departments of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 161,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

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Michael Bernstein

214-853-8005 (Dallas Press Center, March 14-19)

202-872-6042

m_bernstein@acs.org

Katie Cottingham, Ph.D.

214-853-8005 (Dallas Press Center, March 14-19)

301-775-8455

k_cottingham@acs.org

A press conference on this topic will be held Tuesday, March 18, at 2 p.m. Central time in Room A122/A123 of the Dallas Convention Center. Reporters can attend in person or access live video of the event and ask questions at the ACS Ustream channel http://www.ustream.tv/channel/acslive.

CONTACT:

Thomas Junk, Ph.D.

University of Louisiana at Lafayette

Lafayette, La. 70504

Phone: 337-482-6735

Email: txj9137@louisiana.edu

Title

Biodiesel from alligator fat: A comparison between supercritical and conventional transesterification conditions

Abstract

The rapid increase of alligator farming in the southeastern United States generates waste fats in large quantity. Their conversion to biodiesel by base catalyzed transesterification under traditional conditions, which involves heating of the rendered fat and methanol to reflux in the presence of sodium hydroxide as a catalyst, generates solid waste in significant quantity. Consequently, the use of a supercritical methanol as both reactant and reaction medium was investigated. This method was shown to be compatible with unprocessed (instead of rendered) fat and resulted in a near-complete conversion to liquid products. No catalyst was required, simplifying product purification. Conversion rates as a function of temperature and fat/methanol ratio were determined; conversions of up to 95.8 % of available fatty acid content to methyl esters could be achieved at 300 °C. The fate of organic nitrogen compounds (e.g., proteins) was determined.