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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.


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Rare Earth Recycling

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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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More California Gas Stations Can Provide H2 Than Previously Thought

Article ID: 620290

Released: 2014-07-08 11:00:00

Source Newsroom: Sandia National Laboratories

  • Credit: Dino Vournas, Sandia National Laboratories

    A recent report by Sandia National Laboratories asks whether hydrogen fuel can be accepted at any of the 70 California gas stations involved in the study, based on a new hydrogen technologies code. Here, Sandia’s Daniel Dedrick visits a station in Oakland, Calif.

LIVERMORE, Calif. — A study by researchers at Sandia National Laboratories concludes that a number of existing gas stations in California can safely store and dispense hydrogen, suggesting a broader network of hydrogen fueling stations may be within reach.

The report examined 70 commercial gasoline stations in the state of California and sought to determine which, if any, could integrate hydrogen fuel, based on the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) hydrogen technologies code published in 2011.

The study determined that 14 of the 70 gas stations involved in the study could readily accept hydrogen fuel and that 17 more possibly could accept hydrogen with property expansions. Under previous NFPA code requirements from 2005, none of the existing gasoline stations could readily accept hydrogen.

The current code, known as NFPA 2, provides fundamental safeguards for the generation, installation, storage, piping, use and handling of hydrogen in compressed gas or cryogenic (low temperature) liquid form.

This work is aligned with Hydrogen Fueling Infrastructure Research and Station Technology (H2FIRST), a new project established by the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

Science, risk-informed analysis can accelerate H2 station deployment

The development of meaningful, science-based fire codes and determinations such as those found in the report will help accelerate the deployment of hydrogen systems, said Daniel Dedrick, hydrogen program manager at Sandia. “This work shows that we can reduce uncertainty and avoid overly conservative restrictions to commercial hydrogen fuel installations by focusing on scientific, risk-informed approaches.

“It turns out that the number of fueling stations able to carry hydrogen can be quantified,” Dedrick added. “We now know that we can build more hydrogen fueling stations if we examine the safety issues within a sound, technical framework that focuses on the real behaviors of hydrogen.”

Sandia’s hydrogen safety, codes and standards program is a diverse portfolio of activities funded by the Department of Energy’s Fuel Cell Technologies Office to provide the technical basis for developing and revising safety codes and standards for hydrogen infrastructure, including the NFPA 2 code.

The study focuses on California, which has more hydrogen-fueling stations than any other state. A key factor in the codes that Sandia examined was the separation distances required for fueling infrastructure, including fuel dispensers, air intakes and tanks and storage equipment. The code defines required distances between such components and public streets, parking, on-site convenience stores and perimeter lines around the site.

All fueling facilities are susceptible to fire due to the presence of flammable liquids and gases, said Dedrick. According to the NFPA, more than 5,000 fires and explosions a year occurred at conventional gasoline stations from 2004-2008. “Whether you are filling your car with gasoline, compressed natural gas or hydrogen fuel, the fueling facility first of all must be designed and operated with safety in mind,” he said.

“If you have a hydrogen leak at a fueling station, for example, and in the event that the hydrogen ignites, we need to understand how that flame is going to behave in order to maintain and control it within a typical fueling station,” explained Chris San Marchi, manager of Sandia’s hydrogen and metallurgy science group. A scientific understanding of how such flames and other potential hazards behave is necessary to properly determine and mitigate safety risks, he said.

“We’re comfortable with the risks of natural gas in our homes and under our streets,” San Marchi pointed out. “We want to be just as confident of the safety of hydrogen in our fuel tanks and on our street corners.”

Sandia researchers at the Combustion Research Facility for years have studied and modeled the intricate workings of the combustion engine and, more recently, hydrogen behavior and its effects on materials and engine components, San Marchi said. The knowledge gained by Sandia’s work on the physical behavior of hydrogen and risks associated with hydrogen fuels provided the scientific basis to revise the separation distances in the NFPA 2 code for hydrogen installations.

H2 fueling stations can be as safe as or safer than gasoline stations

Under the previous code, virtually no hydrogen fuel cell stations could be sited at existing stations. The reason, said San Marchi, is simple: Those codes were developed via an “expert opinion-based process” and not the risk-informed process developed by Sandia researchers and now used in the code. The previous code was developed for flammable gases in an industrial setting, which carries different risks compared to hydrogen fuel at a fueling station.

“The distances set forth in the code, therefore, were much larger than we now know they need to be,” San Marchi said. The risk metric used to develop the new NFPA code, he added, was that the stations accepting hydrogen fuel needed to be proven as safe as or safer than gasoline-only stations.

Some gas stations still may not be able to accept hydrogen under the new code because gas station lot sizes vary greatly, and many smaller sites – particularly those in dense, urban areas – cannot be properly configured, he said.

“Certain smaller gas stations, especially those in cities, have unusual shapes that aren’t going to accommodate the right separation distances,” San Marchi said. For example, he said, the required distance between a high-pressure tank carrying hydrogen and the property boundary would be too great for a “skinny” station or a wedge-shaped lot. While larger lots naturally work better in the current environment, San Marchi said, there are opportunities to develop risk mitigations that could allow even wider deployment of hydrogen fueling stations.

Enhancing performance-based parts of hydrogen code

One of Sandia’s next objectives is to work with all parties to look closer at the underutilized performance-based parts of the NFPA 2 code, rather than the prescriptive-based elements that focus on rigid distance requirements.

“While the prescriptive sections of the code are typically implemented, there are also sections of the code that allow for the use of more risk analysis to optimize the fueling facility,” San Marchi said. If station developers and others take a more performance-based approach, he said, more existing fueling facilities will be able to integrate hydrogen systems and support the developing fuel-cell electric vehicle market.

Sandia is also in the process of developing a risk-informed approach for shortening the separation distances for liquid hydrogen storage at fueling stations, as current efforts only examined separation distances for gaseous hydrogen. Liquid hydrogen is attractive because it takes up less space than gaseous hydrogen and allows fueling stations to accommodate larger numbers of fuel-cell electric vehicles. However, there are additional issues associated with the low temperatures required for liquid systems installed on small properties.

“We need to do more experimental and modeling work to understand and evaluate the science and physics of liquid hydrogen,” said San Marchi. “By evaluating the risks quantitatively, we believe we can shorten the separation distances required in the code for liquid hydrogen just as we did with gaseous hydrogen. That could then lead to even more fueling stations that can accept hydrogen and support the continued growth of the fuel-cell electric vehicle market.”

Sandia National Laboratories is a multi-program laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corp., for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. With main facilities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., Sandia has major R&D responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies and economic competitiveness.

Sandia news media contact: Mike Janes, mejanes@sandia.gov, (925) 294-2447