DOE News
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    The DOE Science News Source is a Newswise initiative to promote research news from the Office of Science of the DOE to the public and news media.
    • 2008-10-22 11:00:00
    • Article ID: 545613

    Which Grass Is Greener? Study to Select Northeast Grasses That Can Power the Bioenergy Era

    Blaine Friedlander

    607-254-8093

    607-351-2610

    bpf2@cornell.edu

    A field of fuel dreams: Cornell bioenergy plant experts are learning which field grasses are the best candidates for "dedicated energy" crops in the Northeast, considering the region's climate and soil conditions.

    The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences' (CALS) Bioenergy Feedstock Project, now in its second year, is the only project of its kind devoted to exploring the many species of field grass that grow in the Northeast and their potential as sources for biofuels.

    The project has roughly 80 acres of different warm- and cool-season perennial grass varieties, otherwise known as "feedstocks," growing in 11 counties across New York. "Our ultimate goal is to maximize the economic benefit of bioenergy production as an alternative energy source," said Donald Viands, professor of plant breeding and genetics, who heads the project, speaking against a colorful backdrop of a field of blue, green, lavender and beige hues, where some plants were withering, but some were some thriving.

    Switchgrass, big bluestem and other wild grasses native to the United States have great potential for producing the quantity and quality of biomass needed for conversion to alternative, renewable energy, particularly biofuels, Viands said. The grass project will eventually provide farmers and producers with answers to such critical questions as which varieties of grasses to plant, appropriate seeding rates, weed control and other best-management practices to produce "quick, cheap" sugars that can be most easily liberated from the plant biomass and converted to fuel.

    Hilary Mayton, extension associate and coordinator of the project, said that of the 12 varieties of switchgrass planted, some are showing a distinct advantage over others. Visitors saw how some strips of these warm-season grasses appeared stunted and unhealthy, while others were tall and vibrant. Julie Hansen, a Cornell plant breeding and genetics senior research associate, discussed trials on cool-season grasses, such as tall wheat grass and tall fescue, some of which are now commonly grown for feeding livestock.

    When the small plots and strip trial demonstration grass trials are harvested later this year, Mayton and her Cornell and private company collaborators will obtain data for both gasification (heat, power and liquid fuels) and cellulosic conversion technologies (biofuels and other byproducts) from the different types of grasses.

    In the wild, many of these native perennial grasses can survive, and even thrive, on marginal land. Some of the Cornell trials were specifically planted on land that is not suitable for such domesticated, monoculture food crops as corn.

    Paul Salon, a plant material specialist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture who is working closely with Cornell on the project, noted that the close proximity of agricultural land to major population and transportation centers in the Northeast makes this region ideal for developing bioenergy crops and industrial byproducts, which is why so much is riding on these fields of mixed greens.

    The project is funded by the New York Farm Viability Institute, CALS and the Cornell Agricultural Experiment Station.

    By Lauren Chambliss

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    Machine learning speeds modeling of experiments aimed at capturing fusion energy on Earth to rapidly predict behavior of plasma that fuels fusion reactions

    Machine learning speeds modeling of experiments aimed at capturing fusion energy on Earth to rapidly predict behavior of plasma that fuels fusion reactions

    Release describes application of machine learning form of artificial intelligence to predict the behavior of fusion plasma.

    Record-shattering underwater sound

    Record-shattering underwater sound

    A team of researchers has produced a record-shattering underwater sound with an intensity that eclipses that of a rocket launch. The intensity was equivalent to directing the electrical power of an entire city onto a single square meter, resulting in sound pressures above 270 decibels.

    CosmoGAN: Training a Neural Network to Study Dark Matter

    CosmoGAN: Training a Neural Network to Study Dark Matter

    A Berkeley Lab-led research group is using a deep learning method known as generative adversarial networks to enhance the use of gravitational lensing in the study of dark matter.

    Breakthrough Technique for Studying Gene Expression Takes Root in Plants

    Breakthrough Technique for Studying Gene Expression Takes Root in Plants

    An open-source RNA analysis platform has been successfully used on plant cells for the first time - an advance that could herald a new era of fundamental research and bolster efforts to engineer more efficient food and biofuel crop plants. The technology, called Drop-seq, is a method for measuring the RNA present in individual cells, allowing scientists to see what genes are being expressed and how this relates to the specific functions of different cell types.

    Bio-inspired material targets oceans' uranium stores for sustainable nuclear energy

    Bio-inspired material targets oceans' uranium stores for sustainable nuclear energy

    Scientists have demonstrated a new bio-inspired material for an eco-friendly and cost-effective approach to recovering uranium from seawater. The low-cost polymer adsorbent could help push past bottlenecks in the cost and efficiency of extracting uranium resources from oceans for sustainable energy production.

    Study Concludes Glassy Menagerie of Particles in Beach Sands Near Hiroshima is Fallout Debris from A-Bomb Blast

    Study Concludes Glassy Menagerie of Particles in Beach Sands Near Hiroshima is Fallout Debris from A-Bomb Blast

    A years-long study that involved scientists and experiments at Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley concluded that an odd assortment of particles found in beach sands in Japan are most likely fallout debris from the 1945 Hiroshima A-bomb blast.

    New technique merging sound and math could help prevent plasma disruptions in fusion facilities

    New technique merging sound and math could help prevent plasma disruptions in fusion facilities

    Scientists have created a novel method for measuring the stability of plasma in fusion facilities called "tokamaks." Involving an innovative use of a mathematical tool, the method might lead to a technique for stabilizing plasma and making fusion reactions more efficient.

    2D insulators with ferromagnetic properties are rare; researchers just identified a new one

    2D insulators with ferromagnetic properties are rare; researchers just identified a new one

    Collaborating scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory, Brookhaven National Laboratory, and Princeton University have discovered a new layered ferromagnetic semiconductor, a rare type of material that holds great promise for next-generation electronic technologies.

    Assessing battery performance: Compared to what?

    Assessing battery performance: Compared to what?

    A team from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory, University of Warwick, OVO Energy, Hawaii National Energy Institute, and Jaguar Land Rover reviewed the literature on the various methods used around the world to characterize the performance of lithium-ion batteries to provide insight on best practices. Their results may one day lead to more reliably comparable methods for testing lithium-ion batteries tailored to different applications.

    Probing battery hotspots for safer energy storage

    Probing battery hotspots for safer energy storage

    For the first time, a team of researchers has studied the effects of tiny areas within lithium metal batteries that are much hotter than their surroundings. These hotspots, the researchers find, can make batteries grow spiky tumors of metal called dendrites that could cause short circuits, and potentially lead to fires.


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    Cryogenics equipment maker licenses ORNL auto-fill method for more efficient liquid helium use

    Cryogenics equipment maker licenses ORNL auto-fill method for more efficient liquid helium use

    Advanced Research Systems has licensed an ORNL technology designed to automatically refill liquid helium used in laboratory equipment for low-temperature scientific experiments, which will reduce downtime, recover more helium and increase overall efficiency.

    New Argonne coating could have big implications for lithium batteries

    New Argonne coating could have big implications for lithium batteries

    In a new discovery, scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory have developed a new cathode coating by using an oxidative chemical vapor deposition technique. The new coating can keep the battery's cathode electrically and ionically conductive and ensures that the battery stays safe after many cycles.

    Argonne's Chain Reaction Innovations appoints first advisory council

    Argonne's Chain Reaction Innovations appoints first advisory council

    World-class energy leaders will offer their expertise to Chain Reaction Innovations (CRI), the entrepreneurship program at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory, as part of a new Advisory Council announced today. CRI has named 14 Advisory Council members, including investors, industry experts and business executives, to help guide its growth and strategy.

    ORNL, Lincoln Electric to Advance Large-Scale Metal Additive Manufacturing Technology

    ORNL, Lincoln Electric to Advance Large-Scale Metal Additive Manufacturing Technology

    The new agreement builds upon ORNL and Lincoln Electric's previous developments by extending additive technology to new materials, leveraging data analytics and enabling rapid manufacture of metal components in excess of 100 pounds per hour.

    Students from Minnesota and Massachusetts Win DOE's 29th National Science Bowl(r)

    Students from Wayzata High School in Plymouth, Minnesota, won the 2019 U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) National Science Bowl(r) (NSB) today in Washington, D.C. In the middle school competition, students from Jonas Clarke Middle School in Lexington, Massachusetts, took home first place.

    Five new innovators join Chain Reaction Innovations in third cohort

    Five new innovators join Chain Reaction Innovations in third cohort

    Five new innovators will be joining Chain Reaction Innovations (CRI), the entrepreneurship program at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) Argonne National Laboratory, as part of the elite program's third cohort. Announced on Monday, April 22, these innovators were selected following an extensive national solicitation process and two-part pitch competition, with reviews from industry experts, investors, scientists and engineers.

    Department of Energy Announces $20 Million for Artificial Intelligence Research

    Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a total of $20 million in funding for innovative research and development in artificial intelligence (A.I.) and machine learning.

    Tim Knewitz named Argonne National Laboratory's Chief Financial Officer

    Tim Knewitz named Argonne National Laboratory's Chief Financial Officer

    The U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory has named Tim Knewitz at its Chief Financial Officer.

    Department of Energy Announces $95 Million for Small Business Research and Development Grants

    U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry today announced that the Department of Energy will award 86 grants totaling $95 million to 74 small businesses in 21 states.

    DOE's Science Graduate Student Research Program Selects 70 Students to Pursue Research at DOE Laboratories

    The Department of Energy's (DOE's) Office of Science has selected 70 graduate students from across the nation for its 2018 Solicitation 2 cycle for Office of Science Graduate Student Research (SCGSR) Program.


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    Slow Charge Generation Plays Big Role in Model Material for Solar Cells

    Slow Charge Generation Plays Big Role in Model Material for Solar Cells

    Insight about energy flow in copper-based material could aid in creating efficient molecular electronics.

    Capturing Energy Flow in a Plasma by Measuring Scattered Light

    Capturing Energy Flow in a Plasma by Measuring Scattered Light

    First measurements of heat flux in plasmas experientially sheds light on models relying on classical thermal transport.

    Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning Accelerate Efforts to Develop Clean, Virtually Limitless Fusion Energy

    Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning Accelerate Efforts to Develop Clean, Virtually Limitless Fusion Energy

    The Fusion Recurrent Neural Network reliably forecasts disruptive and destructive events in tokamaks.

    Spin Flipper Upends Protons

    Spin Flipper Upends Protons

    The spin direction of protons was reversed, for the first time, using a nine-magnet device, potentially helping tease out details about protons that affect medical imaging and more.

    Splitting Water Fast! Catalyst Works Faster than Mother Nature

    Splitting Water Fast! Catalyst Works Faster than Mother Nature

    Design principles lead to a catalyst that splits water in a low pH environment, vital for generating solar fuels.

    Sea Quark Spin Surprise!

    Sea Quark Spin Surprise!

    Antiquark spin contribution to proton spin depends on flavor, which could help unlock secrets about the nuclear structure of atoms that make up nearly all visible matter in our universe.

    The Weak Side of the Proton

    The Weak Side of the Proton

    A precision measurement of the proton's weak charge narrows the search for new physics.

    Fast-Moving Pairs May Solve 35-Year-Old Mystery

    Fast-Moving Pairs May Solve 35-Year-Old Mystery

    Physicists develop a universal mathematical description that suggests that proton-neutron pairs in a nucleus may explain why their associated quarks have lower average momenta than predicted.

    Team Takes Fluoride from Taps and Toothpaste to Batteries

    Team Takes Fluoride from Taps and Toothpaste to Batteries

    With user facilities, researchers devise novel battery chemistries to help make fluoride batteries a reality.

    Quarks Under Pressure in the Proton

    Quarks Under Pressure in the Proton

    Pressure in the middle of a proton is about 10 times higher than in a neutron star.


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