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.
    • 2011-04-25 12:00:00
    • Article ID: 576029

    Research Team Looks to Bring Ocean Energy to the North Carolina Power Grid

    • Credit: This simulation was done on a GPU-based computing cluster at RENCI at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

      Simulated wave tank for capturing wave energy includes a paddle, far left, for creating waves and a small device that works like a inner tube sliding up and down a cylinder. Wave energy moves the tube, which contains copper coils, up and down the cylinder, which contains magnets, converting wave energy to electricity. This simulation was done on a GPU-based computing cluster at RENCI at the University of North Carolinausing a 3D smooth hydrodynamic particle model.

    Karen Green

    kgreen@renci.org

    919-445-9648

    919-619-8213 (mobile)

    MANTEO, NC--Where can North Carolina find alternative sources of energy to generate new economic opportunities as well as electrical power?

    A research team led by the University of North Carolina’s Coastal Studies Institute (CSI) is looking east to the waters off the North Carolina coast for answers.

    The Coastal Wave Energy Research Project, funded by the North Carolina General Assembly, investigates the potential of wave power to generate electricity in North Carolina. The research team, led by Billy Edge, a professor of civil engineering at North Carolina State University and a researcher at CSI, involves partners from the engineering colleges at NC State, North Carolina A & T University and UNC Charlotte as well as RENCI, the Renaissance Computing Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

    Research teams will work to quantify the amount of offshore wave energy available and investigate how best to harness that energy and integrate it into the power grid. They also will partner with private sector companies to build and test prototype designs in an effort to lure alternative energy R & D efforts to the state.

    “The focus is to answer the question ‘Can our waters generate energy?’” said Kevin Gamiel, RENCI’s community engagement manager based at CSI. “We also want to discover what devices or systems are suitable for capturing wave power. One of the focuses will be working with companies on developing new products. That could lead to job creation.”

    Gamiel will extend and enhance a three-dimensional smooth hydrodynamic particle model developed at Johns Hopkins University so it will run on RENCI’s high performance computers. The model simulates fluid flows and will be used to better understand the dynamics of waves and tides. In addition, Gamiel will develop a desktop-based user interface for another 3D smooth hydrodynamic particle model called GPU SPHysics, which creates 3D models of fluid dynamics using graphics processing units (GPUs) similar to those used in game consoles.

    The researchers plan to use GPU SPHysics to model ocean dynamics and to test how different energy capturing devices respond to a variety of ocean conditions, said Gamiel.

    RENCI Senior Scientist and Oceanographer Brian Blanton will use the ADCIRC storm surge model and the SWAN (Simulting WAves Nearshore) wave model to reanalyze 20 years of data (1979 – 1999) on wave states in waters within 20 miles of North Carolina’s coast.

    Using a RENCI supercomputing cluster, the models will run at high resolution and produce output that provides detail down to one square kilometer. The wave heights in the computer models will be compared to actual wave heights and will become part of a comprehensive “wave energy content analysis,” said Blanton.

    Other variables that will be considered in determining the overall energy potential of waves include sea levels, ocean temperature and winds, he said.

    The Electric Power Research Institute estimates ocean waves’ energy potential at about 2,100 terawatt hours per year (TWh/y), for the entire U.S. coastline—enough energy to power 210 million homes consuming 10,000 kilawatt hours per year—with the Pacific Northwest and Alaskan coasts offering the most wave energy. However, no technologies can capture all that energy and actual expected energy production from wave power is about 13.3 TWh/y for the entire U.S., or enough to power about 1.3 million home for a year.

    “Our area doesn’t have the highest potential, but what makes North Carolina attractive is that the continental shelf is narrow here, so it tends not to dissipate as much wave energy,” said Blanton.

    The project will place much emphasis on outreach and education, and interactive displays and educational exhibits will be featured on a newly refurbished Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head. At the end of the pier, a research “hut” will allow scientists to deploy instruments directly into the water and will give energy companies the opportunity to test prototype energy generating devices in the water.

    “Companies that make devices to capture ocean energy will have direct access to the ocean,” said Gamiel, who is also helping design the information infrastructure for the pier’s research station. “They will be able to use this facility to install and test their devices. The focus will be on giving them the chance to create new products that could lead to job creation.”

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    Spotlighting Differences in Closely-Related Species

    Aspergillus fungi play roles in fields including bioenergy, health, and biotechnology. In Nature Genetics, a team led by scientists at the Technical University of Denmark, the DOE Joint Genome Institute, and the Joint Bioenergy Institute, present the first large analysis of an Aspergillus fungal subgroup, section Nigri.

    Researchers switch material from one state to another with a single flash of light

    Scientists from the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have demonstrated a surprisingly simple way of flipping a material from one state into another, and then back again, with single flashes of laser light.

    The Stories Behind the Science: How Does the Ocean's Saltiness Affect Tropical Storms?

    Two researchers with personal experience of hurricanes set out to investigate the role of an underestimated factor in storm's strength - salinity. They found that salinity plays a larger role than anyone thought, including them.

    Surprise finding: Discovering a previously unknown role for a source of magnetic fields

    Feature describes unexpected discovery of a role the process that seeds magnetic fields plays in mediating a phenomenon that occurs throughout the universe and can disrupt cell phone service and knock out power grids on Earth.

    Genetic behavior reveals cause of death in poplars essential to ecosystems, industry

    Scientists studying a valuable, but vulnerable, species of poplar have identified the genetic mechanism responsible for the species' inability to resist a pervasive and deadly disease. Their finding could lead to more successful hybrid poplar varieties for increased biofuels and forestry production and protect native trees against infection.

    Pushing the (Extra Cold) Frontiers of Superconducting Science

    Ames Laboratory has developed a method to measure magnetic properties of superconducting and magnetic materials that exhibit unusual quantum behavior at very low temperatures in high magnetic fields.

    Scientists Find Unusual Behavior in Topological Material

    Argonne scientists have identified a new class of topological materials made by inserting transition metal atoms into the atomic lattice of a well-known two-dimensional material.

    Wind Farms and Reducing Hurricane Precipitation

    New research reveals an unexpected benefit of large-scale offshore wind farms: the ability to lessen precipitation from hurricanes.

    New simulations confirm efficiency of waste-removal process in plasma device

    PPPL scientists have found evidence suggesting that a process could remove the unwanted ash produced during fusion reactions and make the fusion processes more efficient within a type of fusion facility known as a field-reversed configuration device.

    How Animals Use Their Tails to Swish and Swat Away Insects

    A new study shows how animals use their tails to keep mosquitoes at bay by combining a swish that blows away most of the biting bugs and a swat that kills the ones that get through.


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    Physicist Takes Cues from Artificial Intelligence

    In the world of computing, there's a groundswell of excitement for what is perceived as the impending revolution in artificial intelligence. Like the industrial revolution in the 19th century and the digital revolution in the 20th, the AI revolution is expected to change the way we live and work. Now, Cristiano Fanelli aims to bring the AI revolution to nuclear physics.

    Engineering professor receives Department of Energy grant

    New Mexico State University Department of Civil Engineering Assistant Professor Ehsan Dehghan Niri has received a United States Department of Energy grant. This is a three-year award for $400,000 and is a collaboration with Arizona State University.

    Argonne and Capstone receive funding to advance thermal energy storage technology

    The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory and Capstone Turbine Corp. have received $380,000 in DOE Technology Commercialization Funding to refine Argonne's high-efficiency, fast charging/discharging latent heat thermal energy storage system (TESS) for use in building applications and process/manufacturing industries.

    AVS and AIP Publishing Expand Partnership to Launch AVS Quantum Science

    AIP Publishing and AVS: Science and Technology of Materials, Interfaces, and Processing (AVS) today announced an agreement to publish AVS Quantum Science, a new online interdisciplinary journal. The announcement coincides with the AVS 65th International Symposium & Exhibition in Long Beach, California, from October 21-26, 2018.

    Prototype Solar Energy, Battery Systems to Fuel Commercialization

    Designing, building and testing prototype systems that show how renewable energy can power devices, such as a weather and soil sensor station, can help bridge the gap between basic science research and commercialization.

    Argonne to Advance High Performance Computing in Manufacturing

    Argonne awarded funding to partner with Industry to advance the use of high performance computing in manufacturing.

    "Invisible Glass" Wins 2018 Create the Future Design Contest Grand Prize

    Scientists from the Center for Functional Nanomaterials developed a technique for making nonreflecting glass, silicon, and plastic surfaces.

    Missouri S&T researchers win multimillion dollar grant to build fast-charging stations for electric cars

    Researchers from Missouri S&T and three private companies will combine their expertise to create charging stations for electric vehicles that could charge a car in less than 10 minutes - matching the time it takes to fill up a conventional vehicle with gasoline."The big problem with electric vehicles is range, and it's not so much range as range anxiety.

    Making batteries store more energy, last longer

    A new solid polymer electrolyte may help make cell phone batteries store more energy and last longer.

    Three Brookhaven Lab Scientists Named Fellows of American Physical Society

    The American Physical Society (APS), the world's largest physics organization, has elected three scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory as 2018 APS fellows.


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    Cryocooler Cools an Accelerator Cavity

    Researchers demonstrated cryogen-free operation of a superconducting radio-frequency cavity that might ease barriers to its use in societal applications.

    Shining Light on the Separation of Rare Earth Metals

    New studies identify key molecular characteristics to potentially separate rare earth metals cleanly and efficiently with light.

    Placing Atoms for Optimum Catalysts

    Precise positioning of oxygens could help engineer faster, more efficient energy-relevant chemical transformations.

    How to Make Soot and Stardust

    Scientists unlock mystery that could help reduce emissions of fine particles from combustion engines and other sources.

    Breaking the Symmetry Between Fundamental Forces

    Scientists improve our understanding of the relationship between fundamental forces by re-creating the earliest moments of the universe.

    Water Plays Unexpected Role in Forming Minerals

    Water molecules line up tiny particles to attach and form minerals; understanding how this happens impacts energy extraction and storage along with waste disposal.

    Heavy Particles Get Caught Up in the Flow

    First direct measurement show how heavy particles containing a charm quark get caught up in the flow of early universe particle soup.

    Seeing Between the Atoms

    New detector enables electron microscope imaging at record-breaking resolution.

    Scaling Up Single-Crystal Graphene

    New method can make films of atomically thin carbon that are over a foot long.

    Discovered: Optimal Magnetic Fields Suppress Instabilities in Tokamak Plasmas

    U.S. and Korean scientists show how to find and use beneficial 3-D field perturbations to stabilize dangerous edge-localized modes in plasma.


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