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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.
    • 2017-11-10 14:05:44
    • Article ID: 685022

    Renewable Opportunities Abundant in Illinois

    • Credit: Argonne National Laboratory

      Meltem Urgun Demirtas, an environmental engineer in Argonne’s Energy Systems Division, is the principal investigator in a break-through biogas technology that could change the waste-to-fuel industry.

    • Credit: Argonne National Laboratory

      Analytical Chemist Lionel Mojekwu assists Environmental Engineer Meltem Urgun Demirtas on research for a new patent-pending biogas technology in the Energy Systems Division lab at Argonne.

    Huge amounts of organic waste are generated each year in the United States, according to a recent report from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). This creates a sizable market for technologies that can convert these wastes into usable products. The DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory has developed a simple and efficient process to do that.

    Argonne’s process delivers a gas that is close to pipeline quality (greater than 90 percent methane) and generates fertilizer grade byproducts as the byproduct of anaerobic digestion (a series of biological processes in which microorganisms break down biodegradable material in the absence of oxygen). The process captures and sequesters the carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfide generated naturally during biological methane production, accelerating renewable methane production rates by 10 percent to 30 percent while sequestering carbon dioxide.

    “Argonne leads the way in this technology.” - Hassan Loutfi, a senior process engineer at Roeslein Alternative Energy LLC.

    The initial market for the new process is food waste digesters and farm operations, especially manure digesters. Such digesters are a natural fit for the new process because anaerobic digestion is a widespread and proven technology used by U.S. wastewater treatment plants, farms and food waste processors to stabilize wastes and produce biogas.

    To scale up the new technology to meet these market demands, Argonne partnered with St. Louis, Missouri-based Roeslein Alternative Energy LLC, which has a test site in northern Missouri. The two organizations teamed up after Meltem Urgun Demirtas, an Argonne principal investigator and environmental engineer, presented a paper on the project at the Bioenergy Conference held by the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s (EERE) Bioenergy Technologies Office in Washington, D.C., in June 2015.

    Urgun Demirtas recalls that Roeslein executives “came up to me afterward and suggested that I needed a demonstration site. That’s when the company opened its doors to us.” She quickly realized that “the company’s vision aligned well with Argonne’s patent-pending process.”

    Roeslein executives agree. “Argonne has the capabilities to help Roeslein get the results it needs,” said Hassan Loutfi, a senior process engineer with the company. “Argonne leads the way in this technology. We have a good relationship with Meltem and that, in itself, provides the resources we need for technical assistance. It’s her knowledge and research that can improve this technology.” The two organizations formally began working together in May 2016.

    The potential economic benefits of the partnership are many, and they begin here in Illinois. The state ranks fourth in the nation for methane production potential from biogas sources, according to the American Biogas Council (ABC). Illinois has 136 operational biogas systems, and it could develop about 300 new systems, based on the amount of organic material available.

    These biogas systems could generate about $201 million in capital investment, creating roughly 1,675 short-term construction jobs, 134 long-term jobs and numerous industry-supporting jobs. The new systems could also generate enough electricity to power 13,553 homes or enough renewable natural gas to fuel 33,825 vehicles, according to ABC. In turn, this renewable fuel could reduce emissions in the state by the equivalent of 4.6 trillion tons of carbon dioxide.

    In addition to the economic benefits for wastewater treatment plants, farms and the waste digestion industry, Argonne’s innovative biogas conversion process provides environmental benefits. These include increased use of renewable natural gas, reduced fugitive methane emissions, less need for synthetic fertilizers, and increased land restoration.

    Argonne seeks to license this technology, said Priscilla Antunez, a business development executive in Argonne’s Technology Commercialization and Partnerships Division. “We need more partners to help further the impact of this research,” Antunez said.

    This technology is funded by the DOE-EERE’s Bioenergy Technologies Office.

    The U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) supports early-stage research and development of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies that make energy more affordable and strengthen the reliability, resilience, and security of the U.S. electric grid.

    Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation's first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America's scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science.

    The U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit the Office of Science website.

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    A Challenging Future for Tropical Forests

    Mortality rates of moist tropical forests are on the rise due to environmental drivers and related mechanisms.

    Stronger, lighter, greener

    A new award-winning magnet technology invented at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory could help drive the nation's transition from gas-powered vehicles to electric and hybrid power more rapidly, at lower cost, and in a more environmentally friendly way.

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    Experiments at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have seen for the first time what happens when magnetic materials are demagnetized at ultrafast speeds of millionths of a billionth of a second: The atoms on the surface of the material move, much like the iron bar did. The work, done at SLAC's Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) X-ray laser, was published in Nature earlier this month.

    Found: A precise method for determining how waves and particles affect fusion reactions

    Like surfers catching ocean waves, particles within plasma can ride waves oscillating through the plasma during fusion energy experiments. Now a team of physicists led by PPPL has devised a faster method to determine how much this interaction contributes to efficiency loss in tokamaks.

    Discovery adapts natural membrane to make hydrogen fuel from water

    In a recent study from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory, scientists have combined two membrane-bound protein complexes to perform a complete conversion of water molecules to hydrogen and oxygen.


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    Argonne scientist elected as SAE Fellow

    Scientist Michael Wang from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory was recently inducted as a Fellow of the professional engineering organization SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers). The organization reserves this prestigious grade of membership for thosewho have made significant contributions to mobility technology and have demonstrated leadership in their field.

    Top 10 Discoveries of 2018

    Every year, the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory compiles a list of the biggest advances made by the Lab's staff scientists, engineers, and visiting researchers. From uncovering mysteries of the universe to building better batteries, here, in no particular order, are our picks for the top 10 discoveries of 2018.

    U.S. Department of Energy Announces $33 Million for Small Business Research and Development Grants

    The U.S. Department of Energy announced it will award 189 grants totaling $33 million to 149 small businesses in 32 states.

    DOE to Provide $16 Million for New Research into Atmospheric and Terrestrial Processes

    The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a plan to provide $16 million for new observational research aimed at improving the accuracy of today's climate and earth system models.

    Machine learning award powers Argonne leadership in engine design

    When attempting to design engines to be more fuel-efficient and emissions-free, automotive manufacturers have to take into account all the complexity inherent in the combustion process.

    ORNL partners with industry to address multiple nuclear technology challenges

    The Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory is collaborating with industry on six new projects focused on advancing commercial nuclear energy technologies that offer potential improvements to current nuclear reactors and move new reactor designs closer to deployment.

    Lithium earns honors for three physicists working to bring the energy that powers the sun to Earth

    Feature describes research of three PPPL physicists who have won the laboratory's 2018 outstanding research awards

    DOE approves technical plan and cost estimate to upgrade Argonne facility; Project will create X-rays that illuminate the atomic scale, in 3D

    The U.S. Department of Energy has approved the technical scope, cost estimate and plan of work for an upgrade of the Advanced Photon Source, a major storage-ring X-ray source at Argonne.

    Costas Soukoulis elected to National Academy of Inventors

    Costas Soukoulis, Ames Laboratory senior scientist and Iowa State University Frances M. Craig Endowed Chair and Distinguished Professor, has been named as a 2018 National Academy of Inventors (NAI) Fellow.

    Biophysicist F. William Studier Elected Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors

    F. William Studier, a Senior Biophysicist Emeritus at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory and Adjunct Professor of Biochemistry at Stony Brook University, has been elected as a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI). He is among 148 renowned academic inventors being recognized by NAI for 2018.


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    Observing Clouds in Four Dimensions

    Six cameras are revolutionizing observations of shallow cumulus clouds.

    A Challenging Future for Tropical Forests

    Mortality rates of moist tropical forests are on the rise due to environmental drivers and related mechanisms.

    Rapid Lake Draining on Ice Sheets Changes How Water Moves in Unexpected Ways

    Widespread fracturing during lake drainage triggers vertical shafts to form that affect the Greenland Ice Sheet.

    New Historical Emissions Trends Estimated with the Community Emissions Data System

    The data system will allow for more detailed, consistent, and up-to-date global emissions trends that will aid in understanding aerosol effects.

    Peering into the Mist: How Water Vapor Changes Metal at the Atomic Level

    New insights into molecular-level processes could help prevent corrosion and improve catalytic conversion.

    Microbial Types May Prove Key to Gas Releases from Thawing Permafrost

    Scientists discover key types of microbes that degrade organic matter and release carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere.

    New Method Knocks Out Yeast Genes with Single-Point Precision

    Researchers can precisely study how different genes affect key properties in a yeast used industrially to produce fuel and chemicals.

    How Plants Regulate Sugar Deposition in Cell Walls

    Identified genes involved in plant cell wall polysaccharide production and restructuring could aid in engineering bioenergy crops.

    Scientists Identify Gene Cluster in Budding Yeasts with Major Implications for Renewable Energy

    How yeast partition carbon into a metabolite may offer insights into boosting production for biofuels.

    More Designer Peptides, More Possibilities

    A combined experimental and modeling approach contributes to understanding small proteins with potential use in industrial, therapeutic applications.


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