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.
    • 2018-07-02 17:05:19
    • Article ID: 696962

    Dept. of Energy taps Argonne to lead effort focused on advanced materials for energy-water systems

    • Credit: Image by Argonne National Laboratory.

      Argonne conducts a range of research and has developed multiple technologies that improve the current water cycle. Argonne's work also holds significant promise for helping forge a more efficient and sustainable water cycle of the future.

    • Credit: Image by Argonne National Laboratory.

      Argonne will partner with the University of Chicago and Northwestern University on the Energy Frontier Research Center focused on advanced materials for energy-water systems.

    The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has selected its Argonne National Laboratory to lead an Energy Frontier Research Center (EFRC) focused on advanced materials for energy-water systems.

    Established by the Office of Basic Energy Sciences within DOE’s Office of Science in 2009, the EFRC program brings together researchers from multiple disciplines and institutions — including national laboratories, universities and nonprofit organizations — to tackle some of the biggest challenges we face in energy and related areas.

    “A huge number of the challenges we face surrounding water center on the interface between water and the materials that make up the systems that handle, process and treat water.” —  Seth Darling, director of the Argonne-led EFRC and an Argonne-University of Chicago joint appointee

    In all, U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry announced $100 million in funding for 42 EFRCs to accelerate the scientific breakthroughs needed to strengthen U.S. economic leadership and energy security.

    “By mobilizing the talents of our nation’s top scientists and forging them into powerful, proactive teams, the EFRC program will help ensure America’s leadership in the development of critical energy technologies and innovations,” Secretary Perry said.

    Argonne will partner with the University of Chicago and Northwestern University on the four-year project.

    “A huge number of the challenges we face surrounding water center on the interface between water and the materials that make up the systems that handle, process and treat water,” said Seth Darling, director of the Argonne-led EFRC and an Argonne-University of Chicago joint appointee. “Gaining a deeper understanding of what takes place when water — and stuff dissolved or suspended in water — comes into contact with those solids will be the focus of our work.”

    For example, in many water systems, a phenomenon known as fouling — the accumulation of unwanted material on solid surfaces to the detriment of function — occurs at interfaces.

    “If you want to prevent an interface from gunking up,” Darling said, “you need to understand what’s happening at that interface that’s causing things to bind so you can counteract that in some way. Related insights can help us discover new types of sorbents to selectively capture pollutants or sensors to detect trace contaminants.”

    Another area the team will explore is reactivity, or chemical reactions, at interfaces.

    “One active area of research is to use catalysts to degrade pollutants in water, and to disinfect water,” said Giulia Galli, deputy director of the Argonne-led EFRC and an Argonne-University of Chicago joint appointee. “That catalytic reaction will happen at an interface, so understanding that reactivity at the interface between the catalyst and water is important.”

    As Darling explains it, water and energy are deeply interconnected.

    “You basically cannot separate energy and water, topically,” he said. “The largest withdrawal of water in the United States is for electricity production. Conversely, the largest use of electricity in the U.S. is the treatment and distribution of water. So at a high level, these two things are deeply connected.”

    Water is also surprisingly complicated.

    “Water is one of the weirdest substances we have ever known,” Darling said. “It has all kinds of anomalous properties that scientists are still trying to understand.”

    The current cohort of EFRCs, selected by competitive peer review, includes 22 new centers, the renewals of nine existing ones and extensions for 11, including the Argonne-led Center for Electrolyte-Electrode Interface Science.

    The current cohort of EFRCs will help to accelerate scientific understanding in diverse energy-relevant fields including catalysis, electro- and photo-chemistry, geoscience, quantum materials, and nuclear and synthesis science.

    “The EFRCs are aligned with challenges that are so large, individual investigators would not be able to address them,” Galli said. “They are complex subjects that require teams of researchers with complementary expertise and capabilities to fully tackle them.”

    Since 2009, the EFRCs have produced more than 10,000 peer-reviewed scientific publications and generated hundreds of inventions, contributing to a wide range of new technologies.

    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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    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.

    Missing gamma-ray blobs shed new light on dark matter, cosmic magnetism

    Scientists, including researchers from the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, have compiled the most detailed catalog of such blobs using eight years of data collected with the Large Area Telescope (LAT) on NASA's Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope. The blobs, including 19 gamma-ray sources that weren't known to be extended before, provide crucial information on how stars are born, how they die, and how galaxies spew out matter trillions of miles into space.


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    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.

    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.

    Southern Research first to win accreditation under ISO 14034

    Southern Research has become the first organization in the United States to earn accreditation under ISO 14034, a new international standard for evaluating and verifying environmental technologies that was recently adopted by the American National Standards Institute.

    Kawtar Hafidi to head Physical Sciences and Engineering directorate at Argonne

    Physicist Kawtar Hafidi has been appointed Associate Laboratory Director, Physical Sciences and Engineering at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory.


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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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