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    • 2018-12-04 08:05:25
    • Article ID: 704833

    Story Tips from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, December 2018

    • Credit: © 2018 Daniel Z. Yip, et al. New Phytologist © 2018 New Phytologist Trust

      Studies indicate that microorganisms in the tree trunks of living Eastern cottonwood trees emit the greenhouse gas methane.

    • Credit: Genevieve Martin/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

      From left, John Dutcher, Josh Sampson and John Atkinson of the University of Guelph prepare phytoglycogen nanoparticles found in corn to study on the EQ-SANS instrument at ORNL’s Spallation Neutron Source. The team’s findings could advance many biomedical and personal care applications.

    • Credit: Guang Yang/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

      ORNL researchers used surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy, or SERS, from a gold nanoparticle monolayer, which is capable of depicting the solvation structure of cations in electrolytes near the solid–liquid interface in a lithium-ion battery. The nanogap SERS provides a unique, high-sensitive platform for studying the solvation structure and ion transport in a wide category of electrolyte systems at electrified interfaces.

    • Credit: N. Dianne Bull Ezell/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

      As part of the experiment’s pretesting assembly, ORNL scientists prepared a casing that held stainless steel and nickel-based alloy samples into a dry tube. The alloy samples were corrosion tested at the Ohio State University Research Reactor.

    • Credit: Andrew Kauffman/Ohio State University research staff

      Scientists at the Ohio State University Research Reactor lowered alloy samples into the reactor pool and exposed them to a sustained temperature of 800 degrees C as part of the corrosion test.

    • Credit: Carlos Jones/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

      Keynote speaker Rear Admiral Paul F. Thomas of the U.S. Coast Guard addressed major energy challenges facing the maritime industry, including growth in capacity, the challenge of reducing environmental impact, and the increasing complexity of not just technology but also safety, security and systems management.

    • Credit: Adam Malin/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

      The Ninth Annual Maritime Risk Symposium addressed the emerging energy trends facing the maritime industry.

    Biology—Methane mystery solved 

    Scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have confirmed that methane-producing microorganisms known as methanogens are responsible for the greenhouse gas that leaks from living Eastern cottonwood trees in Southeastern forests. “There was debate about whether methane emitted by tree trunks came up the stem from the soil,” said ORNL’s Chris Schadt whose team published details in New Phytologist. “We’ve shown that the microbial community in the tree trunk is the primary source.” The research team used gene sequence analyses to identify several species of methanogens thriving in the oxygen-deprived, water-saturated wood at the heart of these trees. Methane is about 34 times more powerful than carbon dioxide at trapping heat. Measurements of the microbial behavior of methanogens could help improve predictive climate models that track the potential heat-trapping effect of methane gas in the atmosphere.  [Contact: Kim Askey, (865) 576-2841; askeyka@ornl.gov

    Image: https://www.ornl.gov/sites/default/files/Biology-methane_mystery_solved.jpg 

    Caption: Studies indicate that microorganisms in the tree trunks of living Eastern cottonwood trees emit the greenhouse gas methane. Credit: © 2018 Daniel Z. Yip, et al. New Phytologist © 2018 New Phytologist Trust 

    Neutrons—Nanosize matters 

    A team of scientists, led by University of Guelph professor John Dutcher, are using neutrons at ORNL’s Spallation Neutron Source to unlock the secrets of natural nanoparticles that could be used to improve medicines. The nanoparticles, called phytoglycogen, are highly branched, water-soluble polymers of glucose produced by plants such as sweet corn and rice. At only 35 nanometers in diameter, phytoglycogen nanoparticles are a challenge to study. But discovering the source of their unique properties will enable the development of new technologies in personal care and biomedicine, which are being commercialized by spinoff company Mirexus Biotechnologies. “Neutrons are ideal for this research because they are sensitive to hydrogen, a key building block in phytoglycogen,” said Dutcher. “The EQ-SANS and BASIS instruments at the Spallation Neutron Source are providing new insights vital to understanding the anti-aging properties of particles in cosmetics and engineering the improved delivery of cancer medications and production of vaccines from live cells.” [Contact: Kelley Smith, (865) 576-5668; smithks@ornl.gov

    Image: https://www.ornl.gov/sites/default/files/2018-P07635%20BL-6%20user%20-%20Univ%20of%20Guelph-6004R_sm%5B2%5D.jpg 

    Caption: From left, John Dutcher, Josh Sampson and John Atkinson of the University of Guelph prepare phytoglycogen nanoparticles found in corn to study on the EQ-SANS instrument at ORNL’s Spallation Neutron Source. The team’s findings could advance many biomedical and personal care applications. Credit: Genevieve Martin/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy 

    Batteries—Solid-liquid interface 

    By studying the inner workings of lithium-ion batteries, Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers have developed a highly sensitive technique to characterize and measure at the electrolyte and electrode interface. Their finding, published in ACS Nano, could help in understanding the fundamental factors that determine the composition and stability of solid electrolyte interphase, or SEI. “A robust SEI is key to the performance and safety of Li-ion batteries used to power electric vehicles,” said ORNL’s Jagjit Nanda. Li-ion batteries comprise positive and negative electrodes, each containing an electrolyte, or salt, solution, separated by a membrane. The researchers used surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy to evaluate how the lithium-salt interacts between the liquid electrolyte and electrode. “We found that the ion-solvation at the interface differs from what we observed in the bulk liquid electrolyte,” he said. Understanding this phenomenon could lead to improved electrolytes resulting in batteries with higher performance and better stability. [Contact: Sara Shoemaker, (865) 576-9219; shoemakerms@ornl.gov

    Image: https://www.ornl.gov/sites/default/files/Li-ion_membrane_interface.jpg 

    Caption: ORNL researchers used surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy, or SERS, from a gold nanoparticle monolayer, which is capable of depicting the solvation structure of cations in electrolytes near the solid–liquid interface in a lithium-ion battery. The nanogap SERS provides a unique, high-sensitive platform for studying the solvation structure and ion transport in a wide category of electrolyte systems at electrified interfaces. Credit: Guang Yang/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy  

    Reactors—Salty scenarios

    Scientists from Oak Ridge National Laboratory performed a corrosion test in a neutron radiation field to support the continued development of molten salt reactors, or MSRs. MSRs use a liquid salt mixture that can serve as both the fuel and coolant. At high temperatures over time, these salts can react with the reactors’ metal components if not properly monitored and maintained. “This is the first time in decades ORNL has performed this kind of corrosion study,” ORNL’s Joel McDuffee said. “The data are crucial for industry that are developing MSRs.” The team tested stainless steel and nickel-based alloy samples in the Ohio State University Research Reactor at a sustained temperature of 800 degrees C. At ORNL, they will expose identical, unirradiated samples to the same conditions. Using microscopy techniques, they will examine the materials for signs of corrosion and compare results from the two experiments. [Contact: Sara Shoemaker, (865) 576-9219; shoemakerms@ornl.gov]

    Image 1: https://www.ornl.gov/sites/default/files/exp_in_10_dry_tube.jpg 

    Caption: As part of the experiment’s pretesting assembly, ORNL scientists prepared a casing that held stainless steel and nickel-based alloy samples into a dry tube. The alloy samples were corrosion tested at the Ohio State University Research Reactor. Credit: N. Dianne Bull Ezell/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy 

    Image 2: https://www.ornl.gov/sites/default/files/IMG_8484.jpg 

    Caption: Scientists at the Ohio State University Research Reactor lowered alloy samples into the reactor pool and exposed them to a sustained temperature of 800 degrees C as part of the corrosion test. Credit: Andrew Kauffman/Ohio State University research staff 

    Security—Sea of energy change 

    Thought leaders from across the maritime community came together at Oak Ridge National Laboratory to explore the emerging new energy landscape for the maritime transportation system during the Ninth Annual Maritime Risk Symposium. “The outcomes of this year’s symposium are expected to help the maritime community prepare for the fast-approaching evolution of energy supply and consumption, which is bringing new risks as well as new opportunities,” said ORNL’s Craig Moss, an event organizer. Topping the list of emerging energy trends addressed were clean energy technologies, alternative fuels, resiliency, environmental stewardship and energy storage. Participants included universities, U.S. military, federal government and industry representatives. Co-organizers were ORNL, the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Academies of Science. [Contact: Amy Reed, (865) 241-3802, reedac@ornl.gov

    Image: https://www.ornl.gov/sites/default/files/X1800-REED-Maritime%20Risk%20Symposium%202018%20logo-AM%20V5-01.jpg 

    Caption: The Ninth Annual Maritime Risk Symposium addressed the emerging energy trends facing the maritime industry. Credit: Adam Malin/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy 

    Image: https://www.ornl.gov/sites/default/files/2018-P08808.jpg 

    Caption: Keynote speaker Rear Admiral Paul F. Thomas of the U.S. Coast Guard addressed major energy challenges facing the maritime industry, including growth in capacity, the challenge of reducing environmental impact, and the increasing complexity of not just technology but also safety, security and systems management. Credit: Carlos Jones/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

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    Ice Formed by Contact Freezing: Pressure Matters, Not Just Temperature

    Distortion of water droplet surface may increase the likelihood of the droplet freezing.

    Future Loss of Arctic Sea-Ice Cover Could Contribute to the Substantial Decrease in California's Rainfall

    A new modeling framework helps understand the consequences of future sea-ice loss in the Arctic.

    Tangled magnetic fields power cosmic particle accelerators

    Magnetic field lines tangled like spaghetti in a bowl might be behind the most powerful particle accelerators in the universe. That's the result of a new computational study by researchers from the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, which simulated particle emissions from distant active galaxies.

    Argonne scientists maximize the effectiveness of platinum in fuel cells

    In new research from the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory and published in Science, scientists have identified a new catalyst that uses only about a quarter as much platinum as current technology by maximizing the effectiveness of the available platinum.

    Drawn into a Whirlpool: A New Way to Stop Dangerous Fast Electrons in a Fusion Device

    A new phenomena forms vortices that trap particles, impeding electron avalanches that harm fusion reactors.

    Barely scratching the surface: A new way to make robust membranes

    Argonne researchers have demonstrated a new technique's viability for membranes.

    During Droughts, Bacteria Help Sorghum Continue Growing

    Researchers discover how certain bacteria may safeguard plant growth during a drought, making way for strategies to improve crop productivity.

    Sierra Snowpack Could Drop Significantly By End of Century

    A future warmer world will almost certainly feature a decline in fresh water from the Sierra Nevada mountain snowpack. Now a new study by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory that analyzed the headwater regions of California's 10 major reservoirs, representing nearly half of the state's surface storage, found they could see on average a 79 percent drop in peak snowpack water volume by 2100.

    The Biermann Battery Effect: Spontaneous Generation of Magnetic Fields and Their Severing

    The mechanism responsible for creating intense magnetic fields in laser-driven plasmas also helps tear the fields apart.

    Compelling Evidence for Small Drops of Perfect Fluid

    Nuclear physicists analyzing data from the PHENIX detector at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) have published additional evidence that collisions of miniscule projectiles with gold nuclei create tiny specks of the perfect fluid that filled the early universe.


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    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.

    Blast to the future

    A grant from DOE's Technology Commercialization Fund will help researchers at Argonne and industry partners seek improvements to U.S. manufacturing by making discovery and design of new materials more efficient.

    Department of Energy to Provide $24 Million for Computer-Based Materials Design

    The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced plans to provide $24 million in new and renewal research awards to advance the development of sophisticated software for computer-based design of novel materials.

    Argonne scientists recognized for decades of pioneering leadership in research

    Argonne scientists Ali Erdemir and Jack Vaughey were named 2018 Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

    Kurfess, Smith join ORNL to lead advanced manufacturing initiatives

    Two leaders in US manufacturing innovation, Thomas Kurfess and Scott Smith, are joining the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory to support its pioneering research in advanced manufacturing.

    Four Berkeley Lab Scientists Named AAAS Fellows

    Four Berkeley Lab scientists - Allen Goldstein, Sung-Hou Kim, Susannah Tringe, and Katherine Yelick - have been named Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world's largest general scientific society.

    U.S. Department of Energy to Host Nationwide CyberForce Competition(tm) December 1

    Students from dozens of colleges/universities will participate in the U.S. Department of Energy's CyberForce Competition(tm) this weekend

    Seven ORNL researchers named 2019 INCITE award winners

    Seven researchers from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory have been chosen by the Innovative and Novel Computational Impact on Theory and Experiment, also known as INCITE, program to lead scientific investigations that require the nation's most powerful computers. The ORNL-based projects span a broad range of the scientific spectrum and represent the potential of high-performance computing in ensuring America's scientific competitiveness and energy security.


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    Ice Formed by Contact Freezing: Pressure Matters, Not Just Temperature

    Distortion of water droplet surface may increase the likelihood of the droplet freezing.

    Future Loss of Arctic Sea-Ice Cover Could Contribute to the Substantial Decrease in California's Rainfall

    A new modeling framework helps understand the consequences of future sea-ice loss in the Arctic.

    Drawn into a Whirlpool: A New Way to Stop Dangerous Fast Electrons in a Fusion Device

    A new phenomena forms vortices that trap particles, impeding electron avalanches that harm fusion reactors.

    During Droughts, Bacteria Help Sorghum Continue Growing

    Researchers discover how certain bacteria may safeguard plant growth during a drought, making way for strategies to improve crop productivity.

    The Biermann Battery Effect: Spontaneous Generation of Magnetic Fields and Their Severing

    The mechanism responsible for creating intense magnetic fields in laser-driven plasmas also helps tear the fields apart.

    Subtlety and the Selective Art of Separating Lanthanides

    Unexpected molecular interactions involving water clusters have a subtle, yet profound, effect on extractants picking their targets.

    Review Examines the Science and Needs of Nitrogen-Based Transformations

    Advances in biochemistry and catalysis could lead to faster, greener nitrogen-rich fertilizer.

    Quickly Capture Tiny Particles Reacting

    New method takes a snapshot every millisecond of groups of light-scattering particles, showing what happens during industrially relevant reactions.

    New Technology Consistently Identifies Proteins from a Dozen Cells

    A new platform melding microfluidics and robotics allows more in-depth bioanalysis with fewer cells than ever before.

    Optimal Foraging: How Soil Microbes Adapt to Nutrient Constraints

    How microbial communities adjust to nutrient-poor soils at the genomic and proteomic level gives scientists insights into land use.


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