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  • richardmitnick 10:42 am on June 4, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Showtime for Photosynthesis", , Clean Energy, , , One of nature’s most important chemical reactions is now being captured in a breakthrough “molecular movie”, , X-ray emission spectroscopy   

    From Lawrence Berkeley National Lab: “Showtime for Photosynthesis” 


    From Lawrence Berkeley National Lab

    June 4, 2020
    Aliyah Kovner
    akovner@lbl.gov
    510-486-6376

    One of nature’s most important chemical reactions is now being captured in a breakthrough “molecular movie”.

    1
    (Credit: Greg Stewart/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory)

    Using a unique combination of nanoscale imaging and chemical analysis, an international team of researchers has revealed a key step in the molecular mechanism behind the water splitting reaction of photosynthesis, a finding that could help inform the design of renewable energy technology.

    “Life depends on the oxygen that plants and algae split from water; how they do it is still a mystery, but scientists, including our team, are slowly peeling away the layers to get to the answer,” said Vittal K. Yachandra, co-lead author of a new study published in PNAS and a chemist senior scientist at the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory (Berkeley Lab). “If we can understand this step of natural photosynthesis, it would enable us to use those design principles for building artificial photosynthetic systems that produce clean and renewable energy from sunlight and water.”

    With an instrument that the team designed and fabricated, they analyzed photosynthetic proteins using both X-ray crystallography and X-ray emission spectroscopy. This dual approach, which the team pioneered and have been refining for the past 10 years, generates chemical and protein structure information from the same sample at the same time. The imaging was performed with the X-ray free-electron laser (XFEL) at the LCLS at SLAC National Laboratory, and at SACLA in Japan.

    “With this technique, we get the overall picture of how the entire protein structure dynamically changes and we see the chemical intricacies occurring at the reaction site,” said co-lead author Junko Yano, a chemist senior scientist in Berkeley Lab’s Molecular Biophysics and Integrated Bioimaging (MBIB) Division. “The X-ray free electron laser produces extremely bright, short bursts of X-rays that allow us to not only analyze a protein at room temperature, which is how these reactions occur in nature, but also capture various moments over the reaction time scale.”

    2
    Structural changes of Photosystem II and its catalytic center (Mn4Ca cluster) during the water oxidation reaction. The movie shows the S2 to S3 transition step, where the first water (as shown in Ox) comes into the catalytic center after the photochemical reaction at the reaction center. (Credit: Jan Kern and Isabel Bogacz/Berkeley Lab)

    3
    Structural changes of Photosystem II and its catalytic center (Mn4Ca cluster) during the water oxidation reaction. The movie shows the S2 to S3 transition step, where the first water (as shown in Ox) comes into the catalytic center after the photochemical reaction at the reaction center. (Credit: Jan Kern and Isabel Bogacz/Berkeley Lab)

    Traditional crystallography methods often require the sample proteins to be frozen; consequently, they can only generate snapshots of static proteins. This limitation makes it difficult for scientists to get a handle on how proteins actually behave in living organisms, because the molecules morph between different physical states during chemical reactions.

    “The water-splitting reaction in photosynthesis is a cyclical process that needs four photons and cycles between four stable ‘states,’” said Yano. “Previously, we could only take pictures of these four states. But by taking multiple snapshots in time, we now can visualize how one state goes to the other.”

    “We saw, really nicely, how the structure changes step-by-step as it transforms from one state to the next state,” said Jan F. Kern, MBIB chemist and co-author. “It is pretty exciting, because we can see the ‘cause and effect’ and the role that each moving atom plays in this transition.”

    Nicholas K. Sauter, co-author and MBIB computational senior scientist, added: “Essentially, we’re trying to take a ‘movie’ of a chemical reaction. We made a lot of progress to get to this point, in terms of our technology and our computational analyses. The work of our co-author Paul Adams and others in MBIB was critical to interpreting the XFEL and X-ray data. But we still have to get the other frames to see how the reaction is completed and the enzyme is ready for the next cycle.”

    The Berkeley Lab researchers hope to continue the project once the many research sites that the entire international team relies upon – located in the U.S., Japan, Switzerland, and South Korea – are operating normally following the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Kern concluded by noting that the technological milestone presented in this paper benefited greatly from the diverse expertise of the authors from SLAC, Uppsala and Umeå Universities in Sweden, Humboldt University in Germany, and from the capabilities of five DOE Office of Science user facilities: the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource and LCLS at Stanford University, and the Advanced Light Source, Energy Sciences Network, and National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center at Berkeley Lab.

    Other Berkeley Lab scientists who contributed to this work include: Ruchira Chatterjee, Louise Lassalle, Kyle D. Sutherlin, Iris D. Young, Sheraz Gul, In-Sik Kim, Philipp S. Simon, Isabel Bogacz, Cindy C. Pham, Nicholas Saichek, Trent Northen, Asmit Bhowmick, Robert Bolotovsky, Derek Mendez, Nigel W. Moriarty, James M. Holton, Aaron S. Brewster, and David Skinner.

    See the full article here .

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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    LBNL campus

    LBNL Molecular Foundry

    Bringing Science Solutions to the World
    In the world of science, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) is synonymous with “excellence.” Thirteen Nobel prizes are associated with Berkeley Lab. Seventy Lab scientists are members of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), one of the highest honors for a scientist in the United States. Thirteen of our scientists have won the National Medal of Science, our nation’s highest award for lifetime achievement in fields of scientific research. Eighteen of our engineers have been elected to the National Academy of Engineering, and three of our scientists have been elected into the Institute of Medicine. In addition, Berkeley Lab has trained thousands of university science and engineering students who are advancing technological innovations across the nation and around the world.

    Berkeley Lab is a member of the national laboratory system supported by the U.S. Department of Energy through its Office of Science. It is managed by the University of California (UC) and is charged with conducting unclassified research across a wide range of scientific disciplines. Located on a 202-acre site in the hills above the UC Berkeley campus that offers spectacular views of the San Francisco Bay, Berkeley Lab employs approximately 3,232 scientists, engineers and support staff. The Lab’s total costs for FY 2014 were $785 million. A recent study estimates the Laboratory’s overall economic impact through direct, indirect and induced spending on the nine counties that make up the San Francisco Bay Area to be nearly $700 million annually. The Lab was also responsible for creating 5,600 jobs locally and 12,000 nationally. The overall economic impact on the national economy is estimated at $1.6 billion a year. Technologies developed at Berkeley Lab have generated billions of dollars in revenues, and thousands of jobs. Savings as a result of Berkeley Lab developments in lighting and windows, and other energy-efficient technologies, have also been in the billions of dollars.

    Berkeley Lab was founded in 1931 by Ernest Orlando Lawrence, a UC Berkeley physicist who won the 1939 Nobel Prize in physics for his invention of the cyclotron, a circular particle accelerator that opened the door to high-energy physics. It was Lawrence’s belief that scientific research is best done through teams of individuals with different fields of expertise, working together. His teamwork concept is a Berkeley Lab legacy that continues today.

    A U.S. Department of Energy National Laboratory Operated by the University of California.

    University of California Seal

     
  • richardmitnick 9:59 am on May 12, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Clean Energy, Kristin Persson, , , Materials Project,   

    From Lawrence Berkeley National Lab: “Making a Material World Better, Faster Now: Q&A With Materials Project Director Kristin Persson” 


    From Lawrence Berkeley National Lab

    May 8, 2020
    Theresa Duque
    (510) 424-2866
    tnduque@lbl.gov

    World-renowned computational materials scientist from Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley looks back on a career founded in quantum mechanics, and looks ahead to faster clean-energy solutions with machine learning.

    1
    Materials Project Director Kristin Persson (Credit: Roy Kaltschmidt/Berkeley Lab)

    Kristin Persson is at the helm of a materials revolution.

    Since 2011, she has led the Materials Project, an open-access online database that virtually delivers the largest collection of materials properties to scientists from every corner of the globe who are searching for the next big thing in batteries, solar cells, and computer chips.

    Harnessing the power of supercomputers at Berkeley Lab’s National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC), and customized machine-learning algorithms based on state-of-the art quantum mechanical theory, Persson developed the Materials Project with open-access service, accuracy, speed, and user-friendliness in mind.

    NERSC at LBNL

    NERSC Cray Cori II supercomputer, named after Gerty Cori, the first American woman to win a Nobel Prize in science

    NERSC Hopper Cray XE6 supercomputer, named after Grace Hopper, One of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer

    NERSC Cray XC30 Edison supercomputer

    NERSC GPFS for Life Sciences


    The Genepool system is a cluster dedicated to the DOE Joint Genome Institute’s computing needs. Denovo is a smaller test system for Genepool that is primarily used by NERSC staff to test new system configurations and software.

    NERSC PDSF computer cluster in 2003.

    PDSF is a networked distributed computing cluster designed primarily to meet the detector simulation and data analysis requirements of physics, astrophysics and nuclear science collaborations.

    Future:

    Cray Shasta Perlmutter SC18 AMD Epyc Nvidia pre-exascale supeercomputer

    NERSC is a DOE Office of Science User Facility.

    Scientists seeking to design a better battery electrode, for example, only need to log into their free Materials Project user account. A few keystrokes here, a mouse click there, and users enter the online database’s vast, virtual catalog of most known inorganic materials and thousands more that may exist. The Materials Project narrows the 124,000 inorganic compounds, and some 35,000 molecules, down to the best candidate – without the Materials Project, that search would take months to do.

    “The Materials Project is unique in its ability to calculate a multitude of properties using high-quality first-principles calculations for materials research. With our data we can serve everyone – industry, academia, the whole world – without having to compete for profit in the private sector,” said Persson, a computational materials scientist who holds titles of senior faculty scientist in the Energy Storage & Distributed Resources Division in Berkeley Lab’s Energy Technologies Area and professor of materials science and engineering at UC Berkeley.

    “And as somebody who passionately cares about the environment, I just want to come up with the next clean-energy solution as fast as possible,” she said.

    In the Q&A below, Persson shares what inspired her to launch the Materials Project, her thoughts on the future of materials research and machine learning, and how she found her own way into a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) career.

    Q: What inspired you to launch the Materials Project database?

    Persson: When I was a postdoc at MIT, I was working on what’s known as density functional theory, a technique for modeling the electronic structure of materials in their ground state, or the material’s lowest energy state. At the time, DFT was still fairly new and the group I was in had just started to explore how the technique could be used in high-throughput computing, a technique that automatically runs the same analytical process simultaneously on multiple computer systems.

    Word had gotten around about our work. And in 2004, a U.S.-based battery manufacturer asked us if we could use our high-throughput computing technique – which uses multiple computers to automatically run the same process over thousands of compounds – to search for a better material for its battery’s electrode chemistry.

    In addition to funding the project, our industry partner gave us free time on their supercomputer. Having access to that much computing power really opened up a new world for me. I was comfortable with using computational DFT techniques to understand how individual materials work, but the idea of turning it around and using it on a supercomputer as an automated screening vehicle was game-changing. Suddenly you can screen hundreds of materials per day for a specific property, learn about chemistry and structural trends, and become smarter about where to look. Without a supercomputer, screening those same materials would take a team of researchers months to complete.

    The data from that project laid the foundation for the Materials Project. And when I was hired by Berkeley Lab in 2008, I brought that vision with me. During my second year here, I got funding from the Laboratory Directed Research and Development program to develop the nascent Materials Project’s capabilities and make it open access so it could serve a diverse community of materials scientists – like battery researchers, photovoltaics researchers, and researchers who specialize in data storage materials. In 2011, we launched the Project to the public and we have since continuously improved it with more materials, better search capabilities, and even more importantly, more diverse coverage of properties and analyses algorithms. Recently, and thanks to our broad and comprehensive datasets, we are adding state-of-the-art machine-learning algorithms to help researchers understand and identify functional materials.

    Today, the Materials Project is the largest materials data provider in the world, serving data more than a million times a day to more than 120,000 users all over the world, and it’s been cited by thousands of papers.

    Nobody has ever had this kind of data at their fingertips before. It’s a complete paradigm change in that sense. It’s exciting to know that researchers all over the world are publishing papers that used data from the Materials Project.

    Many of them are energy-related researchers, spanning batteries, catalysis, photovoltaics, thermoelectrics, et cetera, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised to see it used in other fields, like alloy design, scintillators, high-pressure and magnetic materials, and even astrophysics. It is extremely rewarding when people call you up and say, “Hey, a paper published in this journal said they used the Materials Project to understand the formation of concrete in space!”

    The Materials Project wouldn’t have been able to generate all that data without the support of the Basic Energy Sciences program within the Department of Energy’s Office of Science and Berkeley Lab’s supercomputers at NERSC. Similarly, many of the crucial, early software and architecture choices were made together with experts in the Computational Research Division. The interdisciplinary nature of the Project – combining domain knowledge, high-performance computing, and modern data infrastructure and dissemination, is really perfectly suited for a national lab, where you can build collaborative, long-term teams with permanent staff.

    Q: How can the Materials Project help to accelerate technological advancements for clean energy?

    Persson: The loop of materials design, synthesis, and characterization is traditionally intensely time-consuming. We hope that data-driven approaches fueled by computations can accelerate each aspect of that loop, enabling new materials for powerful rechargeable batteries for electric cars, or semiconductors that could make artificial photosynthesis a reality. With the Materials Project, clean-energy researchers can virtually test hundreds to thousands of components and then focus on the most promising candidates, use simulations and associated machine learning to accelerate the identification of new materials, and use computational insights and guidelines for optimal synthesis conditions.

    As our data grows, we are building machine-learning tools and curated datasets into the database, which saves researchers time and money so they can focus on their important work to help the world. And because we cast it in a way that any materials scientist can understand, such as phase diagrams, bandgaps, and electronic conductivity, I can see the Materials Project becoming a cornerstone in all materials scientists’ portfolio because they don’t have to become a computational expert to use this data – however, as with all data, they do need to understand its limitations and level of accuracy.

    Q: What’s your dream machine-learning materials app?

    Persson: Harnessing both experimental and computed data with on-the-fly machine learning for rapid iterations and insights. With machine learning, the fuel is the data. And researchers from both industry and academia agree that if we want to take advantage of what machine learning has to offer, we still need high-quality, diverse, curated data.

    As someone whose role is to provide that data, I’m very interested in what robotics can do for the experimental side of materials science. Robotically automated materials synthesis could help us gather high-quality, robust data by making sure that an experiment is done exactly the same way every time it’s performed. And that’s very hard to do with humans, because people are different and will perform the same task in slightly different ways.

    I am often asked if robots will replace scientists. Robots, just like the supercomputers at NERSC, are extremely powerful tools to produce data faster and more robustly. However, robots will not replace humans. They will just broaden our experience; enable us to make better, informed decisions; and help us focus on what we do best – use our amazing and creative human brain to solve the scientific and engineering problems of the day.

    Q: What’s next for the Materials Project?

    Persson: I’d like to do more industry outreach and make the Materials Project an integrated part of both the academic as well as the industrial science process. When I was a graduate student, density functional theory was a fairly young technique, so if you’re a manager at a semiconducting company and you haven’t hired anybody who completed their Ph.D. in the last 15 years, you probably don’t even know that materials databases like the Materials Project even exist.

    I’d also like to collaborate with our partners across the national laboratory system. I see the Materials Project growing into a data institute, harnessing both computed as well as standardized experimental datasets, where we not only provide large sets of machine-learning data to other labs and industry researchers but we also work directly with them so they know how to use all of the machine-learning features and simulations that the Materials Project has to offer.

    Q: When you were a child, did you dream of becoming a scientist?

    Persson: No, not really. Actually, when I was very young, I wanted to be an opera singer. I loved singing – I still do, and when I was little, opera seemed like the perfect environment for that. Then I considered becoming an archaeologist. I was drawn to archaeology because I love history and enjoy discovering how people lived – I was always fascinated by the idea of unearthing stories of people from ancient eras: what they thought, what they believed in, and how they lived day to day.

    Q: Were you always good at math?

    Persson: It depends on how far back you are asking. Between the ages of 7 and 11, I had pretty mediocre grades across the board.

    I remember a particular, standardized math test, at the age of 10, that I didn’t do well on. Feeling very disappointed and honestly nervous about my future, I started doing an hour of math a day by myself, without a tutor. I did basic math – I learned by redoing all sorts of problems wherever I could find them in textbooks just to make sure I understood what was going on.

    It wasn’t easy because no one was directing me. Instead, it was my own growing ambition and determination that drove me. By the time I was 12, I was at the head of my class in every single subject.

    Q: What led you to computational materials science?

    Persson: When I was in college I initially wanted to study medicine, but I ended up studying engineering physics, which is very broad and fast-paced. And it was during that time when I fell in love with quantum mechanics. I thought it was the most beautiful thing ever – physics suddenly made sense together with the math, and it was gorgeous.

    When I completed my master’s degree – my thesis was on neutrino oscillations, which is essentially theoretical particle physics – I was awarded a doctoral fellowship that would allow me to go wherever I wanted to go.

    After interviewing four different professors in four very different fields, I ended up choosing the computational materials group in the Theoretical Physics Department at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden, because I liked their methodology. They used simulations together with theoretical frameworks to figure out how materials work on the fundamental level of electrons and atoms.

    And that’s why I tell my graduate students, “Don’t expect that by the age of 25 you will know exactly what you want to do in life. There are so many interesting topics when you dig deeper.” And for me, it was important that I was happy with the methodology, the every-day tasks, and getting along with the people you work with.

    The Materials Project is supported by the DOE Office of Science.

    NERSC is a DOE Office of Science User Facility located at Berkeley Lab.

    See the full article here .

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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    LBNL campus

    LBNL Molecular Foundry

    Bringing Science Solutions to the World
    In the world of science, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) is synonymous with “excellence.” Thirteen Nobel prizes are associated with Berkeley Lab. Seventy Lab scientists are members of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), one of the highest honors for a scientist in the United States. Thirteen of our scientists have won the National Medal of Science, our nation’s highest award for lifetime achievement in fields of scientific research. Eighteen of our engineers have been elected to the National Academy of Engineering, and three of our scientists have been elected into the Institute of Medicine. In addition, Berkeley Lab has trained thousands of university science and engineering students who are advancing technological innovations across the nation and around the world.

    Berkeley Lab is a member of the national laboratory system supported by the U.S. Department of Energy through its Office of Science. It is managed by the University of California (UC) and is charged with conducting unclassified research across a wide range of scientific disciplines. Located on a 202-acre site in the hills above the UC Berkeley campus that offers spectacular views of the San Francisco Bay, Berkeley Lab employs approximately 3,232 scientists, engineers and support staff. The Lab’s total costs for FY 2014 were $785 million. A recent study estimates the Laboratory’s overall economic impact through direct, indirect and induced spending on the nine counties that make up the San Francisco Bay Area to be nearly $700 million annually. The Lab was also responsible for creating 5,600 jobs locally and 12,000 nationally. The overall economic impact on the national economy is estimated at $1.6 billion a year. Technologies developed at Berkeley Lab have generated billions of dollars in revenues, and thousands of jobs. Savings as a result of Berkeley Lab developments in lighting and windows, and other energy-efficient technologies, have also been in the billions of dollars.

    Berkeley Lab was founded in 1931 by Ernest Orlando Lawrence, a UC Berkeley physicist who won the 1939 Nobel Prize in physics for his invention of the cyclotron, a circular particle accelerator that opened the door to high-energy physics. It was Lawrence’s belief that scientific research is best done through teams of individuals with different fields of expertise, working together. His teamwork concept is a Berkeley Lab legacy that continues today.

    A U.S. Department of Energy National Laboratory Operated by the University of California.

    University of California Seal

     
  • richardmitnick 8:06 am on May 5, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Solar researchers across country join forces with industry to boost U.S. solar manufacturing", , Clean Energy, ,   

    From University of Washington: “Solar researchers across country join forces with industry to boost U.S. solar manufacturing” 

    From University of Washington

    April 29, 2020
    Suzanne Offen, Clean Energy Institute

    U.S. Manufacturing of Advanced Perovskites Consortium includes University of Washington, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, solar companies and universities throughout the nation.

    Working together with leading domestic solar companies, the University of Washington and its Washington Clean Energy Testbeds, the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Toledo have formed the U.S. Manufacturing of Advanced Perovskites Consortium, or US-MAP. This research and development coalition aims to accelerate the domestic commercialization of perovskite technologies.

    Perovskites are an emerging class of materials that can be inexpensively made from abundant elements and engineered to convert light to electricity at high efficiencies — ideal for solar energy. The universities and National Renewable Energy Laboratory will offer the participating companies access to, and support in, their complementary cleantech fabrication, characterization and testing facilities. In turn, representatives from each of the member companies will form an industry advisory board that will guide the efforts performed at the research institutions.

    1
    Washington Clean Energy Testbeds Technical Director J. Devin MacKenzie demonstrating the Testbeds’ multi-stage roll-to-roll printer for flexible electronics. Credit: UW Clean Energy Institute.

    “US-MAP harnesses the power of the best perovskite researchers and resources in the nation to help U.S. solar companies continue to innovate and bring this exciting technology to market,” said J. Devin MacKenzie, UW materials science & engineering and mechanical engineering associate professor and Washington Clean Energy Testbeds technical director. “Indeed, UW’s Washington Clean Energy Testbeds, an open-access facility for developing and testing energy devices and systems, has been working with solar startups and we’re eager to help other U.S. companies tap into our staff scientists’ expertise and utilize our best-in-class instruments, including our multi-stage roll-to-roll printer for flexible electronics.”

    US-MAP founding member companies include: BlueDot Photonics, Energy Materials Corporation, First Solar, Hunt Perovskites Technologies, Swift Solar and Tandem PV. As members of the industry advisory board, company representatives will shape R&D directions and priorities and will be engaged actively in selecting and evaluating projects. The founding organizers — the University of Washington, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Toledo — will serve on the executive board and oversee delivery of projects.

    BlueDot Photonics is a Seattle-based startup building next-generation solar panels and other photonic devices.

    “US-MAP will help startups like ours access critical expertise required to prove manufacturability and product reliability, while maintaining ownership of intellectual property,” said BlueDot Photonics CEO Jared Silvia. “This network and its facilities will assist us in de-risking key hurdles to commercialization that will benefit all perovskite-based technologies. This will allow companies like ours to shorten the development cycle for products to satisfy customers and our investors.”

    2
    US-MAP Consortium organizers and industry members. Credit Dennis Schroeder/National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

    In addition to solar energy, perovskites have shown tremendous promise in a range of other technologies, including solid-state lighting, advanced radiation detection, dynamic sensing and actuation, photo-catalysis and quantum information science. Early investments by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Energy Technologies Office and its Office of Science into perovskite research at the founding organizations have enabled the U.S. to engage at the forefront of many of these technology areas and fostered a vibrant community of industrial leaders.

    “Washington state has long been a leader in clean energy innovation and institutions like UW continue to play a critical role in moving our nation’s vital energy research needs forward,” said U.S. Senator Patty Murray, D-WA, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “I am encouraged by the work of UW’s Washington Clean Energy Testbeds and its potential for scaling up clean energy adoption — and perovskite technologies, in general — and will continue fighting in the Senate for strengthened investments in these research and technology developments that will help families and communities thrive.”

    “UW has played an incredible role in renewable energy and is now bringing together some of the best researchers and innovators in the country to develop this next-generation technology to expand the use of solar to more homes and businesses across the country,” said U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell, D-WA.

    “This coalition represents what America does best: partnership for innovation and societal benefit,” said U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Seattle, whose district includes the UW. “The United States should and can lead in solar manufacturing, water power and wind energy — and I know Washington can play a role in getting us there through our outstanding public research institutions like the University of Washington and our promising startups.”

    Researchers and companies looking to access resources, capabilities, and expertise within the US-MAP Consortium should visit http://www.nrel.gov/research/us-map.html.

    For more information, contact Suzanne Offen with the UW’s Clean Energy Institute at soffen@uw.edu.

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    u-washington-campus
    The University of Washington is one of the world’s preeminent public universities. Our impact on individuals, on our region, and on the world is profound — whether we are launching young people into a boundless future or confronting the grand challenges of our time through undaunted research and scholarship. Ranked number 10 in the world in Shanghai Jiao Tong University rankings and educating more than 54,000 students annually, our students and faculty work together to turn ideas into impact and in the process transform lives and our world. For more about our impact on the world, every day.
    So what defines us —the students, faculty and community members at the University of Washington? Above all, it’s our belief in possibility and our unshakable optimism. It’s a connection to others, both near and far. It’s a hunger that pushes us to tackle challenges and pursue progress. It’s the conviction that together we can create a world of good. Join us on the journey.

     
  • richardmitnick 11:21 am on February 24, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Picosecond Lasers and Avalanche Reactions Generate 1 Billion Times Fusion Reactions", , Clean Energy, , Newzlab,   

    From UNSW via Newzlab: “Picosecond Lasers and Avalanche Reactions Generate 1 Billion Times Fusion Reactions” 

    U NSW bloc

    From University of New South Wales

    via

    1

    February 24, 2020

    HB-11 Energy has published its progress towards generating commercial nuclear fusion using a dual laser method.

    the University of New South Wales reports that HB11 Energy has been granted patents for its laser-driven technique for creating fusion energy.

    They would use a largely empty metal sphere, where a modestly sized HB11 fuel pellet is held in the center, with apertures on different sides for the two lasers. One laser establishes the magnetic containment field for the plasma and the second laser triggers the ‘avalanche’ fusion chain reaction.

    The alpha particles generated by the reaction would create an electrical flow that can be channeled almost directly into an existing power grid with no need for a heat exchanger or steam turbine generator.

    2

    3

    Nextbigfuture covered the HB11 Energy work in 2017.

    HB11 Energy will use the reaction between hydrogen H and the boron isotope 11 (HB11) as uncompressed solid-state fuel within an extremely high trapping magnetic field. Both of these conditions have been demonstrated by experiments and following predictions from computations.

    • a 1 kilojoule laser boosts a magnetic field to 4500-10000 tesla for over one nanosecond. About 100 times stronger than powerful superconducting magnets
    • a second laser causes a nuclear fusion chain reaction
    • lab experiments have been performed which indicate fusion yields increase by a billion times.
    • energy production with a proposed system would be four times cheaper than coal

    The ultra-powerful picosecond CPA laser pulses have just reached the necessary condition for producing a turning point to generate electricity from nuclear fusion reactions.

    Ablation compression of spherical HB11 fusion usually arrives at five orders of magnitudes lower energy gains than the DT reaction. However, applying the computations of plane wave ignition with picoseconds laser pulses on solid density fusion fuel, the resulting need of an energy flux E* of 400 million joules per square centimeter for DT was nearly the same as for HB11. This was a surprising gain increase for HB11 by five orders of magnitudes though only binary nuclear reactions as in the case of DT were used for comparison. The reaction producing three 4 He (alpha particles) resulted in an avalanche reaction and using elastic plasma collisions for the exceptionally preferred energy range around 600 keV resulting in a further increase of the energy gains by four orders of magnitudes. These are all together one billion times higher reaction gains than the classical HB11 fusion as measured.

    The very first measured HB11 reaction with picosecond CPA laser pulse irradiation resulted in a thousand reactions. Irradiating a laser pulse together with a second one for producing an intense particle beam resulted in more than one million reactions and experiments with a single laser beam of entirely few dozens of ps arrived at billion reactions which agreed with the calculated just mentioned gain increases. In all experiments, the temperature could be estimated below values of 100 eV, or at least many orders of magnitudes lower than of the thermal equilibrium pressures above 100 Million.

    Using the knowledge of numerously elaborated and experimentally confirmed cases of interaction of CPA laser pulses in the sub-picosecond range and powers above petawatt, the ignition of fusion of hydrogen with the boron isotope 11 (HB11 fusion) is of high energy gain. Experiments indicated energies above one trillion joules per cubic centimeter for non-thermal pressures. This is the basis for the design of an environmentally clean, safe, low-cost and abundant generator of electricity. The equation of motion for the ignition is dominated by the non-thermal term of the nonlinear force fNL for avoiding the thermal pressures that are in the range above temperatures of 100 million °C.

    High Energy Density Physics – Pressure of picosecond CPA laser pulses substitute ultrahigh thermal
    pressures to ignite fusion.

    Nuclear reactions produce ten million times more energy than the chemical reactions e.g. from burning carbon, but the equilibrium thermal pressures for chemical reactions need temperatures of hundred °C while nuclear burns need many dozens of million °C. This is on the level for ITER or at NIF with using nanosecond laser pulses. In contrast, non-thermal pressures can be higher by lasers using nonlinear forces of picoseconds or shorter duration as computer results of 1978 had demonstrated by non-thermal plasma-block acceleration. This is in full agreement with the ultrahigh acceleration measured by Sauerbrey since 1996 thanks to his use of ultra-extreme powers of picosecond CPA-laser pulses. Even the very inefficient classical fusion of hydrogen with the 11B can be used for the non-thermal reaction with sufficiently modest heating in a reactor for generation electricity.

    Background

    Nature Communications– Fusion reactions initiated by laser-accelerated particle beams in a laser-produced plasma (2013)

    Lasers and Particle Beams – Fusion energy using avalanche increased boron reactions for block-ignition by ultrahigh power picosecond laser pulses (2015)

    Journal of Fusion Energy – Kilotesla Magnetic Assisted Fast Laser Ignited Boron-11 Hydrogen Fusion with Nonlinear Force Driven Ultrahigh Accelerated Plasma Blocks (2014)

    Lasers and Particle Beams – Road map to clean energy using laser beam ignition of boron-hydrogen fusion (2017)

    SOURCES: HB11 Energy, University of New South Wales, Nature Communications, High Energy Density Physics, Heinrich Hora, Lasers and Particle Beams, Journal of Fusion Energy
    Written By Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture

    See the full article here.

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    U NSW Campus

    Welcome to UNSW Australia (The University of New South Wales), one of Australia’s leading research and teaching universities. At UNSW, we take pride in the broad range and high quality of our teaching programs. Our teaching gains strength and currency from our research activities, strong industry links and our international nature; UNSW has a strong regional and global engagement.

    In developing new ideas and promoting lasting knowledge we are creating an academic environment where outstanding students and scholars from around the world can be inspired to excel in their programs of study and research. Partnerships with both local and global communities allow UNSW to share knowledge, debate and research outcomes. UNSW’s public events include concert performances, open days and public forums on issues such as the environment, healthcare and global politics. We encourage you to explore the UNSW website so you can find out more about what we do.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:13 am on February 21, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Clean Energy, , , HB11 Energy, , Laser-driven technique for creating fusion energy.,   

    From University of New South Wales: “Pioneering technology promises unlimited, clean and safe energy” 

    U NSW bloc

    From University of New South Wales

    21 Feb 2020
    Yolande Hutchinson
    UNSW Sydney External Relations
    0420 845 023
    y.hutchinson@unsw.edu.au

    Dr Warren McKenzie
    HB11 Energy
    0400 059 509

    Professor Heinrich Hora
    UNSW Physics
    0414 471 424

    A UNSW spin-out company has secured patents for its ground-breaking approach to energy generation.

    1
    HB11 Energy, has been granted patents for its laser-driven technique for creating fusion energy. Picture: Shutterstock

    UNSW Sydney spin-out company, HB11 Energy, has been granted patents for its laser-driven technique for creating fusion energy. Unlike earlier methods, the technique is completely safe as it does not rely on radioactive fuel and leaves no toxic radioactive waste.

    HB11 Energy secured its intellectual property rights in Japan last week, following recent grants in China and the USA.

    Conceived by UNSW Emeritus Professor of theoretical physics Heinrich Hora, HB11 Energy’s concept differs radically from other experimental fusion projects.

    “After investigating a laser-boron fusion approach for over four decades at UNSW, I am thrilled that this pioneering approach has now received patents in three countries,” Professor Hora said.

    “These granted patents represent the eve of HB11 Energy’s seed-stage fundraising campaign that will establish Australia’s first commercial fusion company, and the world’s only approach focused on the safe hydrogen – boron reaction using lasers.”

    The preferred fusion approach employed by most fusion groups is to heat Deuterium-Tritium fuel well beyond the temperature of the sun (or almost 15 million degrees Celsius). Rather than heating the fuel, HB11’s hydrogen-boron fusion is achieved using two powerful lasers whose pulses apply precise non-linear forces to compress the nuclei together.

    “Tritium is very rare, expensive, radioactive and difficult to store. Fusion reactions employing Deuterium-Tritium also shed harmful neutrons and create radioactive waste which needs to be disposed of safely. I have long favored the combination of cheap and abundant hydrogen H and boron B-11. The fusion of these elements does not primarily produce neutrons and is the ideal fuel combination,” Professor Hora said.

    Most other sources of power production, such as coal, gas and nuclear, rely on heating liquids like water to drive turbines. In contrast, the energy generated by hydrogen-boron fusion converts directly into electricity allowing for much smaller and simpler generators.

    The two-laser approach needed for HB11 Energy’s hydrogen-boron fusion only became possible recently thanks to advances in laser technology that won the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics.

    2
    Schematic of a hydrogen-boron fusion reactor.

    Hora’s reactor design is deceptively simple: a largely empty metal sphere, where a modestly sized HB11 fuel pellet is held in the center, with apertures on different sides for the two lasers. One laser establishes the magnetic containment field for the plasma and the second laser triggers the ‘avalanche’ fusion chain reaction.

    The alpha particles generated by the reaction would create an electrical flow that can be channeled almost directly into an existing power grid with no need for a heat exchanger or steam turbine generator.

    “The clean and absolutely safe reactor can be placed within densely populated areas, with no possibility of a catastrophic meltdown such as that which has been seen with nuclear fission reactors,” Professor Hora added.

    With experiments and simulations measuring a laser-initiated chain reaction creating one billion-fold higher reaction rates than predicted (under thermal equilibrium conditions), HB11 Energy stands a high chance of reaching the goal of ‘net-energy gain’ well ahead of other groups.

    “HB11 Energy’s approach could be the only way to achieve very low carbon emissions by 2050. As we aren’t trying to heat fuels to impossibly high temperatures, we are sidestepping all of the scientific challenges that have held fusion energy back for more than half a century,” Dr Warren McKenzie, Managing Director of HB11 Energy, said.

    “This means our development roadmap will be much faster and cheaper than any other fusion approach,” Dr McKenzie added.

    See the full article here .


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    U NSW Campus

    Welcome to UNSW Australia (The University of New South Wales), one of Australia’s leading research and teaching universities. At UNSW, we take pride in the broad range and high quality of our teaching programs. Our teaching gains strength and currency from our research activities, strong industry links and our international nature; UNSW has a strong regional and global engagement.

    In developing new ideas and promoting lasting knowledge we are creating an academic environment where outstanding students and scholars from around the world can be inspired to excel in their programs of study and research. Partnerships with both local and global communities allow UNSW to share knowledge, debate and research outcomes. UNSW’s public events include concert performances, open days and public forums on issues such as the environment, healthcare and global politics. We encourage you to explore the UNSW website so you can find out more about what we do.

     
      • richardmitnick 2:40 pm on February 23, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        Many people could not find this article. I had over 2000 views on the article in the blog. But not one signed up to receive the blog. I notified UNSW of the problem.

        Like

    • Mark Peak 10:11 am on February 24, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      Richard,
      I’m happy to receive your blog. There did not appear to be link to request it. I am very interested in seeing the advances in more environmentally friendly forms of energy and being kept abreast of what is discovered and can be made available globally.

      Like

      • richardmitnick 10:43 am on February 24, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        Mark- Thank you so very much for taking the blog. The events around this article are very strange. Apparently somehow the original article disappeared even though I found a copy. I am in the U.S. but for my blog I follow a lot of universities and institutions in Australia, which as a country is a hotbed of Basic and Applied Scientific Research, just up my alley. UNSW is a very important center for research. I generally do about ten blog posts per day and get around 250 views per day. For this post from UNSW I have received over 3,000 views. I did write to UNSW to let them know about this set of events. I am sure I am not the only person who notified the university. Again, thanks for your interest and your comment.

        Like

  • richardmitnick 9:50 am on February 18, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Generating electricity 'out of thin air'", Air-gen, , Clean Energy, , , , , Using a natural protein to create electricity from moisture in the air.   

    From UMass Amherst via COSMOS Magazine: “Generating electricity ‘out of thin air'” 

    U Mass Amherst

    From UMass Amherst

    via

    Cosmos Magazine bloc

    COSMOS Magazine

    18 February 2020
    Nick Carne

    Researchers unveil a new device powered by a microbe.

    1
    Graphic image of a thin film of protein nanowires generating electricity from atmospheric humidity. UMass Amherst/Yao and Lovley labs.

    Scientists in the US have developed a device they say uses a natural protein to create electricity from moisture in the air.

    Writing in the journal Nature, electrical engineer Jun Yao and microbiologist Derek Lovley, from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, introduce the Air-gen (or air-powered generator), which Lovley describes as “the most amazing and exciting application of protein nanowires yet”.

    Air-Gen has electrically conductive protein nanowires produced by the microbe Geobacter, which Lovley discovered in the Potomac River three decades ago and has been working with ever since, in particular investigating its potential for “green electronics”.

    The Air-gen connects electrodes to the protein nanowires in such a way that electrical current is generated from the water vapour naturally present in the atmosphere.

    It requires only a thin film of protein nanowires less than 10 microns thick. The bottom of the film rests on an electrode, while a smaller electrode that covers only part of the nanowire film sits on top.

    The film adsorbs water vapour from the atmosphere. A combination of the electrical conductivity and surface chemistry of the protein nanowires, coupled with the fine pores between the nanowires within the film, establishes the conditions that generate an electrical current between the two electrodes.

    Developed in Yao’s lab, Air-gen is low-cost, non-polluting and renewable, and needs neither sun nor wind, the researchers say. It can work indoors, or in extremely low humidity of the desert.

    The current generation can power only small electronics, but they hope to bring it to commercial scale soon. Beyond that is the idea a small Air-gen “patch” that can power electronic wearables such as health and fitness monitors and smart watches. And then, maybe, there are mobile phones.

    “The ultimate goal is to make large-scale systems,” says Yao. “For example, the technology might be incorporated into wall paint that could help power your home. Or, we may develop stand-alone air-powered generators that supply electricity off the grid.”

    Lovley also is working to improve the practical biological capabilities of Geobacter. His lab recently developed a new microbial strain to more rapidly and inexpensively mass produce protein nanowires.

    “We turned E. coli into a protein nanowire factory,” he says. “With this new scalable process, protein nanowire supply will no longer be a bottleneck to developing these applications.”

    The Royal Institution of Australia has an education resource based on this article.
    You can access it here.

    See the full article here .

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    John Schaefer


    For new music by living composers

    newsounds.org from New York Public Radio


    https://www.wnyc.org/
    93.9FM
    https://www.wqxr.org/
    105.9FM

    Home

    For great Jazz

    88.3FM http://wbgo.org/

    WPRB 103.3FM


    Please visit The Jazz Loft Project based on the work of Sam Stephenson
    Please visit The Jazz Loft Radio project from New York Public Radio

    U Mass Amherst campus

    UMass Amherst, the Commonwealth’s flagship campus, is a nationally ranked public research university offering a full range of undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees.

    As the flagship campus of America’s education state, the University of Massachusetts Amherst is the leader of the public higher education system of the Commonwealth, making a profound, transformative impact to the common good. Founded in 1863, we are the largest public research university in New England, distinguished by the excellence and breadth of our academic, research and community outreach programs. We rank 29th among the nation’s top public universities, moving up 11 spots in the past two years in the U.S. News & World Report’s annual college guide.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:19 am on January 29, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "UW researchers win combined $5.9M from Department of Energy to advance solar technologies", , BlueDot Photonics, Clean Energy, , Solar panels,   

    From University of Washington: “UW researchers win combined $5.9M from Department of Energy to advance solar technologies” 

    From University of Washington

    1

    January 24, 2020

    Electrical & computer engineering professor Brian B. Johnson will develop power electronics to integrate solar with grid; BlueDot Photonics will develop new solar manufacturing technology

    2

    University of Washington (UW) clean energy researchers won a combined $5.9 million from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for two projects that will make solar-generated electricity more affordable. The DOE’s Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) made a total of 75 awards in late 2019 in a $128 million effort to lower solar electricity costs, boost U.S. manufacturing, reduce administrative red tape, and make solar energy and the grid more resistant to cyberattacks.

    Power electronics to integrate solar with the grid

    Brian B. Johnson, Washington Research Foundation (WRF) Innovation Assistant Professor of Clean Energy and Electrical & Computer Engineering (ECE), leads a team receiving $4.9 million over the next three years to develop new control strategies to integrate solar photovoltaic systems and energy storage systems into the power grid. The proposed controllers will ensure grid stability at any level of renewable energy utilization. The team includes ECE professors Daniel Kirschen and Baosen Zhang, and partners at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Minnesota, Enphase Energy, and the Electric Power Research Institute. The team will contribute an additional $2.1 million in cost share, bringing the project total to $7 million. This work will enable grid operators to add increasing amounts of solar power onto the grid in a cost-effective, secure, resilient, and reliable manner.

    Johnson has led another DO­E-backed project since 2018, collaborating with Kirschen, researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the University of Colorado to halve the cost of inverters for solar systems — devices that convert solar-generated dc power into ac power that is usable by the power grid.

    Manufacturing next-generation solar panels

    UW spinoff BlueDot Photonics is a clean technology startup building next-generation solar panels and other photonic devices. The company was co-founded by UW CoMotion Commercialization Fellow Daniel Kroupa, named to Forbes’ “30 Under 30: Energy” list in 2019, UW alum and WRF Postdoctoral Fellow Matthew Crane (Ph.D. chemical engineering ’17), UW alum Jared Silvia (B.S. chemistry & biochemistry ’05), and UW chemistry professor Daniel Gamelin. BlueDot’s DOE-backed team will receive $1 million over the next 18 months to develop vapor deposition hardware for thin-film perovskite solar cells. Project partners include UW associate professor of materials science & engineering and mechanical engineering J. Devin MacKenzie and researchers at NREL.

    BlueDot’s unique vapor deposition technology is a fast and cost-effective technique in which powder is turned directly to vapor to be evenly coated onto a surface — in this case, perovskites onto the base of a solar cell. Perovskites are an emerging class of materials that can be inexpensively made from common elements and engineered to have high-performing photovoltaic properties. BlueDot will be working at the Washington Clean Energy Testbeds, where MacKenzie is technical director.

    BlueDot is one of seven companies backed by the DOE SETO for innovations in manufacturing. The awardees are expected to develop robust hardware prototypes that will attract follow-on private investment. BlueDot will contribute an additional $300,000 in cost share, for a project total of $1.3 million.

    1
    One of BlueDot Photonics’ coupon-sized solar module prototypes, fabricated at the Washington Clean Energy Testbeds.

    See the full article here .


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    u-washington-campus
    The University of Washington is one of the world’s preeminent public universities. Our impact on individuals, on our region, and on the world is profound — whether we are launching young people into a boundless future or confronting the grand challenges of our time through undaunted research and scholarship. Ranked number 10 in the world in Shanghai Jiao Tong University rankings and educating more than 54,000 students annually, our students and faculty work together to turn ideas into impact and in the process transform lives and our world. For more about our impact on the world, every day.
    So what defines us —the students, faculty and community members at the University of Washington? Above all, it’s our belief in possibility and our unshakable optimism. It’s a connection to others, both near and far. It’s a hunger that pushes us to tackle challenges and pursue progress. It’s the conviction that together we can create a world of good. Join us on the journey.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:08 am on January 3, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Integrating Input to Forge Ahead in Geothermal Research", , Clean Energy, , ,   

    From Eos: “Integrating Input to Forge Ahead in Geothermal Research” 

    From AGU
    Eos news bloc

    From Eos

    1.3.20
    Robert Rozansky
    Alexis McKittrick

    A road map for a major geothermal energy development initiative determines proposed priorities and goals by integrating input from stakeholders, data, and technological assessments.

    1
    The road map for one U.S. geothermal energy initiative provides a methodology for integrating stakeholder input and priorities with information from research and technical sources to provide a set of common research priorities. Credit: iStock.com/DrAfter123

    Scientific communities often struggle to find consensus on how to achieve the next big leap in technology, methods, or understanding in their fields. Geothermal energy development is no exception. Here we describe a methodological approach to combining qualitative input from the geothermal research community with technical information and data. The result of this approach is a road map to overcoming barriers facing this important field of research.

    Geothermal energy accounts for merely 0.4% of U.S. electricity production today, but the country has vast, untapped geothermal energy resources—if only we can access them. The U.S. Geological Survey has found that unconventional geothermal sources could produce as much as 500 gigawatts of electricity—roughly half of U.S. electric power generating capacity. These sources have sufficient heat but insufficient fluid permeability to enable extraction of this heat [U.S. Geological Survey, 2008]. One approach to tapping these resources is to construct enhanced geothermal systems (EGS), in which techniques such as fluid injection are used to increase the permeability of the subsurface to make a reservoir suitable for heat exchange and extraction (Figure 1).

    2
    Fig. 1. A geothermal power plant produces electricity from water that has been injected (blue pipe at center) into a subsurface reservoir, heated, and then pumped back to the surface (red pipes). Enhanced geothermal systems use techniques such as fluid injection to enhance the permeability of underground reservoirs that might otherwise not be accessible for geothermal heat extraction. Credit: U.S. Department of Energy.

    The United States and other countries have conducted experimental EGS projects since the 1970s. However, engineering a successful heat exchange reservoir in the high temperatures and pressures characteristic of EGS sites remains a significant technical challenge, one that must be overcome to enable commercial viability [Ziagos et al., 2013].

    Because of the great potential of this technology, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is driving an ambitious initiative called the Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy (FORGE) to accelerate research and development in EGS. The FORGE initiative will provide $140 million in funding over the next 5 years (subject to congressional appropriation) for cutting-edge research, drilling, and technology testing at a field laboratory and experimental EGS site in Milford, Utah, operated by the University of Utah [U.S. Department of Energy, 2018].

    Assessing Challenges of Enhanced Geothermal Systems

    DOE’s Geothermal Technologies Office (GTO) asked the Science and Technology Policy Institute (STPI) to develop a methodology for collecting input from the EGS community to produce a FORGE road map with strategic guidance for the managers and operators of the site. STPI is a federally funded research and development center established by Congress and operated by the nonprofit Institute for Defense Analyses, which provides analyses of scientific issues important to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and to other federal agencies.

    EGS faces numerous technical challenges. These include developing drilling equipment that can withstand the heat, pressure, and geology of the EGS environment; improving the ability to isolate specific targets in the subsurface for stimulation (called zonal isolation); and learning to better mitigate the risk of induced seismicity during operations. The EGS community has a variety of ideas for how FORGE can address these challenges and for the balance needed between conducting research that is novel, though potentially risky, and efforts that will maintain a functioning site for continued use.

    The time frame for FORGE is also relatively short, about 5 years, especially given the substantial effort required simply to drill and establish an EGS reservoir. In light of this, STPI designed and conducted a process to capture the community’s ideas for how FORGE can advance EGS, process this information methodically and impartially, and distill it into a document that is reflective of the community’s input and useful for planning research at FORGE.

    STPI’s process was designed specifically for the FORGE road map, but the general approach described here, or specific elements of it, could prove valuable for other efforts seeking to leverage collective community feedback to move a research field forward. Using this approach, a community struggling to make progress can prioritize research and technology needs without focusing on the individual approaches of different researchers or organizations.

    A Road Map for Geothermal Research

    The FORGE road map, published in February 2019, is intended to offer input from the EGS research community to help the managers of FORGE craft funding opportunities, operate the site in Utah, and work toward achieving DOE’s mission for FORGE: a set of rigorous and reproducible EGS technical solutions and a pathway to successful commercial EGS development.

    The document outlines discrete research activities—and highlights the most critical of these activities—that the EGS research community proposed for FORGE to address technical challenges. The road map also categorizes all research activities into three overarching areas of focus: stimulation planning and design, fracture control, and reservoir management.

    Engaging the Community

    In developing the road map, STPI, in coordination with DOE, first determined categories of information that could serve as building blocks for the road map. They did this by analyzing U.S. and foreign EGS road maps and vision studies from the past 2 decades. These categories included the major technical challenges facing EGS, such as developing optimal subsurface fracture networks, and the specific areas of research that could be investigated at FORGE to address those challenges, such as testing different zonal isolation methods.

    Higher-level questions included determining how progress or success could be recognized in these research areas and what accomplishments could serve as milestones for the FORGE project. Examples of potential milestones include drilling a well to a predetermined depth and measuring subsurface properties to a target resolution.

    STPI then conducted semistructured interviews with 24 stakeholders from DOE, national laboratories, industry, and academia to validate and expand the initially identified technical challenges, understand the barriers that researchers were facing when trying to address these challenges, and discuss technology that could overcome these barriers.

    STPI summarized the results of these interviews, including technical challenges and potential research activities for FORGE, in an informal memorandum. This memorandum served as a preliminary, skeletal draft of the road map, and it provided the starting point for discussion in a community workshop.

    In August 2018, STPI hosted a FORGE Roadmap Development Workshop at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo. Nearly 30 EGS subject matter experts from across academia, national laboratories, industry, and government attended and provided input. In a series of breakout sessions, attendees reviewed the technical challenges and research activities identified in STPI’s interviews, generated a list of technical milestones for FORGE’s 5 years of operation, discussed the dependencies among the research activities and milestones on the FORGE timeline, and produced qualitative and quantitative criteria to measure progress in each of the research activities.

    The steps in this process—a literature review, interviews with subject matter experts, and a stakeholder workshop—represent a progression of inputs that helped elucidate EGS community perspectives on current challenges to commercial EGS development and research activities that would help FORGE solve those challenges.

    After this information had been collected, STPI worked with DOE on the technical content of the road map in preparation for its publication last February. STPI and DOE consolidated, structured, and prioritized this content to provide the greatest utility to the FORGE managers and operators.

    The Way Ahead

    Clean, geothermal energy has the potential to make up a much larger share of the U.S. energy portfolio than it does at present, but to get there, the field of EGS will have to make substantial progress. The FORGE road map is designed to help the FORGE initiative move toward this goal as effectively as possible, especially given the variety of viewpoints on what research is most important with the limited funding and time available.

    The fundamental difficulties faced by the EGS community in charting a path forward are hardly unique, and so the successful process used in developing this road map could be applicable to other research communities. Collaborative processes such as the one described here look beyond literature reviews and individual research projects, and they build on themselves as they progress. Such processes can incorporate diverging viewpoints to bring out the common challenges and potential solutions that might help a research community gain consensus on how to move forward. Although a community may not agree on the exact path to success, having a common end point and a set of research priorities can help everyone forge ahead.

    References

    U.S. Department of Energy (2018), Department of Energy selects University of Utah site for $140 million geothermal research and development, https://www.energy.gov/articles/department-energy-selects-university-utah-site-140-million-geothermal-research-and.

    U.S. Geological Survey (2008), Assessment of moderate- and high-temperature geothermal resources of the United States, U.S. Geol. Surv. Fact Sheet, 2008-3082, 4 pp., https://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2008/3082/.

    Ziagos, J., et al. (2013), A technology roadmap for strategic development of enhanced geothermal systems, in Proceedings of the 38th Workshop on Geothermal Reservoir Engineering, pp. 11–13, Stanford Univ., Stanford, Calif., https://pangea.stanford.edu/ERE/pdf/IGAstandard/SGW/2013/Ziagos.pdf.

    See the full article here .

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    Eos is the leading source for trustworthy news and perspectives about the Earth and space sciences and their impact. Its namesake is Eos, the Greek goddess of the dawn, who represents the light shed on understanding our planet and its environment in space by the Earth and space sciences.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:44 am on December 27, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Stanford Researchers Have an Exciting Plan to Tackle The Climate Emergency Worldwide", , Clean Energy, ,   

    From Stanford University via Science Alert: “Stanford Researchers Have an Exciting Plan to Tackle The Climate Emergency Worldwide” 

    Stanford University Name
    From Stanford University

    via

    ScienceAlert

    27 DEC 2019
    TESSA KOUMOUNDOUROS

    1
    (Thomas Richter/Unsplash)

    Things are pretty dire right now. Giant swaths of my country are burning as I write this, at a scale unlike anything we’ve ever seen. Countless animals, including koalas, are perishing along with our life-supporting greenery. People are losing homes and loved ones.

    These catastrophes are being replicated around the globe ever more frequently, and we know exactly what is exacerbating them. We know we need to rapidly make some drastic changes – and Stanford researchers have come up with a plan [Cell One Earth].

    Using the latest data available, they have outlined how 143 countries around the world can switch to 100 percent clean energy by the year 2050.

    This plan could not only contribute towards stabilising our dangerously increasing global temperatures, but also reduce the 7 million deaths caused by pollution every year and create millions more jobs than keeping our current systems.

    The plan would require a hefty investment of around US$73 trillion. But the researchers’ calculations show the jobs and savings it would earn would pay this back in as little as seven years.

    “Based on previous calculations we have performed, we believe this will avoid 1.5 degree global warming,” environmental engineer and lead author Mark Jacobson told ScienceAlert.

    “The timeline is more aggressive than any IPCC scenario – we concluded in 2009 that a 100 percent transition by 2030 was technically and economically possible – but for social and political reasons, a 2050 date is more practical.”

    Here’s how it would work. The plan involves transitioning all our energy sectors, including electricity, transport, industry, agriculture, fishing, forestry and the military to work entirely with renewable energy.

    Jacobson believes we have 95 percent of the technology we need already, with only solutions for long distance and ocean travel still to be commercialised.

    “By electrifying everything with clean, renewable energy, we reduce power demand by about 57 percent,” Jacobson explained.

    He and colleagues show it is possible to meet demand and maintain stable electricity grids using only wind, water, solar and storage, across all 143 countries.

    These technologies are already available, reliable and respond much faster than natural gas, so they are already cheaper. There’s also no need for nuclear which takes 10-19 years between planning and operation, biofuels that cause more air pollution, or the invention of new technologies.

    “‘Clean coal’ just doesn’t exist and never will,” Jacobson says, “because the technology does not work and only increases mining and emissions of air pollutants while reducing little carbon, and their is no guarantee at all the carbon that is captured will stay captured.”

    The team found that electrifying all energy sectors makes the demand for energy more flexible and the combination of renewable energy and storage is better suited to meet this flexibility than our current system.

    This plan “creates 28.6 million more full-time jobs in the long term than business as usual and only needs approximately 0.17 percent and approximately 0.48 percent land for new footprint and distance respectively,” the researchers write in their report.

    Building the infrastructure necessary for this transition would, of course, create CO2 emissions. The researchers calculated that the necessary steel and concrete would require about 0.914 percent of current CO2 emissions. But switching to renewables to produce the concrete would reduce this.

    With plans this big there are plenty of uncertainties, and some inconsistencies between databases. The team takes these into account by modelling several scenarios with different levels of costs and climate damage.

    “You’re probably not going to predict exactly what’s going to happen,” said Jacobson. “But there are many solutions and many scenarios that could work.”

    Technology writer Michael Barnard believes the study’s estimates are quite conservative – skewing towards the more expensive technologies and scenarios.

    “Storage is a solved problem,” he writes for CleanTechnica. “Even the most expensive and conservative projections as used by Jacobson are much, much cheaper than business as usual, and there are many more solutions in play.”

    The authors of the report stress that while implementing such an energy transition, it is also crucial that we simultaneously tackle emissions coming from other sources like fertilisers and deforestation.

    This proposal could earn push-back from industries and politicians that have the most to lose, especially those with a track record of throwing massive resources at delaying our progress towards a more sustainable future. Criticisms of the team’s previous work [Cell Joule] have already been linked back to these exact groups.

    The report has been published in the journal One Earth[above].

    See the full article here .


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    Stanford University campus. No image credit

    Stanford University

    Leland and Jane Stanford founded the University to “promote the public welfare by exercising an influence on behalf of humanity and civilization.” Stanford opened its doors in 1891, and more than a century later, it remains dedicated to finding solutions to the great challenges of the day and to preparing our students for leadership in today’s complex world. Stanford, is an American private research university located in Stanford, California on an 8,180-acre (3,310 ha) campus near Palo Alto. Since 1952, more than 54 Stanford faculty, staff, and alumni have won the Nobel Prize, including 19 current faculty members

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  • richardmitnick 8:39 am on November 8, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Clean Energy, , , Paul Veers, Wind Farms   

    From National Renewable Energy Laboratory: “Wind Pioneer Paul Veers” 

    NREL

    From National Renewable Energy Laboratory

    Nov. 6, 2019
    Ernie Tucker

    From Farm to Wind Farms, He’s Aloft as New Senior Research Fellow.

    1
    Paul Veers (right) at NREL’s Flatirons Campus with Eric Lantz, Katherine Dykes, and Tyler Stehly, who together developed WISDEM, the wind-plant integrated system design and engineering model. Photo by Dennis Schroeder, NREL

    Tending cows on a Wisconsin dairy farm taught Paul Veers the value of hard work—and also that he didn’t want to be a farmer.

    “The routine starts at 6 a.m. and ends at 8 p.m., seven days a week,” said the newly appointed research fellow at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

    As Veers was finishing his bachelor’s degree, his father offered him a chance to take over the 160-acre farm, saying he’d keep the 35 cows around until his son decided. “I thought about it for a millisecond,” Veers laughed. “I said, ‘Go ahead and sell the herd. I’m going elsewhere.’”

    After studying engineering mechanics at the University of Wisconsin (a degree that, he says, “allows me to not do anything practical whatsoever—it’s really fundamental, the mechanics of engineering”), he earned his Ph.D. from Stanford University.

    In 1980, a rural connection helped launch his career in science and wind energy research when Veers interviewed for his first job in operations at Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico. He met with “an old Tennessee farmer” who was impressed with Veers’ background. “He knew that on a farm, when the machinery breaks, the farmer had to get out there and fix it. There’s nothing else you can do.”

    Yet Veers’ experience was different.

    “My family wasn’t very mechanical,” Veers admitted. “I got the job under false pretenses” because his family relied on a friend who had a garage who could fix machines much more quickly.

    Nonetheless, Veers joined Sandia’s applied mechanics department, which consulted on projects across the laboratory. While he worked on a large assortment of technologies that included nuclear reactors, he also encountered wind turbines.

    His future career took off. “Wind energy was hands down the most interesting,” he said. “The field was wide open.”

    Back in the early 1980s, the question was: Why are these machines breaking, and how do we figure out how to build them so they don’t break? “No one really knew how to do that,” Veers said. “That’s what drew me in.”

    The Turbulent World of Wind

    Heading into the field of wind energy for a career wasn’t exactly a safe choice at the time. Veers recalled that, early on at Sandia, he was introduced to a senior staffer in nuclear weapons research at a cocktail party. “He asked me what I was focused on, and I said wind energy,” Veers said. The would-be mentor paused a moment, then said, “Oh, that is truly, truly trivial. You ought to find something worthwhile. That is never going to turn into anything.”

    Doubters did not deflect him. Veers persevered in the wild days of wind, when researchers did “dangerous stuff” with these balky new machines. And when federal funding became iffy for renewable energy development, he stayed put even as managers suggested staffers look elsewhere for secure jobs.

    “I wasn’t bright enough to realize this could be a problem,” he said. Still, he was not convinced that wind energy was the solution.

    “I really did not know if wind would become a major player,” Veers said. “I did not have a passion. Originally, I thought wind energy was an amazingly interesting problem to solve.”

    Gradually, his viewpoint shifted. “The more I learned, the more I thought this could work,” he said. “This could make a difference.”

    At that time, the general vision was that someday wind power might provide 5% of U.S. electricity. “Wouldn’t that be a wonderful success?” he recalled thinking. Now, it’s surpassed that figure and keeps climbing.

    “Our sense is we’re going to hit 10% easily,” Veers said. “The goal is 50%. We now have the vision, if we keep pushing the frontiers with the technology, that it is going to increase to 20% or 30% globally.”

    For Veers, it is “amazingly satisfying to see that this work we’re doing is paying off.”

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    NREL Associate Laboratory Director for Mechanical and Thermal Engineering Sciences Johney Green welcomes Paul Veers as a new NREL research fellow. Photo by Dennis Schroeder, NREL.

    Early Contacts with NREL

    While based at Sandia, Veers had frequent contacts with NREL. “I worked with NREL from day one,” he said.

    Early on, he established himself as an expert in vertical-axis wind turbines (VAWTs) and wind inflow analytical modeling tools. Sandia operated one of the largest research VAWTs in the world, and Veers was one of the lead research engineers in that program.

    Brian Smith, partnership manager for the National Wind Technology Center (NWTC) at NREL, recalls meeting Veers in the 1980s. “Unfortunately, VAWTs never reached the commercial promised land,” Smith said. “And Paul, always taking the long view, adeptly switched to horizontal axis wind turbines without a hitch in his recognized expertise.”

    Still, Veers did make a trip up to NREL’s Flatirons Campus to check on the one vertical axis wind turbine located there.

    Also while at Sandia, he investigated wind turbine fatigue because he realized the assumptions regarding turbulence were inadequate. As a result, Veers developed one of the first analytical tools that modeled upwind flow characteristics. He also contributed to wind turbine system design tools that predict aerodynamic and structural dynamic performance.

    The system to simulate turbulence can be applied to wind turbine computational models, an approach often referred to as the “Veers Method.” Variations of it are still in use today.

    Aside from his technical talents, colleagues and peers value Veers’ communication skills.

    “Paul has the uncanny ability to understand the physics of wind energy across many scientific disciplines and communicate the complexities to non-experts in writing and in words,” Smith said. “This skill set is truly unique in the world and extremely valuable.”

    Take his explanation of a wind turbine for example: “It is a big piece of machinery that takes energy in one form and makes electricity.”

    For a variety of reasons, Veers impressed many at NREL early on. NREL Fellow Bob Thresher met Veers at a wind turbine dynamics workshop in 1984. “Even then, as a young researcher working at Sandia, he stood out as a clear and careful thinker with great ideas to drive wind energy research forward,” Thresher said.

    “Over the years, Paul has tirelessly worked across the national laboratory complex, contributing to the advancement of wind energy science and technology development,” he added.

    Thresher describes Veers as an enthusiastic collaborative partner in the creation of the North American Wind Energy Academy. Veers skillfully brought university researchers together with national laboratory and industry researchers to address the longer-term research issues facing wind energy today.

    Veers made it a point to reach out. “I was trying to make the other labs successful,” he said. “Unless we do that together, we’re not going to have a mission that’s fruitful.”

    With his ability to network, as well as his connections to NREL, it was only a matter of time before he headed north to Colorado.

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    Paul Veers holds a photo of his four daughters—who provide one reason that he’ll continue to explore wind power and keep his job, he joked. Photo by Ernie Tucker, NREL.

    An Innate Affinity for NREL

    When NREL’s chief engineer position opened up in 2010, Veers jumped at the chance. United with old friends such as Thresher and Smith, as well as Sue Hock and Mike Robinson, Veers was set to join an established group. In his view, a major draw was, and is, NREL’s close-knit wind energy workforce.

    “We all have to work together to make something that’s useful,” he said. “That’s often why this group is like a family. The teamwork that goes on here is really exceptional.”

    Veers tackles leadership roles. He represents NREL on DOE’s Atmosphere to Electrons (A2e) Executive Management Committee. And for 12 years he was chief editor for Wind Energy, an international journal for progress and applications in wind power.

    Recently, he was the lead author of a Science article analyzing three challenges to wind energy potential. It followed NREL convening more than 70 wind experts representing 15 countries in 2017 to discuss a future electricity system where wind could serve the global demand for clean energy.

    “People think that because wind turbines have worked for decades there’s no room for improvement. And yet, there’s so much more to be done,” Veers said. “We distilled all the information into three big things connected to wind energy: the atmosphere, the machine, and the grid and [wind farm] plant.”

    The possible upside of such innovation is clear.

    “Addressing these challenges by taking an interdisciplinary wind energy science and engineering approach will lead to solutions that advance the state of the art in wind plant energy output,” said article co-author and NREL Associate Laboratory Director for Mechanical and Thermal Engineering Sciences Johney Green.

    For Veers, the challenge is real. It keeps him showing up for work—although he also jokes that the fact that he and his wife Karen have four daughters born over a span of five years is also an incentive to keep his job.

    Veers remains modest about his achievements. “I have many faults. I’m not very outgoing, and sometimes not very articulate,” he said. His colleagues back him up. Smith joked that Veers had an unbroken record of beginning presentations with a joke—that falls flat.

    Whatever his attributes, Veers believes the key to success is the team. “It is an attitude that attracted me to NREL and this wind group in the first place,” he said. “That attitude is where the mission is much more important than personal glory or success.”

    For Veers, choosing wind farms over dairy farms provided the best harvest of his talents.

    See the full article here.

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    Stem Education Coalition

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    The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), located in Golden, Colorado, specializes in renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is a government-owned, contractor-operated facility, and is funded through the United States Department of Energy. This arrangement allows a private entity to operate the lab on behalf of the federal government. NREL receives funding from Congress to be applied toward research and development projects. NREL also performs research on photovoltaics (PV) under the National Center for Photovoltaics. NREL has a number of PV research capabilities including research and development, testing, and deployment. NREL’s campus houses several facilities dedicated to PV research.

    NREL’s areas of research and development are renewable electricity, energy productivity, energy storage, systems integration, and sustainable transportation.

     
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