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  • richardmitnick 9:34 am on November 10, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Remote high-voltage sensor unveiled at Sandia gamma ray lab", A Sandia National Laboratories team has safely measured 20 million volts without physically contacting the electrical flow., , DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US), , , The HERMES accelerator generates a high-energy electron beam that is stopped in very dense material and converted into a stream of gamma rays., Tiny crystal at a distance safely measures powerful electric fields.   

    From DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US) : “Remote high-voltage sensor unveiled at Sandia gamma ray lab” 

    From DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US)

    November 10, 2021

    Neal Singer
    nsinger@sandia.gov
    505-977-7255

    Tiny crystal at a distance safely measures powerful electric fields.

    Ever since the first human placed a bare hand on an uninsulated electric line, people have refrained from personally testing energetic materials. Even meters made of metal can melt at high voltages.

    Now, using a crystal smaller than a dime and a laser smaller than a shoebox, a Sandia National Laboratories team has safely measured 20 million volts without physically contacting the electrical flow. (Residential voltage is generally 120 volts.)

    “No one had directly measured voltages this large anywhere in the world before our experiment,” said Sandia scientist Israel Owens of his team’s unique electrical and optical work, recently published in Nature’s Scientific Reports. “For measuring high voltages, the technique is safe, efficient and inexpensive.”

    1
    Sandia National Laboratories researcher Israel Owens holds the optical sensor used to house the crystal that proved central to his team’s successful attempts to measure very high voltages. The two red spots on each side of the crystal are due to laser light reflecting off the side mirrors used to direct light through the middle of the crystal. The actual experiments used green laser light. Photo by David Bret Latter.

    “When you have a high voltage over short distances, sensors break down,” said Sandia manager Bryan Oliver. “Israel’s diagnostic can survive these high electric fields and thus enable us to determine the voltage in an environment where that was previously not possible.”

    The achievement, which multiplies every electrical field reading by the same constant to determine the voltage, opens a door to several possible applications.

    The work took place at Sandia’s High-Energy Radiation Megavolt Electron Source, or HERMES III, where the building-sized accelerator converts powerful pulses of electricity into energetic photons called gamma rays.

    3
    Gamma ray generator HERMES III, High-Energy Radiation Megavolt Electron Source, is adjusted for its next shot at Sandia National Laboratories by Chris Kirtley, top, and former Sandia employee JJ Montoya. Photo by Randy Montoya

    “Being able to measure the output voltage of Hermes III instead of only calculating it allows us to accurately define the energies of the gamma rays,” said Owens. “And our crystal-laser system does it without disturbing the experiment environment.”

    Benefits of precisely measuring the energy of gamma rays

    The HERMES accelerator generates a high-energy electron beam that is stopped in very dense material and converted into a stream of gamma rays — the most energetic part of the electromagnetic spectrum. These rays have a wide variety of uses, including sterilization of hospital equipment, food pasteurization, medical imaging, smoke detectors, measuring the thickness of very thin materials and more.

    Because nuclear weapons also generate gamma rays, creating them in a lab can determine if military and civilian equipment could continue to function when exposed to those energy streams.

    Accurately achieving the desired output of gamma rays requires calibration with the voltages that produced them; thus, the need for a sensor that can measure the high voltages without being destroyed.

    The idea of using lasers as remote measurement tools is not new, said Owens. Laser infrared sensors are used at a distance to safely measure forehead temperatures. Laser range finders can determine the size of a room without the owner pacing the distance.

    “Our procedure is a little different: We’re not pointing the laser directly at an object to measure its voltage,” he said. “We determine that information by using our laser simply to interrogate a secondary object — a lithium niobate crystal.”

    Tiny crystals altered by huge energy fields

    4
    This laser-illuminated crystal, less than a half-inch long, is supported by a free-standing retaining structure with no physical connection to Sandia National Laboratories’ HERMES accelerator cathode. In the actual experiment, the light is initially extinguished by crossed polarizers. When the accelerator fires, the polarized light is rotated so that it leaks through the second polarizer. The leaked amount is directly proportional to the electric field. Photo by Israel Owens.

    The crystal, less than a half-inch long, is placed so that the electrical field passes through it broadside, at right angles to the polarized laser beam travelling along the crystal’s axis.

    The electric field modifies the crystal’s capability to transmit light by causing its photons to travel at different speeds in the polarized beam’s vertical and horizontal directions. This causes the polarized light to rotate, changing the amount entering the photodetector. This instrument converts the laser beam’s intensity into a simple voltage which can be read on an oscilloscope.

    “The voltage measured on the oscilloscope is directly related to the electrical field strength from which the voltage can be calculated,” said Owens. “In our experiments, tens of megavolts translated into hundreds of millivolts on the oscilloscope. (A megavolt is a million volts; a millivolt is a thousandth of a volt.)

    “The signal is already in the correct form, and we just need to multiply by a fixed constant. There is also no need to perform any tedious calibrations or complicated post processing to determine the electric fields and voltages.”

    The high voltages measured with the new sensor closely matched what was expected through calculations and other indirect measurements, said Owens.

    Accurate measurement of the gamma ray energy might be only one of the benefits of the new measuring technique, Owens said.

    “At the moment, this is a laboratory device for research, but as its development progresses it could find its way into various accelerator facilities where a series of crystals could provide voltage readings at multiple remote locations,” he said.

    The technique also would work, he said, for the power transmission industry, auto manufacturers, lightning research centers “or anywhere one wants to remotely measure or monitor a very high energy source,” Owens said. The device also could “see” an electrical short in a wall from a distance due to the disruption in the electromagnetic field surrounding the current-carrying wire, which would allow non-invasive detection of a fault in the circuitry.

    This research was funded by The DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration (US).

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Sandia Campus.

    DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US) managed and operated by the National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia (a wholly owned subsidiary of Honeywell International), is one of three National Nuclear Security Administration(US) research and development laboratories in the United States. Their primary mission is to develop, engineer, and test the non-nuclear components of nuclear weapons and high technology. Headquartered in Central New Mexico near the Sandia Mountains, on Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, Sandia also has a campus in Livermore, California, next to DOE’sLawrence Livermore National Laboratory(US), and a test facility in Waimea, Kauai, Hawaii.

    It is Sandia’s mission to maintain the reliability and surety of nuclear weapon systems, conduct research and development in arms control and nonproliferation technologies, and investigate methods for the disposal of the United States’ nuclear weapons program’s hazardous waste.

    Other missions include research and development in energy and environmental programs, as well as the surety of critical national infrastructures. In addition, Sandia is home to a wide variety of research including computational biology; mathematics (through its Computer Science Research Institute); materials science; alternative energy; psychology; MEMS; and cognitive science initiatives.

    Sandia formerly hosted ASCI Red, one of the world’s fastest supercomputers until its recent decommission, and now hosts ASCI Red Storm supercomputer, originally known as Thor’s Hammer.


    Sandia is also home to the Z Machine.

    The Z Machine is the largest X-ray generator in the world and is designed to test materials in conditions of extreme temperature and pressure. It is operated by Sandia National Laboratories to gather data to aid in computer modeling of nuclear guns. In December 2016, it was announced that National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia, under the direction of Honeywell International, would take over the management of Sandia National Laboratories starting on May 1, 2017.


     
  • richardmitnick 10:32 am on October 25, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "‘I’m melting melting’ — environmentally hazardous coal waste diminished by citric acid", , , DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US), Environmentally friendly method for mining rare-earth metals, Sandia innovation frees rare-earth metals from coal ash for smartphones and computers.   

    From DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US) : “‘I’m melting melting’ — environmentally hazardous coal waste diminished by citric acid” 

    From DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US)

    October 25, 2021

    Neal Singer
    nsinger@sandia.gov
    505-977-7255

    Sandia innovation frees rare-earth metals from coal ash for smartphones and computers.

    In one of nature’s unexpected bounties, a harmless food-grade solvent has been used to extract highly sought rare-earth metals from coal ash, reducing the amount of ash without damaging the environment and at the same time increasing an important national resource.

    Coal ash is the unwanted but widely present residue of coal-fired power. Rare-earth metals are used for a variety of high-tech equipment from smartphones to submarines.

    The separation method, which uses carbon dioxide, water and food-grade citric acid, is the subject of a Sandia National Laboratories patent application.

    “This technique not only recovers rare-earth metals in an environmentally harmless manner but would actually improve environments by reducing the toxicity of coal waste dotting America,” said Guangping Xu, lead Sandia researcher on the project.

    “Harmless extraction of rare-earth metals from coal ash not only provides a national source of materials essential for computer chips, smart phones and other high-tech products — including fighter jets and submarines — but also makes the coal ash cleaner and less toxic, enabling its direct reuse as concrete filler or agricultural topsoil,” he said.

    The method, if widely adopted, could make coal ash, currently an environmental pariah, into a commercially viable product, Xu said.

    1
    Sandia National Laboratories researcher Guangping Xu adds coal ash into a citric acid mixture. This solution will be fed into a reactor — operating at about 70 times atmospheric pressure — where supercritical carbon dioxide aids citric acid in extracting rare-earth metals. Photo by Rebecca Lynne Gustaf.

    Environmentally friendly method for mining rare-earth metals

    2
    A comparison of Sandia National Laboratories method for extracting rare-earth metals to existing methods shows how using citric acid is more efficient. Images courtesy of Guangping Xu.

    The most common acids used as chemical separators in mining — nitric, sulfuric or phosphoric acids — also are able to extract rare-earth metals from coal ash but produce large amounts of acid waste, leaving the environment in worse shape than before, Xu said. “Environmentally harmful acids would raise clean-up costs beyond economic feasibility in the United States.”

    The Sandia process, which uses citric acid as a carrier for rare-earth metals, so they separate from coal ash, the host material, was implemented by Xu. The extraction process is facilitated by using supercritical carbon dioxide solvent. Xu’s Sandia colleague Yongliang Xiong suggested citric acid, a commonly used and environmentally friendly chemical for holding metals in solution.

    Xu found that in less than a day, at 158 degrees Fahrenheit (70 degrees Celsius) and 1,100 pounds per square inch pressure (about 70 times ordinary atmospheric pressure), the method extracted 42% of rare-earth metals present in coal waste samples.

    Chinese mines, where 95% of the world’s resources of rare-earth metals are located, achieve less efficient separation while using environmentally damaging methods.

    “Theoretically, an American company could use this technique to mine coal and coal byproducts for rare-earth metals and compete with Chinese mining,” said Xu. Furthermore, for U.S. national security purposes “it is probably reasonable to have alternate sources of rare-earth metals to avoid being at the mercy of a foreign supply.”

    Detoxifying coal ash for reuse alone should be worth the effort, Xu said. There’s no shortage of coal ash as a raw material. According to a paper published in 2016 in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, “Approximately 115 million metric tons of coal combustion products are generated annually, and this sum includes 45 million tons of fly ash,” the lightest kind of coal ash.

    These numbers remain of interest today, said Xu.

    “If we don’t detoxify and reuse the coal ash, then it will be abandoned in ponds and landfills and cost billions of dollars to clean up over the long term,” he said. To help make that outcome less likely, “We expect tests of our extraction techniques at larger volumes and on a variety of coal-based sources in the near future.”

    Carbon sequestration also a possibility

    This technology also could open a new avenue for carbon-dioxide reutilization and sequestration, said Xu’s Sandia colleague Mark Rigali, who with Xu is exploring the use of citric acid and supercritical carbon dioxide to mine metals from oil and gas shales that are often rich in metals.

    “Using existing oil and gas fracking wells, the citric acid and supercritical carbon dioxide can be used cost-effectively to mine metals while disposing of carbon dioxide below ground,” Rigali said.

    Subsurface storage of the carbon dioxide should keep it from entering the atmosphere and contributing to climate change, Rigali said.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Sandia Campus.

    DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US) managed and operated by the National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia (a wholly owned subsidiary of Honeywell International), is one of three National Nuclear Security Administration(US) research and development laboratories in the United States. Their primary mission is to develop, engineer, and test the non-nuclear components of nuclear weapons and high technology. Headquartered in Central New Mexico near the Sandia Mountains, on Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, Sandia also has a campus in Livermore, California, next to DOE’sLawrence Livermore National Laboratory(US), and a test facility in Waimea, Kauai, Hawaii.

    It is Sandia’s mission to maintain the reliability and surety of nuclear weapon systems, conduct research and development in arms control and nonproliferation technologies, and investigate methods for the disposal of the United States’ nuclear weapons program’s hazardous waste.

    Other missions include research and development in energy and environmental programs, as well as the surety of critical national infrastructures. In addition, Sandia is home to a wide variety of research including computational biology; mathematics (through its Computer Science Research Institute); materials science; alternative energy; psychology; MEMS; and cognitive science initiatives.

    Sandia formerly hosted ASCI Red, one of the world’s fastest supercomputers until its recent decommission, and now hosts ASCI Red Storm supercomputer, originally known as Thor’s Hammer.


    Sandia is also home to the Z Machine.

    The Z Machine is the largest X-ray generator in the world and is designed to test materials in conditions of extreme temperature and pressure. It is operated by Sandia National Laboratories to gather data to aid in computer modeling of nuclear guns. In December 2016, it was announced that National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia, under the direction of Honeywell International, would take over the management of Sandia National Laboratories starting on May 1, 2017.


     
  • richardmitnick 8:31 am on September 27, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Mimicking mother nature- New membrane to make fresh water", A specific protein that transports ions called channelrhodopsin., , Clean water with less electricity, DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US), Each two-solution cycle added a very thin layer of membrane that can capture positive ions., Electrodialysis, Electrodialysis needs a pair of membranes: one that captures positively charged ions such as sodium and one that catches negatively charged ions such as chloride., Reverse Osmosis is used commercially to remove salt from seawater or brackish water to produce fresh water but it has several limitations., The addition of a common amino acid called phenylalanine to an electrodialysis membrane enabled it to better capture and remove positive ions such as sodium., Water produced by hydraulic fracturing to recover natural gas which can be ten times as salty as seawater generally gets buried underground instead of being returned to the environment.   

    From DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US) : “Mimicking mother nature- New membrane to make fresh water” 

    From DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US)

    September 27, 2021
    Mollie Rappe
    mrappe@sandia.gov
    505-228-6123

    1
    Susan Rempe, right, a Sandia National Laboratories bioengineer, and Stephen Percival, a material scientist, examine their biologically inspired electrodialysis membrane for producing fresh water. By mimicking an algae protein, the membrane can remove salt from seawater and wastewater to make fresh water while using less electricity. (Photo by Randy Montoya.)

    Scientists at Sandia National Laboratories and their collaborators have developed a new membrane, whose structure was inspired by a protein from algae, for electrodialysis that could be used to provide fresh water for farming and energy production.

    The team shared their membrane design in a paper published recently in the scientific journal Soft Matter.

    Electrodialysis uses electrical power to remove dissolved salts from water. Currently it is used to capture salt from seawater to produce table salt and remove salt from brackish water to make fresh water, but it could also be used to remove salt from wastewater to provide a new source of fresh water.

    The researchers found that the addition of a common amino acid called phenylalanine to an electrodialysis membrane enabled it to better capture and remove positive ions such as sodium.

    “Adding phenylalanine to the electrodialysis membrane increased the selectivity for positive ions by a significant amount, to our pleasant surprise,” Susan Rempe, the lead bioengineer on the project, said.

    Ensuring an adequate supply of fresh water is a national security problem, she said. Fresh water is essential for everything from drinking and farming to producing energy from nuclear-, coal- and natural-gas-based power plants.

    Clean water with less electricity

    Currently, a method called reverse osmosis is used commercially to remove salt from seawater or brackish water to produce fresh water but it has several limitations. One limitation is the need for high pressure to push freshwater out of an increasingly salty solution. The high-pressure driving force is costly and leads to the membrane getting clogged or fouled by undissolved material in the water easily, Rempe said.

    The more concentrated the salty solution, the bigger the problem. As a result, there are few options for cleaning up salty wastewater. As an example, water produced by hydraulic fracturing to recover natural gas which can be ten times as salty as seawater generally gets buried underground instead of being returned to the environment, Rempe said.

    Sodium and chloride are the two most common ions in seawater, and table salt. Of course, there are a variety of other positively and negatively charged ions in seawater and wastewater, too.

    Electrodialysis is a potentially better method than reverse osmosis because it uses electrical current to draw out the salt ions, leaving behind fresh water. This requires less energy and makes the membrane less likely to get clogged, Rempe said. Electrodialysis needs a pair of membranes to produce fresh water: one that captures positively charged ions such as sodium: and one that catches negatively charged ions, such as chloride.

    Looking to biology for inspiration

    Rempe and her team sought inspiration from biology in the form of a specific protein that transports ions called channelrhodopsin. Channelrhodopsin originally comes from algae and is commonly used in optogenetics — a technique in which biologists have targeted control of specific living cells using light.

    This ion-transport protein allows many different positively charged ions through, including sodium ions, potassium ions, calcium ions and protons, but no negatively charged ions. This kind of selectivity is important for an electrodialysis membrane.

    Rempe and former postdoctoral researcher, Chad Priest, saw that there was a lot of a certain kind of amino acid, called phenylalanine — one of the 20 building blocks that proteins are made from — along the protein’s ion-transport pathway.

    “We’ve been working on the channelrhodopsin protein for quite a while, trying to understand its properties and how it is selective for specific ions,” Rempe said. “We noticed several phenylalanine side chains lining its ion-transport pathway and we wondered ‘What are phenylalanines doing in there?’ We usually think of phenylalanine as a molecule that repels water and ions in biological transport proteins.”

    Rempe and Priest’s computational calculations showed that the phenyl side chain of phenylalanine forms a component of several binding sites along the transport pathway of the channelrhodopsin protein. Their calculations showed that those phenylalanine binding sites interacted with sodium ions enough so that the positive ions were stable, but not so stable that they would stop moving through the channel.

    Layer-by-layer construction

    Rempe talked with Stephen Percival, Leo Small and Erik Spoerke, Sandia material scientists, about this biological oddity. The team thought incorporating the tiny molecule phenylalanine into an electrodialysis membrane might make it easier to separate positively charged ions from water during electrodialysis.

    The process of making the electrodialysis membrane is somewhat like old-fashioned candle making. First, Percival dipped a commercially available porous support membrane in a positively charged solution, rinsed off the membrane, and then dipped it into a negatively charged solution. Because the solutions have opposite charges, they can self-assemble into a coating on both sides of the membrane, said Percival, who started working on the project as a postdoctoral researcher.

    He did this with and without the phenylalanine to test how the addition of the amino acid affected the membrane.

    Each two-solution cycle added a very thin layer of membrane that can capture positive ions. For this project, Percival primarily made membranes that were five or 10 two-dip layers thick. A five-layer membrane coating with or without phenylalanine was about 50 times thinner than a human hair. A 10-layer membrane was 25 times thinner than a human hair. The thickness of electrodialysis films is important because thicker films require more electricity to pull ions through.

    “We found that by simply adding phenylalanine to the dip solutions, we were able to incorporate it into the finished electrodialysis membrane,” Percival said. “Furthermore, we were able to increase the membrane’s selectivity for sodium ions over chloride ions, when compared to the standard membrane without phenylalanine.”

    Specifically, they found that the five-layer film with phenylalanine had selectivity similar to that of the 10-layer film without phenylalanine, but without the increased resistance associated with thicker coatings. This means that the phenylalanine film can effectively purify water while using less electricity, thus making it more efficient, Percival said. However, the amino acid was just mixed in the solution, so the team doesn’t know if it interacts with the positive sodium ions in the exact same manner as in the biological protein Rempe modeled.

    “Between the bio-inspired nature of the project, working with experts across different disciplines and mentoring undergraduate interns, this is one of the papers that I am most proud of,” said Percival. “The paper’s findings were also very important. We were able to demonstrate that ion selectivity can be increased independently of the membrane resistance, which is quite advantageous.”

    Partnerships and paths forward

    The Sandia team also collaborated with Shane Walker, a civil engineering professor at The University of Texas at El Paso, to further test the membrane. Walker and his team compared Sandia’s electrodialysis membrane to commercially available membranes in a complex, lab-scale electrodialysis system. They looked at a number of parameters including salinity reduction, electricity consumption and water permeance.

    “Our UT El Paso partners analyzed our membrane in a real electrodialysis system,” Rempe said. “They put membrane samples into their lab-scale system, ran a whole bunch of tests and compared our membrane to commercial membranes. Our membrane did quite well.”

    Walker’s team found that Sandia’s bio-inspired membrane was competitive with commercial electrodialysis membranes. Specifically, Sandia’s membrane was above average in terms of current density. Water permeance, which is related to the movement of water from the salty-input water to the fresh water, was higher than average. Sandia’s membrane was slightly below average in terms of salinity reduction after an hour of run-time and consumed more electricity than most of the six membrane pairs tested.

    These results were published in a paper in the scientific journal Membranes on March 19. In the paper, the researchers concluded that while the Sandia’s bio-inspired membrane was competitive with commercial membranes, there is still room for improvement. Hopefully, companies can learn from this bio-inspired membrane to improve the efficiencies of their electrodialysis membranes.

    In the future, Rempe would like to design an electrodialysis membrane that can separate out specific economically valuable ions, such as rare earth metal ions. Rare earth metals are used in automotive catalytic converters, powerful magnets, rechargeable batteries and cell phones and are mostly mined in China.

    “The natural next step of the project is to use biology, again, as inspiration to design a membrane that will specifically move rare earth ions across a membrane,” Rempe said. “Rare earth metals are valuable, and the lack of domestic supply is a national security issue. Together, taking care of our water supply and recycling our valuable minerals are important for environmental security and climate mitigation.”

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Sandia Campus.

    DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US) managed and operated by the National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia (a wholly owned subsidiary of Honeywell International), is one of three National Nuclear Security Administration(US) research and development laboratories in the United States. Their primary mission is to develop, engineer, and test the non-nuclear components of nuclear weapons and high technology. Headquartered in Central New Mexico near the Sandia Mountains, on Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, Sandia also has a campus in Livermore, California, next to DOE’sLawrence Livermore National Laboratory(US), and a test facility in Waimea, Kauai, Hawaii.

    It is Sandia’s mission to maintain the reliability and surety of nuclear weapon systems, conduct research and development in arms control and nonproliferation technologies, and investigate methods for the disposal of the United States’ nuclear weapons program’s hazardous waste.

    Other missions include research and development in energy and environmental programs, as well as the surety of critical national infrastructures. In addition, Sandia is home to a wide variety of research including computational biology; mathematics (through its Computer Science Research Institute); materials science; alternative energy; psychology; MEMS; and cognitive science initiatives.

    Sandia formerly hosted ASCI Red, one of the world’s fastest supercomputers until its recent decommission, and now hosts ASCI Red Storm supercomputer, originally known as Thor’s Hammer.


    Sandia is also home to the Z Machine.

    The Z Machine is the largest X-ray generator in the world and is designed to test materials in conditions of extreme temperature and pressure. It is operated by Sandia National Laboratories to gather data to aid in computer modeling of nuclear guns. In December 2016, it was announced that National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia, under the direction of Honeywell International, would take over the management of Sandia National Laboratories starting on May 1, 2017.


     
  • richardmitnick 10:17 am on September 20, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "High-speed alloy creation might revolutionize hydrogen’s future", 12 new alloys that demonstrate how machine learning can help accelerate the future of hydrogen energy., , DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US), Having a data-driven modeling capability to predict thermodynamic properties can rapidly increase the speed of research.,   

    From DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US) : “High-speed alloy creation might revolutionize hydrogen’s future” 

    From DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US)

    September 20, 2021
    Michael Langley
    mlangle@sandia.gov
    925-294-1482

    1
    Researchers from Sandia National Laboratories and international collaborators used computational approaches, including explainable machine learning models, to elucidate new high-entropy alloys with attractive hydrogen storage properties and direct laboratory synthesis and validation. (Illustration by Matthew Witman.)

    A Sandia National Laboratories team of materials scientists and computer scientists, with some international collaborators, have spent more than a year creating 12 new alloys — and modeling hundreds more — that demonstrate how machine learning can help accelerate the future of hydrogen energy by making it easier to create hydrogen infrastructure for consumers.

    Vitalie Stavila, Mark Allendorf, Matthew Witman and Sapan Agarwal are part of the Sandia team that published a paper [Chemistry of Materials] detailing its approach in conjunction with researchers from Ångström Laboratory-Uppsala University (SE) and The University of Nottingham (UK) .

    “There is a rich history in hydrogen storage research and a database of thermodynamic values describing hydrogen interactions with different materials,” Witman said. “With that existing database, an assortment of machine-learning and other computational tools, and state-of-the art experimental capabilities, we assembled an international collaboration group to join forces on this effort. We demonstrated that machine learning techniques could indeed model the physics and chemistry of complex phenomena which occur when hydrogen interacts with metals.”

    Having a data-driven modeling capability to predict thermodynamic properties can rapidly increase the speed of research. In fact, once constructed and trained, such machine learning models only take seconds to execute and can therefore rapidly screen new chemical spaces: in this case 600 materials that show promise for hydrogen storage and transmission.

    “This was accomplished in only 18 months,” Allendorf said. “Without the machine learning it could have taken several years. That’s big when you consider that historically it takes something like 20 years to take a material from lab discovery to commercialization.”

    Potential to change hydrogen energy storage

    The team also found something else in their work — results that have dramatic implications for small-scale hydrogen generation at hydrogen fuel-cell filling stations.

    “These high-entropy alloy hydrides could enable a natural cascade compression of hydrogen as it moves through the different materials,” Stavila said, adding that compressing hydrogen is traditionally done through a mechanical process.

    He describes building a storage tank with multiple layers of these different alloys. As hydrogen is pumped into the tank, the first layer compresses the gas as it moves through the material. The second layer compresses it even further and so on through all of the layers of differing alloys, naturally making the hydrogen usable in motors that generate electricity.

    Hydrogen produced under atmospheric conditions at sea level has a pressure of about 1 bar — the metric unit of pressure. For hydrogen to power a vehicle or some other engine from a fuel cell, it must be pressurized — compressed — to a much higher pressure. For example, hydrogen at a fuel-cell charging station must have a pressure of 800 bars or higher so that it can be dispensed as 700-bar hydrogen into fuel-cell hydrogen vehicles.

    “As hydrogen moves through those layers, it gets more and more pressurized with no mechanical effort,” Stavila explained. “You could theoretically pump in 1 bar of hydrogen and get 800 bar out — the pressure needed for hydrogen charging stations.”

    The team is still refining the model but, since the database is already public through the Department of Energy, once the method is better understood, using machine learning could lead to breakthroughs in a myriad of fields, including materials science, Agarwal said.

    This research was sponsored by the Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office within The Department of Energy (US), DOE Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (US) and through Sandia’s Laboratory Directed Research and Development program.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Sandia Campus.

    DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US) managed and operated by the National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia (a wholly owned subsidiary of Honeywell International), is one of three National Nuclear Security Administration(US) research and development laboratories in the United States. Their primary mission is to develop, engineer, and test the non-nuclear components of nuclear weapons and high technology. Headquartered in Central New Mexico near the Sandia Mountains, on Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, Sandia also has a campus in Livermore, California, next to DOE’sLawrence Livermore National Laboratory(US), and a test facility in Waimea, Kauai, Hawaii.

    It is Sandia’s mission to maintain the reliability and surety of nuclear weapon systems, conduct research and development in arms control and nonproliferation technologies, and investigate methods for the disposal of the United States’ nuclear weapons program’s hazardous waste.

    Other missions include research and development in energy and environmental programs, as well as the surety of critical national infrastructures. In addition, Sandia is home to a wide variety of research including computational biology; mathematics (through its Computer Science Research Institute); materials science; alternative energy; psychology; MEMS; and cognitive science initiatives.

    Sandia formerly hosted ASCI Red, one of the world’s fastest supercomputers until its recent decommission, and now hosts ASCI Red Storm supercomputer, originally known as Thor’s Hammer.


    Sandia is also home to the Z Machine.

    The Z Machine is the largest X-ray generator in the world and is designed to test materials in conditions of extreme temperature and pressure. It is operated by Sandia National Laboratories to gather data to aid in computer modeling of nuclear guns. In December 2016, it was announced that National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia, under the direction of Honeywell International, would take over the management of Sandia National Laboratories starting on May 1, 2017.


     
  • richardmitnick 10:07 am on September 14, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Sandia 3D-imaging workflow has benefits for medicine; electric cars; and nuclear deterrence", DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US), EQUIPS: Efficient Quantification of Uncertainty in Image-based Physics Simulation, New computer simulation method can equip engineers and doctors with more and better information.   

    From DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US) : “Sandia 3D-imaging workflow has benefits for medicine; electric cars; and nuclear deterrence” 

    From DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US)

    September 14, 2021

    New computer simulation method can equip engineers and doctors with more and better information.

    Sandia National Laboratories researchers have created a method of processing 3D images for computer simulations that could have beneficial implications for several industries, including health care, manufacturing and electric vehicles.

    1
    An illustration used by Sandia National Laboratories researchers to show the uncertainty of drawing boundaries in scanned images used for high-consequence computer simulations. The gray-scale image on the left is a scan of material used as a thermal barrier. The illustrated image on the right shows the material segmented into two classes (blue and purple). The black lines show one possible interface boundary between the two classes of material. The yellow region depicts the segmentation uncertainty, meaning the black lines could be drawn anywhere within that area and still be valid. (Illustration courtesy of Sandia National Laboratories.)

    At Sandia, the method could prove vital in certifying the credibility of high-performance computer simulations used in determining the effectiveness of various materials for weapons programs and other efforts, said Scott A. Roberts, Sandia’s principal investigator on the project. Sandia can also use the new 3D-imaging workflow to test and optimize batteries used for large-scale energy storage and in vehicles.

    “It’s really consistent with Sandia’s mission to do credible, high-consequence computer simulation,” he said. “We don’t want to just give you an answer and say, ‘trust us.’ We’re going to say, ‘here’s our answer and here’s how confident we are in that answer,’ so that you can make informed decisions.”

    The researchers shared the new workflow, dubbed by the team as EQUIPS for Efficient Quantification of Uncertainty in Image-based Physics Simulation, in a paper published today in the journal Nature Communications.

    “This workflow leads to more reliable results by exploring the effect that ambiguous object boundaries in a scanned image have in simulations,” said Michael Krygier, a Sandia postdoctoral appointee and lead author on the paper. “Instead of using one interpretation of that boundary, we’re suggesting you need to perform simulations using different interpretations of the boundary to reach a more informed decision.”

    EQUIPS can use machine learning to quantify the uncertainty in how an image is drawn for 3D computer simulations. By giving a range of uncertainty, the workflow allows decision-makers to consider best- and worst-case outcomes, Roberts said.

    Workflow EQUIPS decision-makers with better information

    Think of a doctor examining a CT scan to create a cancer treatment plan. That scan can be rendered into a 3D image, which can then be used in a computer simulation to create a radiation dose that will efficiently treat a tumor without unnecessarily damaging surrounding tissue. Normally, the simulation would produce one result because the 3D image was rendered once, said Carianne Martinez, a Sandia computer scientist.

    But, drawing object boundaries in a scan can be difficult and there is more than one sensible way to do so, she said. “CT scans aren’t perfect images. It can be hard to see boundaries in some of these images.”

    Humans and machines will draw different but reasonable interpretations of the tumor’s size and shape from those blurry images, Krygier said.

    Using the EQUIPS workflow, which can use machine learning to automate the drawing process, the 3D image is rendered into many viable variations showing size and location of a potential tumor. Those different renderings will produce a range of different simulation outcomes, Martinez said. Instead of one answer, the doctor will have a range of prognoses to consider that can affect risk assessments and treatment decisions, be they chemotherapy or surgery.

    “When you’re working with real-world data there is not a single-point solution,” Roberts said. “If I want to be really confident in an answer, I need to understand that the value can be anywhere between two points, and I’m going to make decisions based on knowing it’s somewhere in this range not just thinking it’s at one point.”

    The EQUIPS team has made the source code and a working example of the new workflow available online for other researchers and programmers. Bayesian Convolutional Neural Network source code is available here and the Monte Carlo Dropout Network source code here. Both are on GitHub. A python Jupyter notebook demonstrating the entire EQUIPS workflow on a simple manufactured image is available here.

    It’s a question of segmentation

    The first step of image-based simulation is the image segmentation, or put simply, deciding which pixel (voxel in a 3D image) to assign to each object and therefore drawing the boundary between two objects. From there, scientists can begin to build models for computational simulation. But pixels and voxels will blend with gradual gradient changes, so it is not always clear where to draw the boundary line — the gray areas in a black and white CT scan or X-ray, Krygier said.

    The inherent problem with segmenting a scanned image is that whether it’s done by a person using the best software tools available or with the latest in machine learning capabilities there are many plausible ways to assign the pixels to the objects, he said.

    Two people performing segmentation on the same image are likely to choose a different combination of filtering and techniques leading to different but still valid segmentations. There is no reason to favor one image segmentation over another. It’s the same with advanced machine learning techniques. While it can be quicker, more consistent and more accurate than manual segmentation, different computer neural networks use varying inputs and work on different parameters. Therefore, they can produce different but still valid segmentations, Martinez said.

    Sandia’s EQUIPS workflow does not eliminate such segmentation uncertainty, but it improves the credibility of the final simulations by making the previously unrecognized uncertainty visible to the decision-maker, Krygier said.

    2
    A traditional image-based simulation workflow converts 3D images into image segmentations using manual or convolutional neural network-based algorithms, then performs a simulation on the reconstructed segmented image. With EQUIPS, developed by Sandia National Laboratories researchers, segmentation uncertainty is calculated by creating many image segmentation samples and combining them into a probability map for simulations. (Graphic courtesy of Sandia National Laboratories.)

    EQUIPS can employ two types of machine learning techniques — Monte Carlo Dropout Networks and Bayesian Convolutional Neural Networks — to perform image segmentation, with both approaches creating a set of image segmentation samples. These samples are combined to map the probability that a certain pixel or voxel is in the segmented material. To explore the impact of segmentation uncertainty, EQUIPS creates a probability map to obtain segmentations, which are then used to perform multiple simulations and calculate uncertainty distributions.

    Funded by Sandia’s Laboratory Directed Research and Development program, the research was conducted with partners at Indiana-based Purdue University, a member of the Sandia Academic Alliance Program. Researchers have made the source code and an EQUIPS workflow example available online.

    To illustrate the diverse applications that can benefit from the EQUIPS workflow, the researchers demonstrated in the Nature Communications paper several uses for the new method: CT scans of graphite electrodes in lithium-ion batteries, most commonly found in electric vehicles, computers, medical equipment and aircraft; a scan of a woven composite being tested for thermal protection on atmospheric reentry vehicles, such as a rocket or a missile; and scans of both the human aorta and spine.

    “What we really have done is say that you can take machine learning segmentation and not only just drop that in and get a single answer out, but you can objectively probe that machine learning segmentation to look at that ambiguity or uncertainty,” Roberts said. “Coming up with the uncertainty makes it more credible and gives more information to those needing to make decisions, whether in engineering, health care or other fields where high-consequence computer simulations are needed.”

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Sandia Campus.

    DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US) managed and operated by the National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia (a wholly owned subsidiary of Honeywell International), is one of three National Nuclear Security Administration(US) research and development laboratories in the United States. Their primary mission is to develop, engineer, and test the non-nuclear components of nuclear weapons and high technology. Headquartered in Central New Mexico near the Sandia Mountains, on Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, Sandia also has a campus in Livermore, California, next to DOE’sLawrence Livermore National Laboratory(US), and a test facility in Waimea, Kauai, Hawaii.

    It is Sandia’s mission to maintain the reliability and surety of nuclear weapon systems, conduct research and development in arms control and nonproliferation technologies, and investigate methods for the disposal of the United States’ nuclear weapons program’s hazardous waste.

    Other missions include research and development in energy and environmental programs, as well as the surety of critical national infrastructures. In addition, Sandia is home to a wide variety of research including computational biology; mathematics (through its Computer Science Research Institute); materials science; alternative energy; psychology; MEMS; and cognitive science initiatives.

    Sandia formerly hosted ASCI Red, one of the world’s fastest supercomputers until its recent decommission, and now hosts ASCI Red Storm supercomputer, originally known as Thor’s Hammer.


    Sandia is also home to the Z Machine.

    The Z Machine is the largest X-ray generator in the world and is designed to test materials in conditions of extreme temperature and pressure. It is operated by Sandia National Laboratories to gather data to aid in computer modeling of nuclear guns. In December 2016, it was announced that National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia, under the direction of Honeywell International, would take over the management of Sandia National Laboratories starting on May 1, 2017.


     
  • richardmitnick 11:59 am on August 31, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Sandia uncovers hidden factors that affect solar farms during severe weather", DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US), Hurricanes; blizzards; hailstorms and wildfires all pose risks to solar farms both directly in the form of costly damage and indirectly in the form of blocked sunlight and reduced electricity output., The first step was to look at the maintenance records to decide which weather events we should even look at., The research team is working to extend the project to study the effect of wildfires on solar farms., The scientists combined more than two years of real-world electricity production data from more than 100 solar farms in 16 states with historical weather data., This work highlights the importance of ongoing maintenance and further research to ensure photovoltaic plants continue to operate as intended., Trying to understand how future climate conditions could impact our national energy infrastructure is exactly what we need to be doing ., Using machine learning to find the most important factors.   

    From DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US) : “Sandia uncovers hidden factors that affect solar farms during severe weather” 

    From DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US)

    August 31, 2021
    Mollie Rappe
    mrappe@sandia.gov
    505-228-6123

    1
    Sandia National Laboratories researchers Thushara Gunda, front, and Nicole Jackson examine solar panels at Sandia’s Photovoltaic Systems Evaluation Laboratory as summer monsoon clouds roll by. Using machine learning and data from solar farms across the U.S., they uncovered the age of a solar farm, as well as the amount of cloud cover, have pronounced effects on farm performance during severe weather. Photo by Randy Montoya.

    Sandia National Laboratories researchers combined large sets of real-world solar data and advanced machine learning to study the impacts of severe weather on U.S. solar farms, and sort out what factors affect energy generation. Their results were published earlier this month in the scientific journal Applied Energy.

    Hurricanes; blizzards; hailstorms and wildfires all pose risks to solar farms both directly in the form of costly damage and indirectly in the form of blocked sunlight and reduced electricity output. Two Sandia researchers scoured maintenance tickets from more than 800 solar farms in 24 states and combined that information with electricity generation data and weather records to assess the effects of severe weather on the facilities. By identifying the factors that contribute to low performance, they hope to increase the resiliency of solar farms to extreme weather.

    “Trying to understand how future climate conditions could impact our national energy infrastructure is exactly what we need to be doing if we want our renewable energy sector to be resilient under a changing climate,” said Thushara Gunda, the senior researcher on the project. “Right now, we’re focused on extreme weather events, but eventually we’ll extend into chronic exposure events like consistent extreme heat.”

    Hurricanes and snow and storms, oh my!

    The Sandia research team first used natural-language processing, a type of machine learning used by smart assistants, to analyze six years of solar maintenance records for key weather-related words. The analysis methods they used for this study has since been published and is freely available for other photovoltaic researchers and operators.

    “Our first step was to look at the maintenance records to decide which weather events we should even look at,” said Gunda. “The photovoltaic community talks about hail a lot, but the data in the maintenance records tell a different story.”

    While hailstorms tend to be very costly, they did not appear in solar farm maintenance records, likely because operators tend to document hail damage in the form of insurance claims, Gunda said. Instead, she found that hurricanes were mentioned in almost 15% of weather-related maintenance records, followed by the other weather terms, such as snow, storm, lightning and wind.

    “Some hurricanes damage racking — the structure that holds up the panels — due to the high winds,” said Nicole Jackson, the lead author on the paper. “The other major issue we’ve seen from the maintenance records and talking with our industry partners is flooding blocking access to the site, which delays the process of turning the plant back on.”

    Using machine learning to find the most important factors

    Next, they combined more than two years of real-world electricity production data from more than 100 solar farms in 16 states with historical weather data to assess the effects of severe weather on solar farms. They used statistics to find that snowstorms had the highest effect on electricity production, followed by hurricanes and a general group of other storms.

    Then they used a machine learning algorithm to uncover the hidden factors that contributed to low performance from these severe weather events.

    “Statistics gives you part of the picture, but machine learning was really helpful in clarifying what are those most important variables,” said Jackson, who primarily conducted statistical analysis and the machine learning portion of the project. “Is it where the site is located? Is it how old the site is? Is it how many maintenance tickets were submitted on the day of the weather event? We ended up with a suite of variables and machine learning was used to home in on the most important ones.”

    She found that across the board, older solar farms were affected the most by severe weather. One possibility for this is that solar farms that had been in operation for more than five years had more wear-and-tear from being exposed to the elements longer, Jackson said.

    Gunda agreed, adding, “This work highlights the importance of ongoing maintenance and further research to ensure photovoltaic plants continue to operate as intended.”

    For snowstorms, which unexpectedly were the type of storm with the highest effect on electricity production, the next most important variables were low sunlight levels at the location due to cloud cover and the amount of snow, followed by several geographical features of the farm.

    For hurricanes — principally hurricanes Florence and Michael — the amount of rainfall and the timing of the nearest hurricane had the next highest effect on production after age. Surprisingly low wind speeds were significant. This is likely because when high wind speeds are predicted, solar farms are preemptively shut down so that the employees can evacuate leading to no production, Gunda said.

    Expanding the approach to wildfires, the grid

    As an impartial research institution in this space, Sandia was able to collaborate with multiple industry partners to make this work feasible. “We would not have been able to do this project without those partnerships,” Gunda said.

    The research team is working to extend the project to study the effect of wildfires on solar farms. Since wildfires aren’t mentioned in maintenance logs, they were not able to study them for this paper. Operators don’t stop to write a maintenance report when their solar farm is being threatened by a wildfire, Gunda said. “This work highlights the reality of some of the data limitations we have to grapple with when studying extreme weather events.”

    “The cool thing about this work is that we were able to develop a comprehensive approach of integrating and analyzing performance data, operations data and weather data,” Jackson said. “We’re extending the approach into wildfires to examine their performance impacts on solar energy generation in greater detail.”

    The researchers are currently expanding this work to look at the effects of severe weather on the entire electrical grid, add in more production data, and answer even more questions to help the grid adapt to the changing climate and evolving technologies.

    This research was supported by the Department of Energy’s Solar Energy Technologies Office and was conducted in partnership with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Sandia Campus.

    DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US) managed and operated by the National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia (a wholly owned subsidiary of Honeywell International), is one of three National Nuclear Security Administration(US) research and development laboratories in the United States. Their primary mission is to develop, engineer, and test the non-nuclear components of nuclear weapons and high technology. Headquartered in Central New Mexico near the Sandia Mountains, on Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, Sandia also has a campus in Livermore, California, next to DOE’sLawrence Livermore National Laboratory(US), and a test facility in Waimea, Kauai, Hawaii.

    It is Sandia’s mission to maintain the reliability and surety of nuclear weapon systems, conduct research and development in arms control and nonproliferation technologies, and investigate methods for the disposal of the United States’ nuclear weapons program’s hazardous waste.

    Other missions include research and development in energy and environmental programs, as well as the surety of critical national infrastructures. In addition, Sandia is home to a wide variety of research including computational biology; mathematics (through its Computer Science Research Institute); materials science; alternative energy; psychology; MEMS; and cognitive science initiatives.

    Sandia formerly hosted ASCI Red, one of the world’s fastest supercomputers until its recent decommission, and now hosts ASCI Red Storm supercomputer, originally known as Thor’s Hammer.


    Sandia is also home to the Z Machine.

    The Z Machine is the largest X-ray generator in the world and is designed to test materials in conditions of extreme temperature and pressure. It is operated by Sandia National Laboratories to gather data to aid in computer modeling of nuclear guns. In December 2016, it was announced that National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia, under the direction of Honeywell International, would take over the management of Sandia National Laboratories starting on May 1, 2017.


     
  • richardmitnick 8:23 am on August 30, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Pathways to production", , , , , DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US), RetSynth, Synthetic biology analysis   

    From DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US) : “Pathways to production” 

    From DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US)

    August 30, 2021

    Paul Rhien
    prhien@sandia.gov
    925-294-6452

    Comprehensive Sandia software aids scientists in synthetic biology analysis.

    1
    A graphic illustration of the kind of retrosynthetic analysis conducted by RetSynth software developed at Sandia National Laboratories. Using a novel algorithm, the software identifies the biological or chemical reactions needed to create a desired biological product or compound. Graphic by Laura Hatfield.

    Biologists at Sandia National Laboratories developed comprehensive software that will help scientists in a variety of industries create engineered chemicals more quickly and easily. Sandia is now looking to license the software for commercial use, researchers said.

    Sandia’s stand-alone software RetSynth uses a novel algorithm to sort through large, curated databases of biological and chemical reactions, which could help scientists synthetically engineer compounds used in the production of biofuels, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, industrial chemicals, dyes, scents and flavors.

    The software platform uses retrosynthetic analysis to help scientists identify possible pathways to production — the series of biological and chemical reactions, or steps, needed to engineer and modify the molecules in a cell — to create the desired biological product or compound. By using the software to rapidly analyze all pathways, scientists can determine the production sequence with the fewest steps, the sequences that can be completed with available resources or the most economically viable process.

    Synthetic biology involves redesigning organisms for useful purposes by engineering them to have new abilities. Researchers and companies around the world are using synthetic biology to harness the power of nature to solve problems in medicine — such as the development of vaccines, antibodies and therapeutic treatments — as well as in manufacturing and agriculture.

    “Synthetic biology is becoming a critical capability for U.S. manufacturing. It has the potential to dramatically reduce waste, eliminate or curtail emissions and create next-generation therapeutics and materials,” said Corey Hudson, a computational biologist at Sandia. “That is where people will see RetSynth have the biggest impact.”

    “The diverse functionality of RetSynth opens a lot of opportunities for researchers, giving them multiple options, including biological, chemical or hybrid pathways to production,” Hudson said. “All the while, the software is accelerating the research and development process associated with bioproduction. Traditionally, this process has been relatively slow and complex.”

    RetSynth is designed to save researchers time and money by suggesting process modifications to maximize theoretical yield, or the amount of bioproduct that could be produced, Hudson said. All available pathways are rendered using clear visual images, enabling software users to quickly interpret results.

    Commercial licensing for broader impact

    The RetSynth software was originally developed as part of the Department of Energy’s Co-Optimization of Fuels & Engines initiative, a consortium of national lab, university and industry researchers who are creating innovative fuels and combining them with high-efficiency engines to reduce emissions and boost fuel economy.

    Today, RetSynth has been expanded to support a variety of diverse applications, and Sandia is ready to license the software to an industry partner for commercial use, Hudson said.

    Transfer of Sandia’s innovative technologies to the marketplace through outside technology partners leads to billions in economic impact and supports tens of thousands of high-paying jobs each year, according to a recent report.

    To learn more about licensing opportunities, visit Sandia’s Licensing and Technology Transfer webpage.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Sandia Campus.

    DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US) managed and operated by the National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia (a wholly owned subsidiary of Honeywell International), is one of three National Nuclear Security Administration(US) research and development laboratories in the United States. Their primary mission is to develop, engineer, and test the non-nuclear components of nuclear weapons and high technology. Headquartered in Central New Mexico near the Sandia Mountains, on Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, Sandia also has a campus in Livermore, California, next to DOE’sLawrence Livermore National Laboratory(US), and a test facility in Waimea, Kauai, Hawaii.

    It is Sandia’s mission to maintain the reliability and surety of nuclear weapon systems, conduct research and development in arms control and nonproliferation technologies, and investigate methods for the disposal of the United States’ nuclear weapons program’s hazardous waste.

    Other missions include research and development in energy and environmental programs, as well as the surety of critical national infrastructures. In addition, Sandia is home to a wide variety of research including computational biology; mathematics (through its Computer Science Research Institute); materials science; alternative energy; psychology; MEMS; and cognitive science initiatives.

    Sandia formerly hosted ASCI Red, one of the world’s fastest supercomputers until its recent decommission, and now hosts ASCI Red Storm supercomputer, originally known as Thor’s Hammer.


    Sandia is also home to the Z Machine.

    The Z Machine is the largest X-ray generator in the world and is designed to test materials in conditions of extreme temperature and pressure. It is operated by Sandia National Laboratories to gather data to aid in computer modeling of nuclear guns. In December 2016, it was announced that National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia, under the direction of Honeywell International, would take over the management of Sandia National Laboratories starting on May 1, 2017.


     
  • richardmitnick 11:18 am on July 14, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "The hidden culprit killing lithium-metal batteries from the inside", , , Determining cause-of-death for a coin battery is surprisingly difficult., DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US), For decades scientists have tried to make reliable lithium-metal batteries., , , The scientists used a microscope that has a laser to mill through a battery’s outer casing., The separator is completely shredded., The team found a surprising second culprit: a hard buildup formed as a byproduct of the battery’s internal chemical reactions. Every time the battery recharged the byproduct called solid electrolyte, These high-performance storage cells hold 50% more energy than their prolific lithium-ion cousins but higher failure rates and safety problems like fires and explosions., This is what battery researchers have always wanted to see., When the team reviewed images of the batteries’ insides they expected to find needle-shaped deposits of lithium spanning the battery.   

    From DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US) : “The hidden culprit killing lithium-metal batteries from the inside” 

    From DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US)

    July 14, 2021

    Troy Rummler
    trummle@sandia.gov
    505-249-3632

    First-of-their-kind snapshots reveal byproduct crippling powerful, experimental cells.

    1
    Sandia National Laboratories scientists Katie Harrison, left, and Katie Jungjohann have pioneered a new way to look inside batteries to learn how and why they fail. Photo by Bret Latter.

    For decades scientists have tried to make reliable lithium-metal batteries. These high-performance storage cells hold 50% more energy than their prolific, lithium-ion cousins but higher failure rates and safety problems like fires and explosions have crippled commercialization efforts. Researchers have hypothesized why the devices fail, but direct evidence has been sparse.

    Now, the first nanoscale images ever taken inside intact, lithium-metal coin batteries (also called button cells or watch batteries) challenge prevailing theories and could help make future high-performance batteries, such as for electric vehicles, safer, more powerful and longer lasting.

    “We’re learning that we should be using separator materials tuned for lithium metal,” said battery scientist Katie Harrison, who leads Sandia National Laboratories’ team for improving the performance of lithium-metal batteries.

    Sandia scientists, in collaboration with Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc., the University of Oregon (US) and DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (US), published the images recently in ACS Energy Letters.

    2

    3
    Figure 1. Scanning electron micrographs of intact angled-sections of high-rate cycled Li-metal half cells. (a) Uncycled cell, including: stainless-steel cap, Cu current collector, stack of two Celgard 2325 separators, Li metal, bottom Cu current collector, and lower stainless-steel disc, (b) 1st Li plating, (c) 1st Li stripping, (d) 11th plating, (e) 51st plating, and (f) 101st plating step. White arrows indicate cracks in the SEI matrix and gray regions indicate structures out-of-plane from the cut face.

    3
    Figure 2. Electrochemical performance of the 101st Li plating sample. (a) Capacity of the plating and stripping cycles, for Li plating at a high rate of 1.88 mA/cm2 up to the 101st plating step. (b) Coulombic efficiency of each full cycle, exhibiting the battery’s ability to efficiently recapture Li, even after the quantity of plated Li significantly decreases at ∼75 cycles. Capacity (c) and Coulombic efficiency (d) of the plating and stripping cycles at a low rate of 0.47 mA/cm2 to a capacity of 1.88 mAh/cm2. (e) Scanning electron micrograph of an intact angled-section of the 101st Li plating low-rate cycled half-cell. The brown layer at the top of the image is the stainless-steel cap, and the gray contrast indicates structures out-of-plane from the cut face.

    4
    Figure 3. Scanning electron micrographs of high-rate cycled angled-sections showing failure within two stacked Celgard 2325 separators. (a) Uncycled cell and (b) higher-magnification image of the separator porosity (with the lighter contrast indicating iron redeposition from laser ablation), (c) 1st Li plating, (d) 1st Li stripping, (e) 11th plating, (f) 51st plating, and (g) 101st plating step.

    5
    Figure 4. Schematic short-circuit mechanism for conductive Li pathways through the polymeric separator via SEI formation and subsequent deformation of the separator. SEI formed during the current plating step is colored yellow; SEI that formed in a prior step is colored gray.

    Internal byproduct builds up, kills batteries

    The team repeatedly charged and discharged lithium coin cells with the same high-intensity electric current that electric vehicles need to charge. Some cells went through a few cycles, while others went through more than a hundred cycles. Then, the cells were shipped to Thermo Fisher Scientific in Hillsboro, Oregon, for analysis.

    6
    In this new, false-color image of a lithium-metal test battery produced by Sandia National Laboratories, high-rate charging and recharging red lithium metal greatly distorts the green separator, creating tan reaction byproducts, to the surprise of scientists. Image by Katie Jungjohann.

    When the team reviewed images of the batteries’ insides they expected to find needle-shaped deposits of lithium spanning the battery. Most battery researchers think that a lithium spike forms after repetitive cycling and that it punches through a plastic separator between the anode and the cathode, forming a bridge that causes a short. But lithium is a soft metal, so scientists have not understood how it could get through the separator.

    Harrison’s team found a surprising second culprit: a hard buildup formed as a byproduct of the battery’s internal chemical reactions. Every time the battery recharged the byproduct called solid electrolyte interphase grew. Capping the lithium, it tore holes in the separator, creating openings for metal deposits to spread and form a short. Together, the lithium deposits and the byproduct were much more destructive than previously believed, acting less like a needle and more like a snowplow.

    “The separator is completely shredded,” Harrison said, adding that this mechanism has only been observed under fast charging rates needed for electric vehicle technologies, but not slower charging rates.

    As Sandia scientists think about how to modify separator materials, Harrison says that further research also will be needed to reduce the formation of byproducts.

    Scientists pair lasers with cryogenics to take ‘cool’ images

    Determining cause-of-death for a coin battery is surprisingly difficult. The trouble comes from its stainless-steel casing. The metal shell limits what diagnostics, like X-rays, can see from the outside, while removing parts of the cell for analysis rips apart the battery’s layers and distorts whatever evidence might be inside.

    “We have different tools that can study different components of a battery, but really we haven’t had a tool that can resolve everything in one image,” said Katie Jungjohann, a Sandia nanoscale imaging scientist at the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies. The center is a user facility jointly operated by Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories.

    She and her collaborators used a microscope that has a laser to mill through a battery’s outer casing. They paired it with a sample holder that keeps the cell’s liquid electrolyte frozen at temperatures between minus 148 and minus 184 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 100 and minus 120 degrees Celsius, respectively). The laser creates an opening just large enough for a narrow electron beam to enter and bounce back onto a detector, delivering a high-resolution image of the battery’s internal cross section with enough detail to distinguish the different materials.

    The original demonstration instrument, which was the only such tool in the United States at the time, was built and still resides at a Thermo Fisher Scientific laboratory in Oregon. An updated duplicate now resides at Sandia. The tool will be used broadly across Sandia to help solve many materials and failure-analysis problems.

    “This is what battery researchers have always wanted to see,” Jungjohann said.

    The research was funded by Sandia’s Laboratory Directed Research and Development program and the Department of Energy.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Sandia Campus.

    DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US) managed and operated by the National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia (a wholly owned subsidiary of Honeywell International), is one of three National Nuclear Security Administration(US) research and development laboratories in the United States. Their primary mission is to develop, engineer, and test the non-nuclear components of nuclear weapons and high technology. Headquartered in Central New Mexico near the Sandia Mountains, on Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, Sandia also has a campus in Livermore, California, next to DOE’sLawrence Livermore National Laboratory(US), and a test facility in Waimea, Kauai, Hawaii.

    It is Sandia’s mission to maintain the reliability and surety of nuclear weapon systems, conduct research and development in arms control and nonproliferation technologies, and investigate methods for the disposal of the United States’ nuclear weapons program’s hazardous waste.

    Other missions include research and development in energy and environmental programs, as well as the surety of critical national infrastructures. In addition, Sandia is home to a wide variety of research including computational biology; mathematics (through its Computer Science Research Institute); materials science; alternative energy; psychology; MEMS; and cognitive science initiatives.

    Sandia formerly hosted ASCI Red, one of the world’s fastest supercomputers until its recent decommission, and now hosts ASCI Red Storm supercomputer, originally known as Thor’s Hammer.


    Sandia is also home to the Z Machine.

    The Z Machine is the largest X-ray generator in the world and is designed to test materials in conditions of extreme temperature and pressure. It is operated by Sandia National Laboratories to gather data to aid in computer modeling of nuclear guns. In December 2016, it was announced that National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia, under the direction of Honeywell International, would take over the management of Sandia National Laboratories starting on May 1, 2017.


     
  • richardmitnick 9:37 am on June 24, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Setting gold and platinum standards where few have gone before", , , , DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US),   

    From DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US) and From DOE’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (US) : “Setting gold and platinum standards where few have gone before” 

    From DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US)

    and

    From DOE’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (US)

    June 24, 2021

    Neal Singer
    nsinger@sandia.gov
    505-977-7255

    Extreme pressure at DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US) and DOE’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories.

    1
    Eight gold samples, four per panel, prior to assembly of the panels into a “stripline” target for Sandia National Laboratories’ Z machine. There they were vaporized by the enormous pressures produced by Z’s 20-million-ampere current pulse. This arrangement will permit four measurements, one for each pair of samples in which one pair is on each panel at the same position Photo: Leo Molina.

    Like two superheroes finally joining forces, Sandia National Laboratories’ Z machine — generator of the world’s most powerful electrical pulses [below]— and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s National Ignition Facility [below] — the planet’s most energetic laser source — in a series of 10 experiments have detailed the responses of gold and platinum at pressures so extreme that their atomic structures momentarily distorted like images in a fun-house mirror.

    Similar high-pressure changes induced in other settings have produced oddities like hydrogen appearing as a metallic fluid, helium in the form of rain and sodium a transparent metal. But until now there has been no way to accurately calibrate these pressures and responses, the first step to controlling them.

    Said Sandia manager Chris Seagle, an author of a technical paper recently published by the journal Science, “Our experiments are designed to measure these distortions in gold and platinum as a function of time. Compression gives us a measurement of pressure versus density.”

    Following experiments on the two big machines, researchers developed tables of gold and platinum responses to extreme pressure. “These will provide a standard to help future researchers calibrate the responses of other metals under similar stress,” said Jean-Paul Davis, another paper author and Sandia’s lead scientist in the effort to reliably categorize extreme data.

    Data generated by experiments at these pressures — roughly 1.2 terapascals (a terapascal is 1 trillion pascals), an amount of pressure relevant to nuclear explosions — can aid understanding the composition of exoplanets, the effects and results of planetary impacts, and how the moon formed.

    2
    The complete target assembly inside Sandia National Laboratories’ Z machine for the high-pressure materials experiments coordinated with researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The samples are covered by probes. Photo: Leo Molina.

    The technical unit called the pascal is so small it is often seen in its multiples of thousands, millions, billions or trillions. It may be easier to visualize the scale of these effects in terms of atmospheric pressure units. The center of the Earth is approximately 3.6 million times the atmospheric pressure at sea level, or 3.6 million atmospheres. Z’s data reached 4 million atmospheres, or four million times atmospheric pressure at sea level, while the National Ignition Facility reached 12 million atmospheres.

    The force of the diamond anvil

    Remarkably, such pressures can be generated in the laboratory by a simple compression device called a diamond anvil.

    However, “We have no standards for these extreme pressure ranges,” said Davis. “While investigators see interesting events, they are hampered in comparing them with each other because what one researcher presents at 1.1 terapascals is only 0.9 on another researcher’s scale.”

    What’s needed is an underlying calibration tool, such as the numerical table these experiments helped to create, he said, so that scientists are talking about results achieved at the same documented amounts of pressure.

    “The Z-NIF experiments will provide this,” Davis said.

    The overall experiments, under the direction of Lawrence Livermore researcher D. E. Fratanduono, relied on Z machine’s accuracy as a check on NIF’s power.

    Z’s accuracy, NIF’s power

    Z’s force is created by its powerful shockless magnetic field, generated for hundreds of nanoseconds by its 20 million-ampere pulse. For comparison, a 120-watt bulb uses one ampere.

    The accuracy of this method refocused the higher pressures achieved using NIF methods.

    NIF’s pressures exceeded those at the core of the planet Saturn, which is 850 gigapascals. But its laser-compression experiments sometimes required a small shock at the start of the compression wave, raising the material’s temperature, which can distort measurements intended to set a standard.

    “The point of shockless compression is to keep the temperature relatively low for the materials being studied,” said Seagle. “Basically the material does heat as it compresses, but it should remain relatively cool — hundreds of degrees — even at terapascal pressures. Initial heating is a troublesome start.”

    Another reason that Z, which contributed half the number of “shots,” or firings, and about one-third the data, was considered the standard for results up to 400 gigapascals was because Z’s sample size was roughly 10 times as big: 600 to 1,600 microns thick compared with 60 to 90 microns on NIF. A micron is a thousandth of a millimeter.

    Larger samples, slower pulses equal easier measurements

    “Because they were larger, Z’s samples were less sensitive to the microstructure of the material than were NIF’s,” said Davis. “Larger samples and slower pulses are simply easier to measure to high relative precision. Combining the two facilities really tightly constrained the standards.”

    Combining Z and NIF data meant that the higher-accuracy, but lower-intensity Z data could be used to pin down the low-to-medium pressure response, and with mathematical adjustments, reduce error on the higher-pressure NIF data.

    “The purpose of this study was to produce highly accurate pressure models to approximately one terapascal. We did that, so this combination of facilities has been advantageous,” said Seagle.

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Operated by Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC, for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration

    DOE’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) (US) is an American federal research facility in Livermore, California, United States, founded by the University of California-Berkeley (US) in 1952. A Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC), it is primarily funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and managed and operated by Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC (LLNS), a partnership of the University of California, Bechtel, BWX Technologies, AECOM, and Battelle Memorial Institute in affiliation with the Texas A&M University System (US). In 2012, the laboratory had the synthetic chemical element livermorium named after it.

    LLNL is self-described as “a premier research and development institution for science and technology applied to national security.” Its principal responsibility is ensuring the safety, security and reliability of the nation’s nuclear weapons through the application of advanced science, engineering and technology. The Laboratory also applies its special expertise and multidisciplinary capabilities to preventing the proliferation and use of weapons of mass destruction, bolstering homeland security and solving other nationally important problems, including energy and environmental security, basic science and economic competitiveness.

    The Laboratory is located on a one-square-mile (2.6 km^2) site at the eastern edge of Livermore. It also operates a 7,000 acres (28 km2) remote experimental test site, called Site 300, situated about 15 miles (24 km) southeast of the main lab site. LLNL has an annual budget of about $1.5 billion and a staff of roughly 5,800 employees.

    LLNL was established in 1952 as the University of California Radiation Laboratory at Livermore, an offshoot of the existing UC Radiation Laboratory at Berkeley. It was intended to spur innovation and provide competition to the nuclear weapon design laboratory at Los Alamos in New Mexico, home of the Manhattan Project that developed the first atomic weapons. Edward Teller and Ernest Lawrence, director of the Radiation Laboratory at Berkeley, are regarded as the co-founders of the Livermore facility.

    The new laboratory was sited at a former naval air station of World War II. It was already home to several UC Radiation Laboratory projects that were too large for its location in the Berkeley Hills above the UC campus, including one of the first experiments in the magnetic approach to confined thermonuclear reactions (i.e. fusion). About half an hour southeast of Berkeley, the Livermore site provided much greater security for classified projects than an urban university campus.

    Lawrence tapped 32-year-old Herbert York, a former graduate student of his, to run Livermore. Under York, the Lab had four main programs: Project Sherwood (the magnetic-fusion program), Project Whitney (the weapons-design program), diagnostic weapon experiments (both for the DOE’s Los Alamos National Laboratory(US) and Livermore laboratories), and a basic physics program. York and the new lab embraced the Lawrence “big science” approach, tackling challenging projects with physicists, chemists, engineers, and computational scientists working together in multidisciplinary teams. Lawrence died in August 1958 and shortly after, the university’s board of regents named both laboratories for him, as the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory.

    Historically, the DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (US) and Livermore laboratories have had very close relationships on research projects, business operations, and staff. The Livermore Lab was established initially as a branch of the Berkeley laboratory. The Livermore lab was not officially severed administratively from the Berkeley lab until 1971. To this day, in official planning documents and records, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is designated as Site 100, Lawrence Livermore National Lab as Site 200, and LLNL’s remote test location as Site 300.

    The laboratory was renamed Lawrence Livermore Laboratory (LLL) in 1971. On October 1, 2007 LLNS assumed management of LLNL from the University of California, which had exclusively managed and operated the Laboratory since its inception 55 years before. The laboratory was honored in 2012 by having the synthetic chemical element livermorium named after it. The LLNS takeover of the laboratory has been controversial. In May 2013, an Alameda County jury awarded over $2.7 million to five former laboratory employees who were among 430 employees LLNS laid off during 2008.The jury found that LLNS breached a contractual obligation to terminate the employees only for “reasonable cause.” The five plaintiffs also have pending age discrimination claims against LLNS, which will be heard by a different jury in a separate trial.[6] There are 125 co-plaintiffs awaiting trial on similar claims against LLNS. The May 2008 layoff was the first layoff at the laboratory in nearly 40 years.

    On March 14, 2011, the City of Livermore officially expanded the city’s boundaries to annex LLNL and move it within the city limits. The unanimous vote by the Livermore city council expanded Livermore’s southeastern boundaries to cover 15 land parcels covering 1,057 acres (4.28 km^2) that comprise the LLNL site. The site was formerly an unincorporated area of Alameda County. The LLNL campus continues to be owned by the federal government.

    LLNL/NIF

    DOE Seal

    NNSA

    Sandia Campus.

    DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US) managed and operated by the National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia (a wholly owned subsidiary of Honeywell International), is one of three National Nuclear Security Administration(US) research and development laboratories in the United States. Their primary mission is to develop, engineer, and test the non-nuclear components of nuclear weapons and high technology. Headquartered in Central New Mexico near the Sandia Mountains, on Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, Sandia also has a campus in Livermore, California, next to DOE’sLawrence Livermore National Laboratory(US), and a test facility in Waimea, Kauai, Hawaii.

    It is Sandia’s mission to maintain the reliability and surety of nuclear weapon systems, conduct research and development in arms control and nonproliferation technologies, and investigate methods for the disposal of the United States’ nuclear weapons program’s hazardous waste.

    Other missions include research and development in energy and environmental programs, as well as the surety of critical national infrastructures. In addition, Sandia is home to a wide variety of research including computational biology; mathematics (through its Computer Science Research Institute); materials science; alternative energy; psychology; MEMS; and cognitive science initiatives.

    Sandia formerly hosted ASCI Red, one of the world’s fastest supercomputers until its recent decommission, and now hosts ASCI Red Storm supercomputer, originally known as Thor’s Hammer.


    Sandia is also home to the Z Machine.

    The Z Machine is the largest X-ray generator in the world and is designed to test materials in conditions of extreme temperature and pressure. It is operated by Sandia National Laboratories to gather data to aid in computer modeling of nuclear guns. In December 2016, it was announced that National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia, under the direction of Honeywell International, would take over the management of Sandia National Laboratories starting on May 1, 2017.


     
  • richardmitnick 10:01 am on June 9, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Using a mineral ‘sponge’ to catch uranium", A “sponge-like” mineral that can “soak up” uranium., All forms of uranium are radioactive and it is toxic when ingested., , Calcium apatite, , DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US), , , , The apatite-based approach for uranium remediation has been by far the most effective and long-lasting without any significant negative side effects., There are thousands of sites around the world that are contaminated with radioactive elements.   

    From DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US) : “Using a mineral ‘sponge’ to catch uranium” 

    From DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US)

    June 9, 2021

    Mollie Rappe
    mrappe@sandia.gov
    505-228-6123

    1
    A graphical illustration of the apatite remediation test to absorb uranium conducted by Sandia, Lawrence Berkeley and Pacific Northwest national laboratories researchers. (Graphic by Sandia National Laboratories.)

    A team of researchers from Sandia, DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (US) and DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (US) tested a “sponge-like” mineral that can “soak up” uranium at a former uranium mill near Rifle, Colorado.

    The researchers found that the mineral, calcium apatite, soaks up and binds uranium from the groundwater, reducing it by more than ten-thousandfold.

    “The apatite technology has successfully reduced the concentration of uranium, vanadium and molybdenum in the groundwater at the Rifle site,” said Mark Rigali, the Sandia geochemist leading the project. “Moreover, the levels of uranium have remained below the Department of Energy’s target concentration for more than three years.”

    The contaminated mill site near Rifle is about 180 miles west of Denver. Since 2002, the DOE’s Office of Legacy Management has used the site to test a variety of different uranium-remediation technologies.

    All forms of uranium are radioactive and it is toxic when ingested. Molybdenum and vanadium, on the other hand, are beneficial at very, very low levels, but are toxic at high concentrations. While the Rifle test site is remote, there are thousands of sites around the world that are similarly contaminated with radioactive elements and heavy metals that threaten groundwater, surface water and food supplies.

    Calcium apatite is a mineral commonly used in fertilizer and is also a major component of bones and teeth. The researchers formed a “sponge” in the ground by injecting two inexpensive and nontoxic chemicals, calcium citrate and sodium phosphate, into a well especially designed for injecting solutions underground at the former uranium mill.

    Once in the ground, helpful soil bacteria ate the calcium citrate and excreted calcium in a form that allows it to rapidly react with the sodium phosphate to form calcium apatite, which coated sand and soil particles underground, forming the sponge. The apatite sponge captures contaminants, such as uranium, as it forms on the soil particles around the injection well, and afterward as the groundwater flows through the rough sponge. Once formed, the apatite is incredibly stable, and can hold onto captured contaminants for millennia.

    Soaking up half of the periodic table

    “The apatite-based approach for uranium remediation has been by far the most effective and long-lasting without any significant negative side effects,” said Ken Williams, the environmental remediation and water resources program lead at Lawrence Berkeley. “It’s basically been a win-win-win situation. The first win is the ease of operation with only one injection needed. The next win is uranium being removed to incredibly low levels. The third win is the lack of significant deleterious consequences.”

    Williams has been testing different uranium remediation techniques at the Rifle site for more than a decade, since he was a graduate student. As a student, he was involved in a project at the site where they fed soil bacteria vinegar to remediate uranium that had some unfortunate side effects.

    The apatite remediation technology was invented by former Sandia chemical engineer Robert Moore. It has been used at the DOE’s Hanford Site in southeastern Washington state to protect the Columbia River from strontium-90, another radioactive isotope.

    Geologists know that apatite can capture elements from more than half of the periodic table of elements, Rigali said, but the team conducted initial laboratory-based tests to confirm apatite would bind dissolved uranium. These tests were conducted by Jim Szecsody, a geochemist at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

    In addition to reducing the amount of uranium in groundwater more than ten-thousandfold, Williams and Rigali found that the apatite reduced the amount of vanadium by more than a hundredfold. Vanadium is another contaminant left over from uranium milling, along with molybdenum, selenium and arsenic. Auspiciously, the apatite-based remediation technology captures these other toxic chemicals too, they said.

    The future of apatite remediation

    Computer modeling by Sandia geoscientist Pat Brady suggests that the uranium will remain contained within the apatite mineral for tens of thousands of years — possibly longer than the mill site flood plain will remain in its current location adjacent to the Colorado River, Rigali said.

    Williams will continue measuring the amount of contaminants in the groundwater downstream of the apatite sponge every month until the sponge is “full.” This will allow the research team to learn how much uranium and other contaminants the apatite can hold, and when the sponge would need to be “refreshed” with more apatite, he said.

    The apatite technology is being considered for use at several other contaminated locations, both federally managed and privately owned, said Rigali. Also increasing the potential applicability of apatite remediation is the fact that it can be “tuned” to capture different contaminants of concern including lead and arsenic.

    “The apatite family of minerals is very large,” he added. “And they all have varying abilities to capture and store contaminants. You can literally tune the structure of apatite to go after specific contaminants of concern.”

    Copper apatite, for example, is a great sponge for arsenic.

    “This has been one of the most rewarding projects that I’ve gotten to work on at Sandia,” Rigali said. “It’s great to have these types of opportunities because you feel like you’re doing something that is solving a problem and making a difference. I know this technology could be used at dozens of sites for uranium remediation.”

    The test in Rifle was funded by DOE’s Office of Legacy Management, while the development of original apatite remediation technology was supported by Sandia’s Laboratory Directed Research and Development program.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Sandia Campus.

    DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US) managed and operated by the National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia (a wholly owned subsidiary of Honeywell International), is one of three National Nuclear Security Administration(US) research and development laboratories in the United States. Their primary mission is to develop, engineer, and test the non-nuclear components of nuclear weapons and high technology. Headquartered in Central New Mexico near the Sandia Mountains, on Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, Sandia also has a campus in Livermore, California, next to DOE’sLawrence Livermore National Laboratory(US), and a test facility in Waimea, Kauai, Hawaii.

    It is Sandia’s mission to maintain the reliability and surety of nuclear weapon systems, conduct research and development in arms control and nonproliferation technologies, and investigate methods for the disposal of the United States’ nuclear weapons program’s hazardous waste.

    Other missions include research and development in energy and environmental programs, as well as the surety of critical national infrastructures. In addition, Sandia is home to a wide variety of research including computational biology; mathematics (through its Computer Science Research Institute); materials science; alternative energy; psychology; MEMS; and cognitive science initiatives.

    Sandia formerly hosted ASCI Red, one of the world’s fastest supercomputers until its recent decommission, and now hosts ASCI Red Storm supercomputer, originally known as Thor’s Hammer.


    Sandia is also home to the Z Machine.

    The Z Machine is the largest X-ray generator in the world and is designed to test materials in conditions of extreme temperature and pressure. It is operated by Sandia National Laboratories to gather data to aid in computer modeling of nuclear guns. In December 2016, it was announced that National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia, under the direction of Honeywell International, would take over the management of Sandia National Laboratories starting on May 1, 2017.


     
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