Ashok Gadgil Ashok Gadgil's Physics in Service to the World

Ashok Gadgil, Director of the Environmental Energy Technologies Division at DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, already knew he wanted to be a scientist when he was nine years old. But when he was growing up in Bombay (Mumbai), India, medicine and engineering were more respectable pursuits than pure science, and at first he was largely self-educated. He read voraciously in his father's home library, which included issues of Scientific American, and concocted chemistry experiments that stunk up the house. Before he was out of the sixth grade he’d mastered all his future high school textbooks.

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ORNL researcher Steve Combs holds target materials for evaluating pellet size.Fuel for fusion: Innovations support US ITER systems

The Fusion Pellet Fueling Lab at DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory has been at the center of design and testing of plasma fueling systems for tokamak research applications for decades. Since the mid-1970s, lab researchers have been designing, testing and contributing hardware for fusion magnetic confinement experiments here in the United States and around the world. As the US ITER project moves from design and testing of components to manufacturing, the lab is making prototypes for the ITER tokamak. ITER's "first plasma" is planned for around the close of this decade.

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See also…

DOE Pulse
  • Number 355  |
  • January 30, 2012
  • SRNL research paves way for portable power systems

    Successful development of portable power systems with capacities that far exceed the best batteries available today Developments by hydrogen researchers at DOE's Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL) are paving the way for the successful development of  portable power systems with capacities that far exceed the best batteries available today.  SRNL’s advances in the use of alane, a lightweight material for storing hydrogen, may be the key that unlocks the development of portable fuel cell systems that meet the needs for both military and commercial portable power applications.

    SRNL has demonstrated a practical path to portable power systems based on alane and similar high capacity hydrogen storage materials that provide the sought-after high specific energy, which means the amount of energy per weight.  Their accomplishments to date include developing a lower-cost method of producing alane, developing a method to dramatically increase the amount of hydrogen it releases, and demonstrating a working system powering a 150 W fuel cell.

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  • Weather deserves medal for clean air during 2008 Olympics

    High smog levels, seen here during the stadium's construction, were a concern before the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008. Regional weather patterns and emission controls reduced smog levels at the Olympic Games. Photo courtesy of Ry Tweedie-Cullen.

    New research suggests that China's impressive feat of cutting Beijing's pollution up to 50 percent for the 2008 Summer Olympics had some help from Mother Nature. Rain just at the beginning and wind during the Olympics likely contributed about half of the effort needed to clean up the skies, according to DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The results also suggest emission controls need to be more widely implemented than in 2008 if pollution levels are to be reduced permanently.

    The team took advantage of the emission controls China put into play before and during the games to study the relative contributions of nature and planning. Chinese officials restricted driving, temporarily halted pollution-producing manufacturing and power plants, and even relocated heavy polluting industries in preparation for the games.

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  • Key atom could be secret behind nitrogenase

    SLAC’s Uwe Bergmann is in the hunt to better understand nitrogenase.

    If we could make plant food from nitrogen the way nature does, we’d have a much greener method for manufacturing fertilizer – a process that requires such high temperatures and pressures that it consumes about 1.5 percent of the world’s energy.

    Scientist working at DOE's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have taken an important step towards understanding how nature performs this feat by identifying a single atom that plays a key role in the process.

    The atom lies at the heart of an enzyme called nitrogenase, which helps convert nitrogen in the air into a form that living things can use. Scientists have been trying to figure out its structure for a long time.   Among other things, they hope to eventually reverse-engineer it and mimic nature’s gentle version of the reaction.

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  • New material  removes radioactive gas from spent nuclear fuel

    Sandia chemist Tina Nenoff heads a team of researchers focused on removal of radioactive iodine from spent nuclear fuel. They identified a metal-organic framework that captures and holds the volatile gas, a discovery that could be used for nuclear fuel reprocessing and other applications. (Photo by Randy Montoya)

    Research by a team of  chemists at DOE's Sandia National Laboratories could impact worldwide efforts to produce clean, safe nuclear energy and reduce radioactive waste.

    The Sandia researchers have used metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) to capture and remove volatile radioactive gas from spent nuclear fuel. “This is one of the first attempts to use a MOF for iodine capture,” said chemist Tina Nenoff of Sandia’s Surface and Interface Sciences Department.

    The discovery could be applied to nuclear fuel reprocessing or to clean up nuclear reactor accidents. A characteristic of nuclear energy is that used fuel can be reprocessed to recover fissile materials and provide fresh fuel for nuclear power plants. Countries such as France, Russia and India are reprocessing spent fuel.

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