- Number 355 |
- January 30, 2012
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.
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.
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.
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.