- Number 400 |
- November 4, 2013
Tiny wood borers known colloquially as gribbles make their own enzymes and use them to eat through docks in harbor towns, earning enmity from fishermen all around the world.
Now, researchers from the DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and elsewhere are exploring whether that curse can be turned into a blessing for the biofuels industry.
The trouble with gribbles — that they can break down biomass into sugars even in harsh environments — might become the great thing about gribbles, as the industry searches for enzymes that can thrive in salt-rich, high-solids settings.
In an advance that could dramatically shrink particle accelerators for science and medicine, researchers used a laser to accelerate electrons at a rate 10 times higher than conventional technology in a nanostructured glass chip smaller than a grain of rice.
The achievement was reported recently in Nature by a team including scientists from the DOE's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University.
Staff and students at the University of Tennessee hope their innovations from last year’s Department of Energy Solar Decathlon benefit teams gearing up for the 2013 contest.
The biannual international competition, launched by DOE in 2002, challenges teams of students to design and build low- to zero-energy homes, learning about solar power and sustainable design along the way.
At UT, the “Living Light” house that placed eighth in the 2011 competition is still yielding research results and offering new teams a head start.
By the end of the century, India and the Middle East – already dealing with water scarcity – will face more water stress as the rising demand for fresh water hits certain regions harder than others, according to new research at DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. The team, working at the Joint Global Change Research Institute, a partnership between PNNL and the University of Maryland, used the Global Change Assessment Model (GCAM) to run projections of water demand and use through the end of the century.
The team assessed future water demands in the agricultural, energy, industrial and municipal sectors within GCAM. They assigned base-year water requirements to specific activities to maximize consistency between bottom-up estimates of water demand intensities of specific technologies and practices and top-down regional and sectoral estimates of water use. They represented these scenarios through 14 geopolitical regions with the agricultural sector further divided into as many as 18 agro-ecological zones within each region.
When it comes to designing extremely water-repellent surfaces, shape and size matter. That's the finding of a group of scientists at DOE's Brookhaven Lab who investigated the effects of differently shaped, nanoscale textures on a material's ability to force water droplets to roll off.
"The idea that microscopic textures can impart a material with water-repellent properties has its origins in nature," explained lead author Antonio Checco. "For example, the leaves of lotus plants and some insects' exoskeletons have tiny-scale texturing designed to repel water by trapping air. This property, called 'superhydrophobicity' (or super-water-hating), enables water droplets to easily roll off, carrying dirt particles along with them."
A new measurement by the MINERvA collaboration at DOE’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory shows that current predictions of how protons and neutrons behave inside heavy nuclei are not accurate.
The MINERvA experiment uses neutrinos to look at the interior of nuclei. Surprisingly, the scientists found that the nucleons inside heavy nuclei behave differently from what one would predict from measurements using electrons to peek inside those same nuclei.
Reflecting its vision of serving the scientific community as a next-generation genome science user facility, the DOE Joint Genome Institute has joined forces with the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL) at DOE's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to provide complementary scientific resources to significantly expand genomic understanding to cellular function. The inaugural round of eight accepted proposals showcases the synergy between these two DOE user facilities. Five of the eight new DOE JGI-EMSL proposals going forward will focus on carbon cycling and three relate to improvements in biofuels production.