Aria Soha Fermilab Test Beam Facility helps scientists from around the world

At the Test Beam Facility at DOE’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, scientists line up to test new detector technologies that will help shape the future of particle physics. Whether experimenters need a few pions or lots of protons, Aria Soha and her colleagues can deliver.

“We’ve had a group that asked for 10 particles to be delivered every couple of minutes,” said physicist Soha, who coordinates the experiments at the facility. “We were able to do it.”

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Jens S. Hummelshøj displaying CatApp on an iPad. Photo by Matt Beardsley.Designing Chemical Catalysts: There's an App for that!

Catalysts are the matchmakers of chemistry — and the unsung heroes behind many an essential product.  They’re prized for their ability to promote chemical reactions without being altered or consumed themselves.

Making catalysts is a big business at the heart of a huge business. SRI Consulting reported in September 2010 that companies worldwide spend about $13 billion per year on catalysts used to produce some $500 billion to $600 billion worth of chemicals and refined petrochemicals, including gasoline and other liquid fuels.

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See also…

DOE Pulse
  • Number 358  |
  • March 12, 2012
  • Modeling microbes to manage carbon dioxide

    At Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, studies of difficult-to-cultivate microorganisms and microbial communities result in new approaches to bioremediation and renewable energy development. In the past decade, microbiologists began realizing that communities of microbes process energy and materials, which affects their environments. To understand how microbial communities function in a natural ecosystem, scientists at DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have developed a novel kinetic model that represents microbial community dynamics in soil pores. With it, they can then evaluate the consequences of different strategies that microbes might use for degrading organic matter, such as cellulose in soil, and analyze how three-dimensional pore structure impacts biological activity.

    “Modeling the dynamics of soil bacterial communities is extremely challenging because it involves disparate physical, chemical, and biological components,” said Dr. Allan Konopka, director of the Microbial Communities Initiative. “The unique feature of the new model is that it factors in a range of possible microsite conditions while accounting for heterogeneity in a three-dimensional system and treating the metabolism of microbial cells individually based on their own local environmental conditions and history.”

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  • Thermal storage gets more solar on the grid

    Light is reflected in a 25-foot-wide, 500-foot-long, and 10-foot-high parabolic trough collector at Abengoa's Solana Plant near Gila Bend, Ariz.

    New analysis at DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has found that concentrating solar power (CSP), with its greater grid flexibility and ability to store energy for as long as 15 hours, can enhance total solar power generation and actually give photovoltaic (PV) systems a greater presence on the grid.

    When the blazing summer sun starts descending in the late afternoon, rooftop solar panels lose some of their juice. The angles are wrong to capture the photons and turn them into electricity – and the backyard trees are more apt to get in the way.

    What is an environmentally conscious — but air-conditioning-loving — homeowner to do?

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  • Sandia seeks better neural control of prosthetics for amputees

    Organic materials chemist Shawn Dirk focuses a projector during work on neural interfaces, which are aimed at improving amputees’ control over prosthetics with direct help from their own nervous systems. Focusing prior to exposing polymers ensures that researchers pattern the desired feature sizes for the interfaces. (Photo by Randy Montoya)

    Sandia National Laboratories researchers, using off-the-shelf equipment in a chemistry lab, have been working on ways to improve amputees’ control over prosthetics with direct help from their own nervous systems.

    Organic materials chemist Shawn Dirk, robotics engineer Steve Buerger and others are creating biocompatible interface scaffolds. The goal is improved prosthetics with flexible nerve-to-nerve or nerve-to-muscle interfaces through which transected nerves can grow, putting small groups of nerve fibers in close contact to electrode sites connected to separate, implanted electronics.

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  • Modeling multiphase systems at NETL

    MFIX simulation with KBR gasifier.

    Fluid dynamics is the study that leads to automobiles with less drag in traveling through surrounding air, and to airplane wings that lift when air flows around them. Because many industrial processes employ moving fluids (gases or liquids), understanding the physical behavior of such systems can assist in the design of new and/or more efficient processes. To do that, engineers have developed a mathematical (computational) approach called computational fluid dynamics (CFD) to simulate the physical reality of these systems with the goal of improving industrial processes that employ moving fluids.

    Describing flow is more challenging for solids than for liquids or gases. Can you pour potato flakes (or pancake mix) out of the box without plugging the spout? An engineering study showed that solids processing plants typically achieve only 64% of their design capacity while plants designed to use gases or liquids typically achieve 90-95% of their design capacity. Thus, granular solids (solids that flow or are fluid) require special treatment.

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  • ORNL tool puts spotlight on nation's electricity generation capacity

    OR-SAGE results for advanced coal plants.

    A technology developed at DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory could streamline and strengthen the process for siting power plants while potentially enhancing the nation's energy security.

    Oak Ridge Siting Analysis for power Generation Expansion, or OR-SAGE, divides the United States into nearly 700 million 2.5-acre cells that can be studied to determine if they are candidates for one or more types of electric power plant. This tool was used to produce results presented in a 152-page report prepared by the Department of Energy's ORNL for the Electric Power Research Institute and allows for quick screening and characterization of potential sites.

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