Stewart Prager Prager leads PPPL through fusion transition

It took Stewart Prager some 40 years to make the 60-mile trip from his childhood home in the Bronx to DOE’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), which he now directs. Along the way came several stops: college and graduate study at Columbia University, a two-year stint at what is now General Atomics in San Diego and 31 years at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, where he taught, ran a laboratory and made scientific discoveries.

Prager returned to his East Coast roots to take the PPPL job in 2009. He was attracted by the prospect of leading “a large Laboratory with a terrific staff.” There was also “the challenge and opportunity to influence the science produced at PPPL and the evolution of the national program in fusion and plasma physics.” He arrived as the sixth director of PPPL and the first to be recruited without previous ties to the Laboratory or to Princeton University, which runs the facility for DOE.

Full Story


The Localized Electron Atom Probe (LEAP) at INL.Understanding of radiation damage LEAPs forward

A faint nightclub beat greets visitors to a small room at DOE's Idaho National Laboratory housing the Localized Electron Atom Probe (LEAP). But that’s no stereo cranking out house music; it’s a rhythmic pump cooling a tiny sample to more than 220 °C below zero (that’s -425 °F). Deep within, the device is taking apart, atom by atom, a bit of ceramic smaller than the tip of a pin.

The work can help researchers understand factors that may cause weaknesses in materials exposed to prolonged radiation inside a nuclear reactor. INL is leading efforts to adapt advanced techniques such as LEAP for use on irradiated materials. In fact, this LEAP has generated some of the clearest results ever obtained for samples that mimic irradiated fuel.

Full Story

See also…

DOE Pulse
  • Number 366  |
  • July 2, 2012
  • Sci-Fi no longer, NREL engineers smart homes

    NREL engineers Dane Christensen and Bethany Sparn test advanced power strips at NREL's Automated Home Energy Management Laboratory. The lab enables researchers to study the complex interactions of appliances and other devices in connection to the energy grid. Credit: Dennis Schroeder Thanks to TV shows such as The Jetsons and Star Trek, many Americans grew up dreaming that homes of the future would be equipped with fantastic high-tech features, driven by an unlimited supply of energy.

    Research engineers at DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have a different vision for the home of the future. The team is working on a "smart" home that will communicate with the electricity grid to know when power is cheap, tell appliances when to turn on or off, and even know when renewable energy resources are available to offset peak demand.

    Full Story

  • Microscopy reveals workings behind promising inexpensive catalyst

    A carbon nanotube complex with promise as a cheap catalyst was thought to have nitrogen and iron impurities that lend the material its desirable chemical properties. Electron microscopy at ORNL confirmed that the material's structure incorporates many heavy atoms, such as the iron atoms circled in red. A newly developed carbon nanotube material could help lower the cost of fuel cells, catalytic converters and similar energy-related technologies by delivering a substitute for expensive platinum catalysts.

    The precious metal platinum has long been prized for its ability to spur key chemical reactions in a process called catalysis, but at more than $1,000 an ounce, its high price is a limiting factor for applications like fuel cells, which rely on the metal.

    In a search for an inexpensive alternative, a team including researchers from DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory turned to carbon, one of the most abundant elements. Led by Stanford University's Hongjie Dai, the team developed a multi-walled carbon nanotube complex that consists of cylindrical sheets of carbon.

    Full Story

  • Thunderclouds and pollution team up to warm atmosphere

    An anvil cloud looms over the Southern Great Plains site location of DOE’s Atmospheric Radiation Measurements Climate Research Facility.

    For the first time, researchers at DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have shown that pollution increases warming in the atmosphere through enlarging thunderstorm clouds. The scientists conducted a computational study with resolutions high enough to show the clouds developing. They found that for warm summer thunderstorms, pollution particles lead to stronger storms with larger, anvil-shaped clouds, which also last longer. The warming effect dominated by trapping more heat, especially at night, even though these larger clouds also reflected more daytime sunlight warmth back into space.

    Full Story

  • Coronary stent makes mark in medicine

    PROMUS Element™ Plus Platinum Chromium Everolimus-Eluting Stent System, showing catheter delivery system. Image courtesy of Boston Scientific.

    A new coronary stent, which incorporates an innovative metal alloy developed by scientists at the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) and Boston Scientific Corporation, Inc. (BSCI), has received a 2012 Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer. BSCI, the commercialization partner, utilized the improved alloy performance to develop new coronary stent products with superior properties compared with existing stainless steel stents.

    More than 10 years ago, scientists at BSCI recognized NETL’s metallurgy capabilities and asked if the laboratory could help with research to improve coronary stents. Over the next decade, NETL’s Paul Turner, Paul Jablonski, and Edward Argetsinger, along with scientists from BSCI, worked together to develop a novel platinum/chromium (PtCr) alloy and design process to produce the alloy for use as a stent material. The final product features a bold new grade of highly modified stainless steel with more flexibility, corrosion resistance, and strength uniquely suited for next-generation stent products.

    Full Story