Gilbert Moreno NREL's Moreno makes car parts cool

Gilbert Moreno was about 8 when he started “tearing apart electric motors and putting them back together” in his backyard in El Paso, Texas.

His dad, a laborer at a copper refinery, and his mother, who had a fifth-grade education, encouraged his interest and made sure he always got his homework done.

Now, Moreno, the first person in his family with a college education, is a mechanical engineer at DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), doing groundbreaking work that has vendors for the big auto manufacturers putting him on their speed dials.

Full Story


First-of-its-kind membrane screening system.NETL, partners collaborate in development of ionic liquids for carbon capture

The capture and sequestration of carbon dioxide from fossil-based power generation is a vital step in the ongoing efforts to halt the rise of atmospheric CO2 levels. Conventional carbon capture technologies are both inefficient and prohibitively expensive.  Improvements in both capture materials and processes will be required if carbon capture and sequestration is ever to become economically feasible.  Researchers at DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) have obtained promising results with a unique class of materials called ionic liquids. In collaboration with its Regional University Alliance (RUA), University of California, Berkeley, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, NETL is developing these materials as part of a larger effort to develop improved carbon capture technology.

Full Story

See also…

DOE Pulse
  • Number 370  |
  • August 27, 2012
  • Emergent fungi implicated in ending the Carbon Era

    Photo: Scanning electron micrograph of wood being decayed by the white rot fungus Punctularia strigoso-zonata (Robert Blanchette, University of Minnesota). The Carboniferous period was a good time for biomass: there was no natural microbe that would completely break down the dead plant matter. Because carbon remained trapped, levels of oxygen soared—allowing bugs to breathe easier and grow multiple feet long. The compiling biomass became coal, and most of the world’s supply was generated during that period 300-360 million years ago. But the era may have come to an end from an unlikely source: fungus. An international team of scientists, including researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute (DOE JGI), has proposed that a new species of fungus broke down dead plant matter, the source for coal.

    Full Story

  • Advance makes possible near-instantaneous DNA analysis

    A researcher loads a sample into Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's new fast polymerase chain reaction (PCR) instrument. Picture this: You've brought your sick child to the doctor's office. After checking her pulse and blood pressure, he takes a nasal or throat swab and inserts it into a mysterious black box. Before the doctor finishes his examination, the black box beeps, indicating that the pathogen that's making your child sick has been identified.

    Sound far-fetched? Actually, this scenario is closer to becoming a reality. Thanks to work by Reginald Beer and his team of scientists and engineers at DOE's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, sub-three-minute amplification of nucleic acids (DNA and RNA) via polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is now possible.

    Full Story

  • Listening to life

    A new technique allows scientists to identify and measure the small molecules in and around the same living bacterial colony repeatedly.

    Once impossible, scientists can now eavesdrop on microbes, thanks to a new technique from scientists at DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and three universities. Microbes converse by releasing simple and complex molecules, called metabolites. The metabolites interact with and alter their environment and nearby cells. To listen in, the team combined nanospray desorption electrospray ionization mass spectrometry, or nanoDESI, and a new bioinformatics technique. This approach allows scientists to identify and quantify, in time and space, the metabolites around living bacterial colonies.

    "This is a real discovery tool—showing us how microbial communities interact," said Dr. Julia Laskin, a PNNL chemist who has been successfully advancing the frontiers of nanoDESI for 3 years.

    Full Story

  • Trident laser research shows promise for cancer treatment

    TRIDENT Group Photo.

    Scientists at DOE’s Los Alamos National Laboratory have observed for the first time how a laser penetrates dense, electron-rich plasma to generate ions. The process has applications for developing next generation particle accelerators and new cancer treatments.

    The results, published online August 19 in Nature Physics, also confirm predictions made more than 60 years ago about the fundamental physics of laser-plasma interaction. Plasmas dense with electrons normally reflect laser light like a mirror. But a strong laser can drive those electrons to near the speed of light, making the plasma transparent and accelerating the plasma ions.

    Full Story