Lawrence Livermore physicist Miguel MoralesExtreme weather inspired Livermore physicist Miguel Morales

Lawrence Livermore physicist Miguel Morales stormed into science in a manner of speaking.

His selection as a 2014 Presidential Early Career Award for Science and Engineering (PECASE) appears to demonstrate that he is a force in the field of condensed matter physics – studying materials at extreme pressures and temperatures. This is perhaps only appropriate since it was in the aftermath of a hurricane that struck his native Puerto Rico that at age 16 he discovered an aptitude and passion for science.

Full Story


The Raman gas sensor is ideal for conducting quick and continuous measurements of gaseous streams in a pipeline or industrial facility.Raman gas sensor provides real-time gas composition analysis

Improving the efficiency of our nation’s power plants is a key focus area of the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) research efforts. Even small increases in process efficiency can result in improved energy output and reduce the environmental impacts associated with the use of fossil fuels. A new gas composition sensor developed by researchers at NETL and the University of Pittsburgh, under the NETL-Regional University Alliance program, aims to improve the process efficiency of gas-fired power generating facilities.

Natural gas, the most common gas fuel, can have significant variations in hydrocarbon composition depending on the source. Opportunity fuels such as biogas and landfill gases also have significant variation in quality, and operators often use natural gas as a backup. All of these gases differ in their BTU content, flame speed, Wobbe Index, dilution gases, and composition. Modern lean-burning, low-emission gas turbines and reciprocating engines require fine-tuned control of the combustion process to achieve optimal operation. Fluctuations in fuel gas composition can result in reduced efficiency, high pollutant emissions, and turbine damage. Real-time fuel gas composition sensing would enable a turbine control system to adjust rapidly and maintain optimal combustion conditions.

Full Story

See also…

DOE Pulse
  • Number 405  |
  • January 20, 2014
  • New test facility to improve wind turbines

    NREL engineer Scott Lambert (left) and Project Manager Mark McDade discuss calibrations being done on the new dynamometer at the 5-MW Dynamometer Test Facility at NREL's National Wind Technology Center. Premature failures of mechanical systems significantly impact the cost of wind turbine operations and thus the total cost of wind energy. Recently, DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) took a step forward toward more reliable, lower-cost wind power with the addition of the new 5-megawatt (MW) Dynamometer Test Facility at its National Wind Technology Center (NWTC). The new facility expands the capability of NWTC engineers and industry partners to verify the performance and reliability of wind turbine drivetrain prototypes and commercial machines.

    The facility is capable of testing drivetrains up to 5 MW—large enough to test virtually any land-based turbine—and employs dynamically variable loading capabilities that will allow researchers to better simulate conditions a turbine might experience in the field.

    Full Story

  • New shielding designed to put the block on neutrons

    Three new products developed at Jefferson Lab for shielding against neutrons consist of a boron-rich paneling for use in space-restricted areas (front), boron-rich concrete that absorbs neutrons using less material (left), and a lightweight concrete that is four times better at slowing down neutrons than ordinary concrete (right). Fifteen minutes can seem like an eternity to engineer Paul Brindza. It's the average lifetime of a neutron, one of the many subatomic particles that scientists study at the U.S. Department of Energy's Jefferson Lab. And while 900 seconds seems like a fleetingly short life to most of us, it’s more than enough time for swarms of neutrons to do real damage as they travel inside Jefferson Lab's experimental Hall C.

    To stop the neutrons and other particles before they can inflict harm on sensitive scientific equipment and computers, Brindza and his colleague Bert Metzger have devised a system of patented and patent-pending products now being installed in Hall C.

    Full Story

  • Supercomputers help identify key molecular switch that controls cell behavior

    Red and blue molecules represent a conformational switch essential to the signaling mechanism of an E. coli chemoreceptor that researchers discovered using computational molecular dynamics simulations. Image credit: Davi OrtegaIf scientists can control cellular functions such as movement and development, they can cripple cells and pathogens that are causing disease in the body.

    Supported by National Institutes of Health grants, researchers at DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the University of Tennessee, and the UT–ORNL Joint Institute for Computational Sciences (JICS) discovered a molecular “switch” in a receptor that controls cell behavior using detailed molecular dynamics simulations on a computer called Anton built by D. E. Shaw Research in New York City. To study an even larger signaling complex surrounding the switch, the team is expanding these simulations on the 27-petaflop, CPU–GPU machine Titan—the nation’s most powerful supercomputer, managed by the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility at ORNL.

    Full Story