Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory postdoctoral researcher Suzanne Singer wants to use LLNL capabilities to help tribes advance their energy security and development. Photo by Julie Russell/Lawrence Livermore National LaboratoryLLNL's Suzanne Singer brings renewable energy to Native Americans who need it

Tiny wood-frame and dome-shaped hogans dot the landscape of the Navajo Nation's reservation in the Southwest. Around them are natural wonders such as canyons carved into the earth billions of years ago and plateaus that rise in the horizon, revealing layers of geological rocks from ancient time periods.

But amid the beauty are the harsh realities for some Navajos living on a 27,425-square-mile Indian reservation – the nation's largest – that occupy portions of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. Their homes don't have electricity, running water or indoor plumbing.

With her expertise in renewable energy, building efficiency and energy infrastructure, engineer Suzanne Singer of DOE's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is working passionately to bring sustainable energy to tribes around the country.

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Advanced manufacturing techniques can be used to precisely engineer active sites architecture in SOFC electrodes.Advanced manufacturing builds a better fuel cell

Solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) are uniquely suited to generate clean electric power directly from fossil energy sources with maximum efficiency and with minimal environmental impact. Although SOFC technology developments supported by DOE are improving the technology’s commercial viability, opportunities exist to improve cost and lifetime performance. Increasing cell performance is a key strategy to lowering cell cost, and a critical aspect of improved performance is enhancing the reactions occurring inside the cell. Researchers at DOE's National Energy Technology Laboratory have used a variety of computational techniques and innovative technologies (including fiber-optic sensors and CT scanners) to examine reactions inside SOFCs and pinpoint key reaction locations. Based on this information, researchers have developed a blueprint that enables the application of additive manufacturing techniques to increase cell performance by optimizing the reactions inside SOFCs.

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See also…

DOE Pulse
  • Number 421  |
  • September 1, 2014
  • ORNL scientists uncover clues to role of magnetism in iron-based superconductors

    ORNL scientists used scanning transmission electron microscopy to measure atomic-scale magnetic behavior in several families of iron-based superconductors. New measurements of atomic-scale magnetic behavior in iron-based superconductors by researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Vanderbilt University are challenging conventional wisdom about superconductivity and magnetism.

    The study published in Advanced Materials provides experimental evidence that local magnetic fluctuations can influence the performance of iron-based superconductors, which transmit electric current without resistance at relatively high temperatures.

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  • Finding fingerprints of selection in poplars

    A poplar shoot. Since the publication of the poplar genome by the U.S. Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute (DOE JGI) in 2006, it has been used to understand woody perennial plant development and served as a model for genome-level insights in forest trees. In a recent study published online August 24, 2014 in Nature Genetics, a team led by Gerald Tuskan of Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and the DOE JGI – a DOE Office of Science user facility – and Stephen DiFazio of West Virginia University used a combination of genome-wide selection scans and analyses to understand the processes involved in shaping the genetic variation of natural poplar (Populus trichocarpa) populations.

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  • NREL unlocking secrets of new solar material

    NREL Senior Scientist Kai Zhu prepares a perovskite solar cell in his lab, using a precursor solution that converts from a liquid base to an absorber in a device. Perovskite has shot up the conversion efficiency charts faster than any other solar cell material. Credit: Dennis Schroeder/NREL A new solar material that has the same crystal structure as a mineral first found in the Ural Mountains in 1839 is shooting up the efficiency charts faster than almost anything researchers have seen before—and it is generating optimism that a less expensive way of using sunlight to generate electricity may be in our planet's future.

    Researchers at DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) are analyzing the new material, perovskite, using the lab's unique testing capabilities and broad spectrum of expertise to uncover the secrets and potential of the semiconducting cube-like mineral.

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  • Chromium's bonding angles let oxygen move quickly

    Ordered, nanostructured, rhombohedral phase, SrCrO2.8 showing oxygen-deficient SrO2 planes. By taking advantage of the natural tendency of chromium atoms to avoid certain bonding environments, scientists at DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have generated a material that allows oxygen to move through it very efficiently, and at relatively low temperatures. Specifically, they found that their attempts to make metallic SrCrO3 lead instead to the formation of semiconducting SrCrO2.8. Because chromium as an ion with a charge of +4 does not like to form 90º bonds with oxygen, as it must in SrCrO3, SrCrO2.8 forms instead with a completely different crystal structure. This material contains oxygen-deficient planes through which oxygen can diffuse very easily.

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  • Grad student's astrophysical insights could apply to fusion

    Graduate student Jonathan Squire Graduate student Jonathan Squire has won a highly competitive Honorific Fellowship from the Princeton University Graduate School. The award, for which Squire was nominated by the Princeton Program in Plasma Physics at DOE's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, recognizes outstanding performance and professional promise and provides tuition and a stipend to fellowship winners.

    Squire is developing a new theoretical insight into the growth of magnetorotational instability, a subtle process that appears to control the flow of matter around black holes and has implications for the creation of celestial bodies. The process takes place when matter in the form of magnetized plasma rotates around celestial objects and is drawn into them when the rotation grows unstable. “This is an astrophysical issue but our methods of approaching the problem could also prove very useful in fusion research,” said Squire.

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