Dr. Kirk Gerdes leads NETL’s fuel cell research team and is regional coordinator for West Virginia Science Bowl.Teamwork, collaboration broaden frontiers of science at NETL

Collaboration is a critical component of every successful enterprise. This is particularly true at DOE's National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) where research projects frequently extend beyond the lab’s physical boundaries to include participants in academia, industry, and other national labs. For Dr. Kirk Gerdes, who leads both NETL’s Fuel Cells Research Team and the WV Science Bowl Regional, collaboration is more than a corporate cliche; it’s a proven method and a best practice, and he applies variations of this core philosophy to his energy research and to encouraging future generations of scientists and engineers.

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NREL engineers Greg Martin and Mariko Shirazi work on data capture for microgrid synchronization waveforms. American utilities are looking at smaller, flexible systems such as microgrids that can deliver electricity anywhere. Photo by Dennis Schroeder, NRELClimate change shifts focus for energy system

The U.S. National Climate Assessment report states bluntly that streets in coastal cities are flooding more readily, that hotter and drier weather in the West means earlier starts to wildfire seasons, and that every region of the nation already is seeing real effects of climate change.

"It's more vital than ever that the nation have a secure, reliable energy infrastructure that can respond to extreme weather events, integrate sustainable sources of energy onto the grid, and keep the lights on," said Bryan Hannegan, Associate Laboratory Director for Energy Systems Integration at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). "Our existing electric system has served us well, but will it be up to the task of meeting our clean energy needs in a changing climate?"

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See also…

DOE Pulse
  • Number 422  |
  • September 15, 2014
  • Tandem microwave destroys hazmat, disinfects

    Tandem microwave destroys hazmat, disinfects Dangerous materials can be destroyed, bacteria spores can be disinfected, and information can be collected that reveals the country of origin of radiological isotopes - all of this due to a commercial microwave modified by DOE’s Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL).  SRNL and Hadron Technologies have joined together to create a tandem-microwave that is part of the next level in advanced law enforcement and health safety technology.

    Robin Brigmon, SRNL Senior Fellow Engineer, said the tandem microwave, fabricated from two commercial microwave ovens, can be used for the destruction of materials ranging from harmful viruses to methamphetamine, while still allowing for the DNA or chemical analysis of the destroyed material.  He said it can also be used for disinfecting wastes, sterilizing materials, and modifying liquid waste to solid.

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  • Uncertainty gives scientists new confidence in search for novel materials

    This image shows the results of calculations aimed at determining which of six chemical elements would make the best catalyst for promoting an ammonia synthesis reaction. Researchers at SLAC and Stanford used Density Functional Theory (DFT) to calculate the strength of the bond between nitrogen atoms and the surfaces of the catalysts. The bond strength, plotted on the horizontal axis, is a key factor in determining the reaction speed, plotted on the vertical axis. Based on thousands of these calculations, which yielded a range of results (colored dots) that reveal the uncertainty involved, researchers estimated an 80 percent chance that ruthenium (Ru, in red) will be a better catalyst than iron (Fe, in orange.) (Andrew Medford and Aleksandra Vojvodic/SUNCAT, Callie Cullum) Scientists at Stanford University and DOE’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have found a way to estimate uncertainties in computer calculations that are widely used to speed the search for new materials for industry, electronics, energy, drug design and a host of other applications.

    The technique, reported in a recent issue of Science, should quickly be adopted in studies that produce some 30,000 scientific papers per year.

    “Over the past 10 years our ability to calculate the properties of materials and chemicals, such as reactivity and mechanical strength, has increased enormously. It’s totally exploded,” said Jens Nørskov, a professor at SLAC and Stanford and director of the SUNCAT Center for Interface Science and Catalysis, who led the research.

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  • Water scarcity and climate change through 2095

    Future water scarcity may pose a significant challenge to our ability to adapt to or mitigate climate change. What will a global map of the availability or scarcity of water look like in 2095? Radically different, according to scientists at DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, depending on the type and the stringency of the climate mitigation policies chosen to reduce carbon pollution. Climate mitigation policies that increase the growth of certain water-hungry biofuels may exacerbate water scarcity. Limited water resources could severely restrict emissions mitigation and climate adaptation.

    In a first-of-its-kind comprehensive analysis, the team enhanced the Global Change Assessment Model to assess the impact of changing water supplies and demands that stem from a simultaneously evolving human population, economic system, technology, and climate. When they incorporated water use and availability in this computational engine and ran scenarios of possible climate mitigation policy targets, they found that without any climate policy to curb carbon emissions, half the world will be living under extreme water scarcity.

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