Rob Mitchell joined Sandia National Laboratories in 2013 as an environment, safety and health coordinator through the Labs’ Wounded Warrior Career Development Program, which makes certain Sandia jobs available to combat-wounded veterans temporarily, with the potential for permanent employment. He recently began bringing his service dog, Hunni, to work. (Photo by Steve Miller)Service dog helps Wounded Warrior on the job at Sandia Labs

On Dec. 27, 2004, Rob Mitchell was driving through Sadr City, Iraq, with the US Army’s 1st Cavalry Division, headed toward a nearby base exchange where he and his team planned to buy snacks and CDs. He was behind the wheel of the third Humvee in a three-vehicle convoy when everything suddenly turned brown.

“It was like I’d driven into a sandstorm. I didn’t hear anything, see anything, or feel anything. Everything was just brown,” he recalls. The dust settled, and he realized his convoy had been hit by an improvised explosive device, an IED.

Rob’s best friend, a gunner in the second vehicle, was killed in the attack and several others in the convoy were severely wounded. The Humvee’s ballistic glass windshield saved Rob’s life when it prevented an airborne ball bearing from hitting him. This was the third IED Rob had survived during his year in Iraq.

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Argonne principal mechanical engineer Sibendu Som (left) and computational scientist Raymond Bair discuss combustion engine simulations conducted by the Virtual Engine Research Institute and Fuels Initiative (VERIFI). The initiative will be running massive simulations on Argonne’s Mira supercomputer to gain further insight into the inner workings of combustion engines.Argonne pushing boundaries of computing in engine simulations

When you’re trying to understand the complex inner workings of a virtual engine, with its millions of variables and untold number of uncertainties, the most important horsepower number isn’t the one under the hood; it’s the one in the computer rack next door.

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory will be testing the limits of computing horsepower this year with a new simulation project from the Virtual Engine Research Institute and Fuels Initiative (VERIFI) that will harness 60 million computer core hours to dispel those uncertainties and pave the way to more effective engine simulations.

The work will be conducted on MIRA, which is currently the fifth-fastest supercomputer in the world and serves as the epicenter of the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility, a DOE Office of Science User Facility. VERIFI has been working for two years to gain a deeper understanding of the complex dynamics at work in engine combustion. While VERIFI has used powerful computers before, it has never accessed a computer with the horsepower of MIRA and the abilities to unlock the deepest secrets of combustion.

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See also…

DOE Pulse
  • Number 448  |
  • September 21, 2015
  • Magnetism at nanoscale

    Ames Laboratory physicists are building a nitrogen-vacancy center magnetoscope to better understand magnetic fields at smaller scales than ever before. The NV-magnetoscope relies on the quantum mechanical properties of NV centers in diamond to help probe magnetic fields down to a resolution of about 10 nanometers. As the demand grows for ever smaller, smarter electronics, so does the demand for understanding materials’ behavior at ever smaller scales. Physicists Ames Laboratory are building a unique optical magnetometer to probe magnetism at the nano- and mesoscale.

    The device, called a NV-magnetoscope, makes use of the unique quantum mechanical properties of nitrogen-vacancy (NV) centers in diamond. The low temperature NV-magnetoscope setup incorporates a confocal microscope (CFM) and an atomic-force scanning microscope (AFM). The NV-magnetoscope will be able to sense the extremely weak magnetic fields of just a handful of electrons with the spatial resolution of about 10 nanometers.

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  • Successful tests may lead to faster creation of new nuclear fuels

    R&D Technician Steve Steffler removes a glowing billet of depleted uranium from a high-temperature salt bath to place it into the extrusion press. Marking an important step toward the advancement of a new type of reactor, employees at DOE's Idaho National Laboratory recently completed the first successful test of fabrication equipment in the Experimental Fuels Facility (EFF) at INL’s Materials and Fuels Complex. Specifically, they finished the first extrusions of depleted uranium — a process of shaping material by forcing it through a die.

    The test — conducted with Washington-based TerraPower — serves to restore a metallic fuel fabrication capability that has not been used in the United States since the 1980s. INL is working cooperatively with TerraPower to demonstrate the ability to use extrusion as a way to produce fuel slugs. TerraPower is developing a Traveling Wave Reactor (TWR) concept, a new type of fast reactor.

    “INL has a unique set of facilities, capabilities and resources for demonstrating the feasibility of some of these key processes,” said Doug Adkisson, TerraPower’s senior vice president of Operations. “The collaboration between INL and TerraPower has been outstanding and really underscores what can be achieved in a pretty short time frame.”

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  • New catalyst addresses engine efficiency, emissions quandary

    Researcher Andrew Binder and colleagues discovered that by mixing three components they could create an innovative catalyst that performs well at low temperatures without the use of precious metals. A catalyst being developed by researchers at DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory could overcome one of the key obstacles still preventing automobile engines from running more cleanly and efficiently.

    The mixed oxide catalyst could solve the longstanding problem of inhibition, in which nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons effectively clog the catalyst designed to cleanse a vehicle’s exhaust stream. This happens as these three pollutants compete for active surface sites on the catalyst. Now, however, ORNL’s low-cost catalyst composed of copper oxide, cobalt oxide and cerium oxide shows considerable promise when tested in simulated exhaust streams.

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