| January 5, 2009
Livermore to collaborate in new technologies for shale oil production
Colorado’s oil-shale rich Piceance Basin.
(Photo credit: Courtesy of the Colorado Geological Survey.)
DOE's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and American Shale Oil, LLC (AMSO), a subsidiary of IDT Corporation, have entered into a technical cooperation agreement to develop carbon sequestration technologies for in ground shale oil production processes. Specifically, LLNL will partner with AMSO to study how to use depleted underground oil shale retorts to permanently store carbon dioxide generated during the oil shale extraction process. AMSO will provide technical expertise and oil shale core samples from its federal lease site. A retort, in this case, is a refractory chamber, generally cylindrically shaped, within which oil shale is heated as part of a smelting or manufacturing process. Livermore Lab's Susan Carroll is the principal investigator for the project.
[Anne Stark, 925.422.9799,
NETL develops improved coating process for solid oxide fuel cell
|NETL and West Virginia University have collaborated to develop improved
coatings for solid oxide fuel cell interconnects.
Researchers at DOE's National Energy Technology Laboratory and West
Virginia University have collaborated on the development of
manganese-cobalt coatings for solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) interconnects
using an environmentally-friendly electroplating process. Recent
results during on-cell testing showed considerable improvement of SOFC
degradation with this coating method relative to uncoated interconnects.
When compared with other coating methods, electroplating offers
significant advantages in ease of operation and cost. The research
results have been published in two peer-reviewed journals, and one
patent disclosure of the process has been filed. The results were also
presented at the Materials Science & Technology-2008 conference in October.
[Linda Morton, 304.285.4543,
Trio of dwellings provide efficiency testbed
Three houses under construction in East Tennessee will become a model for the nation when it comes to determining energy efficiency. The first house is a typical Energy Star "builder house" with an energy efficiency score of 85 Home Energy Rating System, or HERS. The second unit, called a retrofit house, includes energy-efficient upgrades to the building envelope and mechanical equipment. This house has a HERS rating of 64 (the lower the better). The third unit is a high-performance house with a package of technologies that help push the predicted HERS rating to 30. This house will provide about 55 percent energy savings compared to the builder unit. DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory is partnering with builders, suppliers and a utility on the project
[Ron Walli, 865.576.0226,
ARTHR gives robots the brains to detect threats
U.S. soldiers and first responders could soon have their own version of a bomb-sniffing dog — a robotic payload named ARTHR developed at DOE’s Idaho National Laboratory. The Autonomous Real-time Threat-Hunting Robot (ARTHR) system enables commercial robots to search dangerous environments such as insurgent war zones, natural disasters and sites of radiological and chemical accidents. ARTHR creates its own maps, making barriers easy to read and color-coding safe and hazard zones. Traditional systems require command center units weighing up to 30 pounds, but ARTHR responds to lightweight PCs and handheld controllers such as Wii™ gaming remotes. In head-to-head tests, both novices and highly-trained military teams found ARTHR more reliable and easier to use than current systems. ARTHR-equipped robots are currently being evaluated for missions in Iraq and could one day aid police departments, search-and-rescue personnel and border checkpoint agents.
[Nicole Stricker, 208/526-5955,
Shedding light on how much sunshine hits the ground
NREL senior engineer Steve Wilcox (left foreground, green shirt) looks up as technicians make the final adjustments to the first rotating shadowband radiometer in a planned solar measurement network in the Southwest.
A team of DOE's National Renewable Energy Laborarory and industry engineers has launched a new ground-based instrument network to measure the sunlight hitting the southwestern United States. The first solar station has been installed in Arizona, with several more planned in nearby states.
The stations are part of NREL's Solar Resource and Meteorological Assessment Project (SOLRMAP).
The improved data will be incorporated into computer models to help determine the most efficient locations for utility-scale solar energy conversion projects such as concentrated solar power plants.
The inaugural station was installed with Iberdrola Renewables, a division of the Spanish energy giant. Industry partners pay for the network’s instrumentation and system maintenance.
[Joe Verrengia, 303.275.3891,
Ph.D. candidate continues to
learn at Jefferson Lab
As a high school student in the former Yugoslavia, Marija Raskovic dreamed of becoming an architect. But by the time she graduated in 1992, her country was undergoing rapid political and economic changes.
"My parents couldn't afford to send me on to architecture school," she recalled, "so I sat down and thought 'What am I good at?'"
She decided to study physical chemistry at the University of Belgrade, an institution she chose because of its excellent reputation in the field. After receiving her bachelor's degree, she was hired on as a teaching assistant while working toward her master's.
The economic situation in Serbia had been difficult during this period and hadn't changed by the time she defended her master's thesis in plasma science; so she decided to come to the United States to attend Old Dominion University for her Ph.D.
A student in the newly established ODU Center for Accelerator Science, Raskovic is pursuing a project at DOE's Jefferson Lab that is investigating plasma etching for surface preparation on superconducting radiofrequency cavities.
"Since accelerator performance depends directly on the physical and chemical characteristics of the superconducting radiofrequency cavity surface, the preparation of the cavity walls has been one of the major challenges in SRF accelerator technology. Constant research and development efforts are devoted to developing surface preparation processes that will decrease roughness without introducing impurities, like hydrogen or oxygen, into the niobium surface," she explains.
Raskovic 's project, which spans plasma, atomic and accelerator physics, is the first of its kind at ODU and is supported by the Department of Energy through a grant to the university.
Raskovic enjoys ballroom dancing with her husband, and, in what little spare time she has, she is also an avid crafter.
"I like to see something made by my own hands. It's a good stress reliever."
Submitted by DOE's Jefferson Lab