Friday, October 24, 2014



Novel rocket design flight tested

Alan Novak (Left) and Bryce Tappan load the LANL designed rocket motor into the rocket body prior to a test launch. LANL photo.

"What we're trying to do is break the performance versus sensitivity curve, and make a rocket that's both very high-energy, as well as very safe," said Bryce Tappan, an energetic materials chemist at the Laboratory. "Typically, when you look at a propellant that's high-performance, it's not as safe a material."

The new rocket fuel and motor design adds a higher degree of safety by separating the fuel from the oxidizer, both new formulations that are, by themselves, not able to detonate. (Full Story)




Rocket Design Offers High-Performance and Safety

New rocket design lifts off from the Socorro launch site. LANL image.

Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists recently flight tested a new rocket design that includes a high-energy fuel and a motor design that also delivers a high degree of safety.

"What we're trying to do is break the performance versus sensitivity curve, and make a rocket that's both very high-energy, as well as very safe," said Bryce Tappan, an energetic materials chemist at the Laboratory. "Typically, when you look at a propellant that's high-performance, it's not as safe a material." (Full Story)

Also in the Los Alamos Monitor

And on YouTube








The innovative, unlikely idea that could save America’s forests

Burned area of Cochiti Canyon, from Take Part

Nate McDowell is one of the scientists trying to figure out what’s killing the trees. On a warm July afternoon, the 42-year-old tree physiologist, who works for Los Alamos National Laboratory, roamed Technical Area 49, a plot of land located off a lonely highway in the Jemez, taking measurements for a tree mortality study he started two years ago. He was sunburned and sweaty, his sandy brown hair tucked under a baseball cap. A portable radio attached to the waistband of his khaki shorts squawked safety announcements: testing of explosives is also done in Area 49. (Full Story)



Verdesian signs deal with Los Alamos National Lab

On the heels of a media day hosted at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) sponsored by Verdesian Life Sciences,comes the announcement the Verdesian has signed a licensing agreement with LANL to develop and market their latest nitrogen enhancement technology for plants. The agreement extends the current relationship with LANL, under which Verdesian is marketing and distributing the research institution’s Take Off® crop nitrogen assimilator. (Full Story)

Also in Agriculture.com




NASA’s Mars Odyssey orbiter watches comet fly near

The Mars Odyssey spacecraft.  NASA image.

NASA's Mars Odyssey was out of communications with Earth, as planned, while conducting observations of comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring on Sunday, Oct. 19, as the comet flew near Mars. 

Mars Odyssey has worked at the Red Planet longer than any other Mars mission in history. Odyssey’s Neutron Spectrometer, provided by Los Alamos National Laboratory, is part of the mission’s Gamma Ray Spectrometer suite. (Full Story)



Release of transcripts gives Oppenheimer’s reputation a boost

J. Robert Oppenheimer in 1945. From the Journal.        

The release of transcripts of the AEC’s secret hearings from 1954, which made headlines earlier this month, provided disclosures that reaffirmed the once-questioned loyalty of the Los Alamos Manhattan Project mastermind.

The hearings took place against the backdrop of 1950s Red-scare America, fueled by factors including the fact that Oppenheimer’s brother and wife had been communists and his lack of enthusiasm for building the more powerful hydrogen or “super” bomb. (Full Story)


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Friday, October 17, 2014

 
Four Corners a methane hot spot, NASA study says

The Four Corners is a national "hot spot" for concentrations of atmospheric methane, according to a new study.

Facilities at the San Juan gas plant.
(Photo Courtesy Daily Times)
The joint study by scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the University of Michigan published in the journal "Geophysical Research Letters" last week reported a high concentration of the greenhouse gas methane across 2,500 square miles in the Four Corners.

Manvendra Dubey, a senior scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, said the study findings were supported by ground-based testing Los Alamos researchers conducted at the PNM San Juan Generating Station. (full story)

This story also appeared in the Los Alamos Monitor


Where are we with algae biofuels?

Algae for processing into biofuel.
(LANL image.)
The state of R&D so far: Four NAABB advances have brought the cost of algae biocrude oil down to $7.50 per gallon. Three roadblocks remain between today’s cost and $3.00.

DOE awarded $48.6 million to a consortium of organizations who formed the NAABB, with the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center as lead institution and Los Alamos’ Jose Olivares as principal investigator. (full story)

More on LANL algal biofuel program on YouTube

 

DOE awards Los Alamos Nat’l Lab employee safety efforts

Raising the VPP Flag for
employee safety (LANL image)
The Energy Department has given Los Alamos National Laboratory the “Star” status under the Voluntary Protection Program, which evaluates DOE contractor measures in employee health and safety.

“Hazards are part of our everyday work and achieving VPP Star recognition validates the evolution of worker-manager partnerships in making our Laboratory safe,” said LANL Director Charlie McMillan. (full story)

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Friday, October 10, 2014



Tiny yet mighty methane hotspot discovered in the US

The Four Corners area is the only red spot on the map. NASA/JPL/U of Mich.

Using data from the European Space Agency’s Scanning Imaging Absorption Spectrometer for Atmospheric Chartography (SCIAMACHY) instrument on board ENVISAT, scientists from NASA and the University of Michigan discovered the hotspot near the Four Corners intersection of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah        

To verify the remote satellite data, the researchers compared their results with a Total Carbon Column Observing Network ground station, operated by the Department of Energy’s Los Alamos National Laboratory. (Full Story)



Satellite data shows U.S. methane ‘hot spot’ bigger than expected

Los Alamos instruments near the Four Corners coal-fired power plant. LANL image.

One small "hot spot" in the U.S. Southwest is responsible for producing the largest concentration of the greenhouse gas methane seen over the United States – more than triple the standard ground-based estimate        

A ground station in the Total Carbon Column Observing Network, operated by the Department of Energy’s Los Alamos National Laboratory, provided independent validation of the measurement. (Full Story)



The danger to birds from open pipes

Western Bluebird, from ENN.              

Open pipes, widely used for a variety of purposes across the western U.S. landscape, have been reported as a "potentially very large" source of bird mortality according to research by scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). The finding was part of a peer-reviewed study accepted for publication by the "Western North American Naturalist" and authored by Charles D. Hathcock and Jeanne M. Fair. (Full Story)



Team advances understanding of Greenland ice sheet

Greenland ice sheet.            

An international research team’s field work, drilling and measuring melt rates and ice sheet movement in Greenland is showing that things are, in fact, more complicated than we thought.

“Although the Greenland Ice Sheet initially speeds up each summer in its slow-motion race to the sea, the network of meltwater channels beneath the sheet is not necessarily forming the slushy racetrack that had been previously considered,” said Matthew Hoffman, a Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist on the project. (Full Story)


Also from the LA Monitor this week:

LANL receives recognition for safety excellence

The Star Status flag flies over the Lab, LANL photo.          

Los Alamos National Laboratory has received Star-level recognition from the Department of Energy as part of DOE’s Voluntary Protection Program. Los Alamos becomes the largest site in the DOE complex to receive Star Status.

“Hazards are part of our everyday work and achieving VPP Star recognition validates the evolution of worker-manager partnerships in making our laboratory safe,” said laboratory director Charlie McMillan.” (Full Story)

Also in the Los Alamos Daily Post



LANL’s four scientific pillars

LANL and NMC scientist Richard Sayre leads a tour of the bio-energy facility.  From AgWire. 

Back in the days of the Manhattan Project, Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) was a secret to the outside world. Founded to develop technologies to defend America, that mission is still in place today. During the Verdesian Los Alamos Media Tour, ag reporters had the opportunity to learn about the work being done at LANL as well as how some of the innovations developed in the lab eventually end up on a farmer’s field. I should note that the scientific foundation of Verdesian’s Take-Off product was developed at LANL. (Full Story)

Additional stories from AgWired -- LANL Ag Innovations and From Lab to Field




Special report: Inside Los Alamos National Laboratory

Richard Sayre in the biofuel lab.  From FIN.

Plant health company Verdesian Life Sciences took the media behind the gates of the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico this week to see where the technology for its plant health product Take Off was discovered. The technology increases the metabolism in plants to help them grow better.

Los Alamos National Laboratory, known for its development of the first atomic bomb, is one of the largest science and technology institutions in the world. It is using the same technologies it uses in national defense to study crops. (Full Story)

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Friday, October 3, 2014

Understanding the Greenland Ice Sheet’s meltwater channels

Scientist's camp on the Greenland Ice
Sheet. (LANL Photo)
The Greenland Ice Sheet's movement speeds up each summer as melt from the surface penetrates kilometer-thick ice through moulins, lubricating the bed of the ice sheet. Greater melt is predicted for Greenland in the future, but its impact on ice sheet flux and associated sea level rise is uncertain.

"Although the Greenland Ice Sheet initially speeds up each summer in its slow-motion race to the sea, the network of meltwater channels beneath the sheet is not necessarily forming the slushy racetrack that had been previously considered," said Matthew Hoffman, a Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist on the project. (full story)

Team advances understanding of the Greenland Ice Sheet’s meltwater channels

Greenland meltwater channel
An international research team’s fieldwork, drilling and measuring melt rates and ice sheet movement in Greenland is showing that things are, in fact, more complicated than we thought.

A high-profile paper appearing in Nature this week notes that observations of moulins (vertical conduits connecting water on top of the glacier down to the bed of the ice sheet) and boreholes in Greenland show that subglacial channels ameliorate the speedup caused by water delivery to the base of the ice sheet in the short term. (full story)

 
LANL introduces ATHENA, the desktop human ‘body’

Artificial lung developed at
LANL. (LANL image)
Creating surrogate human organs, coupled with insights from highly sensitive mass spectrometry technologies, a new project is on the brink of revolutionizing the way we screen new drugs and toxic agents.

“By developing this ‘homo minutus,’ we are stepping beyond the need for animal or Petri dish testing: There are huge benefits in developing drug and toxicity analysis systems that can mimic the response of actual human organs,” said Rashi Iyer, a senior scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory. (full story)
 
The tech to stop new airline threats

A bottle of white wine is loaded into
the MagRay system. (LANL image)
Do airport security teams have the necessary tech to stay ahead of this threat? Security experts say that trace detection machines are capable of picking up residue, no matter how small.

Los Alamos National Lab created its own system, the MagRay (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), that combines X-ray and MRI techniques to create 3-D images that reveal a liquid's proton content and density, which can tell you more about what it is. (Currently, most liquids scanners are slow and give a lot of false positives.) (full story)

LANL licenses polarization cryptography technique

Quantum key device. (LANL image)
Quantum encryption technology based on random photon polarization could give ordinary people access to truly secure commerce, banking, communications and data transfer.

Developed at Los Alamos National Laboratory, the technology has been licensed to Whitewood Encryption Systems Inc. for commercialization.


The LANL technology uses random polarization to generate random numbers for real-time encryption at high data rates. It represents an improvement over existing random-number generators based on mathematical formulas that can be broken by a computer with sufficient speed and power. (full story)

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