Friday, August 22, 2008

News from Los Alamos National Laboratory for August 18 - 22

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Drilling for Hot Rocks: Google Sinks Cash
into Advanced Geothermal Technology

Geothermal power plants use the Earth's heat to make electricity - stock photo

For $1 billion over the next 40 years, the U.S. could develop 100 gigawatts (a gigawatt equals one billion watts) of electricity generation that emits no air pollution and pumps out power to the grid even more reliably than coal-fired power plants, according to scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Now - the charitable wing of the search
engine giant - has chipped in nearly $11 million for this renewable resource: so-called geothermal power, or tapping the Earth's heat to make electricity.

Mastering geothermal drilling is why also invested $4 million into Potter Drilling, a Redwood City, Calif., enterprise built from EGS drilling work done at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico during the last oil crisis in the 1970s. Drill into the whole story here!

DOE invests $15.3 million in hydrogen storage for vehicles

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced on August 14 that it has selected 10 hydrogen storage research and development projects to receive $15.3 million over the ne
xt 5 years, subject to annual appropriations.

Los Alamos National Laboratory (Los Alamos, N.M.) - Up to $2.3 million for novel concept using an electric field to increase the hydrogen binding energy in hydrogen adsorbents. Read the
whole story here.

LANL, Sandia win wind-power grants

Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories were among seven labs awarded a total of more than $4 million in federal money last week to solve challenges in integrating wind energy into the U.S. electric grid.

The money was awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy's Wind and Hydropower
Technologies Program. The labs will use the money to fund research and industry collaboration on wind-energy integration.

The major areas of research are how large amounts of wind energy would impact the operations, reliability and economics of operating the grid; studies on how wind generation is impacted by
turbine hub heights and improving wind forecasts; and addressing environmental concerns with wind-turbine siting. More about this windy story here.

Also From the New Mexican this week:
Taos campus looks to sun for power

The University of New Mexico campus in Taos is going solar with the largest photovoltaic system in the state. Kit Carson Electric Cooperative, UNM officials and others held a groundbreaking Wednesday afternoon for the 500-kilowatt solar panel system.

It is part of a planned 1.1-megawatt photovoltaic ground-mounted system distributed among several sites and all tied into the conventional electric grid. Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories helped the cooperative identify the best kind of photovoltaic system. See the sunny story here.

Ancho Fire prompts 'significant' changes

Ancho Canyon burned area (center) LANL photo

Analysis of a 17-acre fire near a weapons test facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory has led to some changes to prevent recurrence. "They are significant," said Jay Dallman, who heads the division in charge of detonation testing at the laboratory.

"We've learned from this issue that we had and we're going to be making more changes." Among the changes, he said, was that future tests during "extreme" or "red flag" conditions must be specifically approved at a higher management level and the Los Alamos County Fire Department must be on site.

Also, an engineering study will review the containment-confinement systems to develop additional suitability standards. Read more about it here.

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