Friday, October 7, 2011

A first use of oil- and gas-produced water as a medium for algae

Researchers from Los Alamos National Laboratory and Eldorado Biofuels, both members of NAABB, have located and analyzed potential locations in New Mexico and Texas that are viable sources of produced water.

Future work includes bench-scale testing at LANL and Texas Agrilife to be followed by a second pilot-scale test this fall. The treatment methods will be adjusted to improve algal growth, total biomass produced and oil yields (full story).

Potential key found for unlocking biomass energy

Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory and Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center have found a potential key for unlocking the energy potential from non-edible biomass materials such as corn leaves and stalks, or switch grass (full story).

Los Alamos researchers engineer magnetic algae

Scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) have genetically engineered “magnetic” algae to investigate alternative, more efficient harvesting and lipid extraction methods for biofuels. The researchers seek to reduce the cost of algae-based biofuel production.

By inducing paramagnetic properties in algae, a permanent magnet-based separation could provide a low-cost alternative to current technologies, the researchers suggest (full story).

Antineutrino detectors can spot the destruction of weapons grade plutonium

One of the problems in dismantling nuclear weapons is what to do with the leftover weapons grade plutonium.

The issue of verification keeps nuclear proliferation experts awake at night. So they've been busy looking for a way for observers to tell what a reactor really is burning.

Anna Hayes and friends at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico say they've come up with just such a technique: the trick, they say, is to look for the antineutrinos that the reactor produces (full story).

LANL sets waste hauling record

Los Alamos National Laboratory has set a new LANL record for the amount of transuranic (TRU) waste from past nuclear operations shipped in a single year to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Carlsbad, NM. In fact, the lab has shipped record numbers of transuranic waste each of the past three years (full story).

Also from the Monitor this week:

LANL announces fund recipients

"Our Venture Acceleration Fund program provides much-needed capital to these promising companies, reducing their risk without the strings typically attached to equity investments," said David Pesiri, the Laboratory's Technology Transfer Division leader (full story).

NNSA disassembles nuclear weapons pits

LANL: Initial feedback for MOX Fuel Fabrication Facility is completed

The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) announced this week that it had successfully disassembled nuclear weapons “pits” and converted them into more than 240 kg of plutonium oxide, an initial step in permanent plutonium disposition.

The certified oxide is an initial source of feed for NNSA’s Mixed Oxide (MOX) Fuel Fabrication Facility, which is currently under construction at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina. The disassembly, conversion and certification, which were completed at Los Alamos National Laboratory, is a significant accomplishment in an ongoing effort to safely dispose of surplus weapon-grade plutonium (full story).

Report: Water safe to drink despite ash from fire

Study says contamination from Las Conchas Fire rarely hit hazardous levels

Filter-clogging ash washing down in stormwater from the Jemez Mountains after the Las Conchas Fire prompted Santa Fe water managers to stop diverting from the Rio Grande a half-dozen times this summer.

But overall, the levels of contaminants in the water were rarely above drinking-water standards after the fire, according to a report on toxins in Rio Grande water to the Buckman Direct Diversion project board Thursday. The board consists of representatives from Santa Fe city and county, which jointly oversee the river diversion project, which began treating river water for the municipal drinking water system in January.

Radionuclides, polychlorinated biphenyl, cyanide and other compounds were found in the sediment that swirled in flood water down into the Rio Grande, but only rarely at levels that exceeded drinking water standards, according to city, state and Los Alamos National Laboratory officials. Naturally occurring uranium also was found in the sediment (full story).

Laser uranium enrichment returns from the dead

The Los Alamos National Laboratory first developed molecular enrichment in the 1970s, seeking a more energy-efficient process to produce nuclear-reactor fuel.

It used a 16-μm laser source to selectively excite uranium hexafluoride (UF6) molecules containing fissionable U-235 (full story).

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