Friday, June 20, 2014

Assessing Fukushima damage without eyes on the inside

Workers outside the Fukushima plant. From the NY Times.

A particle that barely ranks as a footnote in a physics text may be about to lift the cleanup of the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex in Japan over a crucial obstacle.          

To clean up the reactors, special tools must be custom-made, according to Duncan W. McBranch, the chief technology officer at Los Alamos National Laboratory, and the tools “can be much better designed if you had a good idea of what’s inside.” (Full Story)

LANL technology to examine Fukushima damage

Christopher Morris explains how the detectors work. From KRQE

About 5,900 miles away in New Mexico, LANL researchers were working on technology they now believe may show Japanese nuclear power plant workers exactly how bad the failed reactors are on the inside.

“They are much too radioactive to go in and look at things,” said Christopher Morris, the lead researcher on the project. The LANL device instead sends particles called muons through the damaged reactor cores. (Full Story)

How scientists will look inside Fukushima’s radioactive cores

A Fukushima reactor building.  From Gizmodo

The Los Alamos National Laboratory and Toshiba are putting the finishing touches on a muon-powered imaging device that they believe will let them see deep inside the reactors without putting any workers in danger or risking further radiation leaks. The technology basically spots muons when they go in one side of the reactor and checks to see if they bumped into any atoms inside and were diverted on the way through. Over time, this will help them map out the inside of the reactor. (Full Story)
Also in The Verge, Homeland Security Newswire, and the Los Alamos Monitor

Nanoengineering boosts carrier multiplication in quantum dots four-fold

Core/shell PbSe/CdSe quantum dots. LANL illustration.

Los Alamos researchers have demonstrated an almost four-fold boost of the carrier multiplication yield with nanoengineered quantum dots. Carrier multiplication is when a single photon can excite multiple electrons. Quantum dots are novel nanostructures that can become the basis of the next generation of solar cells, capable of squeezing additional electricity out of the extra energy of blue and ultraviolet photons. (Full Story)

Also in R&D magazine, and EE Times

What’s in that bottle?

It says lime juice, but is it really?

Imagine you have to quickly figure out just what liquid is inside a bottle. The container might be opaque, or even metal. You can’t open it, and you can’t trust what is on the label. That scenario is faced in airports, at border crossings, and in response to hazardous-material or bomb scares. Moreover, the need to accurately identify liquids is common in quality control of everything from medicine to cosmetics to foods. (Full Story)

Los Alamos National Laboratory installs new HPC system

The Wolf Supercomputer. LANL image.

Los Alamos National Laboratory recently installed a new high-performance computer system, called Wolf, which will be used for unclassified research.

Wolf, manufactured by the Cray Inc., has 616 compute nodes each with two 8-core 2.6 GHz Intel “Sandybridge” processors, 64 GB of memory and a high speed Infiniband interconnect network. It utilizes the Laboratory’s existing Panasas parallel file system as well as a new one based on Lustre technology. (Full Story)

Also in Government Computer News

Taking pictures with protons

One of the first proton test images is the internal workings of a wristwatch.  LANL image.

A new facility for using protons to take microscopic images has been commissioned at the ring accelerator of the GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research in Darmstadt, Germany.

The proton microscope is an international collaboration consisting of Los Alamos National Laboratory, GSI, the Technical Univ. Darmstadt and the Institute for Theoretical and Experimental Physics, Russia. (Full Story)

How tiny algae could be the big future of carbon-free fuel

Chemist in front of algae fuel processing tubes, from Take Part

José Olivares, a scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory who runs the NAABB consortium, said the tiny algae they’re creating potentially could yield 1,000 gallons to 4,000 gallons per acre per year.

While algae is typically 99 percent water by weight, the strains the scientists are developing contain up to 40 percent lipids by weight. “We need to provide organisms that are robust, and provide the most lipid content possible,” said Olivares. (Full Story)

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