Friday, September 4, 2015

DOE to crank out new plutonium-238 in 2019

Heated Pu-238 glows, DOE image.

DOE refines the artificial element plutonium-238 at Oak Ridge. The fuel is pressed into pellets that can fit into MMRTGs at the department’s Los Alamos National Laboratory in Los Alamos, New Mexico. Los Alamos will test the sample batch of plutonium-238 DOE hopes to produce next year.

There are still 35 kilograms of useable plutonium-238 left in the U.S. stockpile for civil space missions, although only 17 kilograms of the material meet DoE’s minimum energy requirements for space. (Full Story)

Behavioral cyber tools going commercial

Los Alamos National Laboratory has signed a strategic alliance with Ernst & Young LLP to commercialize advanced behavioral cybersecurity tools.

Los Alamos’ PathScan anomaly detection tool, which had been used exclusively by federal agencies, will be the first tool that will be made available through the alliance.

According to Los Alamos, PathScan will be one of most advanced cybersecurity tools available to the private sector based on its behavioral analysis approach to detecting threats. (Full Story)

Also from Homeland Security Today

Evaluating a new approach to CO2 capture and storage

Carbon capture system, LANL illustration.

Los Alamos researchers helped examine a new approach that could potentially overcome many barriers  to deployment and jumpstart CO2 capture and storage on a commercial scale.

At present, 68 percent of the electricity generated in the United States results from burning fossil fuels, more than half of which uses coal — the most CO2 -intensive source — as the primary energy source. (Full Story)

Gene regulation tool makes medical and biofuel advances possible

Molecular “dimmer,” LANL image.

Recent work by Los Alamos National Laboratory experimental and theoretical biologists describes a new method of controlling gene expression. The key is a tunable switch made from a small non-coding RNA molecule that could have value for medical and even biofuel production purposes.

“Living cells have multiple mechanisms to control and regulate processes—many of which involve regulating the expression of genes,” said lead project scientist Clifford Unkefer of the Laboratory’s Bioscience division. (Full Story)

Also from the Post this week:

Capture sunlight with your window

Quantum dots under ultraviolet light, LANL image.

A luminescent solar concentrator is an emerging sunlight harvesting technology that has the potential to disrupt the way we think about energy; It could turn any window into a daytime power source.

“In these devices, a fraction of light transmitted through the window is absorbed by nanosized particles (semiconductor quantum dots) dispersed in a glass window, re-emitted at the infrared wavelength invisible to the human eye, and wave-guided to a solar cell at the edge of the window,” said Victor Klimov. (Full Story)

A clearer outlook for quantum dot-enabled solar windows

A small sample of quantum dot solar window material, LANL image.

Quantum dots have been knocking on the door of photovoltaics for a while now. But it turns out that maybe they should have been tapping on the window instead.

In joint research between the Department of Energy’s Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and the University of Milan-Bicocca (UNIMIB) in Italy, researchers have spent the last 16 months perfecting a technique that makes it possible to embed quantum dots into windows so that the window itself becomes a solar panel. (Full Story)

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