Friday, May 12, 2017

Perry tours, praises LANL
U.S Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, left, with Lab Director Charlie McMillan, center, and Jeff Yarbrough, LANL photo.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry, speaking at what he called “one of the most interesting sites in the world,” said the United States “no longer can continue to kick the can down the road” when it comes to cleaning up long-term radioactive and hazardous waste at the nation’s nuclear labs.

After getting a private tour of Los Alamos National Laboratory and speaking to its employees, Perry – who once vowed to eliminate the Department of Energy – was effusive in his praise of LANL and its sister DOE labs around the country.
“I suggest every country in the world would love to just have one like Los Alamos,” he told reporters. (Full story)

US energy chief touts nuclear energy, vows cleanup progress
Perry at a Los Alamos news conference, AP photo.

U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry on Wednesday vowed to advocate for nuclear power as the nation looks for ways to fuel its economy and limit the effects of electricity generation on the environment.

Perry made the comments during a visit to Los Alamos National Laboratory in northern New Mexico, where nuclear research has been among the main focuses since the lab's founding years during World War II. Los Alamos played a key role in the top-secret Manhattan Project to develop the first atomic bomb.

Current work at the lab centers on nuclear deterrence, nonproliferation and the modernization of the U.S. nuclear stockpile. (Full story)

Scientists strike back at mysteries of lightning
As part of the global security mission at Los Alamos, scientists use lightning to help develop better instruments for nuclear test-ban treaty monitoring and, in the process, have learned a lot about lightning itself.

For example, how is lightning initiated? Think about that: it happens up to 100 times per second, but we don’t quite know how. In a thunderstorm, electric charge separates into layers. A lightning discharge is a flow of electrons from one layer to another (or to the ground) that slightly relieves the imbalance. (Full story)

Plutonium chemistry a boon for nuclear waste management
Handling radioactive substances has come
a long way since the 1950s. From Cosmos.

Understanding plutonium chemistry may pave the way for cleaner nuclear power with less toxic waste. David Clark, a leading chemist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory has written that a “zero effluent” nuclear facility using “molecularly engineered plutonium compounds and total recycle of environmentally benign designer solvents” may not be far away. (Full story)

Google moves in and wants to pump 1.5 million gallons of water per day
Water recycling facility at Los Alamos National
Laboratory, LANL photo.   

A 2016 report by the U.S. Department of Energy noted that as the industry expands, the data center sector is using an increasing amount of water for cooling and electricity generation.

Monica Witt is a sustainability program manager at the federal Los Alamos National Laboratory, which operates several large data centers in New Mexico. Witt says the lab has to share its water with residents of the city of Los Alamos.
"We know that supercomputers and data centers are just going to use more and more water, so communicating to the community how much we're going to use in the next 10 years and planning with them has been really helpful," she said. (Full story)

Data analysis could trigger new shale gas revolution
Extensive data mining and analysis of 20,000 shale gas wells has revealed how “refracturing” existing wells with new technology could transform them from diminished producers into high-performers long after their initial peak production period has ended.

“Our analysis could potentially aid in reducing the number of new wells to be drilled,” said Richard Middleton, lead author of the study by a team of Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists. “In addition, through better fracturing techniques and alternative working fluids such as supercritical carbon dioxide, we see ways to both increase shale gas recovery and minimize environmental impacts through carbon sequestration,” he said. (Full story)

Santa Fe startup has its mark on the world
Anyone can explore the far reaches of earth using Google Earth, but Santa Fe company Descartes Labs has created innovative technology. They’re zooming in on things you’ve probably never looked at on Google Earth.

“Our goal was to better understand the planet by looking at the images that are taken every day by satellites,” said CEO Mark Johnson.

In the summer of 2014, Johnson met a team of scientists at Los Alamos National Lab working on deep learning artificial intelligence to better understand large data sets. (Full story)