Friday, February 8, 2008

News from Los Alamos National Laboratory for Feb. 4-8

Solar Energy: Can the Upstarts Top Silicon? (Science)
Several nascent technologies are improving prospects for turning the sun's rays into electricity. The success of any one of them could mean a big boost for solar power

These are bright days for backers of solar power. The exuberance that previously pumped up dot-coms and biotech companies migrated in 2007 to solar energy, one of the hottest sectors in the emerging market for clean energy. Four years ago, researchers led by Victor Klimov of Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico reported the first spectroscopic evidence showing that multiple electron-hole pairs, known as excitons, were indeed generated in certain quantum dots.

Read the Science Magazine story here

To Kill a Killer — Targeting Anthrax
Los Alamos Researchers work to counter a bioterrorism threat

Autumn 2001 was a time of terror, some of it arriving in the mail. A still-unknown someone sent envelopes of anthrax spores (dormant cells, ready to come to life) to several news organizations and to the Washington, D.C., offices of two U.S. senators. Those few envelopes caused grief, fear, and a multi-million-dollar bill for response and cleanup. They also put us on alert. A deliberate biological attack could expose a large population and massively disrupt the economy.

See the whole article in the January issue of the Los Alamos Science and Technology Magazine, 1663

Lab’s top science official to be heard on Voice of America
Terry Wallace, principal associate director for Science, Technology and Engineering, outlined for Voice of America this week Los Alamos National Laboratory's unique scientific capabilities and how they can be applied to solve some of the world's most challenging problems. Wallace explained to reporter Marissa Melton how the Laboratory's foundations in multidisciplinary research during the Manhattan Project solved one of the most challenging problems known to mankind: harnessing the atom. This spirit of collaboration survives even today at Los Alamos:

• pursuing the next generation of energy production for a growing world

• using computer models to understand global warming
• scanning the heavens for insight into astronomical processes using satellites originally designed to keep an eye on clandestine nuclear tests
• keeping venues like the Super Bowl safe from terrorists using Los Alamos' extensive knowledge of bioscience.

The Voice of America story is scheduled to air in the coming weeks.

Press Release:

Los Alamos Wins 2008 Pollution Prevention Awards
Two Awards For “Best-in-Class” programs that protect the environment and save money

Los Alamos National Laboratory is a 2008 winner of two Best-in-Class Pollution Prevention awards and six Environmental Stewardship awards from the National Nuclear Security Administration. The competition for these awards included more entries this year than ever before from across the NNSA complex, and Los Alamos has more winners than any previous year.

Best-in-Class awards

Wastewater Recycling Saves Over $1 Million Annually
The Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility reduced the amount of reverse osmosis concentrate that needs treatment through evaporation. Instead of sending all of the concentrate directly to the evaporator, it is sent to an intermediate storage tank before being recycled and blended with influent. The amount of concentrate wasted is reduced fourfold, and total cost savings exceed $1.3 million per year.

Ultrapure Carbon and Carbon-Nitride Nano-Materials Development of new solvent-free methods to prepare ultrapure carbon and carbon-nitride nano-particles. The new methods are faster, involve less purification, and eliminate the need for high temperatures and pressures so that the preparation work is safer for employees. These very useful materials can now be produced without generating hazardous fumes or waste in the process.

Read about all the winning projects here.

Stable Budget Proposed for Labs (Albuquerque Journal)

The Bush administration Monday proposed a stable budget with no major changes for Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories. But the spending plan does make clear that the two labs, which focus on nuclear weapons, are not in line for any significant part of a major increase being proposed for some areas of U.S. government energy research. The budget proposal for the National Nuclear Security Administration, which runs the labs, has several programs likely to raise red flags with Congress, which last year sought to rein in the nuclear weapons program. The administration asked for $10 million for the Reliable Replacement Warhead, which Congress in December voted to kill. The budget asks for $100 million next year for work on a new plutonium laboratory at Los Alamos.

See this story in the Albuquerque Journal, subscription required

LANL NewsBulletin
Hands-on science

Members of Girl Scout Troop 306 operate the control arms on a hot cell manipulator at the Isotope Production Facility at the Los Alamos Neutron Science Center during a tour last Friday. The girls are eighth- and ninth-grade students from Los Alamos and White Rock who toured LANSCE to see how the beam line is generated and split for experiments and to learn about other LANSCE programs and research. The visit to LANSCE was part of the scouts’ requirement for earning a science badge and also to explore science and engineering as possible career choices. "This is awesome. I want to be a nuclear physicist," said Kristina Francisco (in pink) during a demonstration.

Read the Daily NewsBulletin here every day.