Friday, January 24, 2020

Carbon Capture: Solved by Software?

SimCCS software shows potential carbon sources (red dots), sinks (blue dots), and proposed optimal pipelines (green). LANL image.

Most scenarios for a clean-energy future rely on carbon capture—taking CO2 emissions from their sources, such as power plants, then sequestering them underground or converting the carbon into a usable product. For example, at the National Carbon Capture Center in Alabama, where the DOE has tested the technology since 2009, equipment on the coal power plant’s smokestacks separates the carbon from other emissions. The byproduct is then transported in the form of liquid to a storage sink.

SimCCS is a software program developed at Los Alamos National Laboratory to solve the problem of high transportation costs between emitter and sink. The open-source software, which is also being developed and expanded on by universities across the country, finds the most efficient route between a carbon-emitting plant and a sink. (Full Story)

Where Australia's smoke goes to die

Satellite image of a smoke plume in Australia. From Mashable.

Smoke from Australia's megafires has already traveled tens of thousands of miles around Earth. "It circles the globe in roughly a week," said Manvendra Dubey, who researches air pollution and wildfire smoke at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Much of this carbon dioxide will likely stay in the atmosphere, where it will live for hundreds of years. Though, plants on land and plankton in the ocean will consume some of this carbon dioxide — though exactly how much is unknown. "It will have climatic consequences," said Dubey. (Full Story)

New high-energy gamma-ray sources found in the galaxy

New sources of high-energy gamma rays, HAWC image.

Most of the gamma rays scientists have observed in the past have been lower-energy gamma rays. But with the High-Altitude Water Cherenkov Gamma-Ray Observatory (HAWC) in Mexico, which was completed a few years ago, physicists are now able to survey the entire sky for gamma rays with especially high energies.

These are actually the highest-energy gamma rays ever seen,” said Brenda Dingus, a physicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory and a senior member of the HAWC collaboration.

The new high-energy gamma-ray sources are all located near pulsars — this makes the researchers wonder whether the high-energy gamma rays are a common feature of pulsars, says Kelly Malone, an LANL physicist and lead author of the new paper. (Full Story)

Scientists converting acetone derived from plants into green jet fuel additive

Scientists at Los Alamos are converting a simple molecule into jet fuel using a novel process that uses light. LANL photo.

Take biomass-derived acetone—common nail polish remover—use light to upgrade it to higher-mass hydrocarbons, and, voila, you have a domestically generated product that can be blended with conventional jet fuel to fly while providing environmental benefits, creating domestic jobs, securing the nation’s global leadership in bioenergy technologies, and improving U.S. energy security.

“This process allows us to transform a natural product into a fuel additive, improving the performance of petroleum-based jet fuel,” said Courtney Ford Ryan, a postdoctoral fellow at Los Alamos National Laboratory and lead author of a paper out in preprint form in the journal Sustainable Energy and Fuels. (Full Story)

Scientists image heart RNA structure for the first time

An RNA molecule that has a role in transforming stem cells into heart cells.  LANL image.

Scientists at Los Alamos and international partners have created the first 3-D images of a special type of RNA molecule that is critical for stem cell programming and known as the “dark matter” of the genome.

“As far as we know,” said corresponding author Karissa Sanbonmatsu, Ph.D., “this is the first full 3-D structural study of any long, non-coding RNA (lncRNA) other than a partial structure.” Sanbonmatsu is a structural biologist at Los Alamos National Laboratory. “A better understanding of these RNAs could lead to new strategies in regenerative medicine for people with heart conditions due to cardiovascular disease or aging.” (Full Story)

Los Alamos National Laboratory spent $396 million with New Mexico business in 2019

New numbers for fiscal year 2019 show Los Alamos National Laboratory’s big impact on New Mexico’s economy, as the Laboratory employed 12,041 people for a total of $1.16 billion in salaries and contracted with small businesses statewide for $288.6 million.

“Los Alamos National Laboratory is a major economic driver in the region, and we are fully committed to strengthening local companies and growing the local workforce,” said Thom Mason, director. “I look forward to building on these efforts in the coming year.” (Full Story)

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