News Article | April 24, 2017
« UC Riverside team fabricates nanosilicon anodes for Li-ion batteries from waste glass bottles | Main | Oil sands production accounted for 28.8% of total Canadian gas demand in 2016 » The US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Small Business Vouchers (SBV) Pilot has selected eight DOE national labs for collaborations with 38 small businesses in the third round of funding. Among these are two projects in the fuel cells area and four projects in the vehicle area. Other projects address advanced manufacturing, bioenergy, buildings, geothermal, solar, water and wind technologies. In the first two rounds of the program, 12 DOE national labs received funding to partner with 76 small businesses. With the latest announcement, SBV will have awarded approximately $22 million to support partnerships between 114 US small businesses and the national labs. Hawaii Hydrogen Carriers. Savannah River National Laboratory has been awarded $300,000 to work with Hawaii Hydrogen Carriers to perform analysis on the performance and design of low pressure hydrogen storage systems to power mobile applications of Proton Exchange Membrane hydrogen fuel cells. Using SRNL’s unique modeling and system testing capabilities for metal hydride-based systems will help provide potential partners with realistic performance and cost estimates. Emerald Energy NW. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory has been awarded $160,000 to work with Emerald Energy NW, LLC to fabricate and test a low-friction, low-loss, versatile rotary magnetic wheel seal test apparatus in collaboration with the PNNL magnetic liquefier team. This project could result in the design of a breakthrough rotary wheel to allow for a more rapid transition to cleaner, domestic, and less expensive gaseous fuels for the transportation sector. Efficient Drivetrains. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory has been awarded $140,000 to work with Efficient Drivetrains to test a lightweight, plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) powertrain. This project will help get the first heavy-duty Class 6 vehicle to the commercial market, offering consumers an option that provides significant fuel economy without limiting driving range or fuel options. Phinix. Argonne National Laboratory has been awarded $300,000 to work with Phinix, LLC to validate and scale up a method for extracting magnesium from magnesium aluminide scrap metal alloys. This energy, environmental, and cost-efficient method of sourcing magnesium has the potential to reduce the amount of magnesium—the third most commonly used structural metal—needed to import from foreign countries. Precision Polyolefins. Argonne National Laboratory has been awarded $180,000 to work with Precision Polyolefins LLC, of College Park, MD, to test its new technology that converts inexpensive and abundant feedstocks derived from natural gas into synthetic oils for use in auto lubricant. This project could potentially improve fuel economy by up to 0.5%, as well as have applications beyond vehicles, such as for industrial gear oils and wind turbine gear oils. Advano. Argonne National Laboratory has been awarded $180,000 to work with Advano to develop functionalized silicon nanoparticles, which are used in the growing demand for lithium-ion batteries. By partnering with ANL, this project seeks to lower the cost of silicon nanoparticles which could significantly increase the specific energy of lithium-ion batteries. In the advanced manufacturing area, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory has been awarded $70,000 to work with BASiC 3C, Inc. towards developing a new semiconductor as a replacement for silicon. This would provide greater efficiency, voltage capability, temperature operation, and higher tolerance to harsh operating conditions than existing models. The project will work with NREL to identify any remaining impurities in the current model, with the goal of disrupting the silicon power switch industry, currently a $12B market. Additionally, according to Toyota, development of a semiconductor material will increase the range of electric vehicles by 10%.
News Article | May 18, 2017
Scientists at Princeton University have developed a new algorithm to track neurons in the brain of the worm Caenorhabditis elegans while it crawls. The algorithm, presented in PLOS Computational Biology by Jeffrey Nguyen and colleagues, could save hundreds of hours of manual labor in studies of animal behavior. To investigate the brain's role in behavior, scientists use advanced imaging techniques that record the activity of individual neurons as an animal moves. However, tracking neurons in a moving brain is difficult, especially in the soft-bodied worm C. elegans, whose small size and transparency make it otherwise well suited to such studies. "When the worm crawls, its brain bends as it moves, which poses challenges for imaging," says study co-author Andrew Leifer. His team has spent many hours manually tracking neurons in recordings of the bendy brains of crawling worms, prompting them to develop a new algorithm to streamline this laborious process. The new approach, dubbed Neuron Registration Vector Encoding, draws on computer vision and machine learning techniques. It uses 3D fluorescent recordings of the C. elegans brain to assign a unique identity to each neuron it can detect. Based in part on the relative locations of the neurons, the algorithm keeps track of each neuron over time. Tracking is also enhanced by accounting for ways in which certain worm movements are known to deform the brain. The researchers found that the new algorithm consistently identified more neurons more quickly than did manual tracking approaches or other approaches that are partly automated. They were able to use the new approach to correlate neural activity with specific worm movements, particularly reversal maneuvers. "This research demonstrates the value of employing automated computer vision- and machine learning-based approaches to help tackle laborious tasks in neuroscience research that previously could only be done by humans," Leifer says. His team plans to use their new approach to study neural activity during complex C. elegans behaviors, such as foraging, sleeping, and mating. The algorithm could help reveal how different patterns of brain activity generate these behaviors. In the future, the same approach could also be tested in other species, such as zebrafish. In your coverage please use this URL to provide access to the freely available article in PLOS Computational Biology: http://journals. Citation: Nguyen JP, Linder AN, Plummer GS, Shaevitz JW, Leifer AM (2017) Automatically tracking neurons in a moving and deforming brain. PLoS Comput Biol 13(5): e1005517. https:/ Funding: This work was supported by Simons Foundation Grant SCGB 324285 to AML and Princeton University's Inaugural Dean for Research Innovation Fund for New Ideas in the Natural Sciences to JWS and AML. JPN is supported by grants from the Swartz Foundation and the Glenn Foundation for Medical Research. ANL is supported by a National Institutes of Health institutional training grant NIH T32 MH065214 through the Princeton Neuroscience Institute. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.
News Article | May 16, 2017
Advanced reactor technologies have generated interest for their potential to reduce fossil fuel emissions, improve energy efficiency and cut down on nuclear waste. Researchers with the Department of Nuclear Engineering at Texas A&M University have provided new insights into the workings of an advanced sodium-cooled fast reactor fuel assembly, having used a specialized test facility to measure hydraulic parameters and validate computational tools used in reactor design and testing. The fast reactor assembly design used is significant, not only because of the complex inner knowledge it can provide about advanced reactors, but also because the Texas A&M experiment is using the largest transparent test fuel assembly of its kind to date. "TerraPower, AREVA and Argonne National Laboratories (ANL) have a strong interest in this new fuel design that will be potentially used in advanced fast reactors," said Dr. Rodolfo Vaghetto, a research assistant professor with the department and project investigator. "This research is part of the work we do to ensure a new design goes from conceptual to something that you can actually build, operate safely and use to produce clean energy in an efficient way. The high-fidelity experimental data we've gathered through this experiment will help improve advanced simulator capabilities and validate state-of-the-art computational codes." Fuel assemblies help facilitate the process of power generation in the reactor through fission, a process by which an atom splits and a small amount of mass is converted to energy. In comparison to current reactors, advanced fast reactors produce "fast" neutrons that are not as efficient at creating fission, but are readily received by a specific uranium isotope to become plutonium. Producing the plutonium in this manner gives these conceptual reactors the potential to produce more nuclear fuel than they use, leading to a more efficient, abundant and clean production of energy to meet public needs. While the test assembly is unique in that it is the largest of its kind ever constructed, the researchers have also ensured the measurements taken are accurate through a novel technique, a transparent assembly. "Typical test assemblies are encapsulated in a stainless-steel container so you can't see what's going on," Vaghetto said. "We made this assembly in acrylic so we can watch the processes and apply state-of-the-art techniques to measure full-field velocities at different locations inside the test bundle and pressure drops, something that has never been done before at this level of accuracy. That experimental data is then used by other members of this project, like TerraPower and ANL, to compare with their simulations of the assembly on the computational side and validate those tools." The project was established in 2015 and is managed by nuclear utility company AREVA (subcontracted through the Department of Energy (DOE)) in partnership with ANL, Texas A&M and TerraPower, the nuclear energy tech conglomerate led by Bill Gates. AREVA's interest in the project lies in improving advanced reactor technology, which requires accurate analyses of advanced fuel assemblies. In the interest of taking the most accurate measurements possible, the researchers used a specialized fluid that has the same index of refraction as the acrylic of the assembly. They then inject the solution with a fluorescent dye and other seeding particles and expose it to a laser to obtain high-resolution measurements. In their efforts to produce these high-quality measurements, the team had to deal with many challenges. "We had to find all the right vendors in addition to all the optical testing that we had to do to choose the acrylic the assembly was made of," Vaghetto said. The next step for the Texas A&M research team will be to continue experiments on the assembly for further developments, analyzing experimental data and collecting new data using the existing test assembly in partnership with other national and international collaborators. "There is a lot of interest in this type of geometry design for advanced fast reactors," Vaghetto said. "This assembly seems to be the number one fuel design right now, and these companies are looking forward in meeting their interests in performing these analyses. Because of the interest in this we're hoping to get the chance to work on future projects with this assembly."
News Article | May 29, 2017
Amani Gold (AU:ANL) is eyeing underground potential as maiden resource infill drilling finishes at its Kebigada gold project in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The above intercept also included 16m grading 6.58g/t, and was among other strong results from the final three diamond holes that will be included in Kebigada’s maiden mineral resource, expected next month. Drilling will continue at Kebigada, part of Amani’s Giro gold project, to test for depth extensions which could add to the resource in future. Chairman Klaus Eckhof said the additional drilling could potentially “demonstrate a high-grade underground project” at Kebigada. The company attracted an A$25 million (US$18.4 million) investment earlier this month from a Hong Kong group to advance its Giro project. Shares reached A3.9c on the news on Friday but the stock has since eased more than 5% intraday to A3.6c.
News Article | May 9, 2017
« ChargePoint advances European expansion with new InstaVolt partnership; more than 200 rapid charge systems | Main | SwRI’S patented technology allows automated vehicles to pilot aerial drones with no human intervention » The US Department of Energy is awarding nearly $3.9 million for 13 projects designed to stimulate the use of high performance supercomputing in US manufacturing. The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Advanced Manufacturing Office’s High Performance Computing for Manufacturing (HPC4Mfg) program enables innovation in US manufacturing through the adoption of high performance computing (HPC) to advance applied science and technology relevant to manufacturing. (Earlier post.) The 13 new project partnerships include application of world-class computing resources and expertise of the national laboratories including Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory (LBNL), National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and Argonne National Laboratory (ANL). Among the awardees were Ford Motor Company and LanzaTech. Ford Motor Company will partner with ANL to study the effect of dimensional tolerances on the cylinder-to-cylinder variation in engine performance in a project titled “CFD Study of Impact of Part-to-Part Variations on Spark-Ignition Engine Charge Formation.” LanzaTech Inc. will partner with LLNL to develop a multiphase CFD model for turbulent bubbly flow in airlift bioreactors in a project titled “Innovative Bioreactor Designs for Process Intensification in Biological Natural Gas Conversion.” Arconic, Inc. will partner with ORNL to develop high-melting-point, lightweight alloys in a project titled “High Performance Computing for Phase Predictions for Multi-Component Alloy Systems.” GE Global Research will partner with ORNL to reduce process development time and accelerate process certification of additively manufactured parts in a project titled “Powder Spreading Process Maps for Metal Additive Manufacturing.” LLNL will partner with United Research Technologies Corporation to reduce defects in additively manufactured parts in a project titled “High Fidelity Physics-based Model Driven Process Parameter Selection for LPBF Additive Manufactured Metallic Aerospace Components.” General Electric Research Corporation will partner with ORNL to reduce manufacturing costs in a project titled “Surface Roughness Effects from Additive Manufacturing in High Efficiency Gas Turbine Combustion Systems.” Applied Materials, Inc., will partner with LLNL to improve powder bed formation in additively manufacturing processes in a project titled “Simulating Properties of Metal Powder Beds Used for Additive Manufacturing of Parts in Semiconductor, Solar and Display Equipment.” LBNL will partner with Samsung Semiconductor, Inc. (USA) to optimize the performance of semiconductor device interconnects in a project titled “Making semiconductor devices cool through HPC ab initio simulations.” Arconic, Inc. will partner with LLNL and ORNL to develop new lightweight alloys in a project titled “Computational Modeling of Multi-Strand Aluminum DC Vertical Casting Processes Incorporating Cast Structure and Thermal Treatment Effects Contributing to Rework Energy Losses.” 7AC Technologies will partner with NREL to improve air conditioning technologies in a project titled “Modeling water vapor transport at liquid/membrane interfaces for applications in liquid desiccant air conditioners.” Sierra Energy will partner with LLNL to enable gasification technologies to reduce landfill waste and create renewable energy in a project titled “High Performance Computing of Sierra Energy’s FastOx Gasification Polisher to Optimize Waste-to-Syngas Conversion.” 8 Rivers Capital will partner with LLNL to develop a robust oxy-fuel sCO combustion CFD model to evaluate the performance of the Allam Cycle combustor in a project titled “Advancement of combustion design and modelling techniques through the application of high performance computing to sCO combustor development.” The Timken Company will partner with ORNL to improve reliability and lifetime of wind turbines in a project titled “Crystal Plasticity Finite Element Model to Study the Effect of Microstructural Constituents on White Etch Area formation in Bearing Steels.” Each of the 13 newly selected projects will receive up to $300,000 to support work performed by the national lab partners and allow the partners to use HPC compute cycles. The Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO) recently published a draft of its Multi-year Program Plan that identifies the technology, research and development, outreach, and crosscutting activities that AMO plans to focus on over the next five years. Some of the technical focus areas in the plan align with the high-priority, energy-related manufacturing activities that the HPC4Mfg program also aims to address. Led by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory as strong partners, the HPC4Mfg program has a diverse portfolio of small and large companies, consortiums, and institutes within varying industry sectors that span the country. Established in 2015, it currently supports 28 projects that range from improved turbine blades for aircraft engines and reduced heat loss in electronics, to steel-mill energy efficiency and improved fiberglass production.
News Article | May 10, 2017
Amani Gold (AU:ANL) has attracted the attention of a Hong Kong investment vehicle willing to supply A$25 million (US$18.4 million) to move forward the Giro project in the Democratic Republic of the Congo's Moto greenstone belt. The non-binding memorandum of understanding will see Luck Winner Investment buy a mix of shares and options in the Australia-listed explorer. The shares will be issued at $0.05 apiece, 25% higher than the previous day’s closing price, with the options exercisable at $0.07 per share for two years. Luck Winner is a special purpose vehicle established by a Chinese group to invest in Giro. Two key shareholders, Yu Qiuming and Fu Sheng, have mining and development experience from copper and gold projects in China. Amani said the proceeds from the deal would be used for further infill drilling and metallurgical test work to generate prefeasibility and feasibility studies at the main Kebigada deposit. It should also fund social studies and key social initiatives to pave the way for development and follow up additional targets over the wider Giro project. The company, headed up by Moto Goldmines founder Klaus Eckhof, is also weighing up an aggressive exploration programme on the adjoining Tendao project. Amani has defined significant mineralisation over a strike length of 1.5km and a width of 350-400m at Kebigada. During this delineation, it has reported high-grade drill assays such as 21m grading 6.06g/t Au from surface (diamond drilling), 30.6m at 3g/t Au from 198.5m depth (diamond drilling), 97m averaging 2.56g/t Au from surface (RC) and 47m cutting 4.13g/t Au from 25m depth (RC). The company has also carried out preliminary metallurgical work showing recoveries of 91% for oxides and 90% for sulphides from carbon-in-leach processing. Giro lies 35km away from Randgold Resources (LN:RRS) and AngloGold Ashanti’s (SJ:ANG) jointly-owned Kibali gold project, which Eckhof’s Moto Goldmines previously discovered and sold. Should the deal complete, expected no later than May 25, Luck Winner would hold around 28% of Amani.
News Article | March 2, 2017
This single finding led to a worldwide investigation that's spanned a century. While it resolved one scientific debate, it created many more. The Department of Energy's Office of Science and its predecessors have spent decades supporting scientists investigating the mystery of why superconductivity occurs under a variety of circumstances. The answer to this question holds major opportunities for scientific and technological development. About six percent of all electricity distributed in the U.S. is lost in transmission and distribution. Because superconductors don't lose current as they conduct electricity, they could enable ultra-efficient power grids and incredibly fast computer chips. Winding them into coils produces magnetic fields that could be used for highly-efficient generators and high-speed magnetic levitation trains. Unfortunately, technical challenges with both traditional and "high temperature" superconductors restrict their use. "To the extent that Tesla and Edison introducing the use of electricity revolutionized our society, ambient superconductivity would revolutionize it once again," said J.C. Séamus Davis, a physicist who works with the Center for Emergent Superconductivity, a DOE Energy Frontier Research Center. The How and Why of Superconductivity Kamerlingh Onnes' discovery set off a flurry of activity. Despite his grand visions, most of what scientists found only reinforced superconductors' limitations. One of the first big breakthroughs came nearly half a century after Kamerlingh Onnes' initial finding. While most researchers thought superconductivity and magnetism couldn't co-exist, Alexei A. Abrikosov proposed "Type II" superconductors that can tolerate magnetic fields in 1952. Abrikosov continued his research at DOE's Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) and later won the Nobel Prize in Physics for his contributions. The next big leap came in 1957, when John Bardeen, Leon Cooper, and John Robert Schrieffer proposed the first theory of why superconductivity occurs. Their theory, made possible by the support of DOE's predecessor, the Atomic Energy Commission, also won them the Nobel Prize in physics. Their theory contrasts how some metals work under normal conditions with how they act at extremely low temperatures. Normally, atoms are packed together in metals, forming regular lattices. Similar to the spokes and rods of Tinkertoys, the metals' positively charged ions are bonded together. In contrast, negatively charged free electrons (electrons not tied to an ion) move independently through the lattice. But at extremely low temperatures, the relationship between the electrons and the surrounding lattice changes. A common view is that the electrons' negative charges weakly attract positive ions. Like someone tugging the middle of a rubber band, this weak attraction slightly pulls positive ions out of place in the lattice. Even though the original electron has already passed by, the now displaced positive ions then slightly attract other electrons. At near absolute zero, attraction from the positive ions causes electrons to follow the path of the ones in front of them. Instead of travelling independently, they couple into pairs. These pairs flow easily through metal without resistance, causing superconductivity. Unfortunately, all of the superconductors that scientists had found only functioned near absolute zero, the coldest theoretically possible temperature. But in 1986, Georg Bednorz and K. Alex Müller at IBM discovered copper-based materials that become superconducting at 35 K (-396 F). Other scientists boosted these materials' superconducting temperature to close to 150 K (-190 F), enabling researchers to use fairly common liquid nitrogen to cool them. In the last decade, researchers in Japan and Germany discovered two more categories of high-temperature superconductors. Iron-based superconductors exist in similar conditions to copper-based ones, while hydrogen-based ones only exist at pressures more than a million times that of Earth's atmosphere. But interactions between the electron pairs and ions in the metal lattice that Bardeen, Cooper, and Schrieffer described couldn't explain what was happening in copper and iron-based high temperature superconductors. "We were thrown into a quandary," said Peter Johnson, a physicist at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) and director of its Center for Emergent Superconductivity. "These new materials challenged all of our existing ideas on where to look for new superconductors." In addition to being scientifically intriguing, this conundrum opened up a new realm of potential applications. Unfortunately, industry can only use "high-temperature" superconductors for highly specialized applications. They are still too complex and expensive to use in everyday situations. However, figuring out what makes them different from traditional ones may be essential to developing superconductors that work at room temperature. Because they wouldn't require cooling equipment and could be easier to work with, room temperature superconductors could be cheaper and more practical than those available today. Several sets of experiments supported by the Office of Science are getting us closer to finding out what, if anything, high-temperature superconductors have in common. Evidence suggests that magnetic interactions between electrons may be essential to why high-temperature superconductivity occurs. All electrons have a spin, creating two magnetic poles. As a result, electrons can act like tiny refrigerator magnets. Under normal conditions, these poles aren't oriented in a particular way and don't interact. However, copper and iron-based superconductors are different. In these materials, the spins on adjacent iron sites have north and south poles that alternate directions – oriented north, south, north, south and so on. One project supported by the Center for Emergent Superconductivity examined how the ordering of these magnetic poles affected their interactions. Scientists theorized that because magnetic poles were already pointing in opposite directions, it would be easier than usual for electrons to pair up. To test this theory, they correlated both the strength of bonds between electrons (the strength of the electron pairs) and the direction of their magnetism. With this technique, they provided significant experimental evidence of the relationship between superconductivity and magnetic interactions. Other experiments at a number of DOE's national laboratories have further reinforced this theory. These observations met scientists' expectations of what should occur if superconductivity and magnetism are connected. Researchers at ANL observed an iron-based superconductor go through multiple phases before reaching a superconducting state. As scientists cooled the material, iron atoms went from a square structure to a rectangular one and then back to a square one. Along the way, there was a major change in the electrons' magnetic poles. While they were originally random, they assumed a specific order right before reaching superconductivity. At DOE's Ames Laboratory, researchers found that adding or removing electrons from an iron-based superconducting material changed the direction in which electricity flowed more easily. Researchers at BNL observed that superconductivity and magnetism not only co-exist, but actually fluctuate together in a regular pattern. Unfortunately, electron interactions' complex nature makes it difficult to pinpoint exactly what role they play in superconductivity. Research at BNL found that as scientists cooled an iron-based material, the electron spins' directions and their relationship with each other changed rapidly. The electrons swapped partners right before the material became superconducting. Similarly, research at ANL has showed that electrons in iron-based superconductors produce "waves" of magnetism. Because some of the magnetic waves cancel each other out, only half of the atoms demonstrate magnetism at any one time. These findings are providing new insight into why superconductors behave the way they do. Research has answered many questions about them, only to bring up new ones. While laboratories have come a long way from Kamerlingh Onnes' hand-blown equipment, scientists continue to debate many aspects of these unique materials. Explore further: Electron spin could be the key to high-temperature superconductivity
News Article | February 15, 2017
Designing and building the advanced accelerator structures for CERN’s High-Luminosity LHC is a major challenge that requires international collaboration. Paola Catapano tours two labs in the US that are helping to develop superconducting focusing magnets and crab cavities for the project. Inside the IB3 Tech Building at Fermilab on the outskirts of Chicago, a heavy-duty machine several metres long slowly winds a flat superconducting cable. Watching the bespoke coil winder – called the Spirex and manufactured by Italian firm SELVA – in action, and the meticulous attention to detail from the coil’s specialist operators, is mesmerising. Their task is to fabricate the precision coils that will form the core of novel magnets for CERN’s High-Luminosity LHC (HL-LHC) project, scheduled to begin operation in the early 2020s. “It has to make 50 turns in total, 22 on the inner layer and 28 on the outer,” explains Fred Nobrega, of Fermilab’s magnet-systems department. The main challenge is the niobium-tin (Nb Sn) material, he says. “Bend it and it breaks like spaghetti.” The HL-LHC magnets will be built from Nb Sn, a new conductor used for the first time in an accelerator. Unlike copper, however, Nb Sn is extremely brittle. Winding turns around the ends of the coil is particularly difficult, says Nobrega, and new chemical and heat treatments are being developed in the current R&D phase of the project at Fermilab to address this issue. The aim is to move from the prototype stage directly to the mass production of 45 long coils that are uniform and of high quality. A further 45 coils will be manufactured more than 1000 km away at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL). The HL-LHC relies on a number of innovative magnet and accelerating technologies, most of which are not available off-the-shelf. Key to the new accelerator configuration are powerful superconducting dipole and quadrupole magnets with field strengths of 11 and 12 T, respectively (for comparison, the superconducting niobium-titanium dipoles that guide protons around the existing LHC have fields of around 8.3 T. The new quadrupoles will be installed on either side of the LHC collision points to increase the total number of proton–proton collisions by a factor 10, therefore boosting the chances of a discovery. Although the project requires modifications to just 5% of the current LHC configuration (see article on p28), each one of the HL-LHC’s key innovative technologies pose exceptional challenges that involve several institutes around the world. Fermilab has a glorious history in superconductivity. It was here that the first large superconducting magnet accelerator was built, for example. “But more than that, it was shown that [superconducting magnets] could be reliably employed in a collider experiment for hours and hours of stable beams,” says physicist Giorgio Bellettini, who was spokesperson of the CDF experiment at Fermilab’s Tevatron collider during the mid-1990s at the time the top quark was discovered there. “The LHC experience is built upon this previous large endeavour.” The plan is to develop and build half of the focusing magnets for the HL-LHC in the US. These have the specific project labels Q1 and Q3, and are a collaboration between three laboratories: Fermilab, BNL and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California. Nb Sn technology, whose development has been supported by the US Department of Energy, was not applicable to accelerator magnets until around a decade ago. Now, Nb Sn magnets are the technology of choice. The prototypes being developed here are 4 m long, and once assembled with the surrounding “cold mass” to keep them below the superconducting operational temperature of Nb Sn, they will grow to around twice this length. The innovative feature of these magnets is their very large aperture – 150 mm in diameter – which is necessary to focus the proton beams more tightly in the interaction points. It also allows greater control of the stress on the magnets and the coils induced by the large magnetic field, explains Giorgio Apollinari, who joined Fermilab in the early days and is now director of the US LHC Accelerator Research Program (LARP). No magnet today can achieve fields of 12 T with such a big opening, which is three times larger than that of the existing LHC dipoles. This is a new development introduced by the LARP team, explains Apollinari, and it took several years to go from 70, then 90 to 120 and now 150 mm required by the HL-LHC. “And then you have to have all the infrastructure necessary to build the magnets, test the magnets, make sure they work, measure the field quality and hopefully send them to CERN for installation in the beamline in 2025.” Fermilab and the other LARP laboratories have successfully built 1 m-long short models to demonstrate that the technology meets the technical requirements, and the components are working exactly as expected. Now the teams are building longer prototypes with the correct length, aperture and all other design features. The next step is to build a full prototype with four coils, to complete the quadrupole configuration of the magnets, this coming spring. Similar magnets are being prototyped at CERN with a more ambitious length of 7.5 m. The final product from the US will be a 60 cm-diameter 4 m-long basic magnet containing a hole for the HL-LHC beam pipe. Twenty of these structures will be built in total, 10 in the US and 10 at CERN, of which 16 will be installed and the rest kept as spares. “This is collaboration in physics at its best,” explains Apollinari. “Everybody is trying to go faster, but we are looking at what each other does openly and learning from each other.” Over at Fermilab’s sister laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) some 40 km away, the other substantial part of the US contribution to the HL-LHC project is gathering pace. This involves novel “crab”-cavity technology, which is needed both to increase the luminosity and reduce so-called beam–beam parasitic effects that limit the collision efficiency of the accelerator. Unlike standard radiofrequency cavities, which accelerate charged particles in the direction along their path, crab cavities provide a transverse deflection of the beam which causes it to rotate. The cavities are made from pure niobium and therefore require strict control from contamination via chemical processing. ANL specialises in superconducting cavities with a wide range of geometries, and a joint facility for the chemical processing of cavities is in place. ANL’s extensive experience with superconducting cavities includes the Argonne Tandem Linac Accelerator System (ATLAS). Built and operated by the physics division, this is the world’s first superconducting linear accelerator for heavy ions, working at energies in the vicinity of the Coulomb barrier to study the properties of the nucleus. It is for this machine that niobium was used for the first time in an accelerator, in 1977, and for which “quarter-wave” superconducting cavities were developed. “We developed superconducting cavities for a whole variety of projects, for the ATLAS accelerator, Fermilab, BNL, SLAC and of course for the HL-LHC at CERN,” says ANL accelerator scientist Michael Kelly. We meet in the lobby of the ANL physics division, next to a piece of the laboratory’s history: Enrico Fermi’s original “chopper”, a mechanical rotating shutter to select neutrons built in 1947 as part of ANL’s original nuclear-physics programme. “Today we process crab cavities for the HL-LHC, trying to achieve the highest possible accelerating or crabbing voltages, by making a very very clean surface on the cavity,” he explains. ANL’s chemical processing facility has recently been enlarged to accommodate new buffer chemical polishing and electro-polishing rooms. Wearing a complete set of clean-room garments as we enter the facility, electronic engineer Brent Stone explains the importance of surface processing. “A feature of niobium is that a damaged layer is formed as it is mined from the ground and goes through all different processes, so when the niobium is transformed into cavities we need to remove a 120–150 μm-thick damaged layer,” he says. “Inside these layers you can have inclusions that may affect their performance and it is critical to remove them.” Several steps, and journeys, are required to process the cavities. After the application of acids to remove material from the surface, the cavities undergo two cycles in ultrasonic tanks before being rinsed at high pressure and returned to Fermilab to be degassed in vacuum at high temperatures. They are then taken back to ANL for final chemical treatment, cleaning and assembly in the clean room. Finally, the cavities processed at Argonne are sent to BNL were they are cooled down to liquid-helium temperatures to test if they meet the crabbing voltage required for the HL-LHC. “One of the cavities processed has just very easily achieved its design goal,” says Kelly proudly, before we take leave of the laboratory. The crab cavities are less advanced than the magnets for the HL-LHC, both at CERN and at Fermilab. But efforts are progressing on schedule on both sides of the Atlantic. Two different designs have been developed for the HL-LHC interaction points: vertical plane for ATLAS and horizontal plane for CMS. Both cavity designs originated from LARP, the LHC accelerator R&D programme created by the DOE in 2005 while the LHC was nearing its completion. “Without that foresight we wouldn’t have the HL-LHC today,” says Apollinari.
News Article | April 27, 2016
« Volvo Cars to launch UK’s largest autonomous driving trial | Main | Onboard Dynamics receives $3M from ARPA-E, others for innovative CNG refueling technology » Volkswagen is working with partners from industry and science on the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy’s SLAM research project (Schnellladenetz für Achsen und Metropolen, Fast charging network for road axes and metropolitan areas). The SLAM project has a total budget of €12.9 million (US$14.6 million) and will receive support from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy to the extent of €8.7 million (US$9.8 million) by August 2017. The German government designated SLAM as one of seven “flagship projects in electric mobility”. A central component of SLAM is the “Golden Test Device” prototype co-developed by Volkswagen which will be unveiled at the Hannover Messe industrial trade show. The Golden Test Device is a standardized testing device to check quickly and cost-effectively the compatibility of new electric vehicles and charging stations produced by different manufacturers. A further aim is to provide an internationally accepted testing reference for connecting electric vehicles to charging stations. Volkswagen will be showing a prototype of the device at the joint stand of the United States Department of Energy/ANL and the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission at the Hannover Messe. Volkswagen took into account all the technical requirements for vehicles and charging stations and defined various test scenarios in collaboration with national and international partners to develop the device. SLAM’s mission includes setting up a fund-based research network of up to 600 fast-charging stations to collect basic data for the research and analysis of suitable charging infrastructures according to the CCS-DC standard (combined charging system). This includes simulation and location scenarios to forecast demand for new charging stations, developing business models for site operators and a uniform access and billing system. SLAM includes the development of CCS to support charging at more than 150 kW and also takes into account conditions for private investors. Volkswagen’s project partners are the BMW Group, Daimler AG, Porsche AG, Deutscher Genossenschaftsverlag, EnBW, the RWTH Aachen University and the Institute of Human Factors and Technology Management (IAT, Stuttgart).
News Article | September 8, 2016
« Volkswagen Group & Anhui Jianghuai Automobile (JAC) jointly to develop EVs in China; new JV focused on NEVs | Main | Solaris Bus to offer BAE Systems hybrid electric drive on its vehicles » The Department of Energy’s Exascale Computing Project (ECP) announced its first round of funding with the selection of 15 application development proposals for full funding and seven proposals for seed funding, representing teams from 45 research and academic organizations. The awards, totaling $39.8 million, target advanced modeling and simulation solutions to specific challenges supporting key DOE missions in science, clean energy and national security, as well as collaborations such as the Precision Medicine Initiative with the National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute. Exascale refers to high-performance computing systems capable of at least a billion billion calculations per second, or a factor of 50 to 100 times faster than the nation’s most powerful supercomputers in use today. The application efforts will help guide DOE’s development of a U.S. exascale ecosystem as part of President Obama’s National Strategic Computing Initiative (NSCI). DOE, the Department of Defense and the National Science Foundation have been designated as NSCI lead agencies, and ECP is the primary DOE contribution to the initiative. The ECP’s multi-year mission is to maximize the benefits of high performance computing (HPC) for US economic competitiveness, national security and scientific discovery. In addition to applications, the DOE project addresses hardware, software, platforms and workforce development needs critical to the effective development and deployment of future exascale systems. First-round funding (see list below) includes a broad set of modeling and simulation applications with a focus on portability, usability and scalability. A key consideration in the selection process was each team’s emphasis on co-design of the applications with the ECP’s ongoing development of hardware, software and computational capabilities, including physical models, algorithms, scalability and overall performance. Projects will be funded in the following strategic areas: energy security, economic security, scientific discovery, climate and environmental science, and healthcare. Leadership of the Exascale Computing Project comes from six DOE national laboratories: The Office of Science’s Argonne, Lawrence Berkeley, and Oak Ridge national labs, and NNSA’s Los Alamos, Lawrence Livermore, and Sandia national labs. The full list of application development awards follows: Full Funding: Computing the Sky at Extreme Scales, Salman Habib (ANL) with LANL, LBNL Exascale Deep Learning and Simulation Enabled Precision Medicine for Cancer, Rick Stevens (ANL) with LANL, LLNL, ORNL, NIH/NCI Exascale Lattice Gauge Theory Opportunities and Requirements for Nuclear and High Energy Physics, Paul Mackenzie (FNAL) with BNL, TJNAF, Boston University, Columbia University, University of Utah, Indiana University, UIUC, Stony Brook, College of William & Mary Molecular Dynamics at the Exascale: Spanning the Accuracy, Length and Time Scales for Critical Problems in Materials Science, Arthur Voter (LANL) with SNL, University of Tennessee An Exascale Subsurface Simulator of Coupled Flow, Transport, Reactions and Mechanics, Carl Steefel (LBNL) with LLNL, NETL QMCPACK: A Framework for Predictive and Systematically Improvable Quantum- Mechanics Based Simulations of Materials, Paul Kent (ORNL) with ANL, LLNL, SNL, Stone Ridge Technology, Intel, Nvidia Coupled Monte Carlo Neutronics and Fluid Flow Simulation of Small Modular Reactors, Thomas Evans (ORNL, PI) with ANL, INL, MIT NWChemEx: Tackling Chemical, Materials and Biomolecular Challenges in the Exascale Era, T. H. Dunning, Jr. (PNNL), with Ames, ANL, BNL, LBNL, ORNL, PNNL, Virginia Tech High-Fidelity Whole Device Modeling of Magnetically Confined Fusion Plasma, Amitava Bhattacharjee (PPPL) with ANL, ORNL, LLNL, Rutgers, UCLA, University of Colorado Data Analytics at the Exascale for Free Electron Lasers, Amedeo Perazzo (SLAC) with LANL, LBNL, Stanford Transforming Combustion Science and Technology with Exascale Simulations, Jackie Chen (SNL) with LBNL, NREL, ORNL, University of Connecticut Cloud-Resolving Climate Modeling of the Earth's Water Cycle, Mark Taylor (SNL) with ANL, LANL, LLNL, ORNL, PNNL, UCI, CSU The ECP is a collaborative effort of two DOE organizations: the Office of Science and the National Nuclear Security Administration. As part of President Obama’s National Strategic Computing initiative, ECP was established to develop a capable exascale ecosystem, encompassing applications, system software, hardware technologies and architectures, and workforce development to meet the scientific and national security mission needs of DOE in the mid-2020s timeframe.