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News Article | May 18, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

LOS ALAMOS, N.M., May 18, 2017-- Using neutron crystallography, a Los Alamos research team has mapped the three-dimensional structure of a protein that breaks down polysaccharides, such as the fibrous cellulose of grasses and woody plants, a finding that could help bring down the cost of creating biofuels. The research focused on a class of copper-dependent enzymes called lytic polysaccharide monooxygenases (LPMOs), which bacteria and fungi use to naturally break down cellulose and closely related chitin biopolymers. "In the long term, understanding the mechanism of this class of proteins can lead to enzymes with improved characteristics that make production of ethanol increasingly economically feasible," said Julian Chen, a Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist who participated in the research. A multi-institution team used the neutron scattering facility at the Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Advanced Light Source (ALS) synchrotron X-ray source at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to study LPMO. Both SNS and ALS are DOE Office of Science User Facilities. Los Alamos Bioscience Division scientists Chen, Clifford Unkefer, and former postdoctoral fellow John Bacik, working with collaborators at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, and the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, solved the structure of a chitin-degrading LPMO from the bacterium Jonesia denitrificans (JdLPMO10A). The team's results are published in the journal Biochemistry. One of the biggest challenges biofuel scientists face is finding cost-effective ways to break apart polysaccharides such as starches and cellulose, which are widely distributed in plants, into their subcomponent sugars for biofuel production. LPMO enzymes, which are seen as key to this process, use a single copper ion to activate oxygen, a critical step for the enzyme's catalytic degrading action. While the specific mechanism of LPMO action remains uncertain, it is thought that catalysis involves initial formation of a superoxide by electron transfer from the reduced copper ion. By understanding the location of the copper ion and the constellation of atoms near it, the researchers hope to elucidate more about the enzyme's function. To do this, they rely on first determining the structure of the enzyme. Although a number of X-ray crystallographic structures are currently available for LPMOs from fungal and bacterial species, this new structure is more complete. The investigators used X-ray crystallography to resolve the three-dimensional structure in clear detail of all the atoms except for hydrogens, the smallest and most abundant atoms in proteins. Hydrogen atom positions are important for elucidating functional characteristics of the target protein and can best be visualized using a neutron crystallography. The investigators used this complementary technique, to determine the three-dimensional structure of the LPMO, but highlighting the hydrogen atoms. Notably, in this study the crystallized LPMO enzyme has been caught in the act of binding oxygen. Together with the recent structures of LPMOs from a wide variety of fungal and bacterial species, the results of this study indicate a common mechanism of degrading cellulosic biomass despite wide differences in their protein sequences. This study has furthered insight into the mechanism of action of LPMOs, particularly the role of the copper ion and the nature of the involvement of oxygen. Biofuels research is part of the Los Alamos National Laboratory's mission focus on integrating research and development solutions to achieve the maximum impact on strategic national security priorities such as new energy sources. The paper: Neutron and Atomic Resolution X-ray Structures of a Lytic Polysaccharide Monooxygenase Reveal Copper-Mediated Dioxygen Binding and Evidence for N-Terminal Deprotonation. Funding: The Los Alamos component of the research was funded by the DOE Office of Science and imaging analysis was performed at DOE Office of Science user facilities. The work was also supported by The Research Council of Norway and the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters. Los Alamos National Laboratory, a multidisciplinary research institution engaged in strategic science on behalf of national security, is operated by Los Alamos National Security, LLC, a team composed of Bechtel National, the University of California, BWX Technologies, Inc. and URS Corporation for the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration. Los Alamos enhances national security by ensuring the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile, developing technologies to reduce threats from weapons of mass destruction, and solving problems related to energy, environment, infrastructure, health and global security concerns.


News Article | May 17, 2017
Site: www.nature.com

The United States is still fighting the cold war. Thousands of its citizens had to take shelter last week because of the threat of radiation from nuclear weapons. But the opponent is no longer the Soviet Union. The enemy now is the legacy of an arms race and decades of government indifference to the mess that has been left behind. On 9 May, the roof collapsed in a tunnel that houses highly radioactive waste at the US Department of Energy’s sprawling Hanford site in Washington state. The tunnel is one of a pair that together shield 36 radioactive railway carriages, once used to carry nuclear fuel for reprocessing to plutonium. Radiation monitors showed no signs of airborne contamination after the collapse, so workers at the site were released and the hole was filled with fresh soil. The incident is yet another alarming reminder of the risks posed by pollution at nuclear-weapons facilities in the United States and around the world. It could have been much worse. And without serious and sustained efforts to clean up these ageing facilities, one day it will be. In August 2015, an independent panel of academics placed the Hanford tunnels on a list of high-priority dangers at the site, which spreads for more than 1,500 square kilometres along the Columbia River. The interim report, by the Consortium for Risk Evaluation with Stakeholder Participation (CRESP), said that the oldest tunnel — built in 1956 and covered with soil nearly 2.5 metres deep — could collapse and release radiation during an earthquake. The energy department is still investigating last week’s breach, but the 6-metre section that gave way may have succumbed to little more than old age. The energy department has spent more than US$164 billion cleaning up its nuclear-waste sites since 1989. But it will be many decades before the work is complete. Each year, the agency spends more money just to maintain old infrastructure and ensure workers are safe. Science might yet offer more efficient and economic solutions. Whereas Congress and previous administrations have been willing to spend money to maintain — or upgrade — the nuclear weapons themselves, there is less interest in paying to clean up after them. US President Donald Trump is no different. His administration’s initial 2018 budget outline would boost funding for the environmental clean-up of nuclear waste by around $300 million, to $6.5 billion. But the National Nuclear Security Administration, which runs the energy department’s weapons programme, would fare better with an increase of $1.4 billion, or 11%. Money is not the only problem. For more than a decade, organizations such as the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine have been raising questions about the regulatory challenges that impede clean-up. For instance, the energy department’s nuclear waste is still classified by where it comes from, rather than by its actual radiological risk. This often increases clean-up costs, and so heightens danger in a budget-constrained world. Nor is the department able to focus its resources on the highest priorities, given myriad legal agreements with state and federal regulators at individual sites — Hanford included. In a second report in August 2015, CRESP said that the extent to which the clean-up programme is based on actual risk remains “unclear”. The report recommended that Congress establish an inter­agency task force, with the participation of independent experts, to advise the department on clean-up activities and to help navigate legal and regulatory issues. Controversially, CRESP also recommended the creation of an alternative dispute-resolution process to replace the court-approved agreements that govern individual sites. Objections to that report were raised by the governor and attorney general of Washington state, which has one such agreement at Hanford. This is testimony to the complexity of the problem. Still, the energy department would benefit from a broader reassessment of its clean-up mission — and a regular injection of unbiased risk analysis. The carriages in the Hanford tunnels are not going anywhere soon. But it should be science that dictates their timetable.


News Article | May 24, 2017
Site: www.chromatographytechniques.com

The Chemical Safety Board has investigated about 130 chemical-related industrial accidents over two decades. Like many science-related federal funding items, it would be abolished under the new $4.1 trillion budget proposed by President Donald Trump this week. The American Chemical Society has referred to it as “a death sentence.” The American Association for the Advancement of Science has estimated the proposed annual budget would cut overall federal research spending by 16.8 percent. Another major funding loser would be the Environmental Protection Agency, which would be hacked by about a third, including axing 3,800 jobs, and reducing the Superfund program – a stated priority of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt – by $330 million, to $762 million. Pruitt announced an initiative this week to “streamline” the Superfund program, which is already funded at half the level it was in the 1990s. The Department of Energy would be cut back 5.7 percent. While including more spending for the National Nuclear Security Administration and its role maintaining the nation’s nuclear weaponry, the budget would cut $700 million from an office promoting energy efficiency and completely eliminates others, including the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy. Other high-profile scientific agencies would see dramatic cuts. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would be cut by 18 percent, to approximately $6.3 billion. The National Institutes of Health would also be reduced by the same 18 percent, to approximately $26 billion total for 2018. The climate-change programs of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other agencies within the Department of Commerce would be strongly squeezed by a total reduction of 15.4 percent of the Department. No department is being cut back more than the Department of Education, which is proposed to get hacked nearly in half, by approximately 46.9 percent. That includes axing after-school programs, teacher training, and also subsidized federal student loans, among other public services. NASA would sustain about a 3 percent cut, leaving it at almost the same $19 billion funding level – but a series of climate-change research projects and education outreach programs would be axed. The beneficiaries of the many cuts would be the Department of Defense, which would see tens of thousands more personnel, widespread pay raises for troops, and additional $64.6 for military operations in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. Another agency which would be boosted is the Department of Veterans Affairs, which would go up 3.7 percent, mostly for discretionary medical spending at the 1,200 VA facilities across the country. Almost all of the proposed cuts would have to be approved by Congress, which could mean the final numbers would be significantly different. The Associated Press contributed to this report.


News Article | May 24, 2017
Site: cen.acs.org

Overall, federal R&D would take a 16.8% hit, down $12.6 billion, according to estimates from the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The “budget fails to recognize that federal R&D investment is the most critical step driving U.S. innovation,” says Glenn Ruskin, spokesperson for the American Chemical Society, which publishes C&EN. “Slashing federal research budgets will result in less innovation, less job creation, and less economic growth—all of which undermines our global competitiveness.” Congress has widely ignored presidential budget requests in the past, and that might be the case for Trump’s 2018 budget as well. Many Republicans and Democrats rejected the proposal. Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) declared it “dead on arrival.” Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas, the top Democrat on the House Science, Space & Technology Committee, says, “I hope and expect that by the time the appropriations process is over, we will have achieved a saner outcome.” Although the budget isn’t binding, it does show Trump’s science and technology priorities. NASA, a longtime Trump favorite, would be down just 2.8% to $19.1 billion. And both the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration, which oversees the agency’s nuclear weapons programs, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency would get increases. However, most agencies are facing double-digit declines in funding under the proposal. This largely mirrors cuts laid out in a preliminary budget Trump released in March, despite protests from science advocacy organizations and some members of Congress. The National Institutes of Health is slated to lose about $7.4 billion, or 21.5%, down to $26.9 billion in 2018. The agency hasn’t seen funding levels this low since the early 2000s. The Trump Administration is planning to eliminate NIH’s Fogarty International Center, which focuses on global health and builds scientific expertise in developing countries to address pandemics. Many in the biomedical community are appalled by the President’s request. “These proposed cuts are unconscionable and unjustified,” says Hudson H. Freeze, president of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. “Are we ready to abdicate our role as a world leader in research?” DOE’s Office of Science, which funds basic physical science research, is facing cuts of 17.0% to $4.5 billion. Energy programs would be even harder hit, with an estimated loss of 60.3%, including the elimination of the Advanced Research Projects Agency—Energy, which was created by the Obama Administration. The National Science Foundation is slated for an 11.0% decrease overall to $6.6 billion under Trump’s proposal, bringing it back to 2002 funding levels. Under those funding levels, the success rate for grant applications is estimated to fall to 19% from 24% in 2016, the most recent year data were available. NSF’s Chemistry Division largely spread its cuts across programs while preserving its core individual investigator grants, which would take an 8% hit. Career grants for early career scientists would get a 10% cut, which might mean smaller grants for new scientists. The Centers for Chemical Innovation program, which supports topical research centers at universities, would be cut by 24%. The National Institute of Standards & Technology, which has had strong Congressional support in recent years, faces a proposed decrease of 23.2% below 2017 levels to $725 million. The lab’s core science programs would be cut by 15% to $547 million. The Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership, which supports small- and midsized manufacturers nationwide, would be killed under the 2018 budget proposal. The National Network for Manufacturing Innovation would get a $10 million reduction from 2017 levels to $15 million. Among the hardest hit would be the Environmental Protection Agency, which would receive $5.7 billion in fiscal 2018, a 30% decrease from the 2017 level. EPA science and technology efforts would receive $397 million, a 44% decrease from 2017 funding. However, the agency office that oversees commercial chemicals would get about 240 additional full-time employees to help implement the revised Toxic Substances Control Act. The office would receive $65 million, an increase of $6.6 million compared with 2017, for its chemical risk review program. Part of the increase would be paid for by industry fees.


News Article | May 24, 2017
Site: www.chromatographytechniques.com

The Chemical Safety Board has investigated about 130 chemical-related industrial accidents over two decades. Like many science-related federal funding items, it would be abolished under the new $4.1 trillion budget proposed by President Donald Trump this week. The American Chemical Society has referred to it as “a death sentence.” The American Association for the Advancement of Science has estimated the proposed annual budget would cut overall federal research spending by 16.8 percent. Another major funding loser would be the Environmental Protection Agency, which would be hacked by about a third, including axing 3,800 jobs, and reducing the Superfund program – a stated priority of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt – by $330 million, to $762 million. Pruitt announced an initiative this week to “streamline” the Superfund program, which is already funded at half the level it was in the 1990s. The Department of Energy would be cut back 5.7 percent. While including more spending for the National Nuclear Security Administration and its role maintaining the nation’s nuclear weaponry, the budget would cut $700 million from an office promoting energy efficiency and completely eliminates others, including the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy. Other high-profile scientific agencies would see dramatic cuts. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would be cut by 18 percent, to approximately $6.3 billion. The National Institutes of Health would also be reduced by the same 18 percent, to approximately $26 billion total for 2018. The climate-change programs of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other agencies within the Department of Commerce would be strongly squeezed by a total reduction of 15.4 percent of the Department. No department is being cut back more than the Department of Education, which is proposed to get hacked nearly in half, by approximately 46.9 percent. That includes axing after-school programs, teacher training, and also subsidized federal student loans, among other public services. NASA would sustain about a 3 percent cut, leaving it at almost the same $19 billion funding level – but a series of climate-change research projects and education outreach programs would be axed. The beneficiaries of the many cuts would be the Department of Defense, which would see tens of thousands more personnel, widespread pay raises for troops, and additional $64.6 for military operations in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. Another agency which would be boosted is the Department of Veterans Affairs, which would go up 3.7 percent, mostly for discretionary medical spending at the 1,200 VA facilities across the country. Almost all of the proposed cuts would have to be approved by Congress, which could mean the final numbers would be significantly different. The Associated Press contributed to this report.


News Article | May 23, 2017
Site: www.greencarcongress.com

« 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan powered by 2.0L EA888 Gen3B engine | Main | US sues Fiat Chrysler over diesel emissions » The Trump Administration released its proposed FY 2018 budget, which it calls “A New Foundation for American Greatness”. To help achieve the Administration’s overall budget goal in 10 years, the FY2018 budget includes $3.6 trillion in spending reductions over 10 years, the most ever proposed by any President in a budget. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is targeted for the largest percentage reduction in FY 2018, with a $2.6-billion cut (31.4%) in discretionary spending to a proposed $5.7 billion. The US Department of Energy (DOE) faces a $1.7-billion cut (5.6%) to $28 billion, the US Department of Transportation (DOT) faces a $2.4-billion cut (12.7%) to $16.2 billion, and the National Science Foundation (NSF) is looking at a cut of $800 million (10.7%) to $6.7 billion. (Health and Human Services faces the largest dollar cut: $12.7 billion, or 16.2%). EPA. All major program activities face about 34% in cuts. Enforcement spending takes a 69% haircut, dropping from an estimated $419 million in 2017 to a proposed $129 million for 2018. The Budget concentrates EPA’s enforcement of environmental protection violations on programs that are not delegated to States, while providing oversight to maintain consistency and assistance across State, local, and tribal programs. Superfund spending drops 57% from $762 million to $330 million. The new budget envisions an 18% reduction in payroll to $873 million, with a cut in civilian full-time equivalent employment of 26%: from 9,729 FTE to 7,228. Among the other highlights: The Budget includes $2.3 billion for the State Revolving Funds, a $4-million increase over the 2017 level. The Budget also provides $20 million for the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act program, equal to the funding provided in the 2017 annualized CR. This credit subsidy could potentially support $1 billion in direct Federal loans. Targets EPA’s Office of Research and Development (ORD) at a level of approximately $250 million, which would result in a cut of $233 million from the 2017 annualized CR level. Eliminates funding for specific regional efforts such as the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the Chesapeake Bay, and other geographic programs. These geographic program eliminations are $427 million lower than the 2017 annualized CR levels. The Budget returns the responsibility for funding local environmental efforts and programs to State and local entities. Eliminates more than 50 EPA programs, cutting an additional $347 million compared to the 2017 annualized CR level. Lower priority and poorly performing programs and grants are not funded, nor are duplicative functions that can be absorbed into other programs or that are State and local responsibilities. Examples of eliminations include: Energy Star; Targeted Airshed Grants; the Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program; and infrastructure assistance to Alaska Native Villages and the Mexico Border. DOE. Although the overall budget for the US Department of Energy (DOE) is a requested $28.0 billion—a $1.7-billion or 5.6% decrease from the 2017 annualized CR level—the budget provides a $1.4-billion (11%) increase above the 2017 annualized CR level for the National Nuclear Security Administration. The 2018 budget envisions an increase in direct civilian employment to 1,715 FTE—up 5.5%. Highlights of the proposed budget for the DOE include: Sustainable transportation program activities within the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy face a combined 49% cut in funding. DOT. The President’s 2018 Budget requests $16.2 billion for DOT’s discretionary budget—a $2.4-billion (12.7%) decrease from the 2017 annualized CR level. Highlights include: NSF. Although all existing NSF program activities face cuts under the proposed budget, the budget adds in a new program: the Office of Polar Programs, with $409 million in funding.


News Article | February 21, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- When a meteor is about to conk your neighborhood and gives fair warning by emitting sizzling, rustling and hissing sounds as it descends, you might think that the universe is being sporting. But these auditory warnings, which do occur, seem contrary to the laws of physics if they are caused by the friction of the fast-moving meteor or asteroid plunging into Earth's atmosphere. Because sound travels far slower than light, the sounds should arrive several minutes after the meteor hits, rather than accompany or even precede it. So maybe atmospheric shock waves from the meteors are not the cause of the spooky noises. Another theory is that the sounds are created by radio frequency emissions. That seems unlikely without designated receivers. But what if the sounds are caused by the brilliant, pulsating light emitted by the asteroid as it burns up in Earth's atmosphere? In an article published Feb. 1 in the journal Scientific Reports, the late Sandia National Laboratories researcher Richard Spalding reasoned that such intense light could suddenly heat the surface of objects many miles away, which in turn heats the surrounding air. This could create sounds near the observer. Colleagues John Tencer, William Sweatt, Ben Conley, Roy Hogan, Mark Boslough and Gigi Gonzales, along with Pavel Spurny from the Astronomical Institute of the Czech Republic, experimentally demonstrated and analyzed that effect. They found that objects with low conductivity, such as leaves, grass, dark paint and even hair, could rapidly warm and transmit heat into nearby air and generate pressure waves by subtle oscillations that create a variety of sounds. The process is called photoacoustic coupling. Sounds concurrent with a meteor's arrival "must be associated with some form of electromagnetic energy generated by the meteor, propagated to the vicinity of the observer and transduced into acoustic waves," according to the article. "A succession of light-pulse-produced pressure waves can then manifest as sound to a nearby observer." The experimenters exposed several materials, including dark cloths and a wig, to intense pulsing light akin to that produced by a fireball. The process produced faint sounds similar to rustling leaves or faint whispers. Computer models bear out the results. A less extreme version of the photoacoustic effect had been observed in 1880 by Alexander Graham Bell when, testing the possibilities of light for long-distance phone transmissions, he intermittently interrupted sunlight shining on a variety of materials and noted the sounds produced. Sandia National Laboratories is a multimission laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corp., for the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration. With main facilities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., Sandia has major R&D responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies and economic competitiveness.


Home > Press > Sandia use confined nanoparticles to improve hydrogen storage materials performance: Big changes from a small package for hydrogen storage Abstract: Sometimes, you have to go small to win big. That is the approach a multilab, interdisciplinary team took in using nanoparticles and a novel nanoconfinement system to develop a method to change hydrogen storage properties. This discovery could enable the creation of high-capacity hydrogen storage materials capable of quick refueling, improving the performance of emerging hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles. Sandia National Laboratories, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), the National Institute of Standards and Technology and Mahidol University in Bangkok, Thailand, collaborated on the research, which was published Feb. 8 in the journal Advanced Materials Interfaces. The work was funded by the Department of Energy's (DOE) Fuel Cell Technologies Office and the Boeing Co. Accelerating the uptake and release of hydrogen Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are powered by an electrochemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen inside a fuel cell. While oxygen is provided by air, the hydrogen must be stored separately on the vehicle. Current fuel cell electric vehicles store hydrogen as a high-pressure gas. A solid material can act like a sponge for the absorption and release of hydrogen, in chemical terms hydrogenation and dehydrogenation. Thus using such a hydrogen storage material could increase how much hydrogen can be stored. The material must be able to store enough hydrogen for the vehicle to go at least 300 miles before refueling. "There are two critical problems with existing sponges for hydrogen storage," said Sandia chemist Vitalie Stavila. "Most can't soak up enough hydrogen for cars. Also, the sponges don't release and absorb hydrogen fast enough, especially compared to the 5 minutes needed for fueling." In this effort, Stavila explained, the interdisciplinary team of scientists worked closely on the synthesis, characterization and modeling to improve the properties of lithium nitride, a promising hydrogen storage sponge. The team also developed a fundamental understanding of why nanosizing improves the hydrogen storage properties of this material. Confining the space The idea came from Mahidol University graduate student Natchapol "Golf" Poonyayant, who approached Sandia with the idea of using nanoconfinement to enhance hydrogen storage reactions in nitrogen-containing compounds. Working with the Sandia researchers, Poonyayant, his adviser, Pasit Pakawatpanurut, and fellow Mahidol student Natee "Game" Angboonpong found that liquid ammonia could be used as a gentle and efficient solvent for introducing metals and nitrogen into the pockets of carbon nanoparticles, producing nanoconfined lithium nitride particles. The new material that emerged from Poonyayant's idea showed some unusual and unexpected properties. First, the amount of lithium nitride in the carbon nanoparticle host was quite high for a nanoconfined system, about 40 percent. Second, the nanoconfined lithium nitride absorbed and released hydrogen more rapidly than the bulk material. Furthermore, once the lithium nitride had been hydrogenated, it also released hydrogen in only one step and much faster than the bulk system that took two steps. "In other words, the chemical pathways for both hydrogen absorption and release in this hydrogen storage material were dramatically changed for the better," said Sandia chemist Lennie Klebanoff. Understanding the puzzle To better understand the mechanism responsible for this improvement, the Sandia scientists reached out to computational scientist Brandon Wood of LLNL, a leading expert in the theory of solid-state reactions. Wood and his LLNL colleagues Tae Wook Heo, Jonathan Lee and Keith Ray discovered that the reason for the unusual behavior was the energy associated with two material interfaces. Since the lithium nitride nanoparticles are only 3 nanometers wide, even the smallest energetically unfavorable process is avoided in the hydrogen storage properties. For lithium nitride nanoparticles undergoing hydrogenation reactions, the avoidance of unfavorable intermediates -- extra steps in the chemical process -- increases efficiency. Taking the path of least resistance, the material undergoes a single-step path to full hydrogenation. Similarly, once hydrogenated, the nanoparticles release hydrogen by the lowest energy pathway available, which in this case is direct hydrogen release back to lithium nitride. "In this way, the nanointerfaces drive the hydrogen storage properties when the materials are made very small, for example with nanoconfinement," said Wood. "The purposeful control of nanointerfaces offers a new way to optimize hydrogen storage reaction chemistry." The next step According to the Sandia and LLNL researchers, the next step is to further understand how the dehydrogenated and hydrogenated phases of lithium nitride change at the nanoscale. This is a stiff challenge to the team, as it requires imaging different chemical phases within a particle that is only several nanometers wide. The team will draw on the capabilities within the DOE's Hydrogen Storage Materials Advanced Research Consortium (HyMARC), led by Sandia and comprised additionally of scientists from LLNL and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The team plans to use spatially resolved synchrotron radiation from LBNL's Advanced Light Source to probe interface chemistry and structure. In addition, since the nanoporous carbon host is "dead weight" from a hydrogen storage perspective, the team is examining ways to "lighten the load" and find carbon materials with more nanopockets for a given carbon mass. "We are thrilled with this technical advance and excited to take on the work ahead," said Klebanoff. "But it's bittersweet. Golf, who inspired this work and conducted many of the syntheses, died tragically at the age of 25 during the writing of this paper. The world has lost a talented young man and we have lost a dear friend whom we miss. This work and its published account are dedicated to Golf and his family." About Sandia National Labratories Sandia National Laboratories is a multi-mission laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corp., for the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration. With main facilities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., Sandia has major R&D responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies and economic competitiveness. For more information, please click If you have a comment, please us. Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.


News Article | February 24, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

LIVERMORE, Calif. -- Sometimes, you have to go small to win big. That is the approach a multilab, interdisciplinary team took in using nanoparticles and a novel nanoconfinement system to develop a method to change hydrogen storage properties. This discovery could enable the creation of high-capacity hydrogen storage materials capable of quick refueling, improving the performance of emerging hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles. Sandia National Laboratories, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), the National Institute of Standards and Technology and Mahidol University in Bangkok, Thailand, collaborated on the research, which was published Feb. 8 in the journal Advanced Materials Interfaces. The work was funded by the Department of Energy's (DOE) Fuel Cell Technologies Office and the Boeing Co. Accelerating the uptake and release of hydrogen Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are powered by an electrochemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen inside a fuel cell. While oxygen is provided by air, the hydrogen must be stored separately on the vehicle. Current fuel cell electric vehicles store hydrogen as a high-pressure gas. A solid material can act like a sponge for the absorption and release of hydrogen, in chemical terms hydrogenation and dehydrogenation. Thus using such a hydrogen storage material could increase how much hydrogen can be stored. The material must be able to store enough hydrogen for the vehicle to go at least 300 miles before refueling. "There are two critical problems with existing sponges for hydrogen storage," said Sandia chemist Vitalie Stavila. "Most can't soak up enough hydrogen for cars. Also, the sponges don't release and absorb hydrogen fast enough, especially compared to the 5 minutes needed for fueling." In this effort, Stavila explained, the interdisciplinary team of scientists worked closely on the synthesis, characterization and modeling to improve the properties of lithium nitride, a promising hydrogen storage sponge. The team also developed a fundamental understanding of why nanosizing improves the hydrogen storage properties of this material. The idea came from Mahidol University graduate student Natchapol "Golf" Poonyayant, who approached Sandia with the idea of using nanoconfinement to enhance hydrogen storage reactions in nitrogen-containing compounds. Working with the Sandia researchers, Poonyayant, his adviser, Pasit Pakawatpanurut, and fellow Mahidol student Natee "Game" Angboonpong found that liquid ammonia could be used as a gentle and efficient solvent for introducing metals and nitrogen into the pockets of carbon nanoparticles, producing nanoconfined lithium nitride particles. The new material that emerged from Poonyayant's idea showed some unusual and unexpected properties. First, the amount of lithium nitride in the carbon nanoparticle host was quite high for a nanoconfined system, about 40 percent. Second, the nanoconfined lithium nitride absorbed and released hydrogen more rapidly than the bulk material. Furthermore, once the lithium nitride had been hydrogenated, it also released hydrogen in only one step and much faster than the bulk system that took two steps. "In other words, the chemical pathways for both hydrogen absorption and release in this hydrogen storage material were dramatically changed for the better," said Sandia chemist Lennie Klebanoff. To better understand the mechanism responsible for this improvement, the Sandia scientists reached out to computational scientist Brandon Wood of LLNL, a leading expert in the theory of solid-state reactions. Wood and his LLNL colleagues Tae Wook Heo, Jonathan Lee and Keith Ray discovered that the reason for the unusual behavior was the energy associated with two material interfaces. Since the lithium nitride nanoparticles are only 3 nanometers wide, even the smallest energetically unfavorable process is avoided in the hydrogen storage properties. For lithium nitride nanoparticles undergoing hydrogenation reactions, the avoidance of unfavorable intermediates -- extra steps in the chemical process -- increases efficiency. Taking the path of least resistance, the material undergoes a single-step path to full hydrogenation. Similarly, once hydrogenated, the nanoparticles release hydrogen by the lowest energy pathway available, which in this case is direct hydrogen release back to lithium nitride. "In this way, the nanointerfaces drive the hydrogen storage properties when the materials are made very small, for example with nanoconfinement," said Wood. "The purposeful control of nanointerfaces offers a new way to optimize hydrogen storage reaction chemistry." According to the Sandia and LLNL researchers, the next step is to further understand how the dehydrogenated and hydrogenated phases of lithium nitride change at the nanoscale. This is a stiff challenge to the team, as it requires imaging different chemical phases within a particle that is only several nanometers wide. The team will draw on the capabilities within the DOE's Hydrogen Storage Materials Advanced Research Consortium (HyMARC), led by Sandia and comprised additionally of scientists from LLNL and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The team plans to use spatially resolved synchrotron radiation from LBNL's Advanced Light Source to probe interface chemistry and structure. In addition, since the nanoporous carbon host is "dead weight" from a hydrogen storage perspective, the team is examining ways to "lighten the load" and find carbon materials with more nanopockets for a given carbon mass. "We are thrilled with this technical advance and excited to take on the work ahead," said Klebanoff. "But it's bittersweet. Golf, who inspired this work and conducted many of the syntheses, died tragically at the age of 25 during the writing of this paper. The world has lost a talented young man and we have lost a dear friend whom we miss. This work and its published account are dedicated to Golf and his family." Sandia National Laboratories is a multi-mission laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corp., for the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration. With main facilities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., Sandia has major R&D responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies and economic competitiveness.


News Article | February 15, 2017
Site: www.prweb.com

ExchangeMonitor Publications & Forums and Nuclear Security & Deterrence Monitor are pleased to announce that Linton Brooks, senior adviser at CSIS and former NNSA administrator will receive the 2017 Johnny Foster Lifetime Achievement Award at the upcoming Nuclear Deterrence Summit. Linton F. Brooks is an independent consultant on national security issues, a senior adviser at CSIS, a distinguished research fellow at the National Defense University, and an adviser to four of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratories. He served from July 2002 to January 2007 as administrator of DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration, where he was responsible for the U.S. nuclear weapons program and for DOE’s international nuclear nonproliferation programs. Ambassador Brooks has five decades of experience in national security, much of it associated with nuclear weapons. His government career has included service as deputy administrator for nuclear nonproliferation at the National Nuclear Security Administration, assistant director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, chief U.S. negotiator for the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, director of defense programs and arms control on the National Security Council staff, and a number of U.S. Navy and Defense Department assignments as a 30-year career naval officer. Ambassador Brooks holds degrees in physics from Duke University and in government and politics from the University of Maryland and is a distinguished graduate of the U.S. Naval War College. He has been associated with the CSIS Project of Nuclear Issues (PONI) since its inception. The Johnny Foster Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes a lifetime dedicated to serve the greater good and security of the nation not only as a public servant but also as a citizen, to ensure the credibility and viability of the U.S. nuclear deterrent, and for leadership that continually inspires others to achieve extraordinary goals. The Nuclear Deterrence Summit is pleased to award this prestigious award to Linton Brooks at the upcoming event, taking place February 28-March 2, 2017 at the Capital Hilton in Washington, D.C. For more information about the summit, please visit http://www.deterrencesummit.com.

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