The Savannah River National Laboratory is the applied research and development laboratory at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site near Jackson, South Carolina. SRNL was founded in 1951 as the Savannah River Laboratory. It was certified as a national laboratory on May 7, 2004.SRNL research topics include environmental remediation, technologies for the hydrogen economy, handling of hazardous materials, and technologies for prevention of nuclear proliferation. The laboratory has specific experience in vitrification of nuclear waste and hydrogen storage initially developed to support production of tritium and plutonium at the Savannah River Site during the Cold War. SRNL is a founding member of the South Carolina Hydrogen & Fuel Cell Alliance .The laboratory employs 945 people and has an annual budget of 210 million U.S. Dollars .Savannah River National Laboratory has been operated by Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy since 2008. Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, LLC is a partnership consisting of Fluor Corporation, Newport News Nuclear, Inc. and Honeywell International. Wikipedia.
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 | December 23, 2016
« DOE to award $15M to accelerate deployment of efficient transportation technology | Main | EPA to begin work on proposed rulemaking for on-road heavy-duty ultra-low NOx standard for MY 2024 » Iowa State University will bring its expertise in biorenewable technologies and pilot plant operations to the country’s 10th Manufacturing USA Institute. (Earlier post.) The recently announced advanced manufacturing institute is dedicated to improving the productivity and efficiency of chemical manufacturing. Those improvements could include combining processes such as mixing, reacting and separating into single steps. Such process intensification could boost manufacturing productivity while cutting costs and reducing waste. That could save the chemical industry more than $9 billion annually, according to the US Department of Energy’s announcement of the institute. The new institute will be known as RAPID, the Rapid Advancement in Process Intensification Deployment Institute. The American Institute of Chemical Engineers in New York City will lead the effort, which was developed in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Savannah River National Laboratory in South Carolina and the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. Iowa State researchers are managing the project’s biorefinery efforts because they are “an extremely talented and well-known team that’s highly regarded in the industry,” said Karen Fletcher, RAPID’s chief executive officer, speaking during a recent tour of Iowa State’s BioCentury Research Farm. In addition, she said the Iowa State team has already pulled in multiple partners willing to help commercialize distributed biorefineries. The proposal that won the Department of Energy’s approval includes $8 million to support development and testing of biorefineries that that feature modular design and construction for ease of manufacturing and mass production. Two possible projects highlighted in the application include: Pyrolysis-based Modular Energy Production Systems for conversion of wastes and biomass into fuels, chemicals and other products, with $3.2 million from the energy department and additional support from Easy Energy Systems of Emmetsburg; the State of Iowa; Stine Seed Co. of Adel; and the Iowa Energy Center. Pyrolysis as traditionally practiced involves quickly heating biomass without oxygen to produce a biochar for fertilizer and a liquid bio-oil for energy. Iowa State researchers have improved the process by adding a small amount of air to the reaction, partially burning some of the biomass as a source of heat for the reactor. The so-called autothermal process increases the rate that biomass can be converted to products, allowing construction of smaller and simpler reactors suitable for modular systems. The new process produces sugars that can be fermented to biofuels and a solid fuel suitable as a coal substitute. The big idea is to develop small, efficient biorefineries that can process local biomass, saving the cost and trouble of transporting and storing biomass from a larger region. Anaerobic digestion of grassy biomass and wet wastes to convert waste biomass into carbon-neutral fuels and chemicals, with $4 million from the energy department and additional support from Earth Energy Renewables of Bryan, Texas; Roeslein Alternative Energy of St. Louis; the State of Iowa; the Iowa Energy Center; and Iowa State. The project will build on technology developed by Mark Holtzapple of Texas A&M University to efficiently ferment biomass for production of carboxylic acids. The acids can be converted into valuable industrial chemicals and fuels, all the way up to gasoline. Brown said both projects and the dollars associated with them are still subject to final contract negotiations between the Department of Energy and the leaders of RAPID. But he says they’re good candidates to move ahead.
Flach G.P.,Savannah River National Laboratory
Ground Water | Year: 2012
Dual-domain solute transport models produce significantly improved agreement to observations compared to single-domain (advection-dispersion) models when used in an a posteriori data fitting mode. However, the use of dual-domain models in a general predictive manner has been a difficult and persistent challenge, particularly at field-scale where characterization of permeability and flow is inherently limited. Numerical experiments were conducted in this study to better understand how single-rate mass transfer parameters vary with aquifer attributes and contaminant exposure. High-resolution reference simulations considered 30 different scenarios involving variations in permeability distribution, flow field, mass transfer timescale, and contaminant exposure time. Optimal dual-domain transport parameters were empirically determined by matching to breakthrough curves from the high-resolution simulations. Numerical results show that mobile porosity increases with lower permeability contrast/variance, smaller spatial correlation length, lower connectivity of high-permeability zones, and flow transverse to strata. A nonzero non-participating porosity improves empirical fitting, and becomes larger for flow aligned with strata, smaller diffusion coefficient, and larger spatial correlation length. The non-dimensional mass transfer coefficient or Damkohler number tends to be close to 1.0 and decrease with contaminant exposure time, in agreement with prior studies. The best empirical fit is generally achieved with a combination of macrodispersion and first-order mass transfer. Quantitative prediction of ensemble-average dual-domain parameters as a function of measurable aquifer attributes proved only marginally successful. Ground Water © 2011, National Ground Water Association. Published 2011. This article is a U.S. Government work and is in the public domain in the USA.
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: STTR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 150.00K | Year: 2014
The objective of this technology transfer effort is to leverage technology developed at Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL) to develop a portable proportional counter (PC) for neutron detection. NanoTechLabs Inc. (NTL) will develop a portable proportional counter for neutron detection utilizing nanostructured field emitters. Unlike traditional proportional counters, which are typically arranged in a cylindrical geometry, the nano-PC will be arranged in parallel plate geometry. The concept is based on a controlled array of nanoscale anodes to detect the reaction products produced by the interaction of a neutron with boron-10. NTL is working on a new design to fabricate boron-coated or boron-containing nanotube arrays. These nanostructured arrays will be incorporated on a substrate, and subsequent substrates can be stacked to get further field enhancement and more signal strength. Overall sensitivity of the B-lined tubes is dependent on the tube surface area; configurations that increase surface area are a valid solution for increasing their efficiency. The focus of the Phase I efforts will be to prepare and demonstrate growth of nanotube arrays at appropriate geometry for use in PC anodes, demonstrate the efficacy of the boron coating, and performance testing of the anodes at SRNL. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: Proportional counters are common in many areas of the nuclear industry (i.e., nonproliferation and safeguards, materials processing, remediation and storage) because they are capable of distinguishing between a wide range of radiation types and energies. They are vital to national security as they can be used to detect illicit trafficking of radioactive materials, which could mean the planning of a dirty bomb attack. A limiting factor of common PCs is transportability due to their reliance on a very high and stable voltage source. While this dependence is mitigated by the use of step-up transformers to increase the voltage from a portable battery supply, as monitoring for illegal transport of radioactive materials at borders, seaports, and airports increases there is a need for detection devices that are easily portable, run on small portable power supplies for long periods of time, and have high detection efficiencies. Other advantages of a nano-PC include lower operating voltage, reduced platform size and cost, and improved ruggedness.
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: STTR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 998.98K | Year: 2015
The objective of this technology transfer effort is to leverage technology developed by our partner to produce a high efficiency, carbon nanotube array enhanced, portable proportional counter for neutron detection. We will develop a portable proportional counter for neutron detection utilizing nanostructured field emitters. Unlike traditional proportional counters, which are typically arranged in a cylindrical geometry, the nano-proportional counter will be arranged in parallel plate geometry. The concept is based on a controlled array of nanoscale anodes to detect the reaction products produced by the interaction of a neutron with boron-10. We are working on a new design to fabricate boron-coated nanotube arrays. These nanostructured arrays will be incorporated on a substrate, and subsequent substrates can be stacked to get further field enhancement and more signal strength. Overall sensitivity of the boron-10 lined tubes is dependent on the tube surface area; configurations that increase surface area are a valid solution for increasing their efficiency. The focus of the Phase I efforts will be to prepare and demonstrate growth of nanotube arrays at appropriate geometry for use in proportional counter anodes, demonstrate the efficacy of the boron coating, and performance testing of the anodes. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: Proportional counters are common in many areas of the nuclear industry (i.e., nonproliferation and safeguards, materials processing, remediation and storage) because they are capable of distinguishing between a wide range of radiation types and energies. They are vital to national security as they can be used to detect illicit trafficking of radioactive materials, which could mean the planning of a dirty bomb attack. While this dependence is mitigated by the use of step-up transformers to increase the voltage from a portable battery supply, as monitoring for illegal transport of radioactive materials at borders, seaports, and airports increases there is a need for detection devices that are easily portable, run on small portable power supplies for long periods of time, and have high detection efficiencies. Other advantages of a nano-proportional counter include lower operating voltage, reduced platform size and cost, and improved ruggedness.
News Article | February 15, 2017
EAST HARTFORD, Conn., Feb. 14, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Sustainable Innovations, Inc. (SI) and its partners, Greenway Energy and Savannah River National Laboratory, will team to maximize the benefits of two cutting edge hydrogen compressor technologies by combining them into one high...
News Article | September 16, 2016
"We are really excited to share our new discoveries. When researchers are looking at gold as a potential material for research, we talk about how expensive gold is. For the first time ever, we've been able to create a new class of cheaper, highly efficient, nontoxic, magnetically reusable hybrid nanomaterials that contain a far more abundant material-rust-than the typical noble metal gold," says Murph, who is also a principal scientist in the National Security Directorate at the Savannah River National Laboratory in Aiken, S.C. When materials are broken down in size to reach nanometer scale dimensions — 1 to 100 nanometers, which is approximately 100,000 times smaller than the diameter of human hair-these substances can take on new properties. For example, bulk gold does not display catalytic properties; however, at the nanoscale, gold is an efficient catalyst, accelerating chemical change for many reactions including oxidation, hydrogen production or reduction of aromatic nitro compounds. Gold nanoparticles of different sizes and shapes display different colors when impinged by light because they absorb and scatter light at specific wavelengths, known as plasmonic resonances. These plasmonic resonances are of particular interest for biological applications. If someone shines light on the gold nanoparticles, the absorbed light can be converted to heat in the surrounding media, and if bacteria or cancerous cells are in the vicinity of such gold nanoparticles, they can be destroyed by using light of appropriate wavelength. This phenomenon is known as photothermal therapy. By replacing some of the nano-gold with magnetic nano-rust, researchers show that the hybrid gold and rust nanostructures are able to photothermally heat the surrounding media as efficiently as pure gold nanoparticles, even with a significantly smaller concentration of gold. "In a way, we've done a little better than alchemy," says George Larsen, co-investigator and postdoctoral researcher in the Group for Innovation and Advancements in Nano-Technology Sciences at the Savannah River National Laboratory, "because these new hybrid nanoparticles not only behave better than gold in some cases, but also have magnetic functionality." Murph and her team looked at three different shapes of hybrid nanoparticles in this research-spheres, rings, and tubes. "A differently shaped nanoparticle means that the atoms are arranged differently-into cubes, hexagons or triangles, for example," she says. "A different atom arrangement means different packing densities, spacing between atoms, defects, surface area and surface energies. Different shapes lead to an increased atom area that is exposed to catalyze a chemical reaction. Scientifically speaking, different shape means different crystallographic facets and surface energy that could lead to higher catalytic activity and different catalytic products. "The results of our research showed that the ring- and tube-shaped hybrid nanoparticles proved to be better catalytic materials than the sphere-shaped nanoparticles because of the way the atoms are arranged in the structure at this nanoscale. More importantly, the hybrid nanoparticles of gold and rust are better catalysts than gold nanoparticles alone, even with a significantly smaller amount of gold. When these different shaped hybrid nanoparticles were exposed to light of specific wavelength, the spheres heated the solution up to slightly higher temperatures than the ring- or tube-shaped nanoparticles. "This could have a variety of biological applications such as tracking, drug delivery or imaging inside the body," Murph says. "If you feed these gold nanoparticles to bacteria and shine the light on them, you could destroy these by just using light." The hybrid structures could also be used for new application, such as sensing, hyperthermia treatment, environmental cleaning and protection medical imaging applications including magnetic resonance imaging contrast agents, product detection and manipulation. The research study is entitled, "Multifunctional Hybrid Fe2O3-Au Nanoparticles for Efficient Plasmonic Heating." The study was supported by Department of Energy Laboratory Directed Research & Development Strategic Initiative Program of the Savannah River National Laboratory. Additional co-investigators on this study were Robert Lascola and Will Farr of the Savannah River National Laboratory.
News Article | February 27, 2017
Thom Mason, the director of the Department of Energy's (DOE's) Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, says that before he took his job he received two pieces of advice. One former director of a DOE national lab told him that a director couldn't serve more than 10 years because every year he'd infuriate another 10% of the staff. Another told him that it would take him 10 years to have a substantial impact. So Mason, 52, has decided that he will step down on 1 July, exactly 10 years after taking the directorship, the laboratory announced Friday. He will take a position with Battelle in Columbus, which helps manage several DOE national laboratories. "It sort of feels that I've been here long enough to have an impact but not so long that I've worn out my welcome," Mason says. William Madia, vice president for SLAC National Laboratory at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, says, "It's been a very, very good run for Thom Mason—a lot of accomplishments." In the past, directors of DOE's 16 national labs often served for a decade or more, but these days a typical tenure is now 4 or 5 years. So Mason is by far the longest serving director, ahead of Terry Michalske, director of DOE's Savannah River National Laboratory near Jackson, South Carolina, who has served since 2009. Oak Ridge is the largest of the 10 national labs supported by DOE's Office of Science, with a staff of 4500 and an annual budget of $1.5 billion. A condensed matter physicist, Mason came to Oak Ridge in 1998 to lead construction of the lab's flagship facility, the $1.4 billion Spallation Neutron Source, which was completed in 2006. Under Mason's directorship, Oak Ridge also developed two supercomputers that ranked as the world's most powerful, took leading roles in multi-institutional centers to develop biofuels and high-precision simulations of nuclear reactors, established a center for advanced manufacturing, and overhauled much of the lab's infrastructure. That rejuvenation extends to the lab staff, Mason says. "More than 70% of our Ph.D.-level scientists and engineers have joined the lab in the past 10 years," he says. Mason was a leader not only at the lab, but among DOE lab directors and in representing DOE's science efforts in Washington, D.C., Madia says. He has a well-deserved reputation for being forthright and dependable, says Madia, who served as Oak Ridge director from 2000 to 2003 and hired Mason to the lab. "If Thom Mason walks into your office and says he's going to do something, you can bank on it," he says. Mason will take the post of senior vice president for laboratory operations at Battelle, which is involved in managing six DOE national labs and one for the Department of Homeland Security. "It's a very good move for both Battelle and for Thom," says Samuel Aronson, an emeritus physicist at Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, New York, who directed that lab from 2006 until 2012. "After serving so long in the trenches he has a very deep and immediate grasp of how the labs operate."
News Article | October 25, 2016
« Cell Impact signs collaboration agreement with Impact Coatings on surface treatment of fuel cell plates | Main | Honda Clarity Fuel Cell EPA-rated with 366-mile range; longest of any ZEV » The Energy Department (DOE) recently announced $10 million, subject to appropriations, to support the launch of the HydroGEN Advanced Water Splitting Materials Consortium (HydroGEN). (Earlier post.) This consortium will utilize the expertise and capabilities of the national laboratories to accelerate the development of commercially viable pathways for hydrogen production from renewable energy sources. HydroGEN is being launched as part of the Energy Materials Network (EMN) that began in February of this year, crafted to give American entrepreneurs and manufacturers a competitive edge in the global development of clean energy in support of the President’s Materials Genome Initiative and advanced manufacturing priorities. As part of the EMN, the HydroGEN consortium will provide industry and academia the expertise and capabilities to more quickly develop, characterize, and deploy high-performance, low-cost advanced water-splitting materials for lower cost hydrogen production. Currently, the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) funds research and development of low-carbon hydrogen production pathways. By establishing HydroGEN, the DOE intends to accelerate innovation with the assistance of the national laboratories. The new consortium is led by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and also includes Sandia National Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Idaho National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and Savannah River National Laboratory. The consortium’s newly launched website details capabilities being made available to companies, academia, and other labs, and also details mechanisms for engagement. EMN focuses on tackling one of the major barriers to widespread commercialization of clean energy technologies—the integrated design, testing, and production of advanced materials. By strengthening and facilitating industry access to the unique resources available at the Energy Department's national labs, the network will help industry bring these materials to market more quickly. Each EMN consortium will bring together national labs, industry, and academia to focus on specific classes of materials aligned with industry's most pressing challenges related to materials for clean energy technologies. The EMN consortia that have been launched thus far are:
News Article | March 14, 2016
Princeton physicist Chris Tully in the PTOLEMY laboratory at PPPL. Behind him are powerful superconducting magnets on either side of the vacuum chamber. Credit: Elle Starkman/PPPL Office of Communication Big Bang neutrinos are believed to be everywhere in the universe but have never been seen. The expansion of the universe has stretched them and they are thought to be billions of times colder than neutrinos that stream from the sun. As the oldest known witnesses or 'relics' of the early universe, they could shed new light on the birth of the cosmos if scientists could pin them down. That's a tall order since these ghostly particles can speed through planets as if they were empty space. Now Princeton University physicist Chris Tully is readying a facility to detect these information-rich relics that appeared one second after the Big Bang, during the onset of the epoch that fused protons and neutrons to create all the light elements in the universe. Tully runs a prototype lab in the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) that draws on the fact that neutrinos can be captured by tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen, and provide a tiny boost of energy to the electrons emitted in tritium decay. The prototype aims to measure this tiny extra energy with a precision never before achieved. The task, which has been compared to detecting a specific heartbeat in a packed sports arena, will require the coldest and darkest conditions achievable to prevent disruption of the exquisitely sensitive instruments. If successful, the project could lead to a major new experiment at PPPL to confirm or reassess the standard model of the Big Bang and its aftermath. The state-of-the-art system, set up by PPPL engineer Charles Gentile and other Laboratory staff, consists of a pair of superconducting magnets joined to opposite ends of a 5-foot vacuum chamber, with the second magnet connected to a calorimeter that measures electron energy. Tully names the project PTOLEMY after the second century Greek astronomer and as an acronym for "Princeton Tritium Observatory for Light, Early-universe Massive-neutrino Yield." Support comes from grants of $400,000 from the Simons Foundation in New York City and $330,000 from the John Templeton Foundation in Pennsylvania. The hunt for Big Bang neutrinos will begin this summer after several years of preparation. Soon to arrive is a key ingredient: 1/100th of a milligram of tritium loaded onto a postage stamp-sized sheet of graphene, a layer of carbon just a single atom thick. This arrangement will produce a clean spectrum of tritium decay when it arrives from Savannah River National Laboratory under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement approved by the DOE. PPPL will handle this tritium safely in accordance with its DOE-approved Radiation Protection Program. The Laboratory used higher quantities of tritium as a fuel, with the hydrogen isotope deuterium, for fusion experiments conducted on its Tokamak Fusion Test Reactor from 1993 to 1997. Researchers will position the tritium-loaded graphene inside the first superconducting magnet, whose field strength is similar to the MRI systems that hospitals and clinics use. This field will guide electrons from the tritium decay into the neighboring vacuum chamber. Low-energy electrons will be filtered as they travel through a series of electrodes placed within the vacuum chamber as the magnetic field first dips in strength and then rises again as the electrons enter the second magnet, leaving only the highest-energy electrons for the calorimeter to analyze. The calorimeter will be the most accurate instrument of its kind in the world. It will be hooked to a dilution refrigerator set at 10-to-50 milli-Kelvins, a temperature more than 50 times colder than deep space and a small fraction of a degree above absolute zero. The extreme cold will keep the calorimeter poised between a superconducting state - one in which electrons can flow without resistance - and a non-superconducting state that provides resistance. When an electron with neutrino-supplied extra energy comes along, the calorimeter would signal it by rapidly becoming resistive. This dilution refrigerator could make PPPL one of the hottest as well as coldest spots in the solar system on days when the National Spherical Torus Experiment-Upgrade (NSTX-U), the Laboratory's recently completed flagship facility, is running. The NSTX-U routinely conducts experiments at or above the 15 million degree Celsius core of the sun as it investigates fusion reactions as the energy for generating electricity. The PTOLEMY project will have a major goal: to demonstrate the ability to measure the mass of Big Bang neutrinos and thus pave the way for a much larger experiment, one that would explore the decay from 100 grams of tritium. "We hope to take enough data to measure the neutrino or at least produce the world's most accurate measurement using calorimeter techniques by the end of 2017," Tully said of the prototype. The large new experiment would test the theory that predicts that some 330 Big Bang neutrinos per cubic centimeter exist throughout the universe. The enlarged PTOLEMY will count the number of electrons that neutrinos have bumped up in energy to determine whether this prediction is correct. Confirming it would validate current thought about the evolution of the cosmos since the Big Bang, while refuting it could overturn the model and lead to fresh insights. The expanded experiment could have other far-reaching effects. It might detect so-called sterile neutrinos, hypothetical Big Bang particles that have no positive or negative charge and could be the source of invisible dark matter, which scientists say makes up 20 percent of the mass of the universe. Besides hunting for neutrinos, the area in which PTOLEMY sits houses equipment useful for furthering the central collaborative mission of the fusion energy lab. For example, developers of ITER, the international tokamak under construction in France, will test a diagnostic device on a powerful magnet next to the site. Work on PTOLEMY itself will attract graduate students and summer interns. Tully notes such opportunities as he looks ahead. "My dream is to prove that measuring neutrino mass can work," he says, "and to have a beautiful picture of a major new facility that engineers can build." Explore further: On the hunt for neutrinos: Physicist seeks new ways to detect and measure the elusive particles