18-Sep-2014 Factors underlying nuclear fuel swelling seen at nanoscale for first time
Understanding factors that drive nuclear fuel swelling will help engineers develop higher performance fuels, which could be even safer and more efficient than those used in current nuclear energy plants. As uranium atoms split to produce energy, fission products build up within fuel rods, which impacts nuclear fuel performance inside a reactor. But, a clear picture of the size and location of these solid fission products has been elusive until now.
17-Sep-2014 Predicting performance
Lignin, a low-cost byproduct of the pulp, paper and biofuels industries, can be transformed into a cheaper version of highly engineered graphite through a simple and industrially scalable manufacturing process.
28-Aug-2014 Materials scientists play atomic 'Jenga' and make a surprising discovery
Researchers got a surprise when they built a highly ordered lattice by layering thin films containing lanthanum, strontium, oxygen and iron. Although each layer had an intrinsically nonpolar (symmetric) distribution of electrical charges, the lattice had an asymmetric distribution of charges. The charge asymmetry creates an extra 'switch' that brings functionalities to materials when 'flipped' by external stimuli. The material defects induced polar behavior and can provide a new mechanism for manipulating electricity and magnetism in energy and information technologies.
20-Aug-2014 Junior researchers showing world the way to advanced nuclear fuel design
Two early-career Idaho National Laboratory researchers are earning international attention for their groundbreaking work. They're getting a long-sought look into the 3-D microstructure of irradiated nuclear fuel, then feeding that data into cutting-edge fuel behavior models. Their work will make the design and testing of even safer nuclear fuels more informed and efficient.
17-Jul-2014 Hot plasma partial to bootstrap current
Supercomputers at NERSC are helping plasma physicists 'bootstrap' a potentially more affordable and sustainable fusion reaction. If successful, fusion reactors could provide almost limitless clean energy.
25-Jun-2014 A model for success
Idaho National Laboratory researcher Blaise Collin works with software called PARFUME (particle fuel model) as part of an effort to find new, safer fuel sources for use in nuclear reactors.
29-May-2014 Scientists pinpoint creeping nanocrystals behind lithium-ion battery degradation
Scientists from several US Department of Energy national laboratories -- Lawrence Berkeley, Brookhaven, SLAC, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory -- mapped the nanoscale dynamics of lithium-ion charge cycles and discovered never-before-seen evolution and degradation patterns in two key battery materials.
21-May-2014 Tethys: A robust source of information on marine energy, offshore wind projects
Wondering what the impact on killer whales might be from a turbine installed under the sea? Check out Tethys, a robust online resource available for free to anyone interested in ocean energy and offshore wind resources. Tethys focuses on the environmental effects of energy projects that are proposed, underway or completed in the ocean and above it.
12-May-2014 Industry research: Experiment enters next stage at new Idaho hot cell
To the average eye, the experimental specimens don't look like much: silver-colored squares about the size of a domino. But the samples represent several big milestones for Idaho National Laboratory, the Department of Energy and the US nuclear energy industry. The irradiated 'compact tension' specimens are the first to undergo analysis in a specialized test rig at INL. Plus, they're part of a first-of-its-kind collaboration through the DOE's Advanced Test Reactor National Scientific User Facility.
6-May-2014 What lies beneath
The effects of biogeochemical and geochemical processes in the ground under us are on massive scales. Understanding what's going on down there and how it effects what's going on up here is an enormous undertaking. Scientists working at EMSL are getting a handle on these gigantic macroscopic processes by focusing on the microscopic scale. By creating micromodels and incorporating supercomputer simulations, researchers are connecting the molecular level with processes that affect our entire ecosystem.
3-Apr-2014 'Smart window' material may make better batteries
Windows that darken to filter out sunlight in response to electric current, function much like batteries. Now, X-ray studies at SLAC provide a crystal-clear view into how this color-changing material behaves in a working battery -- information that could benefit next-generation rechargeable batteries.
18-Mar-2014 Tapping into the metabolome
Metabolomics -- a field often called "the last 'omics frontier" -- seeks to understand the fundamental metabolic workings of a cell in a changing environment. Scientists at EMSL use mass spectrometers, nuclear magnetic resonance, imaging devices and other cutting-edge instruments to glean the information to help produce better fuels, crops and other bioproducts.
The Department of Energy's Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time.