Lab Report

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The Lab Report is a weekly compendium of media reports on science and technology achievements at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Though the Laboratory reviews items for overall accuracy, the reporting organizations are responsible for the content in the links below.

Jun. 30, 2017

beer
Lawrence Livermore researchers have developed a technique to capture the carbon dioxide produced when brewing beer.

Drafting an eco-friendlier brew

Carbon dioxide is naturally produced during the brewing process. During fermentation, sugars are converted into alcohol and CO2. At larger breweries, it's become common to install recovery equipment. Coors, for example, captures around 300 million pounds of CO2 every year.

For smaller craft brewing operations, however, that equipment can be expensive. Enter the scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. A couple of years ago, they came up with modern technology that will help craft brewers reclaim CO2 at a much more reasonable cost -- as much as 75 percent less.

The Lab's solution: tiny capsules with a permeable outer shell that contains a sodium carbonate solution. The solution reacts with carbon dioxide and traps it inside. Later, the stored CO2 can be released simply by adding a little heat.

super-earth
Earth is surrounded by a giant magnetic bubble called the magnetosphere, which is part of a dynamic, interconnected system that responds to solar, planetary and interstellar conditions. Photo courtesy of NASA

Super-Earth could be home for aliens

By deflecting harmful charged particles from the sun and the cosmic rays that constantly bombard Earth, and preventing the solar wind from eroding the atmosphere, the planet's magnetic field has allowed multi-cellular life forms up to and including humans to develop and survive.

With the discovery of thousands of planets beyond the solar system, known as exoplanets, scientists are eager to learn if rocky "super-Earths," up to 10 times more massive than Earth, also might be able to harbor life.

"Finding habitable exoplanets is one of the top three goals of the planetary science and astronomy communities," said Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory physicist Rick Kraus.

jupiter
Lawrence Livermore researchers used ancient meteorites to deduct that Jupiter is the oldest planet in our solar system.

Jumpin’ Jupiter

The great gas giant Jupiter is not only the largest planet in our solar system, it also is the oldest, forming 1 million years after the sun and nearly 50 million years before Earth.

"We do not have any samples from Jupiter, in contrast to other bodies like the Earth, Mars, the moon and asteroids," said Thomas Kruijer, lead author of new research and a scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. "In our study, we use isotope signatures of meteorites (which are derived from asteroids) to infer Jupiter's age."

It might seem odd that scientists used meteorites to determine the age of Jupiter, but the findings present a clear line of deduction that identifies Jupiter as the oldest planet.

glass
A new 3D printing technique, developed at Lawrence Livermore, could allow scientists to print glass that incorporates different refractive indices in a single flat optic, making finishing cheaper and easier. Photos by Jason Laurea/LLNL

Through the looking glass

The 3D printing of glass has been in the news quite a lot lately, with several breakthroughs coming in the last couple of months.

Scientists at Lawrence Livermore have come up with a new way of 3D printing transparent glass for applications involving optics.

Isn't all glass transparent? Not entirely, especially when it's 3D printed. The most common methods of 3D printing glass involve the extrusion of molten glass filament or the sintering of glass powders, and they tend to result in porous or non-uniform structures that aren't clear enough for optical applications such as lasers. Lawrence Livermore took a different approach, creating an ink from concentrated suspensions of silica particles with highly controlled flow properties that can be 3D printed at room temperature.

Once the structures are 3D printed, using a direct ink writing process, they are put through a specialized thermal treatment to make them denser and remove print lines. They are then given an optical quality polish.

HPC
Lawrence Livermore leads the Energy Department’s High-Performance Computing for Manufacturing (HPC4Mfg) program.

Supercomputers tackle manufacturing challenges

The Energy Department has $3 million available to tackle major manufacturing challenges.

The High-Performance Computing for Manufacturing (HPC4Mfg) Program enables the use of high-performance computing (HPC) expertise and resources for the manufacturing sector to address research and development challenges with HPC and investigate its use to support advanced energy and manufacturing issues.

The partnerships use world-class supercomputers and the science and technology expertise at the national laboratories, including Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, which leads the program, principal partners Lawrence Berkeley and Oak Ridge national laboratories and other participating laboratories.