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.

Mar. 31, 2017

Carbon capture and sequestration experts say the country could continue using coal if carbon capture is built into new plants.

A path toward clean coal

Supporters of carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) are outlining how investment in the technology is a viable path forward.

The potential message is that beefed up commitments on CCS offer a long-term future for fossil fuels. But that policy path could also win broad support from other countries, CCS experts say.

"It's interesting to see the Trump administration take this stance. It's something that many countries in many contexts have said," says Julio Friedmann, who served as principal deputy assistant secretary for fossil energy in the Department of Energy and has since returned to Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Friedmann says many countries conclude that CCS is required to hit long-term emission and temperature goals in the Paris deal, and that there is not nearly enough investment in CCS to achieve those targets.

Lawrence Livermore recently released 64 films of atmospheric nuclear bomb tests from the 1950s and ‘60s.

Time tells the tale of the atomic era

The U.S. government conducted 210 atmospheric nuclear bomb tests before the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty of 1963 outlawed detonation of the big bombs in space, underwater or in the atmosphere.

While those initial open-air tests were for research purposes, as it turns out the Energy Department and other agencies haven't been very good at keeping track of their data.

The 10,000 films made of those first tests conducted between 1945 and 1962 were kept by various agencies in classified vaults, slowly decomposing. That's why, over the last five years, Lawrence Livermore weapon physicist Greg Spriggs and his colleagues have been rounding up and digitizing the footage.

Nanoconfinement suppresses all other intermediate phases to prevent interface formation, which has the effect of dramatically improving the hydrogen storage performance.

Going small to power up

Scientists from Lawrence Livermore and Sandia National Laboratories developed a hydro-storage system using nanotechnology. This innovative storage system can draw a futuristic picture with hydrogen-powered vehicles.

The new technology makes it possible for the hydrogen storage systems to be lightweight and low-pressure. Although these two characteristics are tough to achieve in a hydrogen storage system, a technology called nanoconfinement makes it all possible.

The nanoconfinement infiltrates complex metal hydrides into carbon or other materials. This way, the process of hydrogen uptake and release gets faster.

This transmission electron microscope image shows growth of a dense carbon nanotube population.

Nanotubes bust a move

For the first time, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientists and collaborators have captured a movie of how large populations of carbon nanotubes grow and align themselves.

Understanding how carbon nanotubes (CNT) nucleate, grow and self-organize to form macroscale materials is critical for application-oriented design of next-generation supercapacitors, electronic interconnects, separation membranes and advanced yarns and fabrics.

New research by LLNL scientist Eric Meshot and colleagues from Brookhaven National Laboratory and Massachusetts Institute of Technology has demonstrated direct visualization of collective nucleation and self-organization of aligned carbon nanotube films inside of an environmental transmission electron microscope.

Artist's impression of a hypothetical Earth-like moon around a Saturn-like exoplanet.

I spy an exomoon

The formation of satellites is thought to be a natural byproduct of planet formation in our solar system, and moons of extrasolar planets (exomoons) may be abundant in extrasolar planetary systems. But exomoons have yet to be discovered.

The Kepler spacecraft has been prolific in its search for planets outside our solar system, known as exoplanets, discovering thousands since its launch in 2009. But the hunt for moons orbiting these exoplanets, or exomoons, is vastly more challenging. While no exomoons have been found to date, a new study shows that the search is not fruitless.

Researchers have demonstrated for the first time that it is possible for a planetary collision to form a moon large enough for Kepler to detect. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory physicist Megan Bruk Syal and Amy Barr of the Planetary Science Institute conducted a series of around 30 simulations to explore how various factors affect moon creation. In the end, they narrowed in on a set of conditions that would create satellites much larger than the Earth's moon.