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.

May 1, 2020

ventilator new

The Novel Emergency Response Ventilator (NERVe) design incorporates components not used in ventilator manufacture, to avoid disrupting supply chains for ventilator parts. It is designed to meet the functional requirements of COVID-19 patients requiring mechanical ventilation but will need to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration before it can be used with patients.

A breath of fresh air

While hospitals across the U.S. faced a possible shortage of mechanical ventilators due to COVID-19, a self-assembled “skunk works” team at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory worked tirelessly to prototype a simple ventilator design for quick and easy assembly from available parts.

Dubbed the “Novel Emergency Response Ventilator” (NERVe), the design is derived from proven concepts and contains parts that are not being used by commercial ventilator manufacturers, to avoid disrupting already thin supply chains. It is designed to meet the functional requirements of COVID-19 patients requiring mechanical ventilation, including a simple user interface, air flow circuits for inhalation and exhalation, and alarms to notify physicians if air pressures get too low.

It can operate in a continuous ventilation mode — common for late-stage COVID-19 patients — but can adapt to patients who spontaneously breathe on their own.

The prototype will need to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before it can be used with COVID-19 patients.

DART

Schematic of the DART mission shows the impact on the moonlet of asteroid Didymos. Post-impact observations from Earth-based optical telescopes and planetary radar would, in turn, measure the change in the moonlet’s orbit about the parent body. Image courtesy of NASA and Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab.

Bumper cars in space

Like bumper cars that knock each other off their route, scientists plan to slam a spacecraft into an asteroid -- big enough to destroy a large city -- and deflect its course.

Earth will almost certainly confront a space rock large enough to obliterate a city or the planet. If humans are still around when that day comes, it would be prudent to have a plan for protecting the planet. That’s why NASA is launching a spacecraft next year to conduct the first test of one promising strategy for stopping a killer asteroid: Hit it while it’s still far enough way to alter its course.

The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) will slam a spacecraft into the smaller of two asteroids orbiting each other. Any change in the smaller object’s orbit will be easy to measure from Earth and will provide a good indicator of whether it has been successfully deflected.

“Didymoon,” as the smaller body is called, is DART’s target. It is roughly the size of asteroids that can obliterate cities. Ground-based telescopes will be able to detect changes in the duration of its orbit around the larger asteroid to measure the effects of the impact.

“If it wasn’t a binary, it would be basically impossible to measure with high precision,” said Megan Bruck Syal of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, who uses a mix of lab tests and supercomputers to model asteroid impacts. “This is a remarkable opportunity to test the effectiveness of the kinetic impactor technology on a real asteroid.”

microlattice

LLNL engineer Xiaoyu 'Rayne' Zheng studies a macroscale version of the unit cell, which contains the ultralight ultrastiff material.

They call it nanoprinting

Nanoprinting technology is most often dedicated to printing specialty nanoscale biomedical and electronic devices, usually for research purposes. In some cases, however, researchers are looking at how printing microscopic objects can lead to macroscopic changes in physical properties. 

One early project exploring these possibilities was developed by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), which used a method of projection micro-stereolithography to produce a part  capable of supporting 10,000 times its own weight. The crux of this profound power is the geometry of the structure.

Testing a variety of lattice geometries, the researchers found that the stiffness and strength of microlattice structures was dependent on their density. Though the polymer resin was their base material, the team was able to create microlattices out of metal, ceramic and a polymer-ceramic hybrid by coating the printed objects in these metals and then burn out the polymer core using heat. The resulting objects were even stronger, while remaining extremely light. 

Since this initial research, LLNL was able to expand on it in a variety of ways. For instance, LLNL applied this same technology to a study of how metamaterials and 3D printing could be used to optimize the design of helmets. The Lab compared traditional elastomer foam materials to metamaterials made up of 3D-printed polymer microlattices, determining that the 3D-printed polymers aged more slowly than traditional elastomers. Other research explored copper-polymer composites that shrink when exposed to heat, macroporous gold structures for use in electrochemical reactors and silicone memory foam.

santer Office

LLNL climate scientist Ben Santer is renowned for defending climate change with scientific facts.

living on earth

Words can change the world

Ben Santer is a climate scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Lab. Nearly 25 years ago, his life changed.

He was in Madrid, in the Palacio de Congresos and was part of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change or IPCC. The role of the IPCC is to advise the governments of the world about the physical climate system, the causes of climate change, the likely impacts of climate change on stuff we care about: human health, agriculture, water, resources and energy.

In a recent interview with Public Radio’s “Living on Earth” podcast, Santer discussed how the words “The balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate” changed his life and the world’s view on climate change. His outlook: “Science matters. Words can change the world.”

Corona

LLNL’s Corona supercomputing cluster will be used by scientists through the public/private COVID-19 HPC Consortium, and by LLNL researchers, who are working on discovering potential antibodies and anti-viral compounds for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Photo by Garry McLoyd/LLNL

Scientific Computing World

Corona on coronavirus

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) will get an upgrade to its Corona supercomputer through an agreement with Penguin Computing and AMD that is expected to nearly double the system’s peak compute power. 

The system will be used by scientists through the public/private COVID-19 HPC Consortium, and by LLNL researchers, who are working on discovering potential antibodies and anti-viral compounds for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

“It is well known that AMD is a key partner in the upcoming delivery of the first NNSA exascale-class system, the Hewlett Packard Enterprise El Capitan supercomputer,” said Michel McCoy, director of LLNL’s Advanced Simulation and Computing program. “But an enduring partnership involves multiple collaborations, in each of which we pursue common goals. We are delighted that AMD made this generous offer, particularly given the need for a determined pace in mitigating and, ultimately, in defeating this pathogen.”