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.

July 19, 2019


Lab Report
The move to exascale computing means an even larger cooling systems.

Cool it

Supercomputers always have been at the forefront of cooling technologies, with their high-power densities demanding careful attention.

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory systems engineer Chris DePrater detailed the Lab's plans for the cooling of its Simulation Facility, used to run nuclear weapons simulations as part of the NNSA's Stockpile Stewardship program.

"I've been in our facility since it was opened in 2004," DePrater said of the facility originally known as the Terascale Simulation Facility -- a title it quickly outgrew. "At launch, it was primarily an air-cooled, 48,000-square-foot data center, [but] since the inception of our building we've been in constant construction. We've been able to keep up with the vendors and actually modernize our facility along the way.

"When we commissioned our building, it was 12MW, 6,800 tons of cooling, but now we're at 45MW, 10,000 tons of cooling - still with 48,000 square feet of space."

Now, DePrater's team are upgrading the site for an exascale supercomputer, which will need 85MW, 28,000 tons of cooling.


Lab Report
Ryan Chen, an LLNL data analyst and visualization technologist, has developed a model called the RDD Studio that provides a detailed simulation of what an optimal response to a radiological dispersal device, or “dirty bomb,” would look like. Photo by Julie Russell/LLNL

How to respond to a dirty bomb

If a radiological dispersal device (RDD), or "dirty bomb," ever explodes in the United States, emergency crews may be better prepared because of a simulator developed by an Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory visualization technologist.

Called the RDD Studio, the model was developed by the Lab's Ryan Chen to provide a detailed simulation of what an optimal response to an RDD would look like.

The simulator grew out of an effort to give "life" to a 2017 Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (DHS S&T) report, "RDD Response Guidance: Planning for the First 100 Minutes" and has helped produce 14 videos that illustrate the hazards, tactics and procedures for an RDD response.

The simulator developed by Chen, a data analyst and visualization technologist in the Computing Directorate's Global Security Computing Applications Division, has been drawing high praise since it was released in April.


Lab Report
A 4.3 magnitude earthquake hit the East Bay earlier this week. A new sensor could help assess building damage.

Shaker sensor

A new sensor system could allay fear of going back in a building after an earthquake as it optically measures how much a building has swayed, and thus how damaged it may be.

Some buildings already incorporate accelerometers on multiple floors, which are used to determine the extent to which those floors move from side-to-side. According to scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, though, such systems can be costly, plus processing the data from them can be a complex and time-consuming process.

With that in mind, the Berkeley Lab researchers teamed up with colleagues from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the University of Nevada-Reno, creating what is known as the Discrete Diode Position Sensor.

It consists of a laser, mounted on one floor, that shines a beam down onto a rectangular array of light-sensitive photodiodes on the floor below. As the building sways in an earthquake, the laser beam moves back and forth across the array, providing an electronic record of how much the two floors have moved laterally relative to one another.


Lab Report
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory chemist Sarah Baker holds a gas chromatography vial used to measure the amount of methanol produced by an enzyme-embedded polymer.

Scrub a dub

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has received a $500,000 grant from DOE to develop and seek to commercialize their composite sorbent technology to more effectively scrub CO2 from biogas. This proposed technology has the potential for significant improvements over the current state-of-the-art adsorbents used for biogas upgrading.

LLNL is partnering with Xebec Adsorption Inc. and Southern California Gas. The project is part of DOE’s Office of Technology Transition’s Technology Commercialization Fund, which advances the commercialization of promising energy technologies and strengthens partnerships between the national labs and private sector companies to deploy these technologies to the marketplace.

“LLNL is excited to work with Xebec and So Cal Gas, who have decades of experience with biogas upgrading technology, to rigorously test LLNL’s biogas upgrading materials and move them toward commercialization,” said Sarah Baker, staff scientist at LLNL.


Lab Report
The new dynamic diamond anvil cell (dDAC) at the Extreme Conditions Beamline (ECB) at DESY's X-ray source PETRA III. Image courtesy of Hanns-Peter Liermann/DESY

Under pressure

A new super-fast high-pressure device at DESY's PERA III X-ray light source allows scientists to simulate and study earthquakes and meteorite impacts more realistically in the lab.

The new-generation dynamic diamond anvil cell (dDAC), developed by scientists from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Deutsches Elektronen-Synchroton (DESY), the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility and the universities of Oxford, Bayreuth and Frankfurt/Main, compresses samples faster than any similar device before.

The instrument can turn up the pressure at a record rate of 1.6 billion atmospheres per second and can be used for a wide range of dynamic high-pressure studies. The new device already has proved its capabilities in various materials experiments.