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The Laboratory
in the News

Laser energy milestone is surpassed
In August 2005, the National Ignition Facility (NIF) fired shots that achieved energy output surpassing the highest levels ever reached on Livermore’s now-deactivated Nova laser or on the 60-beam OMEGA laser at the University of Rochester’s Laboratory for Laser Energetics.
NIF recently commissioned its second quad, which is a group of four beams. The combined output from the eight beams, known as a bundle, totaled 152 kilojoules, surpassing NIF’s main laser operational bundle goal of 125 kilojoules. The energy, in the form of infrared light, was measured by an instrument called a calorimeter. This and other diagnostics showed that beam quality, as well as total energy, exceeded design specifications.
The program is now transitioning from its NIF Early Light phase and preparing for ignition experiments scheduled to begin in 2010. When complete, NIF will consist of 192 laser beams, with a total energy capability of 1.8 megajoules. Operating with its current eight beams, NIF is already the world’s largest and most energetic laser system.
Contact: Ed Moses (925) 423-9624 (moses1@llnl.gov).

Tech transfer contributes to new portable fuel cell
Fuel-cell technology developed at the Laboratory and transferred to UltraCell Corporation of Livermore has led to the development of a portable fuel cell that could power a laptop computer for an entire day without recharging. The company’s reformed methanol fuel cell is based in part on microreformer and micro-fuel-cell technology developed at Livermore and licensed to UltraCell in 2002.
According to UltraCell, its new fuel cell has twice the energy density of standard lithium batteries and can provide continuous power at remote locations. Users can swap out the methanol fuel canisters for fresh fuel while the computer is in use. The compact fuel reformer efficiently converts methanol fuel to hydrogen. Jim Kaschmitter, chief executive officer of UltraCell, credited key advances by the company, the Laboratory, and other partners for the breakthrough in fuel-reformer technology.
UltraCell has an exclusive licensing agreement with Livermore for using microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) microreformer and micro-fuel-cell technology developed by Jeff Morse and his team in the Engineering Directorate’s Center for Micro and Nano Technology.
Contact: Norma Dunipace (925) 422-5995 (dunipace1@llnl.gov).

Modeled and observed climate data agree
Three papers published in the August 11, 2005, edition of Science Express provide new insight on the global warming debate. The first two studies revisit temperature data obtained from satellites and weather balloons and provide compelling evidence that the tropical troposphere has warmed since 1979. The third study, led by Benjamin Santer in the Laboratory’s Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison, finds that these new observational estimates of temperature change are consistent with results from current climate models.
The computer models used in the Livermore-led study show that in the deep tropics, temperature changes in the troposphere are larger than at Earth’s surface. This amplification effect is caused by the release of heat when moist tropical air rises and condenses into clouds. The size of the amplification effect is very similar in nearly 50 simulations performed with 19 different models. The newly revised observational data described in the first two Science Express papers have amplification behavior that is in agreement with the model results and with basic physical theory.
“This strongly suggests that a fundamental discrepancy no longer exists between modeled and observed temperature trends in the tropical atmosphere,” says Santer. “The new observational data help remove a major stumbling block in our understanding of the nature and causes of climate change. Our work illustrates that progress toward an improved understanding of the climate system requires a combination of observations, theory, and models.”
Contact: Benjamin Santer (925) 422-2486 (santer1@llnl.gov).



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UCRL-52000-05-11 | November 9, 2005