Portfolio News and Webcast
The Department of Energy launched the spring 2022 solicitation for the High Performance Computing for Energy Innovation (HPC4EI) initiative, seeking proposals from industry that address key energy and decarbonization-related challenges in domestic manufacturing.
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientists and engineers have collected three R&D 100 Awards. Often called the “Oscars of invention", the R&D 100 Awards recognize the top 100 industrial inventions worldwide.
Energy and Environment Technologies
LLNL has a patented process to produce colloidal silica directly from geothermal fluids. Livermore’s process uses membranes to produce a mono-dispense slurry of colloidal silica particles for which there are several applications. LLNL has demonstrated that colloidal silica solutions that result from extraction of silica from geothermal fluids undergo a transition to a solid gel over a range of time periods that are controllable by varying the silica content and pH of the fluid. This allows control in the subsurface over where the silica transforms to a gel and thus the ability to target gel emplacement to block the "fast path" as needed.
Over long periods of time, the gel will re-structure and dehydrate to form microcrystalline silica, mineralogically identical to natural…
Livermore Laboratory researchers have developed a methodology for degradation of TBP using an inexpensive, readily available, and environmentally friendly salt, potassium iodide (KI), in a similarly inexpensive, abundant, and green solvent dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO) to efficiently convert TBP to the potassium salts of dibutylphosphate (DBP) and monobutylphosphate (MBP) The reaction is carried out at a lower temperature than has been reported for any other chemical method, reducing the cost of operation associated with elevated temperatures.
LLNL has developed a new method of separating carbon dioxide from flue gas. LLNL's ion pump method increases the concentration of dissolved carbonate ion solution. This increases the vapor pressure of carbon dioxide gas, permitting carbon dioxide to be removed from the downstream side of the ion pump as a pure gas. The ion pumping may be obtained from reverse osmosis, electrodialysis, or the Cussler ion pump.
A ceramic HEPA filter designed to meet commercial and DOE requirements, as well as to minimize upgrade installation logistics for use in existing facilities. Current key performance requirements are described in DOE Standard 3020. The ceramic filter is designed to be nonflammable, corrosion resistant, and compatible with high temperatures and moisture. The ceramic filter will significantly increase filter life span and reduce life cycle costs, and open up new opportunities for overall process gas system and ventilation system design.
The new LLNL technique works by transiently removing and trapping concrete or rock surface material, so that contaminants are confined in a manner that is easy to isolate and remove. Our studies suggest that 10 m2 of surface could be processed per hour. The technique easily scales to more surface/hr.
The new LLNL technology would sense active control or other signals from the grid and automatically shed or re-establish load as appropriate. This gradual reduction and reestablishment of load would give operators more time to reconfigure grid resources to respond to the transient. This increased time window for reaction should lead to lower operating costs with the current grid architecture and reduced need combustion turbines to manage the grid. LLNL envisions the development of a simulation model of the devices in a grid environment to establish the value proposition and to optimize the design while prototype devices are manufactured. Subsequently, based on selections, criteria and observations of key issues from the simulations, the devices would be tested in a physical testbed…
There are prominent technical challenges arising from spinning a battery on the order of kilohertz as required by magic angle spinning in order to obtain spectral resolution that are addressed and enable operando solid-state NMR. The operando NMR measurement allows for continuous monitoring of the battery components and of potential metastable states that may exist during charge cycling. Outside of monitoring the changes of battery components in an operando measurement, this technology enables the user to perform other advanced solid-state NMR experiments while applying an electrical bias thus enabling characteristic information of the materials to be acquired.
Using native bacterial regulatory systems, LLNL researchers have developed whole-cell biosensors that can be used in aqueous samples for sensitive and selective in situ detection of the uranyl oxycation (UO22+), the most toxic and stable form of U in oxygenated environments. Specifically, two functionally independent, native U-responsive regulatory systems, UzcRS and UrpRS, were integrated within an AND gate circuit in the bacterium Caulobacter crescentus, creating a synthetic U sensing pathway. By leveraging the distinct, but imperfect, selectivity profiles of both two component systems (TCS)s this pathway enabled high U selectivity. No cross-reactivity was observed with most common environmental metals (e.g, Fe, As, Cu, Ca, Mg, Cd, Cr, Al) or the U decay–chain product. The…
LLNL researchers have developed a new method of using silver nanowires for fabrication of ultralight conductive silver aerogel monoliths with predicable densities and excellent properties. Silver nanowire building blocks were prepared by polyol synthesis and purified by selective precipitation. Silver aerogels were produced by freeze-casting nanowire aqueous suspensions followed by thermal sintering to weld the nanowire junctions. As-prepared silver aerogels have unique anisotropic microporous structures with density precisely controlled by the nanowire concentration down to 4.8 mg/cm3 and electrical conductivity up to 51,000 S/m. Mechanical studies show AgNW aerogels exhibit "elastic stiffening" behavior with Young's modulus up to 16,800 Pa.
The core innovation of LLNL's enzyme-embedded, multi-component polymer-based bioreactors perform one or more additional functions of the bioreactor:
- efficient distribution of reactants and removal of products
- exposure of enzymes to high concentrations of gas-phase reactants
- separation of products and reactants
- formation of high surface area structures for exposing enzyme to reactants
- supply of electrons in hybrid enzyme-electrochemical reactions
- consolidation of enzymes with co-enzymes in nanoscale subdomains for chained reactions
Enzymes are embedded throughout the depth of the material instead of on the surface or in surface-accessible pores.
LLNL's enzyme-embedded polymer…
LLNL’s invention for non-destructive evaluation of water ingress in photovoltaic modules uses a non-invasive optical detection technique based on hyperspectral near infrared imaging technology with frequencies tuned to water absorption band. In this way a quantitative 2D image of the water content in a given device can be obtained remotely and repeatedly over time. A key challenge is presented by adapting the technique to modules with complex structure made of multiple layers with various material properties, composition and roughness.
This approach harvests both mechanical and thermal energy by combining nanowires and phase change materials. These devices were fabricated on Kapton® polyamide films and used ZnO nanowires with the same growth direction to assure alignment of the piezoelectric potentials of all of the wires. The circuit was designed as long, parallel electrode arrays perpendicular to the nanowire axis. Good-alignment of the nanowires in this configuration should enable scale-up of the output. Ideally, the total output voltage is the sum of the voltage from individual wires in the vertical direction because they are connected in series. Mechanical harvesting from these devices was demonstrated using a periodic application of force, modeling the motion of the human body. Tapping the device from the top…
Nanomaterials that are emerging out of cutting edge nanotechnology research are a key component for an energy revolution. Carbon-based nanomaterials are ushering in the "new carbon age" with carbon nanotubes, nanoporous carbons, and graphene nanosheets that will prove necessary to provide sustainable energy applications that lessen our dependence on fossil fuels.
Carbon aerogels (CAs) are nanoporous carbons that comprise a particularly significant class of carbon nanomaterials for a variety of sustainable energy applications. CAs are specifically promising in that they possess a tunable three-dimensional hierarchical morphology with ultrafine cell size and an electrically conductive framework. They are available as macroscopic, centimeter-sized monolithic materials.
The invention is a new tool for Homeland Security and Department of Defense efforts to reduce or eliminate potential personal exposure to terrorist-related biological and "dirty bomb" weapon particulates. This will assist emergency responders and aid in protecting public health. This copolymer and solvent solution is used to bind with airborne hazardous particulates, such as biological weapon agents or toxic "dirty bomb" by-products. This solution can be delivered as an aerosol, spray, or coating to lock hazardous particulates in place and prevent reaerosolization of the contaminant.
This electrostatic (E-S) generator/motor operates through the time-variation of the capacity of an electrically charged condenser to generate AC voltages and/or mechanical torque. The output of the generator is such that it can take advantage of the development of high-voltage solid-state electronic components now coming into wide use in the electrical utilities.
The design calculations that have been performed in exploring the potentialities of LLNL's new approaches to flywheel energy storage have been built on existing and past LLNL flywheel programs, including a program aimed at flywheel systems for the bulk storage of electricity at utility scale. To achieve the requirements of such systems, as mentioned above, LLNL has developed some key new technologies, technologies that we believe are unique to flywheel energy storage. These developments came about because the LLNL researchers came to the conclusion that with vehicular applications, as with the present program on bulk storage, the proposed new-generation flywheels must break with past tradition in critical technological areas. The first of these is the generator/motor. In all…
LLNL has developed an innovative technology known as flow-through electrode capacitive desalination (FTE-CD) that promises to unlock an almost inexhaustible water source for U.S. and global population markets. FTE-CD represents a robust and low-maintenance path for efficiently and cost-effectively producing clean drinking water from seawater and brackish water.
FTE-CD removes salt by applying an exceptionally low voltage (1.5 volts) to a porous electrode capacitor, along with a low-pressure pump to move water through the electrodes. Unlike "flow between" capacitive deionization the feed stream flows directly through electrode pores.
For a full description of the technology see a scientific publication by the research team in Energy & Environmental Science…
LLNL has developed a noble gas mass spectrometry facility that houses a state-of-the-art water-gas separation manifold and mass spectrometry system designed specifically for high throughput of groundwater samples. The fully automated, computer-controlled manifold system allows analysis of the full suite of noble gases (3He/4He, He, Ne, Ar, Kr, and Xe concentrations), along with low level tritium for reporting of derived quantities that include tritium/helium-3 groundwater age, noble gas recharge temperature, and dissolved excess air concentration. This system represents a capability for characterizing groundwater recharge conditions by dissolved gas analysis that is unmatched by any other laboratory. Construction of this facility was funded by LLNL. The facility is staffed by Ph.D.…
Redox ion-exchange polymers ("redox-ionites") and membranes possessing cation- and anion- exchange, amphoteric, complex-forming and oxidation-reduction abilities have been developed on the basis of the biocompatible synthetic and chemically modified natural polymers. In addition, developments have been made towards methods of obtaining of water-soluble and spatially cross-linked ionites of gel, macro-porous and macro-network structure.
Additionally, the presence of a large intramolecular net allows the extraction of high molecular weight organic compounds, which may be useful for the purification of medicinal preparations, extraction of toxic and pathogenic compounds from biological liquids (hemo- and enthero-sorption).
Chemical and biological sensors based on nanowire or nanotube technologies exhibit observable ultrasensitive detection limits due to their unusually large surface-to-volume architecture. This suggests that nanosensors can provide a distinct advantage over conventional designs. This advantage is further enhanced when the nanosensor can harvest its meager power requirements from the surrounding environment. A self-powering or "batteryless" device can made small enough to serve in unique situations ranging from military to medical applications. LLNL researchers successfully fabricated two prototype platforms for batteryless chemical detectors using one-dimensional semiconductor nanowires.
The best currently available nanogenerators can capture, convert, store, and use the energy…
An LLNL and UCLA team has recently demonstrated a new compound material that can directly convert thermal energy to electrical energy. Basic research is required before this newly invented material can be produced in the form of a thin film and tested at high frequency. The team is interested in partnering with a company from basic research and development through production of a manufacturing prototype.
An invention at LLNL uses a mixture of solid and liquid dielectric media. This combination has properties that are an improvement over either separately. The solid phase, in the form of small pellets, inhibits fluid motion, which reduces leakage currents, while the liquid phase (dielectric oil) provides self-repair capabilities. Also, since the media is removable, the high voltage equipment can be serviced.