Friday, March 27, 2015

PNNL Research Highlights

Fundamental and Computational Sciences Directorate
  1. We're On Fire Now
    Results: An international team of researchers led by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory working at the Joint Global Change Research Institute developed a new model on vegetation fires that will improve understanding of such fires around the world today. It can also predict their evolution with future changes in the environment and society. As reported in Biogeosciences, HESFIRE (Human-Earth System FIRE) integrates the role of atmospheric changes like humidity, terrestrial factors like the amount of vegetation available to burn, and human interactions with the environment.
  2. StreamWorks: Pattern Detection for Your Protection
    Results: As the perils of cyber security breaches continue to plague industries, governments, and citizens throughout the world, the need to detect these infiltrating events, as well as identify their attack patterns, in complex computing networks as they emerge in real time remains a paramount concern and growing challenge. In their work involving streaming graphs, scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Washington State University, devised a novel framework called StreamWorks that categorizes cyber attacks as graph patterns, which then can be examined using a continuous search (query) on a single, large streaming dynamic graph. “Continuous Query” focuses on finding matches for queries in a data stream as soon as they happen, which is in contrast to ad hoc querying supported by databases such as MySQL or Neo4J that aim to efficiently query a large, non-changing data set.
  3. Karniadakis Earns 2015 Ralph E. Kleinman Prize
    George Em Karniadakis, a joint appointee with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Brown University, was awarded the Ralph E. Kleinman Prize, which is sponsored by the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) to recognize individual achievement for outstanding research or contributions that bridge the gap between mathematics and applications. Karniadakis will receive the Kleinman Prize during an award ceremony at the International Congress on Industrial and Applied Mathematics (ICIAM 2015) to be held in Beijing from August 10-14, 2015.
  4. Kravitz Talks Geoengineering with Grist
    Dr. Ben Kravitz, a climate researcher specializing in geoengineering studies at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, was contacted by Grist - an online source of environmental news and commentary for his insight about climate change. The article, "Why we should talk about geoengineering even if we never do it," quoted Kravitz about some concerns that geoengineering could be used to offset the warming of the climate. "Modeling studies of geoengineering have allowed us to ask questions about how the climate system works that we didn't even know we wanted to ask," said Kravitz. "It's actually in some ways changed the way I think about problems in climate science."
  5. A Meaningful Data Miner
    Results: Furthering work involving the Graph Engine for Multithreaded Systems, or GEMS, a multilayer software framework for querying graph databases developed at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, scientists from PNNL and NVIDIA Research used GEMS to customize commodity, distributed-memory high-performance computing (HPC) clusters and apply graph algorithms to large-scale data sets on clusters. By incorporating GEMS, HPC query solutions, such as parallel processing, are exploited and results are more predictable. Moreover, GEMS translates SPARQL queries, a Resource Description Framework (RDF) query language, to C++, a general, cross-platform programming language, more efficiently to optimize HPC-based graph-matching methods. In their comparison with alternative approaches, GEMS provided noticeable speedups, particularly with larger data sets.
  6. Putting Batteries on Stage Spotlights Performance at the Nanoscale
    Results: Used in everything from electric vehicles to laptop computers, the lithium battery is ubiquitous, but it is not well understood at the atomic scale. To see what happens on the nanoscale, scientists at DOE's Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR) designed and implemented a small device, known as an operando electrochemical stage. Using this stage inside a state-of-the-art aberration-corrected transmission electron microscope they can take nanoscale-resolution pictures of lithium ions as they are deposited on or dissolve off of an electrode while the battery runs.
  7. Water and the Changing Structure of Zeolites
    Results: Simple improvements to a bland-looking catalyst could change biofuel refining; the challenge is discovering how the catalyst truly works. Led by scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, a team answered a key question: how does adding water change a dehydrated aluminum- and silicon-based catalyst known as H-Beta zeolite. The team watched as water was added. Spots inside the catalyst's channel—the pores that dot the catalyst's surface—shifted as more water molecules crowd around certain aluminum atoms, which are responsible for the catalyst getting the job done. The channel continued to change as more water was added.
  8. The Two Faces of Aerosols
    Results: It's a double dose of climate disturbance. Tiny particles of pollution—also known as aerosols—both cool and warm the planet. Now, a team of scientists from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and NASA identified how current climate models may be far off in estimating the actual amounts of these particles and their total impact on the atmosphere.
  9. Does Death Stalk the Forest?
    Results: Trees are dying at increasing rates across much of the U.S., surprising forest managers and climate scientists alike. After all, the memories of early 20th century land clearing and logging are fading from today's forests. Now, new research at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory shows that the problem in predicting how forests age may lie in the forest models, not the trees. As reported in Biogeosciences, the research team found that trees may be dying from old age, but in general, forests are much more resilient than originally thought.
  10. Sailing Through Uncharted Waters to Discover Catalysts' Secrets
    Results: Whether producing fuel cells or fertilizer, catalysts instigate reactions without being consumed. Despite their ubiquitous nature, solid catalysts in liquids are not completely characterized because scientific tools often struggle to analyze the reactions under realistic conditions in real time. However, new tools are providing insights. Three scientists from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and Technische Universität München reviewed recent advances in Catalysis Science and Technology. The Royal Society of Chemistry selected the review as a "hot article." It is available at no cost until March 31, 2015.