Thursday, April 24, 2014

PNNL Research Highlights

Fundamental and Computational Sciences Directorate
  1. Aaron Appel Quoted on Catalyst for Ethanol Fuel
    Dr. Aaron Appel at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory wrote a News & Views article in Nature about copper-based materials that efficiently convert carbon monoxide and water to ethanol. The discovery, made at Stanford University, is a major advance towards storing renewable energy in the form of a liquid fuel. This article led to Appel being quoted in a story by Reuters' Will Dunham that appeared in multiple outlets, including the Wichita Eagle, the New Hampshire Union Leader, the Toledo Blade, and Deutschlandfunk.
  2. Uncovering Global Effects of Clouds on Climate
    Results: Scientists from Texas A&M University and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory provided a first-time global perspective of the impacts of Asian pollution on the Pacific storm track and subsequent weather. They found that a unique modeling technique allowed them to understand the global scale effect of tiny pollution particles to strengthen storm clouds and rain. Developed at PNNL, the technique is essential to revealing the small-scale effects of clouds in a large-scale model. The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), was reported in the online Early Edition April 14.
  3. ARM Data Team Hosts First Programming Summit

    Photo courtesy of ARM Climate Research Facility, 2014.
  4. Several Faces of Physics Become One
    Results: Water moves through multifaceted physical boundaries. This poses a significant challenge for scientists who must simulate water flow across many domains. Scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) conquered this barrier by merging different physical laws. Their new approach can describe any type of water flow in soils and the terrestrial ecosystem, in soil pores, streams, lakes, rivers and oceans, and in mixed media of pores and solids for soil and aquifer. The versatile properties of the new approach allow cross-domain simulation of water flow at different scales. The research was published in the Soil Science Society of America Journal.
  5. Don Baer Receives ASTM International Award of Merit
    The ASTM International Board of Directors has selected Dr. Don Baer of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to receive the 2014 Award of Merit. The award and its accompanying title of fellow is ASTM's highest organizational recognition for individual contributions to standards activities.
  6. Simplifying Exascale Application Development
    Results: Hiding the complexities that underpin exascale system operations from application developers is a critical challenge facing teams designing next-generation supercomputers. One way that computer scientists in the Data Intensive Scientific Computing group at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory are attacking the problem is by developing formal design processes based on Concurrent Collections (CnC), a programming model that combines task and data parallelism. Using the processes, scientists have transformed the Livermore Unstructured Lagrangian Explicit Shock Hydrodynamics (LULESH) proxy application code that models hydrodynamics (the motion of materials relative to each other when subjected to forces) into a complete CnC specification. The derived CnC specification can be implemented and executed using a paradigm that takes advantage of the massive parallelism and power-conserving features of future exascale systems.
  7. John Holladay Quoted about Biofuels
    John Holladay of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory was quoted in Greenwire on Algenol's goals to produce algae-based ethanol fuel that costs $1.27/gallon to manufacture, allowing the fuel to compete in a marketplace currently focused on petroleum. Holladay helped develop a related catalytic technology that Algenol uses to produce gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel from their spent algae, He was quoted as saying, "They've had a long, long road of developing the science that was required to make this work. Sometimes people don't understand the road and how much was done to get to the point where they are today." The article is titled "Biofuels: Enthusiastic entrepreneur places big bet on algae."
  8. Agriculture's Growing Effects on Rain
    Results: Increased agricultural activity is a rain taker, not a rain maker, according to researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and their collaborators at the University of California Los Angeles and the University of Texas. They fed observed land-use change data in a climate model and found the expansion of agriculture in the African Sahel region decreases summer rainfall through its impact on monsoon rains. The simulated decrease in summer rainfall reaches 10 percent over the Sahel, a region that is already stressed by water needs for human and ecological use. Their study offers new insight on how land-use change may affect regional rainfall.
  9. Riihimaki Recipient of Lab Director Honor, Fitzner-Eberhardt Award
    Congratulations to Dr. Laura Riihimaki, atmospheric scientist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, who was selected one of three winners of the 2014 PNNL Lab Director's Fitzner/Eberhardt Awards for Outstanding Contributions to Science and Engineering Education. Her exceptional dedication to improving climate understanding is helping to shape the next generation of scientists.
  10. Bond-Lamberty Appointed to Global Change Biology Editorial Board
    Congratulations to Dr. Ben Bond-Lamberty, terrestrial scientist working out of the Joint Global Climate Research Institute (JGCRI), who was appointed to a three-year term on the Editorial Advisory Board of Global Change Biology. As a board member, he will use his research expertise in climate change, carbon cycle, and ecosystem modeling to evaluate manuscripts submitted for publishing. JGCRI is a partnership between Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the University of Maryland.