Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Accelerators and Light Sources of Tomorrow: Accelerating with Light

Accelerators are far from achieving the highest energies their builders aspire to, but size and cost may limit the kinds of facilities funding agencies can support. In the future, new kinds of machines will be needed to make further progress. Perhaps the most promising is the laser plasma accelerator. Sophisticated as it is, a superconducting linac is a conventional that, in a machine like the Next Generation Light Source (NGLS) now under study, can be used to produce superbright laser beams. The inverse is also true: powerful lasers can be used to accelerate charged particles - but in ways that are anything but conventional. More>

Wind Energy Industry Highlights of 2009

Reflecting on a year that opened with high expectations for renewable energy from the new Obama Administration and was buffeted by economic storms, AWEA identified the wind industry’s top accomplishments in 2009. Property Values Study: A study released in December by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory concluded that proximity to wind energy facilities does not have a pervasive or widespread adverse effect on the property values of nearby homes. More>

First volume of microbial encyclopedia published

Two thousand years after Pliny the Elder compiled one of the earliest surviving encyclopedic works, and in the spirit of his goal of providing "light to the obscure," the Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute (DOE JGI) has published the initial "volume" of the Genomic Encyclopedia of Bacteria and Archaea (GEBA). Presenting a provocative glimpse into this uncharted territory, an analysis of the first 56 genomes representing two of the three domains of the tree of life appears in the December 24 edition of the journal Nature. More>

Recycle, Reuse, Re-accelerate

It’s always the new stuff that makes the news. Consider the Large Hadron Collider, the enormous ring beneath the Swiss-French border that has swamped magazine covers, newspaper stands, and even movie screens in the lead-up to its first particle collision. Amidst all the buzz about innovation, you might think scientists can’t discover new physics without a brand-new machine. But a corps of durable, versatile, and carefully maintained accelerators from the 1970s, 60s, 50s, and even 40s — including Berkeley Lab — proves that time-tested accelerators can still spawn cutting-edge science. More>

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

This Year In Clean Energy - What A Ride

As of May 2009, eighty countries around the world are using wind power on a commercial basis. At the end of 2008, worldwide nameplate capacity of wind-powered generators was 121.2 gigawatts (GW), which is about 1.5% of worldwide electricity usage and is growing rapidly, having doubled in the three years between 2005 and 2008. Total capacity at the end of 2008 reached 25,170 MW with an annual growth rate of 49.6% and more than 85,000 U.S. jobs in wind. Berkeley Lab’s July 2009 wind study concluded a slower year was expected in 2009, in large part due to the global recession. The lab said that projections among industry prognosticators ranged from 4,400 MW to 6,800 MW of wind likely to be installed in the U.S. in 2009. “After a slower 2009, most predictions show market resurgence in 2010 and continuing for the immediate future," it concluded. More>

Accelerators and light sources of tomorrow

Roger Falcone, director of Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source (ALS) and the Lab’s associate director for photon sciences, remarks that “the ALS was built more than 15 years ago, but a few technical advances have brought our technology up to the level of the newest machines being built in Europe today.” Progress has been so rapid, in fact, that synchrotron light sources are approaching the limits of what they can achieve in the way of short, bright pulses. For that reason, Falcone, John Corlett, and other creative scientists in the Lab’s ALS, Accelerator and Fusion Research (AFRD), and Engineering divisions are developing the technology for a new light source, of a kind known as a free electron x-ray laser. More>

Energy 2.0: What Comes From After Oil

What happens after the world hits peak oil and prices skyrocket? Or when coal pushes the carbon count in the atmosphere into the danger zone? Soylent Green might turn out to be more prophetic than you thought. But, luckily, entrepreneurs are devising new ways to produce energy even beyond solar and wind. Here are some of the more intriguing and far out ones.

Hot Air.

Wrap these chips around a hot steam pipe in a factory, or line the walls of a bakery with them, and you have electricity generated locally. The heat inside factories or bakeries is waste heat, or energy you bought but don't really use for a productive purpose. To add insult to injury, not only do you pay for this unproductive power, companies also have to put power into air conditioners to get rid of it. Scientists at Lawrence Berkeley Lab estimate that the U.S. consumes 100 quads (100 quadrillion BTUs) of energy a year and 55 to 60 quads get burned as waste heat. More>

Give a Humanist a Supercomputer ...

... and you'll be surprised what he or she can do with it. That's what the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Department of Energy figured. Last year, they staged a competition for "computationally intensive" humanities projects that would draw on the DOE's High Performance Computing (HPC) resources at Nersc, the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Was the gamble worth it? Yes, to judge by the results on display at the Coalition for Networked Information membership meeting, held in Washington, D.C., this week. More>

Monday, December 21, 2009

China Cuts Energy Use Via Efficiency

China’s central government has set a national agenda with targets for reducing pollution and cutting carbon emissions. This agenda includes policies like aggressive renewable energy targets – 15 percent of all energy (not just electricity) from renewables by 2020 – and the “Top 1000 program“, which is on track to reduce industrial emissions by 250 million tons by the end of 2010. By the way, the industrial emissions reduction figure has been verified by scientists at California’s Lawrence Berkeley Lab.

University of Tokyo, UC Berkeley to exchange scholars in cosmology, other areas

The University of Tokyo and the University of California, Berkeley, formalized an agreement yesterday (Thursday, Dec. 17) to encourage research and educational exchanges between the campuses, which are considered to be among the top public universities in the world. "This satellite will be a great foundation for exchanges and collaborations," said Hitoshi Murayama, who holds joint appointments as a UC Berkeley professor of physics, director of IPMU and faculty scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. More>

Chernobyl Exclusion Zone Radioactive Longer Than Expected

Chernobyl, the worst nuclear accident in history, created an inadvertent laboratory to study the impacts of radiation — and more than twenty years later, the site still holds surprises. With Chernobyl, said Boris Faybishenko, a nuclear remediation expert at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, we have a definite date at which the contamination began and a series of measurements carried out from that time to today. More>

Illinois emerges as one of the country's leaders in wind energy

Vocal residents have also mounted stiff opposition to wind projects. In DeKalb County, a sprawling wind farm built by Florida-based NextEra Energy Resources is the subject of a pending lawsuit filed by 38 residents. Although no one study can be considered definitive, a study released by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory this month found little evidence that wind farms depress home values. "Neither the view of the wind facilities nor the distance of the home to those facilities is found to have any consistent, measurable and statistically significant effect on home sales prices," the study concludes. More>

Another story on this topic appeared in Discovery News.
Nanotechnology and the use of unbound engineered nanoparticles (UNP) is a rapidly developing area of material science. At this time there are no regulatory environmental release limits or worker exposure limits for unbound engineered nanoparticles. Some preliminary consensus standards have been issued, but they are still under development by various organizations. In an effort to evaluate worker exposure and potential environmental release of unbound engineered nanoparticles at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, a multi-phase pilot study was initiated in the summer of 2009. More>

The Year in Materials

For years now, people have been talking up carbon nanotubes and their potential to be used for far-out applications including strong space-elevator cables, robust electrical transmission lines, and high-performance nanotube computers. These things may still be a decade off, but several advances this year make them sound less like fantasies. Nanomaterials continued to prove their promise in solar cells. Researchers determined that solar cells patterned with nanoscale pillars can convert more energy than smooth ones. The upshot: the performance of cheap materials can be boosted without adding expense, and it's possible to make them on aluminum foil ("Nanopillar Solar Cells"). This work was done by one of Technology Review's 35 young innovators of 2009, Ali Javey, with Berkeley Lab's Materials Sciences Division. Another Berkeley researcher on our young innovators list, Cyrus Wadia, analyzed the abundance and properties of unconventional solar materials and then made strides in developing them. More>

Friday, December 18, 2009

Top 10 Hits and Misses for 2009

Hit: Government Stimulus to the Rescue

Stimulus money designed to blunt the economic recession injected some much-needed funds into supercomputing programs around the world. In the US, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) is funding a range of new work, including a new climate research collaboration NOAA and ORNL ($73.5 million), the 100 Gbps ESnet upgrade for the DOE ($62 million), the Jaguar supercomputer upgrade at ORNL ($19.9 million), and the DOE's science cloud research project at Lawrence Berkeley and Argonne ($32 million). NASA and the NSF are also parceling out recovery money to HPC projects, generally in much smaller increments though. To date, NASA has spent $86 million, the NSF $92 Million, and DOE $1.58 billion of Recovery Act money, although only a portion of this is being applied to HPC. The good news is that this represents only a small fraction of the stimulus funds that are available to these agencies, so we can expect a lot more money to buoy the government and education segments in the coming years. More>

Berkeley Lab Scientists Named AAAS Fellows

Five Berkeley Lab scientists have been named to the 2009 class of "Fellow" by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). An honor bestowed by their peers, a AAAS Fellow is defined as a AAAS scientist "whose efforts on behalf of the advancement of science or its applications are scientifically or socially distinguished." More>

Computer simulation strengthens link between climate change and release of subsea methane

A first-of-its-kind computer simulation that mirrors real-world observations of bubbling up from a seabed in the Arctic Ocean provides further evidence that warming oceans may unleash vast quantities of methane trapped in hydrate deposits buried beneath the . Methane is one of the most potent greenhouse gases. The simulations, conducted by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory scientists, focus on oceanic gas hydrates, which are solid crystalline compounds in seafloor sediment. Methane molecules are lodged within the compounds’ icy latticework. More>

Beaming in on Warm Dense Matter

The Neutralized Drift Compression Experiment II (NDCX-II) now under construction at Berkeley Lab will deliver a high-current pulse of lithium ions to a foil target almost simultaneously, momentarily heating it to a state known as warm dense matter. Designing the accelerator to meet these exacting specifications required extensive computer modeling. More>

Human Microbiome Project's DACC Aims to Keep Order in a Complex Collaborative Effort

Last October, the National Institutes of Health awarded a $9.9 million, five-year grant to a team led by Owen White of the University of Maryland School of Medicine to establish a data-analysis and -coordination center for the Human Microbiome Project. Now, just over a year later, the HMP DACC has many of the pieces in place to serve as the central repository for all HMP data. The DACC also includes a subcontract team at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, led by Victor Markowitz and Gary Anderson. More>

CERN scientists use Platform solutions to manage massive cloud computing infrastructure

CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, has chosen Platform’s workload management solutions to manage its recently built cloud computing environment, reportedly largest of its kind. Another large cloud infrastructure for scientific research is being built across the Atlantic Ocean in the US, where two Department of Energy research laboratories are developing a private cloud with the goal of exploring the possibility of running scientific applications on a shared IT infrastructure. DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, Calif., and Argonne National Laboratory in Argonne, Ill., each received $16 million from the federal government to build the cloud. More>

Progress towards high-efficiency InGaN/Si tandem solar cell

The US Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) and RoseStreet Labs Energy (RSLE) have jointly reported the development of a gallium nitride/silicon (GaN/Si) tandem solar cell [Reichertz et al, Appl. Phys. Express, vol2, p122202, 2009]. The aim of the ‘proof-of-principle’ device (Figure 1) is to enable use of the bandgap characteristics of two materials to pick up energy from different energy photons in solar radiation, boosting efficiency. The hope is to narrow the gap of the top semiconductor by adding indium to create InGaN with a suitable bandgap that matches the requirements of solar radiation, giving efficiencies nearing 30%. Such work by the researchers at RSLE and LBNL on incorporating In is described as ‘ongoing’. More>

A New Test for Gravity

At the heart of Bean’s study is data from COSMOS, a deep-field survey conducted with images from the Hubble Space Telescope. Astronomers used weak gravitational lensing — a technique that involves measuring the distortion of light from faraway objects — to gain pictures of large-scale structures in the universe at different points in its history. These pictures tell a story about the evolution and composition of whole clusters of galaxies. Alexie Leauthaud, an astrophysicist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory who has been working on the weak-lensing data from the COSMOS survey, also emphasized caution about the accuracy of the data. She said improved analysis methods have brought some major changes to the COSMOS data since it was published in 2007 — changes, she thinks, that may influence Bean’s findings. More>

Wind Turbines: Not Harmful to Health, But Residents Are Up in Arms Anyway

Does “Wind Turbine Syndrome,” in which sufferers complain of fear, increased heartbeat and other symptoms, really exist? Will turbines reduce the value of nearby property? The answers to these two questions were not immediately apparent, but researchers have done their best to allay fears with two studies released this year. The first (conducted by Berkeley Lab) showed no appreciable change in the value of 7,500 homes near turbines. In a second, made public this week, a multidisiplinary panel could find no evidence of adverse health effects from turbines. More>

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Obama Talks Benefits of Home Energy Conservation at Home Depot

Within the last several months, numerous state programs have begun using federal stimulus money to weatherize homes. Many states, hoping to cut emissions and hold down heating and electricity bills, have also ramped up local spending on weatherization programs. Compared with building new, cleaner power plants, investments in efficiency are cheaper and provide a quicker return on investment. Annual spending on these programs is expected to increase from $3.1 billion in 2008 to $7.5 billion to $12.4 billion by 2020, according to a study released in October by the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. More>

Stanford, UC Berkeley and LBNL Scientists Named 2010 MDV Innovators Award Winners

MDV-Mohr Davidow Ventures, an early stage venture capital firm investing in pioneering science and innovation, today announced that Stanford Assistant Professor of Materials Science and Engineering Nick Melosh and Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering Thomas Jaramillo along with Ali Javey, UC Berkeley Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (LBNL) scientist, and Delia Milliron, Inorganic Facility Director of the Molecular Foundry at LBNL, are recipients of the 2010 MDV Innovators Award. More>

Chernobyl Still Radioactive After 23 Years

Speaking at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) on Monday, experts revealed a troublesome fact about Chernobyl, the Ukrainian nuclear power plant that blew up in 1986. Recent measurements in the exclusion zone, where no humans can go without protective equipment, have revealed that the radioactive material that was spilled in the area was nowhere near the decay level that was predicted for it. In other words, the scientists are saying that it will take a lot more time for the land to be cleansed than originally believed, Wired reports. “I have been involved in Chernobyl studies for many years and this particular study could be of great importance to many [Department of Energy] researchers,” Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) nuclear remediation expert Boris Faybishenko says. More>

Bay Area scientist honored by DOE

Three Bay Area scientists are half of the 2009 E.O. Lawrence Award winners announced Wednesday, which honor scientists for their contributions in research and development supporting the Department of Energy. Leemans, a Materials Research scientist at SLAC, was named a winner for his discoveries and pioneering use of the “high resolution angle-resolved photoemission.” And Leemans won the award for his contribution to developing the laser plasma wakefield accelerator and for exploring its uses. More>

A story on topic also appeared in Ethiopian Review.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Researchers discovered new biological route from swine to human infections

A new biological pathway by which the H1N1 flu virus can make the jump from swine to humans has been discovered by researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California, Berkeley. Early test results indicate that a heretofore unknown mutation in one of the H1N1 genes may have played an important role in transmitting the virus into humans. More>

Naked Copenhagen: Temperature is increasingly at the mercy of the developing world.

Commentary by Berkeley Lab physicist Richard Muller

Imagine a "dream" agreement emerging from Copenhagen next week: The U.S. agrees to cut greenhouse emissions 80% by 2050, as President Barack Obama has been promising. The other developed countries promise to cut emissions by 60%. China promises to reduce its CO2 intensity by 70% in 2040. Emerging economies promise that in 2040, when their wealth per capita has grown to half that of the U.S., they will cut emissions by 80% over the following 40 years. And all parties make good on their pledges. Environmental success, right? Wrong. Even if the goals are all met, emissions will continue rising to nearly four times the current level. More>

Berkeley Lab Scientists Imaged Growth of Protein-Studded Mineral Surfaces

Scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's Molecular Foundry have imaged the growth of protein-studded mineral surfaces with unprecedented resolution, providing a glimpse into key structural materials engineered by living systems. The team's high-resolution technique reveals the natural mechanisms employed by creatures at sea and on shore alike, and could provide a means to observe and steer this crystal growth as it occurs. More>

New CAT scan technology allows for 3D imaging of individual cells

Medical imaging is an interesting field. There are things like fMRI, PET scans, CAT scans, radioactive dye traces, and a million other different techniques — but they’re usually so limited and specific (as extraordinary as they are) that there’s always a need for a new one. In this case it’s soft X-ray tomography, a variant on the more familiar CAT scan. Normal X-rays penetrate too effectively for them to be used on individual cells; the amount of interference provided by the cell is simply not enough to detect and create an image from. So they use soft X-rays, which have a slightly longer wavelength than the kind used on a broken arm. A new technique developed by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has enabled soft X-ray images to be taken quickly and sequentially, and then assembled into a 3D model of the subject. More>

DOE Adds Comprehensive Energy Web Site, Building Energy Use Lab

As the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory dissects the possibilities of building energy efficiency, a government Web site is making energy data and resources more available to the public. Both efforts come as a result of funding from the Department of Energy. The Berkeley Lab is getting $15.9 million in stimulus funding to build a “national user facility” that will attract researchers from around the U.S. and the world to study best practices for improving building energy efficiency. More>

What China Brings to the Table in Copenhagen

If an international agreement on cutting emissions to fight climate change emerges, now in the works at the Copenhagen climate change summit, it will have much to do with the deal between the U.S. and China. What the U.S. offers and accepts in that deal will have much to do with how it sees China’s intentions to reduce and report its emissions. Nobody understands what China is doing to curb its emissions better than the scientists at Berkeley Lab, who have been working in China and with China on Energy Efficiency since 2005. More>

Q & A - Arie Shoshani talks about Scientific Data Management

Welcome to the petascale era, where virtually every field of science is hungry for computational power, and if we’re not careful, we could drown in the deluge of data. Under these circumstances, it becomes supremely important to manage data effectively. This in turn suggests the need for more scientists and software developers to receive training in how to defeat the data deluge. That’s why it’s an auspicious time for Arie Shoshani and Doron Rotem to launch their book, Scientific Data Management: Challenges, Technology, and Deployment. To learn more about it, iSGTW caught up with Shoshani in his office at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. More>

An Advance in Superconducting Magnet Technology Opens the Door for More Powerful Colliders

The (LHC) at CERN has just started producing collisions, but scientists and engineers have already made significant progress in preparing for future upgrades beyond the collider’s nominal design performance, including a 10-fold increase in collision rates by the end of the next decade and, eventually, higher-energy beams. In a test on December 4, a focusing magnet built by members of the U.S. Department of Energy’s multi-laboratory LHC Accelerator Research Program (LARP), using an advanced superconducting material, achieved the goal of a field strong enough to focus intense proton beams in the upgraded LHC interaction regions. LARP is a collaboration of Brookhaven National Laboratory, Fermilab, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. More>

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

DOE wind farm study leaves out 'ugly'

We argue that the definition of wind power as green is disingenuous because it leaves out something that in the early days was an integral part of the environmental movement before it was ever even called green. Visual pollution. From debris in the roadway to overhead electric lines in neighborhoods or across the visual fields of great buildings or works of art, most people knew what visual pollution was. They still know, but those who hold onto their "greenness" like a religious conviction simply ignore it. Now we can count the U.S. Department of Energy among the extremist groups. DOE commissioned a near-mindless study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to see if wind farms in nine states hurt nearby home sales. More>

Stories on this topic also appeared in the Missouri Ruralist.

Professor Wins Grant for Geothermal Research

USC Viterbi School of Engineering professor Fred Aminzadeh and his colleagues have won Department of Energy funding for a 3-D geothermal mapping and modeling effort. The effort will focus on the Geysers area in Northern California's Sonoma County, a high-potential geothermal energy site that is already home to commercial operations. The two-year, $1.5 million project will be carried out in collaboration with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Geysers Power Co., the operator of existing geothermal power plants in the area. More>

Chernobyl Exclusion Zone Radioactive Longer Than Expected

Chernobyl, the worst nuclear disaster in the human history, created an accidental laboratory to study the impacts of radiation — and more than twenty years later, the site still holds surprises. In some ways, Chernobyl is easier to understand than DOE sites like Hanford, which have been contaminated by long-term processes. With Chernobyl, said Boris Faybishenko, a nuclear remediation expert at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, we have a definite date at which the contamination began and a series of measurements carried out from that time to today. More>

Monday, December 14, 2009

Moore's Law Gives Insight to PV Problems

Moore's Law is traditionally related to semiconductor technology's progress. In general terms, it states that performance doubles — through the increase of the number of transistors on a chip, or in linewidth reduction — every 18 months or so. This dictum has held true ever since articulated in 1965 by Gordon Moore. But Moore's Law is sometimes applied to other related industries, and may be suited to discussions of photovoltaic technology as well.

Cyrus Wadia, co-director of Clean Tech to Market at the University of California's Haas School of Business and guest scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, is known worldwide for his activities in the development of new low-cost PV technologies using metal sulfides. He has given considerable thought to Moore's Law, as it might apply to PV. More>

US lab aims to build better, cheaper, zero-energy buildings

While cars, trucks and planes might come to mind first as carbon emissions Enemy No. 1, all our buildings aren’t quite as environmentally innocent as they might appear. Using $15.9 million in stimulus funds from the US Department of Energy (DOE), the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory plans to build and operate a new National User Facility for Net-Zero Energy Buildings. The facility will contain all sorts of testing systems to figure out how best to tackle the technical challenges of building net-zero energy buildings. More>

Homeland Security Study Of Subway Airflow

Researchers with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) are participating in a study sponsored by the U.S Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in conjunction with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) to determine how airborne contaminants would spread if released into Boston's subway system. During the study, which rans from December 5-11, the Berkeley Lab researchers measured how gas gets dispersed throughout tunnels and subway cars. More>

Berkeley Lab-Developed OpenADR Specification Developed by Demand Response Research Center Boosted by Recovery Act Grant to Honeywell

The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded Honeywell an $11.4 million grant to help Southern California Edison implement automated demand response under OpenADR, the Open Automated Demand Response Communications Specification. The grant was one of several Smart Grid Investment Grants awarded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. OpenADR was developed by researchers at the PIER Demand Response Research Center. The Center is based in the Environmental Energy Technologies Division of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The DRRC is funded by the California Energy Commission’s Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) program. More>

Extraordinarily Bright Supernova: A Glimpse of the Early Universe

A super-bright, long-lasting supernova known as SN 2007bi turns out to be the first example of stars that populated the universe, according to new research. SN 2007bi was found early in 2007 in a nearby dwarf galaxy by the international Nearby Supernova Factory (SNfactory) based at the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. More>

Going underground for a climate solution

Hoping to help fix the Earth's atmosphere, Catherine Peters recently found herself 4,100 feet underground. Peters, a Princeton associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, rode an elevator down a deep shaft into the Homestake Mine, a defunct South Dakota gold mine being transformed into an underground science laboratory. Together with collaborators at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Peters has received $750,000 in initial funding from the National Science Foundation to design an experimental facility in the mine to test what would happen if carbon dioxide stored underground were to leak up toward the surface. More>

Cars are Good, Buildings are Bad — We Need Another National Lab

There are several National Labs in the US (Lawrence Berkeley, Sandia, Oak Ridge, Brookhaven, Argonne, Los Alamos, Lawrence Livermore, Pacific Northwest), that focus primarily on defense, nuclear, weapons but also health issues, renewable energy, building component performance and other building related research. We need one more National Lab, one devoted entirely to buildings and the integration and performance of the standalone components as a building system. Because of the National Labs we know tremendous amounts of information, information that has led to making the county more prosperous and powerful. Buildings and their negative inefficiencies upon energy use, people performance and productivity are a major problem that needs to be given the attention that will come from a National Lab devoted to buildings. More>

Neighbors say keep turbines away: Rural wind projects face unexpected opposition

Until recently, opposition to wind farms in Minnesota had been rare. Usually, farmers welcome the tall turbines as a way to augment their income, selling their wind and land rights to the renewable energy projects or even starting their own wind farms. But until now, most wind projects have been concentrated in remote corners of the state. As proposals for wind farms edge closer to the Twin Cities, some residents near those wind projects have begun to push back. Property values are another chronic concern. A study released earlier this month by the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory concluded that wind farms have no measurable effect on nearby property values. Wind energy critic Lisa Linowes, executive director of the Industrial Wind Action Group, said the study was flawed because it compared properties that varied too widely in age and market price. More>

Friday, December 11, 2009

How safe are our subways?

In this video, CNN's Jeanne Meserve shows how government researchers, including scientists from Berkeley Lab, are trying to thwart subway attacks. More>

New Biological Route for Swine Flu to Human Infections

Berkeley Lab researchers have discovered a new biological pathway by which the H1N1 flu virus can make the jump from swine to humans. Early tests indicate this pathway may have played an important role in transmitting the virus into humans. A new biological pathway by which the H1N1 flu virus can make the jump from swine to humans has been discovered by researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California, Berkeley. Early test results indicate that a heretofore unknown mutation in one of the H1N1 genes may have played an important role in transmitting the virus into humans. More>

Global Warming Issue Heats Up At NAIC Summit

Insurers are increasingly offering products and promoting behavior that address the growing risk of climate change, according to presentations delivered at an insurance regulators’ Climate Risk Summit. The meeting here during which the science of and responses to global warming were discussed was sponsored by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners Climate Change and Global Warming Task Force.Meanwhile, Evan Mills, of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, in an earlier presentation pointed out that structures built outside of flood zones and designed to withstand wind damage are not always the most energy efficient. More>

Berkeley Lab gets $16M for building energy use facility

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory got $15.9 million in stimulus funding to build a lab that will study energy use in buildings. The new program, called a “national user facility,” will be a lab that researchers from around the country and the world can use to test energy efficient systems in buildings. Money for the work comes from the U.S. Department of Energy. More>