Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Sandia, LANL Win 7 R&D Awards

With seven 2011 R&D 100 Awards between them, Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories continue their place among the nation’s research leaders. The annual awards, considered the Oscars of innovation, are given by R&D Magazine. The awards, announced today, honor the 100 leading technological advances of the year.
People who whine about the lab’s place in New Mexico—“…overdependence on the government…”—must not know about the awards. Or, worse, maybe they don’t care.
Sandia got four awards. LANL got four. I’ll let the respective press releases do the explaining.
Los Alamos National Laboratory:
NanoCluster Beacons: “NanoCluster Beacons are collections of silver atoms designed to illuminate when bound to nucleic acids, such as the DNA of specific pathogens. (T)hese beacons can be used to probe for diseases that threaten humans by identifying the nucleic acid targets that represent a person’s full genome, and allow for personalized medication. They can also be used in quantitative biology applications, such as counting individual molecules inside a cell.”
Revolutionizing Deepwater Oil-Well Drilling:
TAPSS, or Trapped Annular Pressure Shrinking Spacer, is a spacer fluid… to help prevent catastrophes in offshore oil-well drilling. Conventional spacer fluids are placed between oil well casings to secure the well and balance the pressure exerted by the surrounding geological formations. Most of these fluids expand when heated during drilling, causing potential pressure build ups and disastrous oil spills. TAPSS, on the other hand, shrinks when heated and can be used to offset any thermal expansion from the other fluids. TAPSS is formulated with enough methyl methacrylate to counteract the expansion of conventional spacer fluids. This new spacer is not difficult to use, is self-functioning, and requires minimal time to install.”
Thorium Is Now Green:
“Th-ING was developed… as a straightforward, cost-effective, and safe method to produce thorium. Thorium is an element capable of producing more energy than both uranium and coal using significantly lower quantities. This element is only slightly radioactive, making it an excellent candidate for a future sustainable energy source. It is so safe that it will never lead to a nuclear meltdown when used in a nuclear reactor.”
Sandia National Laboratories:
Microresonator Filters and Frequency References: Microresonators are small acoustic resonators that have highly precise sound and are manufactured using the same technologies that mass-produce integrated circuits (IC). Microresonator technology allows hundreds of filters and oscillators operating over a wide (32kHz – 10 GHz) frequency range to be realized on a single IC chip and monolithically integrated with radio frequency (RF) transistor circuits. They will perform RF filtering and frequency synthesis functions in next-generation wireless handsets, cell phones and other wireless devices, offering higher performance and frequency diversity in a smaller package and at a lower price than current technologies.
Ultra-high-voltage Silcon Carbide Thyristor: This DOE Energy Storage Systems project has developed an ultra-high-voltage silicon carbide thyristor. The semiconductor device allows next-generation “smart grid” power electronics system to be built up to 10 times smaller and lighter than current silicon-based technologies. These packaged-power devices are the world’s first commercially available, high-voltage, high-frequency, high-current, high-temperature, single-chip SiC-based thyristors. Their performance advantages are expected to spur innovations in utility-scale power electronics hardware and to increase the accessibility and use of distributed energy resources
Biomimetic Membranes for Water Purification: The new biomimetic membranes purify water through reverse osmosis (RO) technology. The selective, high-flux desalination membranes are formed of self-assembled nanopores tuned (with atomic-layer deposition) to mimic key structural features found in cell membranes. Advances in theoretical modeling were essential for deciphering how biological pore structures selectively remove ions, thereby guiding pore design for efficient new membranes. Nove l synthetic strategies were instrumental in fabricating highly ordered nanoporous membranes with tailor-made pore geometries and interior surfaces.
The Demand Response Inverter. (Jointly submitted this invention with Princeton Power Systems Inc.) The inverter is designed to reduce the levelized cost of energy of photovoltaic (PV) power by being more efficient, more reliable and more cost-effective than currently available inverters in the market. (T)he DRI will provide valuable grid-support functionality that encourages high penetration of PV power systems into the electrical grid and also provide added value for the system owner and local utility. The process (has) reached its commercialization stage

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