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Geek-Up[10.01.10] -- Mapping Bioenergy and Magnetic Vector Potential, New Atmosphere-Monitoring Tools and "Sour" Gas Streams

October 1, 2010 - 3:33pm


This week, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) announced the launch of an online portal for energy geeks and “cartophiles” alike. NREL’s BioEnergy Atlas encompasses two analysis and mapping tools – BioPower and BioFuels. These tools can summarize state-by-state energy use and infrastructure for traditional and bioenery power, fuels and resources as well as calculate the biofuel/biopower production potential for a given area.

NREL developed the atlas through its OpenCarto platform with funding from EPA’s Blue Skyways Collaborative and DOE’s Biomass Program.

Check out the atlas here:

High up in the mountains of Colorado, Atmospheric Chemist Stephen Springston and his team are taking a closer look at how aerosols are impacting climate change with a new suite of sophisticated atmosphere-monitoring instruments. The Brookhaven scientists were able to purchase and/or custom design the instruments with funding from the Recovery Act. Springston noted: “The Recovery Act gave us an opportunity to include additional tools for a more complete sampling system.”

While we already know that aerosols have an impact on climate change, the new instruments will allow the team to take a closer look at how and to what extent. Springston explains, “Aerosols directly affect climate through the absorbance and reflection of light, but the bigger and much less understood impact of aerosols is their influence on clouds. Even a small change in cloud cover or persistence, when accumulated over the entire planet, causes a significant alteration of Earth’s heat budget. These new laboratories will directly measure properties of aerosols such as concentration, size distributions, light scattering, light absorption and propensity for cloud formation.”

The word sour is not only fitting to describe pickles, lemons and limes, but also to describe the Plains CO2 Reduction (PCOR) Partnership’s latest carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) field test. PCOR, one of seven members of the DOE Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership program, has completed a four-year test which demonstrated that carbon sequestration using “sour” gas streams can be safely and successfully combined with enhanced oil recovery and hydrogen sulfide (H2S) disposal. During the test, a gas stream composed of 70 percent CO2 and 30 percent H2S was injected at a depth of 4,900 feet in an Alberta, Canada oilfield. About 33,500 tons of sour gas were injected, simultaneously sequestering carbon, disposing hydrogen sulfide and increasing oil recovery by reducing the viscosity of the crude oil.

These results will ultimately help determine the economic viability of carbon sequestration using sour gas and support deployment of commercial-scale projects.

Learn more about the DOE’s Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership program here.

3D isn’t just for summer blockbusters anymore – scientists at Argonne National Laboratory have developed a new technique that maps the magnetic vector potential in three dimensions.

The vector potential of magnetic structures is essential to the understanding of several areas in condensed matter physics and magnetism on a quantum level. The 3D map allows scientists to more closely examine magnetic interactions at the nanoscale – an important step in the development of the next generation of magnetic sensors and devices.

Find a paper published on the research here.