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The limitation to reducing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is the expense of stripping carbon dioxide from other combustion gases. Without a cost-effective means of accomplishing this, hydrocarbon resources cannot be used freely. A few power plants currently remove carbon dioxide from flue gas for sale as an industrial product. Oil companies commonly remove carbon dioxide from natural gas to improve its energy content. In both cases, the most common technology is a temperature-swing absorption (TSA) using a methylated ethyl amine solvent (MEA).
LLNL has developed a new method of separating carbon dioxide from flue gas. LLNL's ion pump method increases the concentration of dissolved carbonate ion solution. This increases the vapor pressure of carbon dioxide gas, permitting carbon dioxide to be removed from the downstream side of the ion pump as a pure gas. The ion pumping may be obtained from reverse osmosis, electrodialysis, or the Cussler ion pump.
One of the ongoing challenges to improving performance in capacitors and other high-voltage electrical structures is to identify and reduce the factors that cause failure. High-voltage devices typically fail following excessive partial discharge activity, which is a localized dielectric breakdown that does not transcend the main electrode gap spacing. One type of failure is anticipated to start at a triple junction, the point at which an electrode and two different dielectric materials intersect.
This invention seeks to reduce failures related to high-voltage structures, particularly to capacitors, bushings, connectors, and cables. It also offers manufacturing solutions that reduce electrical field stress in the identified weak areas. In so doing, it also offers a very compact high-voltage switch with robust reliability.
Innovative research at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) has developed a specific set of technologies to address several areas of high-performance electrical component concern: 1) multi-layer film capacitors that must operate with a high degree of reliability; 2) feed-through bushings and coaxial connectors; and 3) methods for manufacturing these high-performance components, by which electrical field stresses are eliminated or sufficiently reduced in the weak areas.
The innovations include metalizing the surfaces of solid dielectric materials where contact is made with metal electrodes. Electric fields are thereby eliminated in the void regions, preventing the electrical discharge (corona) activity that degrades bulk dialectic materials and reduces performance. The result is similar to conventional solid-dialectic designs, in which fields across gaps are removed by metalizing a dielectric surface. In the novel LLNL application, significant improvements to the high-performance bushings, connectors, and film-capacitors add robust protection to existing systems.
For more than 10 years, a partnership between Kazakh and US researchers has led to the synthesis and testing of highly permeable ion-exchangers. These materials possess an increased availability and concentration of active binding groups, and can efficiently extract a wide spectrum of organic and inorganic compounds, pathogenic and toxic substances from water solutions, soils and biological substrata.
Currently considered a waste product of the paper manufacturing industry, lignin possesses properties that can be exploited when combined with ion exchange and chelate functional groups. Lignin is a highly abundant, natural plant-based material, allowing the cheap and environmentally friendly manufacture of functionalized ion-exchangers.
When combined with Russian-developed ion-exchange, redox-active and chelate functional groups, these lignin polymer materials offer enhanced efficiency, low manufacturing cost, minimal environmental impact over historically used technology based on styrene and divinylbenzene (DVB).
In addition to endo- and exo-genic environmental remediation, and industrial applications, the technology offers the possibility of medical applications such as reducing hemo- and entero-toxins in patients.
Redox ion-exchange polymers ("redox-ionites") and membranes possessing cation- and anion- exchange, amphoteric, complex-forming and oxidation-reduction abilities have been developed on the basis of the biocompatible synthetic and chemically modified natural polymers. In addition, developments have been made towards methods of obtaining of water-soluble and spatially cross-linked ionites of gel, macro-porous and macro-network structure.
Additionally, the presence of a large intramolecular net allows the extraction of high molecular weight organic compounds, which may be useful for the purification of medicinal preparations, extraction of toxic and pathogenic compounds from biological liquids (hemo- and enthero-sorption).
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has developed a method using nanolipoprotein particles (NLP) to solubilize and isolate membrane bound hydrogenases for the biological production of hydrogen.
Hydrogen is a renewable energy carrier that has the potential to replace fossil fuels in our economy. The majority of hydrogen produced today is from natural gas, heavy oils, and coal. The Department of Energy Hydrogen Program technical plan calls for the development and commercialization of hydrogen production, generation, and distribution technology by 2015 and market incorporation by 2020.
Biological production technologies show promise for true renewable biohydrogen from bio-mass. Breakthroughs in biological hydrogen production have been due to genetic engineering of microorganisms for conversion of glucose through both biophotolysis and fermentation; the latter is dependent on hydrogenase enzymes enabling reduction of protons to produce hydrogen. When isolated and used in solution, higher production yields are achieved through tunable reaction conditions and elimination of competing cellular processes that inhibit hydrogen conversion. These processes though suffer from difficult isolation protocols and oxygen sensitivity of soluble hydrogenase enzymes.
LLNL has developed a method using nanolipoprotein particles (NLP) to solubilize and isolate membrane bound hydrogenases; these constructs are less sensitive to oxygen. Hydrogenases isolated within NLPs retain their functional proton to hydrogen conversion activity. The February/March 2008 Innovation highlights extemophile hydrogenase incorporation in to NLPs by LLNL researchers. For more information on membrane bound protein isolation using NLPs see a recent publication in Journal of Proteome Research, 2008, 7, 3535-3542.
LLNL's technology is useful in fields such as power systems engineering, security monitoring, and vehicle tracking to identify, locate and monitor a particular source of electromagnetic radiation in a noisy broadband environment. Conventional broadband filtering techniques are often inefficient in reducing unwanted electromagnetic noise, and this inefficiency results in higher energy and processing costs along with imprecise location, monitoring and tracking capabilities. The invention described here creates a method for identifying the bearing and/or location of noise sources by exploiting a novel Poynting-vector filtering method. Once the Poynting vector has been identified, the source of the signal can be readily located.
Innovative research at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) has developed a novel filtering technology for determining the frequency components associated with a particular bearing and/or location of a source emitting the electromagnetic noise for which a Poynting vector can be defined. The frequency components related to that specific source can be isolated from the other components of the power spectrum, and their Poynting vectors can be used to characterize the source.
By grouping the undesired frequency components according to the characteristics of their observed Poynting vectors, a common source can be identified. This is a significant improvement over conventional methods that require the input of detailed information about the location, bearing, or source characteristics. Experimental results and numerical simulations have established the validity of this technique.Alternatively, this method may be used to isolate the Poynting vector for the signal of interest so that extraneous signals can be identified and eliminated from the broadband spectrum. Broadband frequency components thus isolated can be tagged as not associated with the signal of interest.
High reliability and lower maintenance and operating costs make magnetic levitation (maglev) technology integral to advancing the nation’s transportation networks. In urban settings maglev has additional advantages over conventional mass transit and transport systems, including lower noise, higher efficiency, and higher grade and turn capabilities that allow vehicles to run on elevated tracks to eliminate the constraints and costs of underground tunnel operation. Germany and Japan have developed large urban maglev transit systems, and other nations have maglev systems in development or on the drawing board.
Despite maglev’s compelling advantages, conventional maglev technologies have drawbacks. Electromagnetic (EMS) maglev systems have problems with levitation instability. Electrodynamic (EDS) maglev systems require magnetic shielding to protect onboard electronics, and energy efficiency is eroded by the cooling requirements of the cryogenic superconducting magnetic coils used in those systems.
Researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have developed an improved maglev design that is more energy efficient and more stable than conventional maglev-based systems. Inductrack, as the design is known, is a passive EDS system that uses Halbach arrays of permanent magnets for both levitation and propulsion. Energy-intensive cryogenically cooled superconducting coils are eliminated, as are control electronics and hardware necessary to maintain stable levitation.
In one design, Inductrack vehicles glide over track constructed with circuits that form a ladder-like array of “rungs” of cabled insulated wire. As the vehicle moves over the track, Inductrack magnets induce a current in the track circuitry. This current generates a magnetic field that repels the magnet arrays. The result is levitation with greater inherent stability. Inductrack’s unique technology is safer, while saving energy and maintenance expenditures. Several additional energy-efficient Inductrack designs have been developed for particular transit system applications.
Livermore materials scientists and engineers are designing and building new materials that will open up new spaces on many Ashby material selection charts, such as those for stiffness and density as well as thermal expansion and stiffness. This is being accomplished with unique design algorithms and research into the additive manufacturing techniques of projection microstereolithography, direct ink writing, and electrophoretic deposition.
Additive manufacturing is the process of building 3D structures by sequentially layering one material on top of another in a desired pattern. It is a dramatic departure from more conventional fabrication techniques in which material is removed from a bulk piece through processes such as etching or machining. Over the last decade, additive manufacturing has become a burgeoning industry, enabling rapid prototyping of components for automotive, medical, and electronic applications. News headlines in recent years have showcased the often-remarkable capabilities of 3D printers that produce macroscale objects, such as a prototype musical instrument. Although specialized technologies are available for developing 3D structures with small, mesoscale (millimeter-length) features—hearing aids, for example—they are limited to a small number of materials as well as component size and shape specifications.
For more information and detailed description:
High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters are widely used commercial products to remove airborne particulates from a gas stream in a gas process system or ventilation system. Filter life span is determined by filter design and materials. Existing HEPA filters are made from glass fiber, which is fragile and easily damaged. They are subject to handling errors. Shelf life is reduced by contact with moisture. They are damaged by high pressures, chemical attack, high temperature, and fire. Alternative technologies face challenges with weight, strength, flow rate, and pressure drop. Alternative technologies also face challenges with life cycle cost, support system cost, regulatory scrutiny, radiolysis, weight, strength, flow rate, and pressure drop. Sand filters are not an economical option for many industries (e.g., biotech). Teflon© filters recently encountered regulatory issues which have limited their application.
A ceramic HEPA filter designed to meet commercial and DOE requirements, as well as to minimize upgrade installation logistics for use in existing facilities. Current key performance requirements are described in DOE Standard 3020. The ceramic filter is designed to be nonflammable, corrosion resistant, and compatible with high temperatures and moisture. The ceramic filter will significantly increase filter life span and reduce life cycle costs, and open up new opportunities for overall process gas system and ventilation system design.
Watch the inventor present his work in this movie.
The Laboratory has several decades of experience in the development of EMBs for specialized (high-power) applications where pulses of electrical power are required, such as are needed to "ride-through" short interruptions of electrical power from the net. In the course of this development some critical technologies, such as low-cost "passive" magnetic bearings and special designs for the generator/motors and the fiber-composite rotors of the EMB were developed. Some of these technologies, such as the passive magnetic bearings, the fiber-composite rotor designs, and the vacuum technology can be incorporated in EMBs for bulk storage. However, the low capital cost, long service life with minimal maintenance, and low rate of self-discharge application carries with it new requirements that cannot be met in conventional ways. It may be necessary to insert an interval of many hours, or even many days, between the time that the EMB is "charged" and when it is discharged into a load. In addition, present electrochemical batteries typically have turnaround efficiencies on order of 75 percent, so that 25 percent of the input energy is lost in every charge-discharge cycle. "Pumped-storage" systems of the type now in use by some electrical utilities have comparably low turnaround efficiencies, and the resulting losses are compounded by transmission-line losses, owing to the fact that pumped storage facilities are typically sited in mountainous areas, far from the urban areas where their stored energy is being used.
The new EMB designs are intended to answer to all of the new requirements for bulk energy storage systems, including very low parasitic losses and high turnaround efficiency. The new systems are designed for low capital and maintenance cost, and long (decades) service lifetime. The size of the modules will be such as to make them useful in a wide variety of applications, all the way from single-use in residential settings, to use in "battery banks" at substations and/or alternate-energy generating plants.
Hydrogen storage for transportation is one of the most important problems faced in implementing a “hydrogen economy”. Hydrogen can be produced in many ways, but then must be stored for use by fuel cells. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Hydrogen, Fuel Cells & Infrastructure Technologies Program has set hydrogen storage goals to be achieved by 2015. New technologies and storage materials are required to meet these goals if a hydrogen economy is to be realized. The gravimetric capacity goal for hydrogen storage materials is set at nine weight percent hydrogen (net useful energy/max system mass). Experiments using carbon nanotubes, and other materials such as metal hydrides, metal organic frameworks and other carbon nanostructures have shown promise as hydrogen storage material, but not to the level required to meet DOE’s goals.
LLNL has developed an apparatus and method for high pressure hydrogen storage within multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNT) exposed to ambient air pressure that promises to meet these goals.
The innovation exploits the inherent high elasticity and mechanical strength of single walled carbon nanotubes and the thick walled geometry of MWCNTs to absorb hydrogen at large weight percents required for long distance travel powered by fuel cells.
Hydrogen storage is accomplished by capping the ends of the MWCNTs—one end with a hydrogen permeable material and the other impermeable to hydrogen. The hydrogen permeable cap allows hydrogen to be charged thermally or using an electrolytic cell. Hydrogen release occurs through the same permeable cap by applying resistive heating.
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researchers have developed a two-phase liquid dielectric composite with synergistic properties that boost the benefits of each separate form. Fluid dielectrics are versatile compounds that assist or govern numerous industrial processes such as precision cooling, high-voltage capacitance, and the electrical protection of high-voltage switchgear. Liquid dielectrics suppress or instantly quench corona discharge and arcing without forming permanent conductive tracks in the medium (a “self-healing” feature). Common dielectric liquids range from purified water to perfluoroalkanes. In the example of a capacitor, the dielectric (fluid or solid) resides in the spaces between the metal plates in the capacitor. An applied electric field polarizes the dielectric, increasing the surface charge on each plate.
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researchers have developed a two-phase liquid dielectric composite with synergistic properties that boost the benefits of each separate form. A dielectric fluid fills the interstices between macro-sized dielectric beads packed into a confined volume so that the beads inhibit electro-hydro dynamically-driven current flows in the liquid and increase the resistivity and breakdown strength of the two-phase composite over a liquid alone. The beads are arranged to increase the effective flashover distance and obstruct the flow of breakdown-initializing particles in the liquid insulator. The combined-phase medium provides superior performance and preserves the self-healing advantages of a purely liquid dielectric.
The dielectric beads are insoluble in the dielectric fluid, ensuring their structural integrity without interfering with the electrical properties of the fluid. The macro-size (greater than about 1mm in diameter) of the beads works to quell current flows between the conductive components. The composite dielectric affords a method of electrically insulating between conductive components of differing electrical potential. This mixture/composite dielectric medium retains the volume-filing, self-healing, and serviceability advantages of a liquid insulator, while achieving the higher resistivity and breakdown strength provided by the solid beads.
The LLNL research team validated this novel technology using silicone oil and polyethylene beads and they believe that the two-phase formulation can replace any conventional liquid dielectric. In particular, silicone oil is less flammable than hydrocarbons, less damaging to the atmosphere, and only slightly more expensive. Other combinations of dielectric fluids and solids are expected to afford similar enhanced performance.
Marangoni drying is used in semiconductor processing and other industries to produce a dry, ultraclean surface on flat substrates. In the conventional Marangoni drying step, e.g., for semiconductor wafer fab, an alcohol or other volatile organic compound (VOC) vapor is blown through a nozzle over the wet wafer surface or at the meniscus formed between the cleaning liquid and wafer as the wafer is lifted from an immersion bath. The Marangoni effect causes a surface-tension gradient in the liquid allowing gravity to more easily pull the liquid completely off the wafer surface, effectively leaving a dry surface.
Researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) have developed commercially important improvements to the Marangoni drying process for large, flat substrates. The method and apparatus developed at LLNL removes all water and contaminants using significantly less VOCs and water than conventional Marangoni drying and other drying techniques.
LLNL’s improved processing step based on the Marangoni effect uses a moving-zone apparatus to combine surface processing (e.g., cleaning, developing or etching), rinsing and drying steps into one operation.
A typical process and assembly for moving-zone Marangoni drying might include a processing solution applicator followed by a rinsewater applicator and then a VOC reservoir, all just above the surface of the substrate to be processed and cleaned. The applicator-reservoir assembly moves relative to the substrate to form a processing zone. As it moves, both solution and rinsewater attach to the substrate surface, forming menisci. A thin film of rinsewater is entrained on the substrate at the trailing edge of the assembly. The VOC evaporates from the reservoir, is absorbed into the film of rinsewater, and lowers the surface tension of the film relative to the surface tension of the pure rinsewater. This surface tension gradient is strong enough to pull the VOC/rinsewater film off the substrate surface, while particulates and dissolved impurities flow back into a rinsewater collection trough. The film flow leaves the substrate completely dry within a few millimeters behind the assembly.