Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

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Earth System Science Network Upgrades

Lawrence Livermore, Oak Ridge, and Argonne national laboratories have completed the first major step in upgrading the Earth System Grid Federation (ESGF) network, the international data infrastructure that links climate modeling centers and enables researchers to archive and share climate model output data. Increasingly large data sets, generated at the terabyte and petabyte level, necessitate updated data management approaches and faster download of data subsets. Modernizing the global data system will better support scientists working on the World Climate Research Programme’s Coupled Model Intercomparison Project.

In the past, ESGF replicated data only to Livermore, its principal compute node. To lay the groundwork for an ESGF2, the three laboratories began a dual backup of 8 petabytes (1015 bytes) of Livermore-hosted climate data to nodes at Argonne and Oak Ridge. With a more broadly distributed architecture, ESGF2 can support faster, more secure, and more easily scalable computing and collaboration. “The upgrades enable easier and faster data access so users better understand what climate will look like in the future,” says Sasha Ames, Lawrence Livermore’s lead for ESGF2.

ESGF2 will feature data livestreaming and server-side computing capabilities and may also host observational data from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Livermore scientists earned a 2017 R&D 100 Award for developing ESGF (see S&TR, November/December 2021, Polymer Production Enclave Puts Additive Manufacturing on the Fast Track) and served as the network’s initial lead.

Contact: Sasha Ames (925) 424-4644 (

New Alloy for Cheaper Catalysis

Catalysts for hydrogenation processes used in the flavoring and fragrance industries and in converting biomass to valuable chemicals typically rely on costly precious metals. Lawrence Livermore scientists and collaborators have demonstrated an effective and more affordable hydrogenation catalyst composed of earth-abundant materials. Published in the September 21, 2022, issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society, the research presents the principle that a more reactive metal can initiate the catalytic process.

The new method involves fabricating diluted alloys of nanoporous copper (NPC) doped with titanium to successfully dissociate hydrogen atom pairs, a vital chemical reactionfor hydrogenation. The study found that NPC doped with small amounts of titanium enables hydrogen–deuterium exchange at rates five to seven times higher than with undoped NPC. Experimental findings, supported by model analysis,indicate that isolated titanium atoms on the copper surface enable catalysis by acting as sites for hydrogen–deuterium recombination instead of dissociative adsorption of hydrogen, a more stringent, rate-limiting step.

The research may apply to other cost-effective compositions of hydrogenation catalysts as well. “This approach is of broad interest and significance because it looks at a new alloy composition with potential for selective hydrogenation catalysis,” says Laboratory materials scientist Juergen Biener, one of the study’s co-authors. “Our work creates opportunities to expand dilute alloy catalyst design to include early transition metals for hydrogenation reactions.”

Contact: Juergen Biener (925) 422-9081 (

The Right Stuff for Dimorphos

Detailed guidelines for interpreting experimental data gathered in the September 2022 collision of NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft with the asteroid Dimorphos were available in advance of NASA’s asteroid-deflection test thanks to impact simulations by Lawrence Livermore researchers. Led by Kathryn Kumamoto, a Livermore team ran more than 300 separate 3D impact simulations in which the Laboratory’s Spheral hydrodynamics code sampled more than seven different material parameters of the asteroid, including shape, mass, elasticity, and structure. Machine-learning algorithms selected parameter combinations to efficiently cover the study’s search space. The results, published in the October 2022 issue of Planetary Science Journal, predicted properties of asteroid material that could result from a DART-like kinetic impact.

Many simulation results matched predictions from a separate model calculating velocity change from the DART impact, while conclusions about parameters such as the effect of porosity on an asteroid’s post-impact change in velocity and the volume of resulting ejecta varied. However, the simulations offer impact modelers opportunities to infer properties of the asteroid Dimorphos along with photographs from DART’s camera and the change-in-velocity result. “This initial study is an important step for explicitly describing what we can and cannot predict about impacting an uncharacterized asteroid,” says Kumamoto. Data gathered from Dimorphos’s DART-created impact crater, its companion asteroid Didymos, and a future European Space Agency mission are expected to narrow the range of Dimorphos’s possible material qualities.

Contact: Kathryn Kumamoto (925) 422-7924 (