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June 2001

The Laboratory in the News

Addressing the Energy-Environment Challenge
Commentary by Lee Younker

Turning Carbon Directly into Electricity
A new electrochemical process converts carbon particles, derived from any fossil fuel, directly into electricity without traditional steam-reforming reactors, boilers, and turbines.

Environmental Research in California and Beyond
Numerous environmental research projects at Livermore begin by addressing California concerns and, as they proceed, arrive at solutions and develop analytical tools of use far beyond state borders.

This Nitrogen Molecule Really Packs Heat
A buckyball of nitrogen could become a powerful new fuel or propellant.

PEREGRINE Goes to Work
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved a new system, developed at Livermore, for better radiation treatment of tumors.

Patents and Awards




















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  • Turning Carbon Directly into Electricity
  • (pdf file, 2.5MB)
    A team of researchers are investigating direct carbon conversion, an electrochemical process that converts carbon particles directly into electricity without the need for such traditional equipment as gasifiers, boilers, and turbines. The process pushes the efficiency of using fossil fuels for generating electricity closer to theoretical limits than ever before. The direct carbon conversion fuel cell uses aggregates of extremely fine carbon particles distributed in a slurry of molten carbonate at a temperature of 750 to 850 degrees Celsius. In the cell, carbon and oxygen (from ambient air) form carbon dioxide and electricity. The reaction provides up to 1 kilowatt of power per square meter of cell surface area, a rate sufficiently high for practical applications. The process promises to greatly increase the yield of electric energy from each unit of fossil fuel. It uses fuels derived efficiently from any fossil fuel (including coal, lignite, petroleum, natural gas, and even biomass) and significantly decreases the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. The process also makes it easy to capture the carbon dioxide for sequestration or other use.

  • Environmental Research in California and Beyond
  • (pdf file, 2MB)
    Among Lawrence Livermore’s many environmental research projects are some that address issues of particular importance to California. Three projects—two involving groundwater quality and a third involving earthquakes—exemplify some of this California-centric work. Study of the migration of MTBE (methyl tertiary-butyl ether) in groundwater in the South Lake Tahoe area revealed that the most likely path of MTBE flow leads directly to water wells. Using a detailed computational model of a site in Orange County, Livermore environmental scientists simulated how viruses and microbes move in groundwater and attach to different geologic media. A region-wide cooperative project called the Bay Area Paleoseismic Experiment (BAPEX) has Laboratory geologists mapping ancient earthquakes to create a 2,000-year chronology of large local earthquakes. The researchers are looking for patterns in timing, location, and magnitude in hopes of providing a framework for more precise earthquake forecasts. Results from all of the California-based projects and others have the potential to benefit not only California but also regions outside the state’s borders.

  • This Nitrogen Molecule Really Packs Heat
  • (pdf file, 1MB)

  • PEREGRINE Goes to Work
  • (pdf file, 1.5M)

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    UCRL-52000-01-6 | June 21, 2001