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The Laboratory
in the News

Dedication of the Biodefense Knowledge Center
A national center to assist Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials in the fight against bioterrorism has been established at the Laboratory. The Biodefense Knowledge Center (BKC) was dedicated September 10, 2004, during a visit to Livermore by DHS Under Secretary for Science and Technology Charles McQueary.
According to the new center’s director, Livermore biomedical engineer Bill Colston, the BKC “will integrate what we know about biodefense and work to anticipate and respond to bioterrorist attacks.” The BKC will draw on about 75 researchers based at four national laboratories—Oak Ridge, Pacific Northwest, Sandia, and Lawrence Livermore. Collaborators will also include three DHS University Centers of Excellence—the University of Minnesota, the University of Southern California, and Texas A&M University.
The new biodefense center will serve a number of functions. Initially, the center will provide assessments and respond to information requests from the DHS Operations Center, although other federal agencies may be able to use the center as a resource in the future. Another function of the BKC will be to integrate many types of information about biodefense. Among the data to be collected are the genome sequences for pathogens of concern, the existence and location of vaccines, the location of agent sequences for bioforensic attribution, and information about individuals, groups, or organizations that might be developing these pathogens. A third function of the BKC will be to prepare threat assessments for the DHS about potential bioterrorism attacks.
Contact: Bill Colston (925) 423-0375 (colston1@llnl.gov).

Optical sensor ready for commercialization
Graduate students at Syracuse University College of Law’s Technology Transfer Research Center recently collaborated with Livermore employees from the Industrial Partnerships and Commercialization Office (IPAC) to market the six-degrees-of-freedom (SixDOF) sensor to the commercial sector. The sensor attaches to computer-controlled machines, enabling them to operate in all six degrees of freedom. (See S&TR, October 1996, SixDOF Sensor Improves Manufacturing Flexibility.)
Former Laboratory mechanical engineer Charles Vann invented the SixDOF sensor in 1996, after he modified the design from a National Ignition Facility proposed alignment and diagnostic system. When the sensor was first created, the market was not developed enough to provide high demand for this innovative technology. However, Norma Dunipace, partnership development manager for IPAC, says, “robots now have the brainpower and mechanics for this market to be profitable.”
After an engineering prototype was developed, Dunipace and her group collaborated with Theodore Hagelin, director of New York State Science and Technology Law Center, and his team of graduate students at Syracuse University. Alex Padanyi, a research assistant from Syracuse who worked on the commercialization report, was a summer scholar in IPAC, helping to design a more thorough marketing strategy to obtain commercial licenses for the sensor. Dunipace foresees obtaining a license in the next year.
Contact: Norma Dunipace (925) 422-5995 (dunipace1@llnl.gov).

Cleaner combustion with direct carbon conversion
Direct carbon conversion is an electrochemical process that converts carbon particles obtained from different fossil fuels directly into electricity without the need for such traditional equipment as steam-forming reactors, boilers, and turbines. The technology, which has been demonstrated in small-scale tests, would push the efficiency of using fossil fuels for generating electricity much closer to theoretical limits than ever before. The work is the result of a four-year study funded by Livermore’s Laboratory Directed Research and Development Program.
Chemist John Cooper, a scientist in the Chemistry and Materials Science Directorate, says the method “would reduce carbon dioxide emissions, which are largely responsible for global warming, by producing a pure carbon dioxide byproduct that could be sequestered or used in industry at no additional cost of separation or concentration.” If proven successful and adopted on a large scale, the process could conserve fossil resources by allowing more power to be harnessed from the same amount of fuel, while cutting the amount of carbon dioxide produced per kilowatt-hour almost in half.
“Direct carbon conversion has the potential to be the long-sought ‘clean coal’ technology,” says Cooper. The new technology uses particles of elemental carbon whose atoms exhibit a high degree of structural disorder. These particles are wetted by a mixture of molten lithium–sodium and potassium carbonate at a temperature of about 750°C. The material reacts with carbon and oxygen from the ambient air to form carbon dioxide and electricity. Cooper says the reaction yields 80 percent of the carbon–oxygen combustion energy as electricity. It provides about 1 kilowatt of power per square meter of cell surface area—a rate high enough for practical applications.
Contact: John Cooper (925) 423-6649 (cooper3@llnl.gov).

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UCRL-52000-04-11 | November 10, 2004