July 2007 Story Tips
Story ideas from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory. To arrange for an interview with a researcher, please contact the Communications and External Relations staff member identified at the end of each tip.
The recently-opened Dell Regional Children's Medical Center in Austin, Texas, is demonstrating the future in self-sufficient power, with the help of Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Working with researchers in ORNL's Buildings Technology Center, the medical facility has installed a combined heat and power system that delivers power to the facility at greater than 70 percent efficiency compared to electric grid-based systems that operate at about 30 percent efficiency. The system does so by using a high-efficiency gas turbine to produce about 4.5 megawatts of electricity, then capturing the waste heat to produce steam and cooling for the hospital. The system operates in parallel with the grid, selling back excess power. This technology has the potential of lessening demand on the power grid by creating self-sufficient systems for large commercial facilities and even apartment and housing developments of the future. [Contact: Larisa M. Brass; ; ]
Groundwater contaminants at Dover (Del.) Air Force Base are proving no match for a concoction formulated by Environmental Sciences Division researchers Aleisa Bloom, George DeLong and a team in charge of cleaning up the Superfund site. In fact, the 102,000-gallon mixture of water, sodium lactate, emulsified vegetable oil and nutrients injected at 53 locations at multiple depths has placed the clean-up more than two years ahead of schedule. This and other remediation efforts at Dover recently earned the base the coveted Environmental Restoration Program of the Year Award from the Department of Defense. While various approaches can be effective, Bloom noted that the accelerated anaerobic bioremediation of tetrachloroethene and trichloroethene has exceeded their expectations. Funding for the effort is provided by DOD. [Contact: Ron Walli; 865.576.0226; email@example.com]
Effects of a biological attack could be minimized through a new system that focuses on early identification and rapid response. The system, developed and operated by a team that includes Oak Ridge National Laboratory, integrates information obtained from diverse sources and automatically initiates an appropriate response. One facet that sets BWIC (biological warning and incident characterization) apart from other schemes is that it is tailored to the individual city and uses existing infrastructure, said Jim Kulesz of ORNL's Computational Sciences and Engineering Division. The system, funded by the Department of Homeland Security, is already piloted in several cities around the nation. The goal is to have BWIC in place at all major cities. [Contact: Ron Walli; 865.576.0226; firstname.lastname@example.org]
ORNL is part of an ambitious international effort to decode the genome of Eucalyptus, one of the world's most valuable fiber and paper-producing trees and only the second tree to have its DNA sequenced. Jerry Tuskan of ORNL's Environmental Science Division co-leads the effort to characterize the Eucalyptus genome. The DNA sequence of the 600-million-nucleotide tree genome will be generated under the auspices of DOE's Joint Genome Institute. The genus Eucalyptus includes some of the fastest growing woody plants in the world and is one of the most widely planted forest trees in the world. Eucalyptus offers extraordinary opportunities for comparative genomic analysis with Populus, the first tree sequenced, which was published in the journal Science by DOE JGI and collaborators in 2006. [Contact: Bill Cabage; 865.574.4399; email@example.com]