January 2008 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.
Knowing what to do with your pet in an emergency can make the difference between survival and a journey to the happy hunting ground. A DVD produced by two Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers and being distributed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency provides information about what to do if there's an event that calls for people to evacuate or shelter in place. The video, written and produced by John Sorensen and Barbara Vogt Sorensen, is a product of the PETS Act, which authorizes FEMA to provide rescue, care, shelter and essential needs for people with household pets, service animals and large animals. The DVD, titled "Animals in Emergencies: What Owners Need to Know," is available at: http://emc.ornl.gov/CSEPPweb/animals/animals_emergencies_owner.htm. There is a companion video for state and local planners. Funding for the project was provided by the Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program in the Department of Homeland Security/FEMA. [Contact: Ron Walli; 865.576.0226; email@example.com]
A year-long nationwide highway test of six instrumented heavy trucks and 10 instrumented trailers hauling freight over three quarters of a million miles has moved into the data assessment phase. The test led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Center for Transportation Analysis was conducted by Schrader Trucking Company of Jefferson City. The project has recorded 1,800 pieces of information per second from the truck operations and monitored 60 performance parameters, including speed, engine torque, fuel consumption, road grade and location. Initial analysis will assess the fuel efficiency advantages of Michelin's new generation single wide-based tires compared to conventional tandem tires. The funding source is DOE's Office of FreedomCAR and Vehicle Technologies. [Contact: Fred Strohl; 865.574.4165; firstname.lastname@example.org]
Scientists, long fascinated by the humble termite's ability to turn wood into energy for life, are examining the hundreds of species of microbes within its gut to learn how the process is carried out. Oak Ridge National Laboratory researcher Mircea Podar is examining the data to uncover how individual microbes signal or communicate with each other within the confines of the insect's gut tract. And he as learned that high number of genes are employed in chemotaxis, or movement toward or away from conditions in the environment that are either favorable or unfavorable to their existence. The work is one piece of a larger effort to sequence the microbial life present in the termite and ultimately apply that research toward efforts to, for example, derive biofuels from cellulosic sources such as grasses and trees. The work was recently published in the journal Nature. [Contact: Larisa M. Brass; ; ]
Knowing with precision the source of fossil fuel carbon dioxide emissions worldwide is the goal of a project proposed by a group of scientists that includes Robert Andres and T.J. Blasing of Oak Ridge National Laboratory. In a recent article in the forum section of Eos, the weekly newspaper of the American Geophysical Union, the 14-member group representing nine institutions notes that current methods of estimating carbon emissions are often inadequate or lack the necessary resolution to be useful in supporting policy decisions. The system proposed by the group of researchers calling themselves CO2FFEE (CO2 Fossil Fuel Emissions Effort) would provide "a process-based fossil fuel CO2 model data system that can form the basis for more realistic emissions projections for climate change scenarios." The project is being called Hestia after the Greek goddess of the hearth and would ultimately provide a navigation framework similar to Google Earth. The group is led by Kevin Gurney of Purdue University. [Contact: Ron Walli; 865.576.0226; email@example.com]