Cleaner Drinking Water
The availability of fresh, clean water remains a significant challenge as the world’s population grows.
Osmosis is an effective, proven way to accomplish this,
but concentrated solutions have presented difficulty.
Idaho National Laboratory’s Switchable Polarity
Solvent Forward Osmosis (SPS FO) process leverages
the switching qualities of specialized thermolytic salts
to purify water from extremely concentrated solutions. Simple and economical, SPS FO may pass a feed
stream through a low-energy pretreatment filtering process to remove large particles, unless the source
quality permits entering it directly into a forward osmosis (FO) loop. Using a draw solution that contains
the salts, the SPS FO uses the higher pressure created by the solute to draw water through a specialized
semi-permeable membrane to separate it from the feed. The FO membrane is designed to allow water to
pass from the feed solution to the draw solution, while all other materials are retained in the feed. This
dilutes the draw solute. Then, the diluted solute is exposed to low-grade heat, which causes the salts to
release carbon dioxide and switch to an oily insoluble material that can be easily separated from water.
; Idaho National Laboratory, http://www.inl.gov
MRI for Fracking
The U.S.’s nascent status as an energy-indepen-dent nation and net producer of energy depends
on technologies for the efficient discovery and
extraction of oil and natural gas. Increasingly,
imaging tools are the key to developing chemically and physically sensitive well-logging methods
and techniques for fracturing. Lawrence Berkeley
National Laboratory’s OWL-MRI technology
for MRI oil-well logging represents a significant
advance in this technology area.
OWL-MRI is a magnet-free magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tool for measuring the
spatial distribution and quality of oil and gas
in large geological formations and the physical
properties of surrounding rock that most influence the economic and environmental expense
of petrochemical extraction. Using Earth’s magnetic field alone, rather than a complex array
of permanent magnets, OWL-MRI “sees” many
meters—rather than centimeters—deep into an
oil formation, and provides information about
the porosity of the rock formation and the chemistry of the fluids it contains with a resolution
previously accessible only in laboratory experiments. Finally, its laser MRI detection technology
delivers the sensitivity of an optical measurement
without compromising the chemical and structural detail of MRI.
; Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory,
DNA Provides Clean Air
One of the most overlooked threats to human health is poor indoor air
quality. Various air pollutants exist indoors, including biological pollutants, secondhand smoke, combustion pollutants and other chemicals, and can pool in spaces with inadequate ventilation. Determining
the source of pollution is often the first step in improving air quality.
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s DNATrax, a safe simulant material made with non-biological DNA, can track and quantify
indoor airflow. DNATrax particles are produced by combining unique
DNA barcodes and food additives in an aqueous solution, forming the
mixture into droplets, and drying it. The resulting simulant material
has a spherical morphology and is ~1 to 10 µm in aerodynamic size; the size of particle can be adjusted
depending on the application. The concentration of DNA is set to ensure that one or two copies are present in each particle. Once produced, the microparticle simulates the aerosols comprising the air around us.
; Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, http://www.llnl.gov
Revving Up Engine Development
The efficiency of internal combustion engines plays
a major role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions
and lowering resource consumption. One specific
but important task is ensuring that lubricant oil is
not diluted by fuel, thereby hurting viscosity and
efficiency. The Da Vinci Fuel-In-Oil (DAFIO) mea-
surement system, developed by Da Vinci Emissions
Services Ltd., Oak Ridge National Laboratory and
Cummins Inc., is a tool that engineers can use to
rapidly—within five to 10 min—develop engines and
engine control strategies that minimize the chances
of fuel dilution of lubricant oil. The tool replaces the accepted standard method of gas chromatography.
The system’s operation is based on laser-induced fluorescence (LIF) spectroscopy and is performed
with a fiber-optic sample probe. The sample probe is in a Y-configuration, where the two arms are for
excitation and detection and the common base forms the measurement probe end. A 532-nm laser is
launched into the excitation arm of the fiber-optic probe. The laser light interacts with the oil sample at
the common measurement end of the fiber-optic probe, and causes the oil sample to fluoresce. This flu-
orescent light emitted by the oil sample is collected and transferred to a spectrometer for analysis by the
probe’s detection arm.
; Da Vinci Emissions Services Ltd., http://www.davinci-limited.com