Today at Berkeley Lab

Archives for March 2013

MSD’s Nitash Balsara Provides Perspective on Boeing’s 787 Battery Issue

When the Boeing Co. held a briefing recently on the 787 battery issue, a Seattle radio station turned to Lab scientists for interpretation. Materials scientist Nitash Balsara and his doctoral student Katherine Harry spoke with KUOW as Boeing unveiled their plans to address safety concerns over lithium-ion batteries in their fleet of 787s. Balsara is a leading expert in the field of lithium-ion batteries, and he and Harry offered valuable insights on battery failure. More>

You can leave a comment. View the Comment Policy.

Recent Arc Flash Incident at SLAC Offers Learning Moment

Earlier this month a power supply malfunction caused an arc flash at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. Thankfully there were no injuries. A thorough work planning and control process put systems in place for this known risk associated with operating high voltage equipment. Also, SLAC’s arc flash engineer had recently refreshed the arc flash study and then optimized the electrical trip settings to substantially reduce the available fault energy. This is a strong reminder to review the work planning and control process you have in place for your job’s potential hazards. More>

You can leave a comment. View the Comment Policy.

Lab Volunteers Join Together to Make Hospice Blankets

Earlier this week, several Lab employees gathered over the lunch hour to create blankets that will be presented to local hospice patients. The volunteers made more than 10 blankets by hand. The event was hosted by the Materials Sciences Division’s “MSD Gives Back” program. Volunteers included Sara Barja, Kyle Davis, Misty Enriquez, Laleh Esmaili (right), Sharell Geddins, Marisa Gutierrez, Meg Holm, Laura Luo, Melanie Miller (left), Alice Muller, Sally Nasman, Carmen Ross, Doreen Ah Tye, Shontele White, and Rosemary Williams.

You can leave a comment. View the Comment Policy.

Lab Blood Drive on April 23

The Philanthropy Club is hosting a blood drive in the Bloodmobile at the Cafeteria parking lot on Tuesday, April 23, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Register for your appointment here (sponsor code is LBL). Type O is especially needed. First-time donors are welcome. For questions, contact Heather Pinto (x4181).

You can leave a comment. View the Comment Policy.

Troubles at Sea Can’t Keep Carbon Explorers Out of the Water

Autonomous Carbon Explorer floats, which drift in the currents, dive as much as a kilometer deep, and resurface to report ocean carbon data by satellite, have scored notable successes in understanding the ocean’s carbon cycle. But when Carbon Explorer 13 sank on launch, a string of bad luck began to plague the doughty little robots. Not to worry: two Carbon Explorers are alive and well and once again reporting live from the North Pacific. More>

You can leave a comment. View the Comment Policy.

Connecting the Dots Between Biofuels and Champagne

It doesn’t sound quite right, but bubbly and biofuel may have more in common than appears at first glance. Both are fermented products that start out with plant matter. “As a scientist you always try to break everything down to the basics, and making wine is about fermentation and the product is ethanol. It’s basically a fuel,” says Timo Schuerg, a postdoc at the Energy Biosciences Institute — a partnership that includes Berkeley Lab — who was among a group of EBI researchers and students to get a firsthand look at the winemaking process at a field trip to Mumm in Napa. More>

You can leave a comment. View the Comment Policy.

Panel Explores Revolutionary Potential of Synthetic Biology

Berkeley Lab ALD for Biosciences Jay Keasling (left) led a symposium at Stanley Hall this past Monday entitled “Programming Life” and featuring an all-star panel of synthetic biology experts. Co-sponsored by Discover Magazine and SynBERC, the symposium focused on a future in which living cells are designed and engineered as readily as today’s electronic circuits. Among the promises are cleaner and renewable energy sources, improved human health, and a safer more reliable food supply. Speakers included George Church of Harvard, Christopher Voigt of MIT, Virginia Ursin of Monsanto, Drew Endy of Stanford and many others. More>

You can leave a comment. View the Comment Policy.

April 22 Science at the Theater Asks ‘How Hot Will it Get?’

The Lab hosts its next Science at the Theater event on Monday, April 22, with a presentation on “How Hot Will It Get?” that features researchers discussing their latest findings on the earth’s changing climate — from the tundra to the rainforest. Participating scientists include Margaret Torn, Jeff Chambers, and Bill Collins of the Earth Sciences Division, Michael Wehner of the Computational Research Division, and Maximilian Auffhammer of UC Berkeley. This free event takes place at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s Roda Stage at 7 p.m. More>

You can leave a comment. View the Comment Policy.

Building 33 (GPL) Contractor Reaches Safety Milestone

The Facilities Construction Department and Subcontractor Webcor reached an impressive safety milestone of 350,750 hours worked without time lost to an injury. Part of the Building 33 General Purpose Lab (GPL) Project Team, Webcor and its subcontractor created a job site culture that has every worker focused on safety and engaged in the ISM process. Construction workers spontaneously repeat the slogan “we are all watching out for each other” at their daily safety briefings. The weekly Golden Hammer Award (pictured) where the recipient chooses the next week’s winner is one of the novel ways in which Webcor promotes safety and increases morale.

You can leave a comment. View the Comment Policy.

Meeting the Computing Challenges of Next-Generation Climate Models

The Lab recently hosted an international workshop that brought together top climatologists, computer scientists and engineers from Japan and the United States to exchange ideas for the next generation of climate models as well as the hyper-performance computing environments that will be needed to process the data from those models. “In order to simulate these kinds of storms, you really do need high-resolution climate models,” said Michael Wehner of the Computational Research Division. “A model run can produce 100 terabytes of model output. The reason it’s so high is that in order to look at extreme weather you need high-frequency data. It’s a challenge to analyze all this data.” The computer simulation above shows hurricanes from category 1 through 5 over 18 years, which generated nearly 100 terabytes of data.More>

You can leave a comment. View the Comment Policy.