Today at Berkeley Lab

Batteries Get a Boost from ‘Pickled’ Electrolytes

Battery researchers at Argonne National Laboratory have used computer simulations at NERSC to help reveal the mechanism behind a common additive known to extend the life of lithium-ion batteries. At its heart is a chemical reaction similar to pickling. More>

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EESA Researchers Study Isotopic Fractionation by Plants

A group of researchers in the Lab’s Earth and Environmental Sciences Area are the first to establish the degree of potassium isotopic fractionation by plants. Understanding the isotopic composition of potassium could help track and quantify nutrient cycling in ecosystems, or lead to improvements in fertilizing food crops that depend on the element. More>

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Smart Ideas Wanted for Grid Modernization

A consortium of national labs and nonprofit organizations has announced a call for concepts to engage the smart grid community in demonstrating visionary interoperability capabilities on how facilities with distributed energy resources, or DERs, integrate and interact with the utility grid. More>

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Pair of Research Products Will Help Improve Power System Reliability and Resilience

A newly updated online tool and guidebook from Berkeley Lab and industry partner Nexant Inc. will help utilities measure the cost and impact of power outages – a key strategic consideration as the nation works to modernize the electricity system, and especially important now during hot summer months that can strain the power grid. More>

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Do Bacteria Ever Go Extinct? New Research Says Yes, Big-Time

Patrick Shih of the Joint BioEnergy Institute and Biosciences Area collaborated with a team of researchers led by the University of British Columbia in a new study that has found that bacteria go extinct at substantial rates, but appear to avoid the mass extinctions that have hit larger forms of life on Earth. More>

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Protein Structures Reveal New Target for Malaria Vaccine

Researchers isolated human-derived antibodies that protect against malaria, and protein-structure studies performed at the Advanced Light Source revealed the antibodies’ site of attack. The discovery paves the way for the development of a more effective and practical human vaccine for malaria, which is responsible for half a million deaths every year. More>

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New Competition for MOFs: Scientists Make Stronger COFs

Hollow molecular structures known as COFs (covalent organic frameworks) suffer from an inherent problem: It’s difficult to keep a network of COFs connected in harsh chemical environments. Now, a Berkeley Lab team has used a chemical process discovered decades ago to make the linkages between COFs much more sturdy, and to give the COFs new characteristics that could expand their applications. More>

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JGI Helps ID Core Microbial Community for Maize Rhizosphere

An international team including Joint Genome Institute (JGI) researchers conducted a large-scale field study that partially replicates earlier trials to identify soil microbes that colonize plants and can be associated with particular traits. The work was conducted as part of JGI’s Rhizosphere Grand Challenge pilot projects. More>

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JGI Assists in Development of Sphagnum Genomic Resources

Sphagnum’s impact on carbon cycling and climate is said to be larger than any other single plant genus. Researchers estimate that Sphagnum holds about 25 percent of the world’s soil carbon. Using the Joint Genome Institute’s Community Science Program, researchers are developing resources to build up Sphagnum as a plant model system focused on carbon cycling studies, rather than for food or fuel applications. More>

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New Methods to Control Bacterial Factories for Biotech Aims

Researchers affiliated with the Lab’s Environmental Genomics and Systems Biology Division and Michigan State’s MSU-DOE Plant Research Laboratory developed two new methods to facilitate the construction of synthetic versions of bacterial microcompartments. Scientists want to retrofit these miniature factories to perform desired functions, such as producing biofuels, industrial materials, or nanoscale medical devices. More>

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