A consortium led by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory will advance low-energy buildings in both the U.S. and China.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has been chosen to lead a consortium for a U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center on Building Energy Efficiency. The Center will develop technologies for low-energy residential and commercial buildings, as well as work on commercialization of those technologies and research how human behavior affects building energy use.

The Clean Energy Resource Center (CERC) will receive $12.5 million over five years. The funding will be matched by consortium partners to provide at least $25 million in total U.S. funding. Chinese counterparts will contribute an additional $25 million. The consortium includes seven research partners: Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Natural Resources Defense Council (Beijing branch), ICF International (Beijing branch), National Association of State Energy Offices, Association of State Energy Research and Technology Transfer Institutions, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and University of California, Davis.Berkeley Lab scientist Mark Levine, head and founder of the China Energy Group.

The consortium also includes contributions from a number of industrial partners—Dow Chemical Company, General Electric, Honeywell, Schneider Electric, Saint-Gobain, Bentley, Pegasus Investment Advisors and Climate Master—as well as several other organizations. Together they have committed more than $16 million in in-kind resources (primarily research staff) and cash over a five-year period.

“The U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center will help to save energy and cut costs in buildings in both the United States and China,” said Assistant Secretary of Energy for Policy and International Affairs David Sandalow. “This new partnership will also create new export opportunities for American companies, ensure the United States remains at the forefront of technology innovation and help to reduce global carbon pollution.”

The U.S. organizations will be conducting research jointly with Chinese institutions. The specific institutions will be announced by the Chinese government in the near future.

Numerous studies have concluded that dramatic energy savings are possible through more energy-efficient buildings—savings on the order of 40 percent for existing buildings and 60 to 70 percent for new buildings. The need is especially acute in China, which has been building up its cities at an astonishing rate. The pace is expected to continue for the next several decades as urbanization continues. That means China will be building new homes, roads and infrastructure for hundreds of millions of rural-dwellers moving to the cities over the next 40 years or more.

“Energy efficiency in buildings has the greatest potential for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the next two decades of any energy sector,” says Berkeley Lab scientist Mark Levine, the leader of the consortium. “This collaboration between China and the United States can lead the way in demonstrating the great opportunities for and benefits of cooperation between nations in addressing greenhouse gas emissions.”

Levine founded Berkeley Lab’s China Energy Group more than 20 years ago and has worked closely with Chinese government and industrial leaders in that time, analyzing and promoting energy efficiency in China. The scientists of the China Energy Group have participated in the development of appliance standards and labeling, a benchmarking tool for cement and other industries to identify and implement energy-efficiency options and the development of tools and policies to reduce energy in buildings.

Both Oak Ridge and Berkeley Lab are recognized leaders in energy efficient buildings, having conducted hundreds of millions of dollars of research in the field in the past decade. On top of that, Berkeley Lab has been awarded more than $32 million in funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for work on energy-efficient buildings, including $15.9 million to build a national user facility containing a series of test beds for researchers to test and optimize various systems.

Subject to agreement with the Chinese partners, the six major research areas to be undertaken are: advanced monitoring and control systems, advanced glazing materials and systems, advanced insulation systems, cool roofs, lighting and commercialization and policy analyses. Some examples of technologies the Center will work on include low-cost insulation, especially for rural areas, which has the potential to substantially reduce coal use in northern China, and computer tools for evaluating window performance under different conditions and building configurations, to be applied in two cities in China and two in the United States.

Additionally, the Center will build a test bed facility for evaluating the performance of technologies and systems developed by the researchers. The facility will be located at a one-story building at a partner organization in China, such as a university. The test bed could become a long-term research facility to be used by generations of building energy engineers and scientists.

President Obama and President Hu Jintao formally announced the establishment of the CERC during the President’s trip to Beijing last November.

Berkeley Lab is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory located in Berkeley, California.  It conducts unclassified scientific research for DOE’s Office of Science and is managed by the University of California. Visit our Website.

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Two mathematicians from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have won prestigious prizes from the International Council for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (ICIAM) for groundbreaking work in applied math, with impacts ranging from fluid mechanics and aerodynamics to medical imaging and semiconductor manufacturing.Alexandre Chorin (left) and James Sethian

Alexandre Chorin won the 2011 ICIAM Lagrange Prize in recognition of his fundamental and original contributions to applied mathematics, fluid mechanics, statistical mechanics, and turbulence modeling. The Lagrange Prize provides international recognition to mathematicians who have made an exceptional contribution to applied mathematics throughout their career.

James Sethian won the 2011 ICIAM Pioneer Prize for his fundamental methods and algorithms that have had a large impact in imaging and shape recovery in medicine, geophysics and tomography, and drop dynamics in inkjets. The Pioneer Prize recognizes pioneering work introducing applied mathematical methods and scientific computing techniques to an industrial problem area or a new scientific field.

The awards, announced today by the ICIAM, bring to Berkeley Lab two of the five math prizes the organization awards every four years. The ICIAM is composed of many of the national and international associations of professional mathematicians concerned with applications.

Chorin is a senior scientist with the Mathematics Group of Berkeley Lab’s Computational Research Division and a University Professor of mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley. Sethian heads the Mathematics Group of Berkeley Lab’s Computational Research Division and is a professor of mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley. They are two of the world’s foremost applied mathematicians and have spent most of their careers at Berkeley.

“These awards recognize the immense influence that Alexandre’s and James’ research has had on applied math as well as many scientific disciplines and industrial applications,” says Horst Simon, Deputy Director of Berkeley Lab. “The awards are also a testament to Berkeley Lab’s worldwide leadership in applied math, benefitting society and solving some of our most urgent scientific challenges.”

Chorin’s contributions span computational mathematics, fluid mechanics, statistical mechanics, and turbulence

In a career that spans nearly 50 years, Chorin introduced mathematical and computational methods for solving problems in science and engineering. He has applied his methods to understanding water flow in oceans and lakes, flow in turbines and engines, combustion, and blood flow in the heart and veins.

He invented techniques in the mid 1960s that were the first practical and accurate methods for approximating the full Navier–Stokes equations, which stand at the basis of the most popular codes in computational fluid mechanics.

Chorin followed this with the invention and design of vortex methods, for which he was given the U.S. National Academy of Sciences Award in Applied Mathematics and Numerical Analysis in 1989. These techniques made possible the modeling of the complex mixing and instabilities of turbulent flow.

More recently, Chorin developed methods for distilling fundamental properties buried in noisy and uncertain data. One application is designed to extract biological information from satellite imagery of the ocean.

The ICIAM news release states, “Beginning with his pioneering work 40 years ago, Chorin developed some of the key mathematical and algorithmic ideas that underlie many of the most powerful computer codes in computational fluid dynamics, by blending mathematical intuition, physical insight and a deep attention to practical implementation.”

His many awards include Norbert Wiener Prize in Applied Mathematics from the American Mathematical Society and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, which he received in 2000. He was honored with the title of University Professor by the Regents of the University of California in 2002. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Chorin, 72, was born in Poland and grew up Israel and Switzerland. He received his PhD from the Courant Institute of New York University in 1966 and joined Berkeley Lab in 1975.

Sethian’s contributions range from fluid interfaces to computer chips

For the past three decades, Sethian has built mathematical and computational tools to tackle pressing problems in fields such as medical imaging, seismic imaging, combustion calculations, computer chip manufacturing, and inkjet printing.

The broad reach of his applications stem from his pioneering work on the computer representation of the motion of curves, surfaces, interfaces, and wave fronts, for which he was awarded the Norbert Wiener Prize in 2004.

According to the ICIAM news release announcing the award, the level set method pioneered by Sethian and Stanley Osher has had a major impact in a wide range of fields and is one of the most used algorithms of the past few decades.

Sethian’s mathematical algorithms for modeling etching and deposition in the manufacture of computer chips are now an indispensable part of industrial semiconductor fabrication simulations throughout the world.

Sethian’s algorithms for imaging and shape recovery are found throughout medical and biological imaging technologies, including imaging workstations that quantify cardiac motion and efficiency.

He developed tools for solving Hamilton–Jacobi equations with applications in geophysics and tomography, currently in use by the petroleum industry. He also developed numerical methods for inkjet dynamics and combustion processes.

The ICIAM news release adds, “This extraordinary range of successes is made possible by Sethian’s unparalleled eagerness to learn thoroughly the engineering aspects of problems he works on, the accuracy and depth of his feeling for mathematical structure, and his broad mathematical knowledge. His body of work is emblematic of what an applied mathematician should aspire to achieve.”

Sethian, 56, was born in Washington, D.C. He earned his PhD in Applied Mathematics from the University of California, Berkeley in 1982 and joined Berkeley Lab in 1985. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering.

The prizes will be awarded at the International Congress for Industrial and Applied Mathematics next July in Vancouver, Canada.

Chorin’s and Sethian’s research has been funded in part by the Department of Energy’s Applied Mathematics program, which is part of the Office of Advanced Scientific Computing Research.

Berkeley Lab is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory located in Berkeley, California.  It conducts unclassified scientific research for DOE’s Office of Science and is managed by the University of California. Visit our Website.

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International Innovation Experiment Validates ROI of Competitive Software Development as New Model for America's Space Agency

TopCoder has announced the success of a pilot competition that tasked its global community of software programmers with helping to develop the next generation of capabilities NASA will need for its crews to live and work in space. Conducted by Harvard Business School and London Business School/MLab, the NASA-TopCoder Challenge asked TopCoder members to create improved mathematical algorithms to determine the optimal contents of medical kits for future human exploration missions.  The experiment delivered a cost effective set of improvements to a critical NASA Space Life Science Directorate application, which will be used to reduce the risk associated with manned space flight.

Overall, TopCoder members delivered 2,833 distinct code submissions during the course of the competition and produced numerous enhanced solutions that NASA will adapt for use in its International Space Station missions as soon as early next year. Among the 1,095 participating, top solution providers were Blazde of the UK, Chokudai and Imazato of Japan, Marcadian of Indonesia and WLeite of Brazil. The competition offered $24,000 in cash prizes.

Professor Karim Lakhani of Harvard Business School and Professor Kevin Boudreau of London Business School/MLab joined with TopCoder and NASA to help design the experiment and monitored and analyzed the TopCoder Marathon Match competition output and results from a distributed innovation perspective. The pilot research project was funded by grants from the London Business School/MLab and the Harvard Business School.

The NASA-TopCoder Challenge was the first time the TopCoder community of more than 250,000 software enthusiasts was utilized by NASA.  Long-duration human exploration missions such as those being planned for the International Space Station, Moon, and Mars, will require higher levels of pre-planning and more analysis of available data than ever before. Physiologic modeling applications and mission simulation programs are algorithmically-intensive as flight surgeons and mission planners explore and evaluate medical scenarios that might occur on long-duration missions. Categories for analysis included Mass, Volume, Probability of Evacuation, Crew Health Index (a NASA derived number that measures the quality of crew life), and probability of loss of crew. In this experiment, competitors developed algorithms to help NASA's flight surgeons make decisions involved with optimizing the contents of the medical supplies kit that may one day be carried onboard long-duration space missions. The submissions were compared with the results of an existing computer model that has simulated the expected medical occurrences and outcomes for various mission scenarios.

Tufts University's School of Arts and Sciences has received a $9.5 million grant to create research space that will house a Collaborative Cluster in Genome Structure and Developmental Patterning in Health and Disease. The space will bring together experts in such areas as genome structure and stability, developmental and regenerative biology, and tissue engineering to focus on "genome to organism" research to advance treatment of hereditary diseases, prevent birth defects and facilitate tissue regeneration.

The design and construction will be funded with an award of $9,463,691 issued by the National Center for Research Resources, National Institutes of Health, as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

"We are delighted that NIH has selected Tufts to build this cutting-edge facility," said Tufts University Provost Jamshed Bharucha. "It will enable our burgeoning biology department, co-located with faculty from other life science disciplines, to expand into new and cross-disciplinary fields of discovery."

The cluster will create integrated space at 200 Boston Avenue, Medford, for approximately 70 researchers from the Tufts School of Arts and Sciences biology department.

"These scientists will be housed in state-of-the-art space within steps of each other, which will facilitate our ability to work together to tackle problems in biology and medicine," said Professor Sergei Mirkin, Ph.D., who holds the White Family Chair in Biology.

Already located in the building are biomedical researchers from the department of biology and the School of Engineering who work together to study regenerative medicine, nanobiological structures, neural processes and biomimetic devices.

"Biologists in the cluster will be able to partner with engineers to translate research into techniques and devices to alleviate disease and heal injury," said Michael Levin, Ph.D., professor of biology and director of the Tufts Center for Regenerative and Developmental Biology. Tufts' emphasis on cross-disciplinary work was an important factor in Levin's decision to come to Tufts last year.

"We also expect the cluster to intensify collaboration with math and computer science faculty and with researchers from such external organizations as Harvard Medical School and the National Institutes of Health," said Juliet Fuhrman, Ph.D., chair of biology.

Over the next two years, Tufts will redesign office and laboratory space at 200 Boston Avenue into 16,527 square feet of wet laboratories and associated support facilities. The new space will be designed to LEED Gold certification standards.

Cummings Foundation, Inc., a private operating foundation based in Woburn, Massachusetts, owns the property at 200 Boston Avenue.

Tufts University biologists have been at the forefront of understanding the roles of both genome instability and dysregulation of normal development in human disease. They are credited with uncovering the first multistranded DNA structure (triplex H-DNA), discovering that the anomalous replication of DNA microsatellites is a common source of genome instability, and unraveling molecular mechanisms of chromosome fragility. In developmental biology, they are credited with several revolutionary approaches for the rational control of large scale patterning in eye, heart, and kidney development; limb induction; spinal cord/muscle regeneration; left right asymmetry; craniofacial patterning and nervous system development. They have made key contributions toward understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying the biophysical multi-scale patterning control systems that guide embryonic development, regenerative repair and prevention of cancer.

Current collaborations include studies in model systems of diseases like fragile X mental retardation and Huntington's and Friedreich's ataxia, as well as the molecular modulation of natural ionic and voltage gradients to induce regeneration of vertebrate kidneys, limbs, eyes and other structures.

Los Alamos Achievements from Supercomputing to Biofuels

Los Alamos National Laboratory (www.lanl.gov) has identified the Top 10 Laboratory science stories of 2009 based on global viewership of online media content and major programmatic milestones.

“Often our top breakthroughs in terms of scientific impact are also the ones that garner the most attention in the media,” said Terry Wallace, Laboratory principal associate director of science, technology, and engineering. “This was certainly the case for Roadrunner and for the Ardi discovery. Sometimes, the best measure of impact is programmatic, such as the successful DARHT two-axis hydrotest, or our teams using nanotechnology for energy breakthroughs. In combination, this collection of advances points to the diverse capabilities at Los Alamos that we harness for national security science.”

Much of the science and technology at Los Alamos stems from or benefits the Lab’s key national security mission performed for the National Nuclear Security Administration.

The Top 10 LANL Science Stories for 2009 are:

#1: Roadrunner:

The Roadrunner supercomputer at Los Alamos is the first computing system in the world to reach a petaflop, computer jargon for 1 million billion calculations per second, a record that stood for a year and a half. But the real accomplishment is that Roadrunner reached that goal using an entirely new computing architecture.

The secret to its record-breaking performance is a unique hybrid design. The full system consists of 278 server racks containing 6,562 AMD Opteron dual-core processors and 12,240 PowerXCell 8i Cell processors, a special IBM-developed variant of the Cell processor used in the Sony PlayStation3. The node-attached Cell accelerators are what make Roadrunner completely different than typical computing “clusters.”

Roadrunner also is one of the most energy-efficient supercomputers. Using approximately 3 megawatts of power at sustained petaflop performance, the system produces about 500 megaflops per watt, more than twice the efficiency of the average supercomputer.

#2: Ardi:

A Los Alamos National Laboratory geologist is part of an international research team responsible for discovering the oldest nearly intact skeleton of Ardipithecus ramidus, who lived 4.4 million years ago.

The discovery reveals the biology of the first stage of human evolution better than anything seen to date. The fossil, nicknamed “Ardi,” is the earliest skeleton known from the human branch of the primate family tree. The discovery provides new insights about how hominids—the family of “great apes” comprising humans, chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans—may have emerged from an ancestral ape.

The discovery and associated research were named Science magazine’s Breakthrough of the Year for 2009 and selected by Time magazine as the #1 science story of 2009.

#3: Climate modeling & monitoring:

LANL innovations in high-resolution climate modeling and monitoring led to new insights into the impacts of climate change at global and regional scales.

The changing conditions in the ocean due to increased acidity from increased CO2 is one of the unknowns in future climate change projections. LANL’s Climate, Ocean, and Sea Ice Modeling effort for DOE and the National Science Foundation develops the highest-resolution dynamic models of the world’s oceans and polar icecaps.

Although up to 80 percent of the world’s oxygen is generated by photosynthetic processes in ocean phytoplankton and other sea plants, the effects of this photosynthesis on removing CO2 from the atmosphere have not been included previously because of the lack of available computing power.

Harnessing the petaflop capacity of LANL’s Roadrunner supercomputer (see #1 above), Lab researchers recently examined the effect of mesoscale ocean eddies (a few miles in size) on the transport of nutrients crucial for the growth of phytoplankton. These eddies cause vertical transport of nutrients, which is crucial for the growth of phytoplankton.

The model can then calculate surface chlorophyll concentrations, and compare to satellite images. This model is dramatically better than the previous state of the art in resolution and its ability to capture biological complexity.

The regional effects of global climate change on western U.S. forests also are important to understanding future impacts, especially as forests comprise an important CO2 sink. The widespread die-off of piñon trees in the Southwest is now being followed by a larger-scale pine mortality in the Mountain West. LANL scientists documented a new mechanism for this mortality, called carbon starvation. It has been widely presumed that trees die of hydraulic failure (drying out). Instead, they die from closure of the tiny pores on the surfaces of leaves that permit the exchange of gases between the atmosphere and the leaf. When the pores are closed (to prevent water loss during extreme drought), the photosynthetic uptake of carbon also stops, starving the trees. This type of mortality has been documented on all six vegetated continents and is increasing, with climate change, across all biomes (forest, desert, grasslands, tundra, and aquatic ecosystems).

This work is an enormous step forward in demonstrating that regional climate change drives a global-scale response of vegetation mortality. Massive forest die-offs can change vegetated areas from carbon sinks to carbon sources.

#4: MagViz:

LANL’s MagViz team pioneered the use of modified magnetic resonance imagery (MRI) technology to distinguish and alert airport security staff to potentially dangerous liquids and gels in airport carry-on baggage.

Using extremely low magnetic fields and high-powered computer analysis, the MagViz equipment was demonstrated for its Department of Homeland Security sponsors and potential Transportation Safety Administration users at the Albuquerque International Sunport (http://www.youtube.com/LosAlamosNationalLab#p/a/u/4/xT2zncrtU-s).

A new area of development is a bottled-liquid scanner system based on the same technology.

#5: First dual-axis hydrodynamic test:

LANL scientists and engineers fired the first-ever double-viewpoint, multiframe hydrodynamic test at DARHT, the Laboratory’s Dual Axis Radiographic Hydrodynamic Test facility – leading to future experiments at LANL and across the nation’s nuclear security enterprise, supporting the stockpile stewardship and weapons assurance mission. “Initial data return was excellent,” said the hydrodynamic experiments division leader, David Funk. “The baseline experiment captured five time-dependent X-ray images and a variety of data from other diagnostics of pressure, temperature, and timing. This data provides the nation with one of the most rigorous tests of our capability to predict weapons performance.”

#6: Hurricane prediction:

A system of sensors developed by Los Alamos National Laboratory for the National Nuclear Security Administration’s nonproliferation mission has also begun to give meteorologists their most detailed view of the relationship between hurricanes and lightning.

By examining the rate and nature of lightning in the hurricane’s eye wall, scientists may begin to be able to predict the potential strengthening of these destructive storms.

#7: Fuel from plants:

Los Alamos National Laboratory has teamed with Solix Biofuels, Inc. to use an award-winning LANL sound-wave technology to optimize production of algae-based fuel in a cost-effective, scalable, and environmentally benign fashion.

Acoustic focusing—the novel use of sound waves at the heart of the Los Alamos Acoustic Flow Cytometer, a 2007 R&D 100 Award-winning technology—is being commercialized in partnership with Solix to harvest biocrude, or “green gold,” an alternative to crude oil that can be refined into biodiesel, gasoline, or even jet fuel. The technology is to be deployed in 2010 to Solix’s Coyote Gulch Demonstration Facility near Durango, Colorado, for real-world production of lower-cost biofuel.

In addition, research breakthroughs using the LANL Protein Crystallography Station (part of the Lab’s LANSCE facility) to probe the structure of cellulose are making the prospect of affordable, efficient production of cellulosic fuels closer to reality. The Protein Crystallography Station is the only resource of its kind in the United States and the first protein crystallography beam line to be built at a spallation neutron source.

#8: IBEX:

The invisible structures of space are becoming less so, as scientists look out to the far edges of the solar wind bubble that separates our solar system from the interstellar cloud through which it flies.

Using the High Energy Neutral Atom Imager, led by LANL, the NASA Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) mission (http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/ibex/index.html) has sent back data that indicates a “noodle soup” of solar material has accumulated at the outer fringes of the heliosphere bubble. The Los Alamos camera detects particles that are heated and stream away from that boundary, specifically the density and temperature of atoms that form the core of that layer.

#9: Laser-particle acceleration for cancer therapy:

Laser-particle acceleration is an emerging area of physics expected to enable significant future advances in cancer radiotherapy. An international team of physicists led by LANL has accelerated protons to world-record high energies that are otherwise only achievable with large accelerator facilities. Proton radiation at the achieved energy range can be used, for example, to treat eye cancer.

The new record-proton-acceleration energies were demonstrated at LANL’s Trident facility—the world’s highest-contrast, high-intensity, high-energy laser. Physicists bombarded specially designed thin films created using nanotechnology with short bursts of laser energy. The electric fields generated from this bombardment were used to accelerate protons to energies higher than ever before achieved—capable of destroying cancer cells.

#10: Nanotechnology for Energy Frontiers:

Two LANL teams were awarded lead roles as DOE Energy Frontier Research Centers to develop new materials for energy.

The Center for Advanced Solar Photophysics will capitalize on recent advances in the science of how nanoparticles interact with light to design highly efficient materials for the conversion of sunlight into electricity. The purpose of this EFRC is to develop novel physics, materials, and architectures for harvesting solar light and converting it into electrical charges with efficiencies above equilibrium thermodynamic limits. Such materials can boost the efficiency of solar-energy conversion.

The Center for Extreme Environment-Tolerant Materials has as its objective to understand, at the atomic scale, the behavior of materials subject to extreme radiation doses and mechanical stress in order to synthesize new materials that can tolerate such conditions. This EFRC will develop a fundamental understanding of how atomic structure and interfaces contribute to defect and damage evolution in materials, with such potential applications as structural materials, fuel cladding, and waste forms in the next generation of nuclear power reactors and structural materials in transportation, energy, and defense.

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