Mar. 31, 1999 QUARTERLY NEWS TIPSHEET -- Release date: Spring 1999
Contact: Media Relations, (509) 375-3776
Glass half full, half empty with trap -
A researcher's ability to analyze environmental samples just got easier. Scientists at Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have created an ion trap mass spectrometer that simultaneously analyzes negative and positive ions. No commercially available mass spectrometer has this feature. The bipolar capability is crucial in state-of-the art mass spectrometry applications, including laser desorption of aerosol particles for atmospheric monitoring.
This trap also improves the quality of data that can be obtained in a single measurement, thus reducing the amount of averaging required for high quality measurements.
Pacific Northwest scientists tested the ion trap in 1998. The device has been demonstrated to companies that may be interested in commercializing this technology.
A bird's eye view of public lands -
Instead of riding the range, ranchers and government agencies now can use an "eye in the sky" to determine the condition of public grazing lands. Remote sensing tools developed at Pacific Northwest for the intelligence community are being put to work to help monitor and manage range land. Manual monitoring, the current practice, addresses only a fraction of acres of public lands across the western United States.
But new satellite imagery, sensor technology and advanced geographic information systems can quickly provide data on any plot of land to help determine trends in range quality. These tools may assist ranchers who are required by law to provide data that indicates the impact of grazing practices on range land.
Pint-sized heat pumps -
Pacific Northwest thinks small - when it comes to heat pumps. Researchers at the laboratory are developing a heat-actuated heat pump small enough to fit within the walls or floor of a home to provide efficient space heating and cooling. Increased efficiency comes from the fabrication of tiny channels within the heat exchanger, where much of the heat pump's work takes place. Smaller channels result in more effective heat transfer due to the intimate contact between the refrigerant and heat exchanger surfaces.
The heat pump uses heat, rather than electricity, to provide cooling. Researchers have developed miniaturized versions of the components for a prototype heat pump and expect to have a working system in about two years.
Development has been funded by the Department of Defense's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
Pulp "Fix-ion" -
One of the obstacles to recycling water, energy and desirable chemicals in the pulp and paper industry is the presence of potassium and chloride ions in the process stream. A technology originally developed at Pacific Northwest to remove cesium from radioactive waste is being adapted to separate the potassium and recover valuable sodium.
Electrically Switched Ion Exchange, or ESIX, uses membranes coated with a suitable electroactive ion exchange material (nickel hexacyanoferrate for potassium). The membranes absorb the ions and then, when the polarity of the electrodes is reversed, the ions are unloaded into an appropriate waste stream.
The system has potential benefits of lower energy costs, increased selectivity for potassium salt and easier operation than other removal methods. Efficient removal of potassium and chloride reduces secondary waste and the down time necessary to clean a plant's recovery boiler.
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The above story is based on materials provided by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
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