X
X
X

Filters:

Printed, Flexible and Rechargeable Battery Can Power Wearable Sensors

Nanoengineers at the University of California San Diego have developed the first printed battery that is flexible, stretchable and rechargeable. The zinc batteries could be used to power everything from wearable sensors to solar cells and other kinds of electronics. The work appears in the April 19, 2017 issue of Advanced Energy Materials.

Neutrons Provide the First Nanoscale Look at a Living Cell Membrane

A research team from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory has performed the first-ever direct nanoscale examination of a living cell membrane. In doing so, it also resolved a long-standing debate by identifying tiny groupings of lipid molecules that are likely key to the cell's functioning.

How X-Rays Helped to Solve Mystery of Floating Rocks

Experiments at Berkeley Lab's Advanced Light Source have helped scientists to solve a mystery of why some rocks can float for years in the ocean, traveling thousands of miles before sinking.

Special X-Ray Technique Allows Scientists to See 3-D Deformations

In a new study published last Friday in Science, researchers at Argonne used an X-ray scattering technique called Bragg coherent diffraction imaging to reconstruct in 3-D the size and shape of grain defects. These defects create imperfections in the lattice of atoms inside a grain that can give rise to interesting material properties and effects.

Neptune: Neutralizer-Free Plasma Propulsion

The most established plasma propulsion concepts are gridded-ion thrusters that accelerate and emit a larger number of positively charged particles than those that are negatively charged. To enable the spacecraft to remain charge-neutral, a "neutralizer" is used to inject electrons to exactly balance the positive ion charge in the exhaust beam. However, the neutralizer requires additional power from the spacecraft and increases the size and weight of the propulsion system. Researchers are investigating how the radio-frequency self-bias effect can be used to remove the neutralizer altogether, and they report their work in this week's Physics of Plasmas.

Report Sheds New Insights on the Spin Dynamics of a Material Candidate for Low-Power Devices

In a report published in Nano LettersArgonne researchers reveal new insights into the properties of a magnetic insulator that is a candidate for low-power device applications; their insights form early stepping-stones towards developing high-speed, low-power electronics that use electron spin rather than charge to carry information.

Researchers Find Computer Code That Volkswagen Used to Cheat Emissions Tests

An international team of researchers has uncovered the mechanism that allowed Volkswagen to circumvent U.S. and European emission tests over at least six years before the Environmental Protection Agency put the company on notice in 2015 for violating the Clean Air Act. During a year-long investigation, researchers found code that allowed a car's onboard computer to determine that the vehicle was undergoing an emissions test.

Physicists Discover That Lithium Oxide on Tokamak Walls Can Improve Plasma Performance

A team of physicists has found that a coating of lithium oxide on the inside of fusion machines known as tokamaks can absorb as much deuterium as pure lithium can.

Scientists Perform First Basic Physics Simulation of Spontaneous Transition of the Edge of Fusion Plasma to Crucial High-Confinement Mode

PPPL physicists have simulated the spontaneous transition of turbulence at the edge of a fusion plasma to the high-confinement mode that sustains fusion reactions. The research was achieved with the extreme-scale plasma turbulence code XGC developed at PPPL in collaboration with a nationwide team.

Green Fleet Technology

New research at Penn State addresses the impact delivery trucks have on the environment by providing green solutions that keep costs down without sacrificing efficiency.


Filters:

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Graduates Urged to Embrace Change at 211th Commencement

Describing the dizzying pace of technological innovation, former United States Secretary of Energy Ernest J. Moniz urged graduates to "anticipate career change, welcome it, and manage it to your and your society's benefit" at the 211th Commencement at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) Saturday.

ORNL Welcomes Innovation Crossroads Entrepreneurial Research Fellows

Oak Ridge National Laboratory today welcomed the first cohort of innovators to join Innovation Crossroads, the Southeast region's first entrepreneurial research and development program based at a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory.

Department of Energy Secretary Recognizes Argonne Scientists' Work to Fight Ebola, Cancer

Two groups of researchers at Argonne earned special awards from the office of the U.S. Secretary of Energy for addressing the global health challenges of Ebola and cancer.

Jefferson Science Associates, LLC Recognized for Leadership in Small Business Utilization

Jefferson Lab/Jefferson Science Associates has a long-standing commitment to doing business with and mentoring small businesses. That commitment and support received national recognition at the 16th Annual Dept. of Energy Small Business Forum and Expo held May 16-18, 2017 in Kansas City, Mo.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute President's Commencement Colloquy to Address "Criticality, Incisiveness, Creativity"

To kick off the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Commencement weekend, the annual President's Commencement Colloquy will take place on Friday, May 19, beginning at 3:30 p.m. The discussion, titled "Criticality, Incisiveness, Creativity," will include the Honorable Ernest J. Moniz, former Secretary of Energy, and the Honorable Roger W. Ferguson Jr., President and CEO of TIAA, and will be moderated by Rensselaer President Shirley Ann Jackson.

ORNL, University of Tennessee Launch New Doctoral Program in Data Science

The Tennessee Higher Education Commission has approved a new doctoral program in data science and engineering as part of the Bredesen Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Graduate Education.

SurfTec Receives $1.2 Million Energy Award to Develop Novel Coating

The Department of Energy has awarded $1.2 million to SurfTec LLC, a company affiliated with the U of A Technology Development Foundation, to continue developing a nanoparticle-based coating to replace lead-based journal bearings in the next generation of electric machines.

Ames Laboratory Scientist Inducted Into National Inventors Hall of Fame

Iver Anderson, senior metallurgist at Ames Laboratory, has been inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

DOE HPC4Mfg Program Funds 13 New Projects to Improve U.S. Energy Technologies Through High Performance Computing

A U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) program designed to spur the use of high performance supercomputers to advance U.S. manufacturing is funding 13 new industry projects for a total of $3.9 million.

Penn State Wind Energy Club Breezes to Victory in Collegiate Wind Competition

The Penn State Wind Energy Club breezed through the field at the U.S. Department of Energy Collegiate Wind Competition 2017 Technical Challenge, held April 20-22 at the National Wind Technology Center near Boulder, Colorado--earning its third overall victory in four years at the Collegiate Wind Competition.


Filters:

Casting a Wide Net

Designed molecules will provide positive impacts in energy production by selectively removing unwanted ions from complex solutions.

New Software Tools Streamline DNA Sequence Design-and-Build Process

Enhanced software tools will accelerate gene discovery and characterization, vital for new forms of fuel production.

The Ultrafast Interplay Between Molecules and Materials

Computer calculations by the Center for Solar Fuels, an Energy Frontier Research Center, shed light on nebulous interactions in semiconductors relevant to dye-sensitized solar cells.

Supercapacitors: WOODn't That Be Nice

Researchers at Nanostructures for Electrical Energy Storage, an Energy Frontier Research Center, take advantage of nature-made materials and structure for energy storage research.

Groundwater Flow Is Key for Modeling the Global Water Cycle

Water table depth and groundwater flow are vital to understanding the amount of water that plants transmit to the atmosphere.

Finding the Correct Path

A new computational technique greatly simplifies the complex reaction networks common to catalysis and combustion fields.

Opening Efficient Routes to Everyday Plastics

A new material from the Inorganometallic Catalyst Design Center, an Energy Frontier Research Center, facilitates the production of key industrial supplies.

Fight to the Top: Silver and Gold Compete for the Surface of a Bimetallic Solid

It's the classic plot of a buddy movie. Two struggling bodies team up to drive the plot and do good together. That same idea, when it comes to metals, could help scientists solve a big problem: the amount of energy consumed by making chemicals.

Saving Energy Through Light Control

New materials, designed by researchers at the Center for Excitonics, an Energy Frontier Research Center, can reduce energy consumption with the flip of a switch.

Teaching Perovskites to Swim

Scientists at the ANSER Energy Frontier Research Center designed a two-component layer protects a sunlight-harvesting device from water and heat.


Strategic Petroleum Reserve Taps Sandia Expertise in Salt

Article ID: 674782

Released: 2017-05-16 10:05:30

Source Newsroom: Sandia National Laboratories

  • Credit: Sandia National Laboratories/Randy Montoya

    Sandia National Laboratories researcher Anna Lord displays a model of the Big Hill cavern field in Texas, part of the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Sandia is the geotechnical adviser for the reserve.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Not all salt is created equal, so when the nation stockpiles oil in salt caverns, it’s important to know all about the salt itself, as well as the shape of the storage caverns.

Decades of Sandia National Laboratories expertise on how salt domes behave went into a recent report that concluded that the U.S. Department of Energy is justified in extending the life of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

The report, “Long-Term Strategic Review of the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve,” analyzed the reserve’s capability to be tapped, or drawn down, and how that figures into future storage decisions. Sandia estimated the number of potential drawdowns per cavern, using computer models that consider such factors as cavern shape, relationship to surrounding caverns and salt movement, or creep, and how such parameters ultimately affect a cavern’s stability.

Calculating the number of drawdowns left was particularly important, said geologist Anna Lord, Sandia’s project manager for the reserve. The number of times each cavern can still be tapped into affects overall design storage capacity decisions, including whether new caverns would be needed, she said.

The Strategic Petroleum Reserve was established after the 1973 oil embargo to protect the United States from severe oil supply interruptions and to meet its obligations under the International Energy Program.

DOE brought in Sandia five years later. The labs became geotechnical adviser in 1980, responsible for characterizing the site, including cavern and well development, geomechanical analysis, the integrity of caverns and wells, subsidence and monitoring.

Oil tapped at president’s order

The reserve operates four major storage facilities in the underground salt domes of the Gulf Coast, two in Louisiana and two in Texas. The stockpile of government-owned crude oil can be tapped at the president’s order when an emergency disrupts commercial oil supplies.

“When the president calls up and says, ‘We need to release X amount of oil,’ they need to be ready to do that at a certain rate and a certain amount a day,” Lord said. “All the work we do goes toward making sure they’re able to do that.”

Sandia’s work falls into two areas: geotechnical, which involves updating geologic understanding of the salt domes, modeling the caverns’ geomechanical behavior and assuring the integrity of caverns and wells drilled into them; and engineering, which includes understanding fluid behavior, analyzing the leaching process that occurs during oil removal and assuring the reserve meets environmental, safety and oil quality requirements.

Studying well integrity is one of Sandia’s most important responsibilities, Lord said. Think of wells as a series of casings inside each other like concentric circles, with each smaller well deeper than the larger one above. The column of casing, called a string, acts as a protective barrier — if one concentric circle goes, others remain.

Well failure could cause oil to leak into the environment. In addition, a well that loses integrity can’t be used to pull oil out.

Sandia’s team analyzes well integrity through hydrostatic column computer modeling. Reserve operators send nitrogen gas down the wells to test whether they’re losing pressure, and the Sandia models provide rates and locations of any nitrogen leaks. A nitrogen leak does not necessarily mean the well will leak oil, so the model differentiates between pressure changes caused by nitrogen flow versus oil flow. Pressure tests can indicate “when do we worry, when do we need to do remediation?” Lord said.

Geology becomes deciding factor

“No one’s ever looked at this before, so we started a program to really try to understand what’s going on behind the well. We’ve come up with a model that can tell us what the leak rates are and where those leaks may be,” she said. “We’re getting into the new area of what’s going on behind the scenes.

“There are well integrity issues everywhere, not just at the reserve. This happens anywhere with aging infrastructure. Geology takes over; engineering doesn’t matter.”

Oil is removed by injecting fresh water into the brine stored at the bottom of the caverns, pushing out oil floating above the brine. But fresh water dissolves salt, changing the caverns’ shape.

“So we do studies to see where the water will change it, how much it will change it, does that new shape affect stability?” Lord said.

Each cavern was meant to be emptied five times. But emptying a cavern makes it larger because the fresh water dissolves some of the salt. Sandia’s geomechanical modeling shows, for example, “oh, you really only have three drawdowns in this cavern, you have a full five in this one, but you have none in this one, and if you take all the oil out of this one you cannot use that cavern again,” Lord said.

Making sure caverns are optimal shape

When the reserve started, the government wanted to store oil as quickly as possible, and bought caverns the petrochemical industry had used. The reserve still uses some of those, but most oil today is stored in caverns the Energy Department created with Sandia’s feedback.

“Different domes behave differently,” Lord explained. “Maybe they have higher creep rates than other domes. It depends on how homogeneous it is. Is it pure salt or is it salt with shale or other impurities mixed in, such as anhydrite?”

The reserve’s managers can’t create a cavern simply by pumping in fresh water — the configuration of injection wells helps create the desired shape. Sandia researchers determine salt properties in an area by analyzing impurities and doing stress and strain testing, and model different leaching well configurations. From the model, they can determine how the leaching will affect the cavern’s shape. They know from past studies what a cavern should look like for continued integrity.

Sandia also makes recommendations for cavern operations based on their size and shape. Salt creeping to close voids causes stresses and strains on caverns and wells. Sandia’s geomechanical modeling predicts where those might occur and whether they’ll create a problem.

The team stepped up well and cavern integrity modeling in the past couple of years, collecting and analyzing existing data to see what’s going on and how one cavern’s operation affects a neighboring cavern. “We’re trying to bring all the pictures together into one holistic story,” Lord said.


Sandia National Laboratories is a multimission laboratory operated by National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Honeywell International Inc., for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. Sandia has major research and development responsibilities in nuclear deterrence, global security, defense, energy technologies and economic competitiveness, with main facilities in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Livermore, California.

Sandia news media contact: Sue Holmes, sholmes@sandia.gov, (505) 844-6362