Story tips from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, May 2005

May 04, 2005

To arrange for an interview with a researcher, please contact the Office of Communications and External Relations staff member identified at the end of each tip.

ENVIRONMENT -- Nitrate's worst nightmare . . .

A newly isolated group of microbes holds great promise for removing nitrate and immobilizing uranium in contaminated groundwater and soil. Researchers from Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Miami University and Stanford University enriched a microbial culture capable of removing nitrate and found that this "denitrifying" biomass contains a diverse microbial community with some microbes capable of making uranium less soluble. ORNL's Philip Jardine of the Environmental Sciences Division noted that previous studies indicated that only certain species of metal- and sulfate-reducing bacteria are capable of reducing and immobilizing uranium. Additional field tests are in progress to determine the feasibility of using this biomass for removing nitrate and immobilizing uranium in soil and individual microbe's roles in the remediation process. The research is being conducted at the NABIR (Natural and Accelerated Bioremediation Research) Field Research Center in Oak Ridge. Funding for this research is provided by DOE's Office of Science, Biological and Environmental Research. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226;]

INSTRUMENTATION -- Symposium slated May 8-12 . . .

Some of the world's leading experts in sensors, instrumentation and measurement techniques will be at the Hilton Hotel in Knoxville May 8-12 for the 51st International Instrumentation Symposium. Included in the five-day event -- executive meetings and a dinner are scheduled for May 8 -- will be the presentation of some 70 technical papers, a vendor product exhibition and a number of short courses, Included in the tutorials is a course taught by Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Wayne Manges about wireless systems. Manges, a member of the lab's Engineering Science & Technology Division, will examine wireless protocols, frequencies, system implantations and integration into the industrial environment. Another tutorial, taught by Jim Gord of Wright Labs, will focus on laser-based diagnostics for combustion and fuel studies. A primary purpose of the annual event is to further the development of the aerospace instrumentation that plays a critical role in monitoring systems in flight. ORNL will have more than a dozen speakers at the conference, sponsored by the Instrumentation, Systems and Automation Society's Aerospace Industries and Test Measurement divisions. For additional information about the conference, visit [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226;]

BIOLOGY -- Microbial sleuth . . .

Biologists trying to identify microorganisms dominating various communities in environmental samples have a new tool called a community genome array. This glass slide, developed by a team from Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Environmental Sciences Division, is dotted with labeled whole-genome probes that pair up, or hybridize, with target microorganisms of genetically identical species in natural microbial communities. The community genome array allows scientists to determine which species of bacteria survive and which die when exposed to contaminants or temperature changes caused by industrial practices or climate change. These arrays might also be practical for detecting unknown microorganisms that are genetically related to bacteria known to be useful for remediation of contaminated ecosystems. The research team was led by Liyou Wu, Dorothea Thompson and Joe Zhou. Funding for the project was provided by DOE's Office of Science, Biological and Environmental Research. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226;]

ENVIRONMENT -- Lower emissions . . .

Research in high-efficiency clean combustion technology at Oak Ridge National Laboratory may lead to alternatives to traditional diesel and spark ignition engine combustion processes that would result in cleaner emissions and improve engine efficiency more than 50 percent. ORNL researchers are working in partnership with Detroit Diesel Corp. and Cummins Engine Co. to have an engine marketable by 2010 when new stringent federal truck engine environmental standards take effect. Researchers seek to control the engine, characterize emissions to be integrated with an engine catalytic converter device, understand the thermodynamics of the process to meet efficiency targets and study the fuel impacts of eventual commercialization of the technology. The higher engine efficiency obtained through this technology would help toward meeting the engine efficiency goals for prototype truck engines scheduled for 2012 in the 21st Century Truck Partnership. Funding is provided by DOE's Office of FreedomCAR and the Vehicle Technology Program. [Contact: Fred Strohl, (865) 574-4165;]

DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory

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