November 2012 story tips

November 05, 2012

ENVIRONMENT - Ozone affecting watersheds . . .

U.S. Forest Service and Oak Ridge National Laboratory scientists have found that rising levels of ozone may amplify the impacts of higher temperatures and reduce streamflow from forests to rivers, streams and other water bodies. Such effects could potentially reduce water supplies available to support forest ecosystems and people in the southeastern United States. Using data on atmospheric water supply and demand and statistical models, researchers with the Forest Service and ORNL were able to show what effects ozone, categorized as a greenhouse gas, can have on stream flow in dry seasons. The study was published in the November issue of the journal Global Change Biology. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226;]

CLIMATE - Advancing modeling . . .

A committee formed by the National Academy of Sciences and the National Research Council has released a report of recommendations to accelerate climate modeling to learn more about climate's regional ramifications and future effects. Suggestions include adopting a common software infrastructure to make modeling more efficient. Oak Ridge National Laboratory's James Hack was a member of the 15-person committee. He was chosen because he is a former climate model developer, head of the Oak Ridge Climate Change Science Institute and director of the ORNL National Center for Computational Sciences, which houses the Titan supercomputer. [Written by Leah Moore; media contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226;] [Contact: Leah Moore; 865-576-6448;]

ENERGY - Research homes on market . . .

When four of the nation's most energy-efficient houses are sold, the new homeowners can opt to allow the research project to continue, providing additional data that could make houses of tomorrow even better. This would also enable researchers to compare simulated occupant effect on energy use with actual occupancy. Over the last three years, the Wolf Creek subdivision houses in Oak Ridge used less than half the electricity of the average new house of the same size. Making these savings possible were new heat pump water heater and geothermal integrated heat pump technologies, high-efficiency appliances, new envelope techniques and other energy-saving strategies. The ZEBRAlliance houses were designed and built by a team comprised of Schaad Companies, BarberMcMurry Architecture, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Tennessee Valley Authority, the Department of Energy and industry partners. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226;]

ETHANOL - Unexpected test results . . .

Ethanol blends of 10 to 25 percent could potentially have more fuel pump compatibility issues than higher blends, according to a study conducted by a team led by Mike Kass of Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Fuels and Engines Research Group. "Many scientists had thought that higher ethanol blends - especially those exceeding 50 percent - would have the poorest properties, but that doesn't' appear to be the case," Kass said. The study focused on potential corrosion and other issues with polymers common to fueling infrastructure components. From a broader perspective, Kass noted that this study will help reduce the chance that underground tanks will leak, thereby helping to protect the environment. The study was also used to develop retrofit kits for gasoline dispensers. It did not examine engines or directly test engine fuel components. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226;]

DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory

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