• Coastal challengesFacing Climate Threats, Landmarks May Have to Adapt and “Transform”

    How much effort should be spent trying to keep Venice looking like Venice – even as it faces rising sea levels that threaten the city with more frequent extreme flooding? As climate change threatens cultural sites, preservationists and researchers are asking whether these iconic locations should be meticulously restored or should be allowed to adapt and “transform.”

  • Water securityOverhauling the Circulatory System of the American West

    It might be tempting to think of cowboys and cattle drives, but the real story of the American West can be summed up in one word: water. While the costs might be daunting, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) has teamed up with the Oregon-based Farmers Conservation Alliance to radically reimagine the role of irrigation systems in the West.

  • Rare earth mineralsTurning Waste into Valuable Critical Minerals

    A new way to treat acid mine drainage (AMD) could help transform the environmental pollution problem into an important domestic source of the critical rare earth elements needed to produce technology ranging from smart phones to fighter jets.

  • Energy securityAssembling Offshore Wind Turbines

    The United States offshore wind energy industry is growing, with planned commitments to build 26 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind projects along the East Coast from now through 2035. This is the clean power equivalent of 26 nuclear power plants, or roughly 10 times the average electric energy used by the entire state of Delaware. Marshalling ports, large waterside sites with the acreage and weight-carrying capacity necessary to assemble, house and deploy the huge wind turbines ready to ship out into the ocean, will be critical to meeting this current and committed demand for offshore wind.

  • Nuclear threatsNuclear Threats Are Increasing – Here’s How the U.S. Should Prepare for a Nuclear Event

    By Cham Dallas

    On the 75th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, some may like to think the threat from nuclear weapons has receded. But there are clear signs of a growing nuclear arms race and that the U.S. is not very well-prepared for nuclear and radiological events. Despite the gloomy prospects of health outcomes of any large-scale nuclear event common in the minds of many, there are a number of concrete steps the U.S. and other countries can take to prepare. It’s our obligation to respond.

  • Coastal challengesBay Area Coastal Flooding Triggers Region-Wide Commute Disruptions

    Researchers have modeled how coastal flooding will impact commutes in the Bay Area over the next twenty years. Regions with sparse road networks will have some of the worst commute delays, regardless of their distances from the coast.

  • Nuclear accidentsTracking the Neural Network's Nuclear Clues

    Following the 2011 earthquake in Japan, a tsunami disabled the power supply and cooling in three Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant reactors. The reactors’ cores largely melted in the first 72 hours. The disaster helped inspire PNNL computational scientists looking for clues of future nuclear reactor mishaps by tracking radioactive iodine following a nuclear plant reactor breach.

  • Power securitySafeguarding the Power Supply During a Major Outage

    Germany’s power supply is one of the most reliable in the world. Yet the growth in renewable energy has introduced a host of unpredictable factors into the power mix. The increasing number of irregular power sources can bring problems for grid stability. Moreover, in the event of a prolonged outage, there is the need to maintain the supply of power to critical infrastructure.

  • GridGrowing Numbers of Electric Vehicles Make Grid Planning Urgent

    Electric vehicles are coming—en masse. How can local utilities, grid planners and cities prepare? “While we don’t know exactly when the tipping point will happen, fleets of fast-charging vehicles are going to change how cities and utilities manage their electricity infrastructure” said one expert. “It’s not a question of if, but when.”

  • Coastal challengesMore Frequent Coastal Flooding Threatens 20 percent of global GDP

    Coastal flooding across the world is set to rise by around 50 percent due to climate change in the next 80 years, endangering millions more people and trillions of dollars more of coastal infrastructure. The land area exposed to an extreme flood event will increase by more than 250,000 square kilometers globally, an increase of 48 percent or over 800,000 square kilometers. This would mean about 77 million more people will be at risk of experiencing flooding, a rise of 52 percent to 225 million. The economic risk in terms of the infrastructure exposed will rise by up to $14.2 trillion, which represents 20 percent of global GDP.

  • Coastal challengesImpact of Sea Level Rise on Property

    A new study reveals that urgent action is needed to protect billions of dollars in real estate investment across South Florida due to impacts of sea level rise over the next several decades. The aim of the report is to cast light on the issue and clarify the alternatives available to South Florida, which embraces the four counties of Monroe, Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach. These counties together generate more than $337 billion in personal income annually with a combined real property value assessed at more than $833 billion.

  • InfrastructureTop Reasons for Sewer Line Failure

    Concrete sewer pipes around the world are most likely to fail either because their concrete is not strong enough or because they can’t handle the weight of trucks that drive over them, a new study indicates.

  • CybersecurityShowcasing Cybersecurity Technologies

    Twelve innovative cybersecurity technologies available for commercial licensing from four U.S. Department of Energy national laboratories will be showcased to the public during a series of free webinars starting this month.

  • Rare earth elementsE-Waste-Eating Protein Creates Rare Earth Elements

    Rare earth elements (REE) are essential for American competitiveness in the clean energy industry because they are used in many devices important to a high-tech economy and national security. Researchers have designed a new process, based on a naturally occurring protein, that could extract and purify REE from low-grade sources. It could offer a new avenue toward a more diversified and sustainable REE sector for the United States.

  • MegadisastersComing Soon? A Brief Guide to Twenty-First-Century Megadisasters

    By Kevin Krajick

    When it comes to calamities, Jeffrey Schlegelmilch thinks big. In his upcoming book, Rethinking Readiness: A Brief Guide to Twenty-First-Century Megadisasters, he explores menaces that potentially could change not just lives or communities, but entire societies. He groups these into five categories: climate change; cyber threats; nuclear war; failures of critical infrastructure such as electric grids; and biological perils including pandemics. Schlegelmilch answered questions about megadisasters in light of recent events.