• Experts tackle U.K. flood risk

    The U.K. Blue-Green Cities Research Project combines the expertise of academics from nine U.K. universities plus partners in the United States and China specializing in flood inundation modelling, computation fluid dynamics, sediment debris processes, river restoration and habitats, urban drainage infrastructure, environmental economics, uncertainty, flood risk management, and stakeholder engagement. The project’s goal is to make U.K. cities more resilient to flooding.

  • Predicting clay swelling for better nuclear waste disposal

    Bentonite clay is planned to be used as a key barrier in the deep geological disposal of high-level nuclear waste. To ensure the safety of disposal, it is crucial to understand and predict the swelling behavior of bentonite clay. The swelling property, however, is regulated by multiple structural and environmental factors. A new model simulates the atomic-level interactions among the components of clay-water system, reproducing the swelling trends and swelling pressures measured by experiments with good accuracy.

  • Protecting Earth by crashing spacecraft into asteroids

    Asteroids headed for a collision with the Earth, if found early enough, can be acted upon to prevent the potentially devastating consequences of an impact. One technique to divert an asteroid, called kinetic impact, uses a spacecraft to crash into the body at high speeds.

  • Protecting the grid from weather geomagnetic storms

    On 9 March 1989, a huge cloud of solar material exploded from the sun, twisting toward Earth. When this cloud of magnetized solar material — called a coronal mass ejection, or CME — reached our planet, it set off a chain of events in near-Earth space that ultimately knocked out power to the Canadian province Quebec for about nine hours. Though CMEs hit Earth often, those with the potential to shut down an entire power grid are rare — and scientists want to make sure that next time, we are prepared. Because space weather can have — at its very worst — such significant consequences, scientists from NASA are creating models to simulate how space weather can impact our power grid.

  • Four billion people affected by severe water scarcity

    There are four billion people worldwide who are affected by severe water scarcity for at least one month a year. This alarming figure is much higher than was previously thought. In the first research of its kind, researchers identified people’s water footprint from month to month, and compared it to the monthly availability of water.

  • Russian govt. behind attack on Ukraine power grid: U.S. officials

    Obama officials said that Russian hackers were behind a December 2015 cyberattack on Ukraine’s power grid. The attack caused power outages and blackouts in 103 cities and towns across Ukraine. Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, deputy Energy Secretary, made the comments to a gathering of electric power grid industry executives.

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  • Better Greenland, Antarctica sheet modeling helps predict sea-level rise

    The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets will make a dominant contribution to twenty-first century sea-level rise if current climate trends continue. However, predicting the expected loss of ice sheet mass is difficult due to the complexity of modeling ice sheet behavior. Better to understand this loss, a team of Sandia National Laboratories researchers has been improving the reliability and efficiency of computational models that describe ice sheet behavior and dynamics.

  • Extrusion technique creates new fuel from depleted uranium

    Advanced nuclear reactors will use new types of fuel. To ensure such systems are safe, experimental fuel samples must be fabricated and tested in safe research environments. Marking an important step toward the advancement of a new type of reactor, Idaho National Laboratory (INL) employees recently completed the first successful test of fabrication equipment in the Experimental Fuels Facility (EFF). Specifically, they finished depleted uranium extrusions — a process of shaping material by forcing it through a die.

  • World economy unlikely to stop relying on fossil fuels: Study

    On the heels of last year’s historic climate agreement in Paris, a new study concludes that fossil fuel consumption is likely to grow without clear and decisive global action to put an adequate price on carbon dioxide emissions and increased clean energy technology.

     

  • Levees may make flood risk higher, not lower

    People living behind levees on floodplains may not be as immune to flood damage as they think, according to results of a new study. U.S. floodplains are lined by more than 100,000 miles of levees, many of which are in questionable states of repair.

  • Ending civilian use of highly enriched, weapon-grade uranium

    Efforts to convert civilian research reactors from weapon-grade highly enriched uranium (HEU) to low enriched uranium (LEU) fuels are taking significantly longer than anticipated, says a report from the National Academies of Sciences. The report calls for the federal government to take immediate steps to convert civilian research reactors currently using weapon-grade HEU fuel to a lower-enriched HEU fuel while awaiting the qualification of new LEU fuel.

  • Putting a price on groundwater, other natural capital

    Most people understand that investing in the future is important, and that goes for conserving nature and natural resources, too. But in the case of investing in such “natural” assets as groundwater, forests, and fish populations, it can be challenging to measure the return on that investment. A Yale-led research team has adapted traditional asset valuation approaches to measure the value of such natural capital assets, linking economic measurements of ecosystem services with models of natural dynamics and human behavior.

  • Battery technology would charge up water desalination

    A new technology, which charges batteries for electronic devices, could provide fresh water from salty seas, says a new study. Electricity running through a salt water-filled battery draws the salt ions out of the water.

     

  • Helping to optimize grid

    The nation’s electric power grid is becoming more complex. As the system incorporates more sources of renewable energy, such as solar and wind power, utilities need new ways to manage it more efficiently, and the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Argonne National Laboratory says it is responding to that need.

  • FBI launches investigation of lead poisoning of Flint’s drinking water

    The FBI has launched an investigation into the contamination of drinking water in Flint, Michigan, which has left Flint children and other residents poisoned by lead. In a hearings on the Hill yesterday, lawmakers from both parties described what is happening in Flint as a “a man-made public health catastrophe.” Flint’s drinking water became contaminated with lead in April 2014 after a state-appointed emergency manager ordered city officials temporarily to switch the city’s water source from Lake Huron water treated by the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department to water from the Flint River, treated at the Flint water treatment plant. The order by the state-appointed emergency manager was part of the state’s cost-cutting measures.