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Glowing Crystals Can Detect, Cleanse Contaminated Drinking Water

Researchers have developed a specialized type of glowing metal organic framework, or LMOF (molecular structure at center), that is designed to detect and remove heavy-metal toxins from water. At upper left, mercury (HG2+) is trapped by the LMOF. The graph at lower left shows how the glowing property, known as fluorescence, is turned off as the LMOF binds up the mercury. Its properties make this LMOF useful for both detecting and trapping heavy-metal toxins. (Credit: Rutgers University)

Motivated by public hazards associated with contaminated sources of drinking water, a team of scientists has successfully developed and tested tiny, glowing crystals that can detect and trap heavy-metal toxins like mercury and lead.

Berkeley Lab Takes Home Five R&D 100 Awards for Environmental, Battery, and X-ray Technologies

Photo - The Compact Dynamic Beamstop (CDBS) device, at left, designed to provide real time information to improve X-ray crystallography experiments, with a size comparison to a ballpoint pen tip. (Credit: Berkeley Lab)

Berkeley Lab-developed tech enabling energy-saving roofs, long-lived batteries, better data from X-ray experiments, safer drinking water, and reduced carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have received 2016 R&D 100 awards.

New Bacteria Groups, and Stunning Diversity, Discovered Underground

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One of the most detailed genomic studies of any ecosystem to date has revealed an underground world of stunning microbial diversity, and added dozens of new branches to the tree of life.

New Technology Helps Pinpoint Sources of Water Contamination

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When the local water management agency closes your favorite beach due to unhealthy water quality, how reliable are the tests they base their decisions on? As it turns out, those tests, as well as the standards behind them, have not been updated in decades. Now scientists from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have developed a highly accurate, DNA-based method to detect and distinguish sources of microbial contamination in water.

Leaving on a Biofueled Jet Plane

Air travels accounts for about two-percent of the annual greenhouse gas emissions from human activity. A new catalytic process for biofuels could significantly reduce this figure. (courtesy of Boeing)

Researchers at the Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI) have developed a catalytic process for converting sugarcane biomass into a new class of aviation fuel and lubricant base oils that could help biorefineries achieve net life-cycle greenhouse gas savings of up to 80-percent.

Using Microbial Communities to Assess Environmental Contamination

The Bear Creek watershed in Oak Ridge, TN, was a a crucial site for the early development of nuclear weapons under the Manhattan Project and harbors spectacular geochemical gradients.

A study sponsored by ENIGMA, a DOE “Scientific Focus Area Program” based at Berkeley Lab has found that statistical analysis of DNA from natural microbial communities can be used to accurately identify environmental contaminants and serve as quantitative geochemical biosensors.

Major Advance in Artificial Photosynthesis Poses Win/Win for the Environment

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By combining biocompatible light-capturing nanowire arrays with select bacterial populations, a potentially game-changing new artificial photosynthesis system offers a win/win situation for the environment: solar-powered green chemistry using sequestered carbon dioxide.

Air Quality in San Joaquin Valley Improving: Study Shows Controls to Reduce Nitrogen Oxide Emissions Are Working

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A study led by Berkeley Lab’s Ronald Cohen has shown that nitrogen oxide emission controls are improving the notorious air quality in California’s San Joaquin Valley.

In Memoriam: Andrew Sessler, Former Laboratory Director, Acclaimed Physicist and Humanitarian

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Andrew Sessler, former Laboratory Director and acclaimed physicist and humanitarian, has died.

White, Green or Black Roofs? Berkeley Lab Report Compares Economic Payoffs

Looking strictly at the economic costs and benefits of three different roof types—black, white and “green” (or vegetated)—Berkeley Lab researchers have found in a new study that white roofs are the most cost-effective over a 50-year time span. While the high installation cost of green roofs sets them back in economic terms, their environmental and amenity benefits may at least partially mitigate their financial burden.