Argonne highlights green research in honor of Earth DayBy Louise Lerner • April 21, 2011
From above, Argonne's rolling hills are green with forests; but the research going on in the labs tucked into the trees is "green" in another sense. The lab's research seeks both cleaner energy—solar cells, batteries and biofuels, among others—and ways to reduce man's environmental footprint, including reducing agricultural runoff and ways to safely clean up contaminated land.
And when it comes to energy, the lab practices what it preaches. A variety of alternative fuels, innovative cooling designs, efficient lighting, and water reduction plans are just the beginning for Argonne: the lab aims to slash its energy consumption by 30 percent by 2015.
The site's 1,500 acres sometimes even function as a giant laboratory for scientists' environmental ideas.
For example, the lab's newest office building will play guinea pig to Argonne mathematician Victor Zavala, who is testing algorithms to reduce buildings' energy use. Some of the trees on campus are also living labs: a grove of poplars planted by scientist Cristina Negri is testing a method of environmental cleanup called "phytoremediation", in which fast-growing trees take up pollutants from the ground. (Argonne also plants about thirty new trees on site every year—native species to our Illinois prairie-forest landscape, such as burr oak, are adapted to the area and don't need much extra water or care to thrive.) A solar array installed at the lab will soon provide both power to lab and employee-owned electric cars and also data on smart-charging technologies.
In honor of Earth Day, visit the lab's Sustainability Initiative website, and read more stories on Argonne's green research below.
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BuildingIQ makes Argonne smarter about energy management
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