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Argonne National Laboratory


Argonne Impacts State by State

Argonne’s collaborations in Colorado and across the United States have led to groundbreaking discoveries and development of new technologies that help meet the nation’s needs for sustainable energy, economic prosperity, and security.

Argonne’s entrepreneurship program boosts innovative startups

CRI entrepreneurs Justin Whiteley and Tyler Huggins work with Argonne scientist Meltem Urgun-Demirtas in an Energy Systems division laboratory to help decarbonize the food industry. Their goal: a biological process that produces fungi-based high-protein meat products at scale. (Image by Argonne National Laboratory.)

Entrepreneurs Tyler Huggins and Justin Whiteley formed a startup to develop Meati, a nutrient-rich edible protein that can be produced in a more sustainable, energy-efficient way. Huggins and Whiteley launched their idea while students at the University of Colorado Boulder, then moved to the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory after earning a spot in Chain Reaction Innovations (CRI), an Argonne program that accelerates cleantech innovation by embedding entrepreneurs in the lab.

Under the program, innovators gain access to Argonne’s deep network of over 1,600 multidisciplinary researchers and engineers along with unique tools, including Argonne’s supercomputer and the nation’s highest-energy X-ray source, the Advanced Photon Source, a DOE Office of Science user facility. Through a partnership with such mentor organizations as the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation Hub, CRI innovators also get help developing business strategies, conducting market research and securing long-term financing and commercial partners.

Part of CRI’s first cohort, Huggins and Whiteley set up a bench-scale manufacturing process at Argonne’s Materials Engineering Research Facility (MERF) and took advantage of its multimillion-dollar characterization equipment and world-leading scientists to help reach their performance metrics. Made from the root structure of mushrooms, Meati has entered the consumer market in Colorado.

Colorado-based biofuels producer uses Argonne’s GREET model in quest to attain net-zero carbon emissions

A Gevo, Inc., biofuel refinery. Argonne has partnered with Gevo to help the company reach its goal of net-zero carbon emissions in every stage of the biofuel supply chain. (Image ©Gevo, Inc.)

Colorado-based Gevo, Inc., producer of sustainable aviation fuel and renewable premium gasoline from field corn, recently partnered with Argonne to evaluate the carbon footprint of its biofuels. The company used Argonne’s Greenhouse gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy use in Technologies (GREET®) model to conduct life cycle analysis. While Gevo’s products are already low-carbon, the company has set an additional goal: to achieve net-zero carbon emissions of its fuel products from the complete supply chain.

Gevo CEO Dr. Patrick Gruber says, Gevo believes in radical transparency when it comes to sustainability. It’s incredibly important to have good data, good models, and use them for decision making, especially when making choices about technologies across the business system.” Gruber characterizes GREET’s unique capabilities as key to our business model.”

GREET software provides users with a ready-use life cycle analysis tool to perform simulations of emerging transportation fuels and vehicle technologies in just a few minutes. Currently, more than 48,000 entities use GREET worldwide. Argonne’s collaboration with Gevo is funded by the DOE’s Bioenergy Technologies Office, which is part of the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

CU Boulder astrophysicists use Argonne supercomputing to study turbulent plasmas

Surface image of the electron energy density from a snapshot of a 1 billion cell particle-in-cell simulation of driven kinetic turbulence in a plasma consisting of protons and relativistic electrons. (Image by Vladimir Zhdankin / Princeton University.)

Plasma — one of the four fundamental states of matter — is typically generated on Earth by such phenomena as lightning and electric sparks, and its dynamical processes play a significant role in many environments, from Earth to the sun and beyond. Until recently, scientists could only make inferences about many processes that occur in turbulent plasmas throughout the universe. However, a team of astrophysicists from the University of Colorado and Princeton University is leveraging the power of Argonne’s supercomputers to create detailed simulations of turbulent plasmas.

Distinguishing the physical mechanisms for energizing particles in these turbulent plasma processes is particularly important for understanding high-energy radiation emitted by plasmas swirling around objects like black holes and neutron stars. Using Argonne’s supercomputers, the team performs massively parallel 3D simulations that enable them to examine the viability of the mechanisms for explaining extremely energetic radiation that astrophysicists have observed.

Their results signal a pivotal discovery and promise to lead to further advances in understanding fundamental plasma physics processes, with important implications for modern high-energy astrophysics.

Argonne team uses digital tools to map’ Southwestern history

Taos Plateau at the Rio Grande Gorge, New Mexico (Image by Shutterstock/Warren Price Photography.)

Using Geographic Information Systems analysis, a team of Argonne archaeologists and environmental scientists completed a multifaceted study of the San Luis Valley-Taos Plateau area of southern Colorado and northern New Mexico for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Argonne’s charge was to determine which public lands within that area would be technically and environmentally suitable for solar energy development.

Researchers aggregated their data through grids of one square kilometer for an area of 9,786 square miles. The grids contain data on sites and landmarks that are archaeologically, historically, culturally and scenically important, and the potential threats to and opportunities for their future.

Argonne’s multifaceted study is one of the first to portray how early Spanish and Mexican settlers — recipients of land grants from their governments — related to the land prior to U.S. government jurisdiction.

Project participants included the BLM, the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Native American tribes and representatives from the National Heritage Areas for descendants of the Hispano community that had migrated into the area from Mexico.