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Argonne National Laboratory


Argonne Impacts State by State

Argonne’s collaborations in Kentucky 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.

University of Kentucky joins Argonne energy battery research partnership

A large-scale grid energy storage system (Image by petrmalinak / Shutterstock.)

The University of Kentucky (Lexington) has been named a partner of the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR), the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Innovation Hub led by Argonne National Laboratory. Now in its second five-year term, JCESR’s research focuses on transformative science and technology for next-generation batteries.

Led by associate professor of chemistry Susan Odom, the team collaborates with JCESR partners to study organic molecules for redox flow batteries. These large-scale energy storage systems are designed to inexpensively store electricity generated by wind and solar as part of the future electricity grid. Odom credits a strong history of collaboration with JCESR partners in its first five years as a reason for being selected as a participant in its $120 million second-term research grant.

JCESR’s mission is to create game-changing, next-generation energy storage technologies that will transform transportation and the electric grid in the same way lithium-ion batteries transformed personal electronics. Work at JCESR thus far has produced more than 550 published papers.

Argonne X-rays help Kentucky scientists learn how to create new antibiotics

Argonne’s Advanced Photon Source (image by Adam Ziaja/Shutterstock)

Bacteria discovered after a fire in a coal mine may have opened the door to new and improved antibiotics.

Scientists from UK (Lexington) and Rice University (Houston, Texas) used high-brightness X-rays from the DOE’s Advanced Photon Source (APS), an Office of Science User Facility, to study the bacteria. Using the Lilly Research Laboratory Collaborative Access Team X-ray beamline 31-ID-D at the APS, the team imaged the molecular details of an enzyme that enables the synthesis of unnatural natural products” that display improved antibiotic effects.

To create better antibiotics, scientists often tinker with natural molecules by creating synthetic chemical reactions, but sometimes it is easier to find an enzyme to catalyze the process. This search led the team to observe that a strain of bacteria from the fire produced an enzyme that allowed the rapid synthesis of analogs of daptomycin, an antibiotic used in fighting blood and skin infections. Using the beamline, the team solved the structure of the enzyme as a potential blueprint for engineering more effective products and treatments.