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Argonne National Laboratory


Argonne Impacts State by State

Argonne’s collaborations in Massachusetts 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 partners with MathWorks for EcoCAR Mobility Challenge

Chevy Blazer: the ​“laboratory” of the EcoCAR Mobility Challenge. (Image courtesy of Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions.)

Natick, Massachusetts-based MathWorks has partnered with the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory to provide free software for the EcoCAR Mobility Challenge, a nationwide collegiate automotive engineering competition. The DOE, General Motors and MathWorks are headline sponsors of the event, which provides real-world, hands-on experience designing and building next-generation mobility solutions.

The competition launched in 2018; more than 1,000 students from 11 universities participate each year. Argonne manages the competition, offering technical and operations oversight, team evaluation and logistical support. MathWorks provides teams access to the full suite of MATLAB and Simulink products, simulation models, training, technical mentoring and operational support.

The EcoCAR challenge: to integrate advanced propulsion systems, electrification, vehicle automation and connectivity to improve the energy efficiency of a 2019 Chevrolet Blazer, while also balancing such aspects as emissions, safety and consumer acceptability. Competitions like EcoCAR help shape engineering curriculum in higher education, providing students with real-world engineering problem-solving experience and equipping them for their future careers. Argonne has managed Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions for the DOE for over 32 years.

UMass Medical School studies tarantula muscles with the APS to learn about human heart

Both human and tarantula muscles contain myosin, which triggers muscle movement. Studying tarantula muscles at the APS can help scientists understand human muscle movement. (Image by Pets in Frames / Shutterstock.)

Connected to a network of veins, arteries and capillaries spanning more than 60,000 miles, the heart is the human body’s most important muscle. Yet, even with heart disease ranking as the world’s number one cause of death, understanding the heart’s physiology remains elusive. To learn more about muscle function, researchers used the BioCAT beamline at the DOE’s Advanced Photon Source (APS) to study how tarantula muscles contract and relax. Both human and spider muscles contain myosin, a family of motor proteins essential to movement, and studying the myosin in spider muscles may provide insights into the ways our own muscles move.

Scientists at the University of Massachusetts Medical School (Worcester) and the Illinois Institute of Technology (Chicago, Illinois) conducted X-ray diffraction experiments to learn how tarantula muscles are activated. Tarantulas have well-ordered filaments in their muscles, which allows for strong X-ray diffraction patterns. The team demonstrated the presence of two interacting molecular motors in live muscle that produce the force in that muscle — structures that, other studies suggest, also exist in the human heart. The team’s findings may help advance the design of more-effective drugs for human heart conditions, such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, in which a thickened heart muscle can lead to cardiac arrest.

The APS is a DOE Office of Science User Facility.