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Research Highlights

night lights over Greater Beijing Metropolitan Area
Full Story | April 2016

Beijing's Growing Urban Area Spells Rain Change
Urbanization increases atmospheric particles enough to impact clouds and change precipitation patterns

Atmospheric researchers at PNNL found that the impact of urbanization around Beijing, China, creates two opposite regional effects, one of which dictates seasonal rainfall in the area. Urbanization increases particle emissions from combustion that impact clouds and suppress rainfall in the upwind area while increasing it in the downwind area. The urban heat island effect to increase regional temperatures had less of an impact on rainfall.


Janet Jansson
Full Story | May 2016

Janet Jansson participates in White House Panel Discussion

PNNL's Janet K. Jansson was among experts who took part in a three-hour White House webcast that launched the new National Microbiome Initiative. Jansson, a 25-year microbiome researcher, was part of the event's innovation panel, where experts were asked to take a speculative "blue sky" look at imagining how microbiome research could be improved. 

Artistic view of methane formation
Full Story | May 2016

Chemists Settle Longstanding Debate on How Methane Is Made Biologically
In surprise twist, story of how microbes produce methane ends with uncommon "radical"

Scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and University of Michigan, Ann Arbor confirmed that a key bacterial enzyme uses a methyl radical to produce methane, a chemical feedstock and fuel. This study settles a debate as to the mechanism certain bacteria use to produce 500 to 600 million metric tons of methane each year and potentially offers insights into improving routes to methane for use as a chemical feedstock or fuel.


Fission
Full Story | April 2016

A Slow Separation
Novel model illustrates the finer details of nuclear fission

In the first study of its kind, scientists collaborating from the University of Washington, Warsaw University of Technology, Los Alamos National Laboratory and PNNL developed a novel model seeking a more intricate look at what happens during the final stages of the nuclear fission process. Using the model, they determined that fission fragments remain connected far longer than expected before the daughter nuclei split apart, delivering a long-awaited description of real-time fission dynamics within a microscopic framework and opening a pathway to a theoretical method with abundant predictive power. Notably, in addition to its publication, the paper was highlighted as an Editors’ Suggestion by Physical Review Letters.

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