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September 2013 story tips
Date:9/3/2013

FORENSICS Mass grave detection . . .

Families of thousands of victims of social violence may gain closure, and killers may receive appropriate punishment, because of a suite of technologies able to locate clandestine graves. While investigators can find some graves, perhaps hundreds of thousands remain undiscovered. Researchers at the University of Tennessee's Forensic Anthropology Center and Oak Ridge National Laboratory are developing a method to discover graves using sensors, onboard satellites and unmanned aerial vehicles. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226; wallira@ornl.gov]

BIOENERGY Super microbe . . .

A newly discovered microbe may offer a cost-effective solution that makes biofuel production more efficient. Researchers have found an anaerobic bacterium called Caldicellulosiruptor bescii that can degrade lignin, the hardy substance in plant cell walls that prevents the conversion of biomass into biofuel. Studies at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have identified the compounds released when the microbe degrades lignin and other components of cell walls, a process that leaves cellulose vulnerable to enzymatic degradation. This microorganism could eliminate expensive chemical pretreatments that are used before biomass can be converted to biofuel. The paper is published in the journal Energy and Environmental Science. [Written by Jennifer Brouner; contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226; wallira@ornl.gov]

CLIMATE Mapping where trees survive, thrive . . .

Climate change spurs heat waves, droughts, fires and infestations that threaten trees. Researchers at the Climate Change Science Institute at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and collaborators on a Forest Service-funded project are mapping the effect of projected climate change on tree populations. "We can plan ahead for forest-resources management in a changing climate," s
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Contact: Ron Walli
wallira@ornl.gov
865-576-0226
DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert

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