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Story tips from the US Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, August 2008
Date:8/5/2008

BIOENERGY -- Natural selection . . .

By examining natural variation among cottonwood trees in nature, scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory hope to develop a strategy to maximize production of ethanol from cellulosic biomass. Through a process known as association mapping, scientists will attempt to identify differences in cell wall chemistry among trees growing in natural populations with the goal being to determine which trees are the best candidates for biofuel. To do this, researchers will measure many traits related to ethanol production, including cellulose and lignin content, lumen diameter, cell wall thickness and cell diameter for hundreds of trees. This information is necessary to establish the best strategy to efficiently convert biomass to ethanol. Partners in this effort involving ORNL's Plant Systems Biology Group are West Virginia University, University of British Columbia, Greenwood Resources, Oregon State University, Michigan Technological University and the Forest Service. Funding is provided by the Department of Energy's Office of Biological and Environmental Research. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226; wallira@ornl.gov]

ELECTRICITY -- Grid watchdog . . .

Utilities have a new tool that provides them with a clearer picture of the wide-area electricity transmission system and enables decision-makers to respond swiftly to major power disruptions. The technology, dubbed VERDE (Visualizing Energy Resources Dynamically on Earth), combines the display capabilities of Google Earth with analysis and modeling components developed by a team led by Mallikarjun Shankar of ORNL's Computational Sciences and Engineering Division. The wider area view provided by VERDE, a first of its kind for the grid, significantly enhances situational awareness and speeds recovery times from power outages. "With this tool we are able to monitor individual transmission lines and place the
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Contact: Ron Walli
wallira@ornl.gov
865-576-0226
DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert

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