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Welcome to the Fundamental & Computational Sciences website.
I hope you take the opportunity to explore it and learn about the outstanding people, capabilities and scientific research at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

—Doug Ray, Associate Lab Director

"We strive to make progress on today's important scientific challenges."

 

Research Highlights

natural gas drill rig at sunset
Full Story | October 2014

Global Natural Gas Boom Alone Won't Slow Climate Change
Comprehensive analysis shows that natural gas could displace both coal and low-emitting energy sources over the long term

An analysis of global energy use, economics and the climate shows that without new climate policies, expanding the current bounty of inexpensive natural gas alone would not slow the growth of global greenhouse gas emissions worldwide over the long term. The researchers, working at PNNL's Joint Global Change Research Institute and their international collaborators, conducted modeling studies showing a global abundance of inexpensive natural gas would also accelerate economic growth and expand overall energy use.


Full Story | October 2014

New Assay Platform Detects Largest Number of Known Biotoxins Simultaneously
Rapid, inexpensive microarray increases ability to identify, treat toxin exposure

The largest panel of biotoxins to be simultaneously detected to date has been achieved using an assay platform developed by scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. The enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) microarray simultaneously detected 10 plant and microbial toxins in buffer and clinical and environmental samples. These included ricin, botulinum neurotoxins (BoNT), shiga (STX), and staphylococcal enterotoxin B (SEB). Previously, the largest number of toxins to be simultaneously detected has been six.

"Most assays to detect toxins target one or two toxins at a time, at best. In the event of a bioterrorist attack, it may not be obvious which agent was released, although this knowledge is critical for delivering appropriate medical treatment," said biologist Susan Varnum, who led the study, which appears in Analyst.


Cover of ACS Catalysis journal cover, October 2014
Full Story | October 2014

Cheap Catalyst Gets Expensive Accessory
Together, iron and palladium help remove troubling oxygen for biofuel reaction

While iron catalysts are an inexpensive way to remove oxygen from plant-based materials, the catalyst is not very active and can be readily deactivated due to rusting by the water that comes part and parcel with biofuels production. Precious metal catalysts aren't readily oxidized, but they aren't efficient in removing oxygen from plant-based materials. In addition, the metal is prohibitively expensive. Adding just a touch of the precious metal palladium to earth-abundant iron produces a catalyst that quickly removes oxygen atoms, easily releases the desired products, and doesn't rust, according to scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Washington State University.


2014 Key Accomplishments
Full Story | October 2014

2014 Key Scientific Accomplishments Report Now Available

The 2014 Key Scientific Accomplishments report in fundamental and computational sciences is now available as a downloadable PDF. This 32-page full-color brochure highlights some of the year's most noteworthy science achievements by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory scientists.


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