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Los Alamos National Laboratory

Los Alamos National Laboratory

Delivering science and technology to protect our nation and promote world stability

Chemical Processing & Engineering

Research into alternative forms of energy, especially energy security, is one of the major national security imperatives of this century.

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  • Tom Yoshida
  • Chemical Diagnostics and Engineering
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  • Josh Smith
  • Chemistry Communications
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The inherent knowledge of transformation has beguiled sorcerers and scientists alike.

Los Alamos chemists and process engineers use technical skills to bridge these scales of research, providing practical applications and implementing new technologies

Chemists and process engineers apply their technical expertise to solve engineering problems that range from bench scale to pilot plant.

These experts use their knowledge to bridge these scales of research, providing practical applications and implementing new technologies that benefit internal and external customers.


Designing gas-handling and pressure systems, including those for tritium.
Performing supercritical CO2 analytical separations and processing wastewater sludge.
Developing CO2 methods to perform sequestration.
Designing CO2 storage and delivery systems for the production of biofuels.
Developing chemical engineering scale-up design and construction.
Managing water resources, including the following: modeling treatment systems; improving chemistry and processes for radioactive, sanitary, and industrial waste streams; performing cooling-tower water reduction and recycling; and using recycled water for biofuels production.
Reclaiming wastewater sludge.
Developing high-gradient magnetic field separations for industrial, environmental, and forensic applications.
Designing microencapsulation encapsulation and coating technologies for surety applications.
Performing buoyancy-driven turbulent mixing by using microwave-based volumetric low-energy deposition.
Performing geochemical water modeling and industrial-process modeling.
Applying acoustics engineering to biofuels production and cellular measurements.
Implementing mechanical design and fabrication.
Project Description

To bridge these scales of research, Los Alamos chemists and process engineers apply their technical skills in chemistry and engineering to bridge these scales of research, providing practical applications and implementing new technologies that benefit internal and external customers. ...more...

Engineering problems in the chemical sciences range from bench scale to pilot plant.

Research and Technology Development Areas
  • Established the Geology and Geochemistry Research team to determine the feasibility/risk of long-term geologic storage of carbon. Current focus areas include (1) wellbore integrity (performance of cement, steel, and rock composite systems), (2) rock-brine-supercritical CO2 flow and reaction in porous and fractured media, (3) groundwater impacts related to CO2 leakage, and (4) field carbon sequestration studies (natural analog and controlled experiments).
  • Worked with the University of Wyoming to explore the feasibility of carbon capture, utilization, and storage by using industrial-scale (1 km3 supercritical CO2) numerical simulations of geological CO2 storage within the Rock Springs Uplift in Wyoming. This work helped predict the CO2 storage capacity in the Weber sandstone at the Rock Springs Uplift and helped evaluate uncertainty in well injectivity and leakage through cap-rocks.
  • Worked with the University of Utah to determine the potential for using waster and CO2 as a geothermal fluid. The collaborators used a massively parallel three-dimensional reservoir simulator known as PFLOTRAN to simulate liquid flow through geologic formations and chemical interactions with the host rock.
  • Developed and implemented couple heat, flow, and deformation simulations for Fenton Hill, Coso, Hijiori, and other sites around the world. Developed coupled rock mechanics and flow capability to assess and design reservoir development. We also continue to model complex geochemical interactions coupled with fluid flow, if warranted by conditions at the site.
  • Apply gas chromatography to separate gas mixtures and characterize the gases qualitatively and quantitatively. This method uses chromatographic columns to separate gas mixtures into individual components and then detects the components with a variety of detectors. The methods could use tradition gas chromatographs with packed or capillary columns (analysis time on the order of minutes) or micro gas chromatographs (analysis time on the order of seconds).
  • Developed the FEHM computer code originally to simulate geothermal and hot dry rock reservoirs. Today, scientists use FEHM to simulate groundwater and contaminant flow, as well as transport in deep and shallow, fractured and unfractured porous media throughout the Department of Energy Complex. FEHM has proved to be a valuable asset on a variety of projects of national interest, including Environmental Remediation of the Nevada Test Site, the Los Alamos Groundwater Protection Program, geologic CO2 sequestration, Enhanced Geothermal Energy programs, oil and gas production, nuclear waste isolation, and Arctic permafrost.
  • Developed HTS HGMS (High-Temperature Superconducting, High-Gradient Magnetic Separation), which removes pollutants from solids, liquids, and gases. Because it is a physical separation process, no additional chemicals are required, which means the system introduces no pollution of its own. This technology enables high-gradient magnetic separation to be used in the field to clean up contaminated soil and water.
  • Investigating carbon capture, utilization, and storage as a way to transition from fossil fuel to sustainable energy. One of the most promising and practical methods is geological CO2 storage in saline aquifers. Projects involving this technology are performed in collaboration with countries such as Canada, Australia, and China.
LANL Facilities and Resources
  • Supercritical Fluids Experimental Facility: This facility engages in basic and applied research in the use of supercritical fluids in industrial and defense-related processes. Areas of interest include precision cleaning/degreasing, analytical methods development, extraction of contaminants and solvents, chemical and polymer synthesis, and chemical waste destruction.
Key Personnel at LANL
  • Kirk Hollisand Craig Taylor: Supercritical fluids
  • Peter Stark: Chemical diagnostics and engineering
Sponsors, Funding Sources, or Agencies
  • Department of Energy Office of Fossil Energy
  • Department of Energy Scientific Discovery through Advanced Computing
Marvin W. Rowe, Jenny Phomakay, Jackson O. Lay, Oscar Guevara, Keerthi Srinivas, W. Kirk Hollis, Karen L. Steelman, Thomas Guilderson, Thomas W. Stafford Jr., and Sarah L. Chapman, et al., “Application of supercritical carbon dioxide-co-solvent mixtures for removal of organic material from archeological artifacts for radiocarbon dating,” Journal of Supercritical Fluids (2013).
Marcus Wigand, John P. Kaszuba, J. William Carey, and W. Kirk Hollis, “Geochemical effects of CO2 sequestration on fractured wellbore cement at the cement/caprock interface,” Chemical Geology 265(1–2), 122–133 (2009).
Andrew C. Mitchell, Adrienne J. Phillips, Marty A. Hamilton, Robin Gerlach, W. Kirk Hollis, John P. Kaszuba, and Alfred B. Cunningham, “Resilience of planktonic and biofilm cultures to supercritical CO2,” Journal of Supercritical Fluids 47(2), 318–325 (2008).
Robbie Iuliucci, Craig Taylor, and W. Kirk Hollis, “1H/ 29Si cross-polarization NMR experiments of silica-reinforced polydimethylsiloxane elastomers: Probing the polymer-filler interface,” Magnetic Resonance in Chemistry 44(3 SPEC. ISS.), 375–384 (2006).
Wendy M. Patterson, Peter C. Stark, Thomas M. Yoshida, Mansoor Sheik-Bahae, and Markus P. Hehlen, “Preparation and characterization of high-purity metal fluorides for photonic applications,” Journal of the American Ceramic Society 94(9), 2896–2901 (2011).
Crystal G. Densmore, Hilary Wheeler, Rebecca Cohenour, Thomas W. Robison, Dawud Hasam, Blossom J. Cordova, Peter C. Stark, Edward N. Fuller, Charles J. Cook, and Holly A. Weber, “Development of a scaleable synthesis for 1,2-bis(2-aminophenylthio)ethane (APO-Link) used in the production of bismaleimide resin,” Organic Process Research and Development 11(6), 996–1003 (2007).
Peter C. Stark and Gary D. Rayson, “Competitive metal binding to a silicate-immobilized humic material,” Journal of Hazardous Materials 145(1–2), 203–209 (2007).
Andrew C. Beveridge, James H. Jett, Richard A. Keller, Lawrence R. Pratt, and Thomas M. Yoshida, “Reduction of diffusion broadening in flow by analysis of time-gated single-molecule data,” Analyst 135(6), 1333–1338 (2010).
E. Hong-Geller, Y.E. Valdez, Y. Shou, T.M. Yoshida, B.L. Marrone, and J.M. Dunbar, “Evaluation of Bacillus anthracis and Yersinia pestis sample collection from nonporous surfaces by quantitative real-time PCR,” Letters in Applied Microbiology 50(4), 431–437 (2010).
Wenwan Zhong, Yulin Shou, Thomas M. Yoshida, and Babetta L. Marrone, “Differentiation of Bacillus anthracis, B. cereus, and B. thuringiensis by using pulsed-field gel electrophoresis,” Applied and Environmental Microbiology 73(10), 3446–3449 (2007).


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