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Sustainability Research

As a national laboratory, Ames Laboratory is in a unique position to deliver science and technology solutions to some of America's greatest sustainability challenges in energy, environment, national security, and fundamental science.  We develop new methods and materials to reduce the Nation's dependence on limited resources to help ensure their availability for future generations.  Examples of our sustainability research include the following, 


Magnetic Refrigeration

Nearly all refrigeration devices work by compressing and then decompressing gases.  But thanks to research at the U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory, that technology may one day be replaced by an entirely different cooling method, one that uses permanent magnets and specialized alloys. Learn more!



Green Catalysts

Scientists have long viewed algae as the holy grail of biofuel precursors.  The lipids naturally created by algae can be converted into biodiesel - a commercialized alternative fuel that's already available.  Moreover, carbon sequestered via algae farming roughly equals the amount of carbon produced when fuel is burned, making algae-derived biodiesel carbon neutral.  Learn more!


Lead-free Solder

A family of solder alloys developed by researcher Iver Anderson and his team at the U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory has shown great potential for broad use in industry.  Learn more!



Organic Light-emitting Devices (OLEDs)

OLEDs consist of carbon-based thin films.  Their carbon content leads us to use the term organic.  The films are sandwiched between electrodes.  Under an electrical bias, the OLED pixels begin to glow.  Ames Laboratory senior physicist Joseph Shinar and Ruth Shinar, a senior scientist at Iowa State University's Microelectronics Research Center, believe OLEDs will soon play an important role as sensing devices.  Learn more!



Building nano machines as well as nano-scale electronic components and drug delivery devices will require sophisticated new manufacturing technologies.  In cases where such products need to be mass produced, the methods used must be cost effective, easily replicable and capable of renderiing end products of consistent quality.  Learn more!


Hydrogen Fuel Storage

Hydrogen's energy density is highest when the element exists as a solid.  But freeing hydrogen requires temperatures below about 14 K.  Creating a room-temperature-stable, solid hydrogen fuel by combining it with other materials has been aptly described as one of the grand challenges of science.  Learn more!