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Story tips from the Department of Energys Oak Ridge National Laboratory, January 2004

month project funded by the Department of Defense began in November. "When we're done, we'll have a highly efficient system that will take the military closer to 'fort-to-port zero staging,'" Beshears said. [Contact: Ron Walli, 865-576-0226; wallira@ornl.gov]

HEALTH -- Decontamination in a flash . . .

Anthrax and other potentially deadly biological agents pose considerable threats to the military and the public, but Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers think they have a quick and safe cure. In a matter of seconds, the ultraviolet portion of an arc plasma lamp can kill the bacteria because it destroys the cells' DNA. Up to 10 percent of the lab's 300,000-watt lamp, manufactured by Vortek Industries of Canada, is in the ultraviolet spectrum, making it far more lethal to bacteria than lower-powered mercury vapor and xenon lamps. Researchers also believe the lamp can be used to neutralize chemical warfare agents on, for example, buildings, tanks or barracks. The process would involve spraying the area with a low-volume proprietary mixture of harmless chemicals and then zapping the area with the lamp. The light activates the mixture, which chemically breaks down the phosphates, leaving behind a harmless powder. The process has considerable advantages over methods using foam, which is corrosive and damaging to electronics, becomes contaminated, and causes disposal issues. [Contact: Ron Walli, 865-576-0226; wallira@ornl.gov]

BIOLOGY -- Attacking bioterrorism . . .

Some strains of mice aren't susceptible to anthrax or other bacteria and viruses while others are, and a project shared by Oak Ridge and Los Alamos national laboratories may help to explain why. ORNL has decades of experience making mutated mice while Los Alamos researchers have been studying host-pathogen interactions using anthrax and other agents. So the collaboration is a natural, sa
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Contact: Ron Walli
wallira@ornl.gov
865-576-0226
DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory
5-Jan-2004


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