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Argonne researcher featured at Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago

Argonne research engineer Thomas Wallner recently lent his expertise to Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry for an interactive exhibit that illustrates how combustion works. The new permanent exhibit, called Science Storms, reveals the science behind seven natural phenomena—lightning, fire, tornados, avalanches, tsunamis, sunlight and atoms in motion.

For the fire portion of the exhibit, Wallner highlights Argonne’s omnivorous engine, which is designed to run at maximum efficiency on any blend of conventional gasoline, ethanol, butanol and other types of spark-ignited fuel. See the video below.

The display also includes an interactive game in which Wallner explains how the “Fire Triangle” (fuel, oxygen and heat) is used to create a flame. Using a touch screen, guests can test virtual sources of combustion to see what common and unusual substances can be used to power cars and rockets. For an example of how it works, see the video below.

About Argonne

Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation’s first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America’s scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science.

About Science Storms

Science Storms, an amazing new permanent exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry, unravels the mysteries of physics and chemistry through recreations of nature’s most powerful phenomena—tornados, lightning, fire, tsunamis, sunlight, avalanches and atoms in motion. At more than 50 exhibit stations, you’ll deconstruct large phenomena into smaller experiments to study the forces that make them possible. Manipulate a 40-foot tornado and see the vapor whirling before you. Witness giant bolts of lightning crackling above you. Trigger an avalanche using a 20-foot avalanche disk. Create a tsunami in a 30-foot wave tank. Science Storms allows you to discover the “how” and “why” behind nature. For more information, visit

Science Storms is brought to you through the generosity of The Allstate Corporation, The Allstate Foundation, and The Grainger Foundation. Additional major funding provided by the U.S. Department of Energy.

September 2010


Thomas Wallner

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