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The DOE Science News Source is a Newswise initiative to promote research news from the Office of Science of the DOE to the public and news media.
  • 2016-05-03 14:05:22
  • Article ID: 652826

Story Tips From the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory May 2016

  • Credit: ORNL

    The GLIDES approach has the potential to change the way energy is stored.

  • Credit: ORNL

    Discarded tires can provide material useful for lower-cost sodium-ion batteries for energy storage.

  • Credit: ORNL

    ORNL’s dual-purpose coating potentially offers key advantages for fuel and core structures in light water reactors.

  • Credit: ORNL

    A 3D-printed thermoplastic mold manufactured at ORNL withstood testing in an industrial autoclave.

To arrange for an interview with a researcher, please contact the Communications staff member identified at the end of each tip. For more information on ORNL and its research and development activities, please refer to one of our media contacts. If you have a general media-related question or comment, you can send it to news@ornl.gov.

ENERGY – High-efficiency storage …

The gap between electricity generation and use could be narrowed with an Oak Ridge National Laboratory system that extracts energy from thin air. Actually, Ground-Level Integrated Diverse Energy Storage, or GLIDES, stores electricity mechanically in the form of compressed gas that displaces water in high-pressure vessels described by co-inventor Wale Odukomaiya as the heart of the system. He noted that GLIDES overcomes the site limitations of pumped storage hydroelectricity and compressed air energy, and the higher cost of batteries. Compared to these conventional energy storage systems, GLIDES (https://youtu.be/CVf7KHLXDIE) also features near constant-temperature processes, higher efficiency and more flexible scalability. In addition, the system uses the world’s smallest Pelton turbine, which extracts energy from the impulse of moving water, manufactured at ORNL’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226; wallira@ornl.gov]

Image: https://www.ornl.gov/sites/default/files/01%20-%20glides%20tip.jpg

Cutline: The GLIDES approach has the potential to change the way energy is stored.

BATTERIES – New life for old tires …

Hard carbon materials recycled from tires continue to show great promise as anodes in sodium-ion batteries for large-scale energy storage, according to an Oak Ridge National Laboratory study led by Yunchao Li. The carbons, captured by pyrolyzing, or baking in the absence of oxygen, tire rubber at 1,100, 1,400 and 1,600 degrees Celsius showed capacities of 179, 185 and 203 milliamp hours, respectively, after 100 cycles in sodium-ion batteries. Researchers demonstrated a long cycle life with a capacity of 154 milliamp hours after 600 cycles in sodium-ion batteries. “This study provides a new pathway for inexpensive, environmentally benign and value-added waste tire-derived products toward large-scale energy storage applications,” said Li, a member of ORNL’s Chemical Sciences Division. The study is published in the Journal of Power Sources. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226; wallira@ornl.gov]

Image: https://www.ornl.gov/news/batteries-new-life-old-tires

Cutline: Discarded tires can provide material useful for lower-cost sodium-ion batteries for energy storage.

NUCLEAR – Accident-tolerant fuels …

Silicon carbide-based materials could be a winning alternative to zirconium alloys commonly used in fuel and core structures in today’s light water reactors, according to preliminary findings of a team led by Yutai Katoh of Oak Ridge National Laboratory. “Fuels and core structures in current light water reactors are vulnerable to catastrophic failure in severe accidents,” Katoh said. This is largely because of the rapid oxidation kinetics of zirconium alloys in a water vapor environment at very high temperatures. Continuous silicon carbide fiber-reinforced matrix ceramic composites offer outstanding safety benefits because the material reacts with water vapor about 1,000 times slower and retains its strength at temperatures exceeding 2,000 degrees Celsius. This allows it to proportionately reduce generation of heat and hydrogen. ORNL’s approach features a dual-purpose coating on the silicon carbide composite cladding wall to alleviate corrosion and gas permeation issues. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226; wallira@ornl.gov]

Image: https://www.ornl.gov/news/nuclear-accident-tolerant-fuels

Cutline: ORNL’s dual-purpose coating potentially offers key advantages for fuel and core structures in light water reactors.

MANUFACTURING– 3D-printed tools…

A successful test of 3D-printed thermoplastic molds demonstrates the potential of additive manufacturing in the tooling industry. Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility collaborated with a team of industry partners to 3D-print and machine several large molds and test them in one of Boeing’s industrial autoclaves. The thermoplastic molds survived the high-temperature, high-pressure conditions in the autoclave, which is used to cure aerospace-grade composite parts. “This was the first successful demonstration of 100 percent digitally manufactured tools in an industrial autoclave,” said ORNL researcher Vlastimil Kunc. Researchers note that digital manufacturing could help lower manufacturing costs by accelerating production times; each tool was printed and machined in a matter of hours, whereas a mold produced with conventional techniques has an average lead time of 14 weeks. [Contact: Morgan McCorkle, (865) 574-7308; mccorkleml@ornl.gov]

Image: https://www.ornl.gov/news/manufacturing-3d-printed-tools

Cutline: A 3D-printed thermoplastic mold manufactured at ORNL withstood testing in an industrial autoclave.

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Taming 'Wild' Electrons in Graphene

Graphene - a one-atom-thick layer of the stuff in pencils - is a better conductor than copper and is very promising for electronic devices, but with one catch: Electrons that move through it can't be stopped. Until now, that is. Scientists at Rutgers University-New Brunswick have learned how to tame the unruly electrons in graphene, paving the way for the ultra-fast transport of electrons with low loss of energy in novel systems. Their study was published online in Nature Nanotechnology.

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Direct writing of pure-metal structures may advance novel light sources, sensors and information storage technologies.

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Cool Roofs Have Water Saving Benefits Too

The energy and climate benefits of cool roofs have been well established: By reflecting rather than absorbing the sun's energy, light-colored roofs keep buildings, cities, and even the entire planet cooler. Now a new study by the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has found that cool roofs can also save water by reducing how much is needed for urban irrigation.

The Blob That Ate the Tokamak: Physicists Gain Understanding of How Bubbles at the Edge of Plasmas Can Drain Heat and Reduce Fusion Reaction Efficiency

Scientists at PPPL have completed new simulations that could provide insight into how blobs at the plasma edge behave. The simulations, produced by a code called XGC1 developed by a national team based at PPPL, performed kinetic simulations of two different regions of the plasma edge simultaneously.

Scientists Solve a Magnesium Mystery in Rechargeable Battery Performance

A Berkeley Lab-led research team has discovered a surprising set of chemical reactions involving magnesium that degrade battery performance even before the battery can be charged up. The findings could steer the design of next-gen batteries.

Extreme Light Trapping

Shawn-Yu Lin, professor of physics, applied physics, and astronomy at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, has built a nanostructure whose crystal lattice bends light as it enters the material and directs it in a path parallel to the surface, known as "parallel to interface refraction."

Researchers Customize Catalysts to Boost Product Yields, Decrease Chemical Separation Costs

For some crystalline catalysts, what you see on the surface is not always what you get in the bulk, according to two studies led by the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Innovative Design Using Loops of Liquid Metal Can Improve Future Fusion Power Plants, Scientists Say

Article describes proposed design for production of steady-state plasma in future fusion power plants.

Scientists Create Most Powerful Micro-Scale Bio-Solar Cell Yet

Researchers at Binghamton University, State University of New York have created a micro-scale biological solar cell that generates a higher power density for longer than any existing cell of its kind.


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Two ORNL-Led Research Teams Receive $10.5 Million to Advance Quantum Computing for Scientific Applications

DOE's Office of Science has awarded two research teams, each headed by a member of ORNL's Quantum Information Science Group, more than $10 million over 5 years to both assess the feasibility of quantum architectures in addressing big science problems and to develop algorithms capable of harnessing the massive power predicted of quantum computing systems. The two projects are intended to work in concert to ensure synergy across DOE's quantum computing research spectrum and maximize mutual benefits.

Department of Energy Awards Flow Into Argonne

DOE Secretary Rick Perry awarded Argonne with nearly $4.7 million in projects as part of the DOE's Office of Technology Transition's Technology Commercialization Fund (TCF) in September.

NIH Awards $6.5 Million to Berkeley Lab for Augmenting Structural Biology Research Experience

The NIH has awarded $6.5 million to Berkeley Lab to integrate existing synchrotron structural biology resources to better serve researchers. The grant will establish a center based at the Lab's Advanced Light Source (ALS) called ALS-ENABLE that will guide users through the most appropriate routes for answering their specific biological questions.

LIGO Announces Detection of Gravitational Waves From Colliding Neutron Stars

The U.S.-based Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory and the Virgo detector in Italy announced on Oct. 16 that all three of their detectors had picked up the ripples, or gravitational waves, from two neutron stars that collided 130 million years ago. Among other discoveries, the detection allowed scientists to use gravitational waves to directly calculate the rate at which the universe is expanding.

WVU Energy Conference to Address State's Economic Opportunities

West Virginia University will look at the state's emerging energy economy through industry experts, public policy organizations, environmental groups and academic institutions at the sixth annual National Energy Conference Oct. 20.

Exploring the Exotic World of Quarks and Gluons at the Dawn of the Exascale

As nuclear physicists delve ever deeper into the heart of matter, they require the tools to reveal the next layer of nature's secrets. Nowhere is that more true than in computational nuclear physics. A new research effort led by theorists at DOE's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (Jefferson Lab) is now preparing for the next big leap forward in their studies thanks to funding under the 2017 SciDAC Awards for Computational Nuclear Physics.

Matthew Latimer Receives 2017 Lytle Award

A staff member at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Acceleratory Laboratory, Matthew Latimer is in charge of seven spectroscopy beamlines at SSRL. He was recently selected for the 2017 Farrel W. Lytle Award, established by the SSRL Users' Organization Executive Committee. The award promotes accomplishments in synchrotron science and supports collaboration among visiting scientists and staff who conduct research at SSRL.

Jefferson Lab Completes 12 GeV Upgrade

Nuclear physicists are now poised to embark on a new journey of discovery into the fundamental building blocks of the nucleus of the atom. The completion of the 12 GeV Upgrade Project of the Continuous Electron Beam Accelerator Facility (CEBAF) at the Department of Energy's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (Jefferson Lab) heralds this new era to image nuclei at their deepest level.

Sunderrajan to Lead Science and Technology Partnerships and Outreach Directorate

Suresh Sunderrajan has been named the associate laboratory director (ALD) for the Science and Technology Partnerships and Outreach (STPO) Directorate at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory.

Career Awards Advance Research for Jefferson Lab Researchers

Two researchers affiliated with the U.S. Department of Energy's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility have received 2017 Early Career Research Program awards from the DOE's Office of Science.


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On-Demand 3-D Printing of Tiny Magic Wands

Direct writing of pure-metal structures may advance novel light sources, sensors and information storage technologies.

Heavy Quarks Probe the Early Universe

New studies of behaviors of particles containing heavy quarks shed light into what the early universe looked like in its first microseconds.

Discovering the Genetic Timekeepers in Bioenergy Crops

A new class of plant-specific genes required for flowering control in temperate grasses is found.

New Technology Illuminates Microbial Dark Matter

Demonstrating the microfluidic-based, mini-metagenomics approach on samples from hot springs shows how scientists can delve into microbes that can't be cultivated in a laboratory.

Tiny Green Algae Reveal Large Genomic Variation

First complete picture of genetic variations in a natural algal population could help explain how environmental changes affect global carbon cycles.

A Complex Little Alga that Lives by the Sea

The genetic material of Porphyra umbilicalis reveals the mechanisms by which it thrives in the stressful intertidal zone at the edge of the ocean.

Precise Radioactivity Measurements: A Controversy Settled

Simultaneous measurements of x-rays and gamma rays emitted in radioactive nuclear decays show that the vacancy left by an electron's departure, not the atomic structure, influences whether gamma rays are released.

OLYMPUS Experiment Sheds Light on Inner Workings of Protons

Seven-year study explains how packets of light are exchanged when protons meet electrons.

Explorations of the Universal Glue

The newly upgraded CEBAF Accelerator opens door to strong force studies.

Understanding the Rice Genome for Bioenergy Research

Genome-wide rice studies yield first major, large-scale collection of mutations for grass model crops, vital to boosting biofuel production.


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