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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.
  • 2017-06-05 08:05:31
  • Article ID: 675874

Story Tips From the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, June 2017

  • Credit: Image from U.S. Dept. of Energy

    A novel approach developed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory could streamline processes for locating oil and natural gas in shale.

  • Credit: Photo by Jason Richards, Oak Ridge National Laboratory/Dept. of Energy

    ORNL’s Sergei Kalinin and Rama Vasudevan (far left) used scanning probe microscopy to discover inseparable interplay between bulk ferroelectricity and surface electrochemistry in a 30-nanometer-thick film of barium titanate, a crystalline material employed in electronics.

  • Credit: Oak Ridge National Laboratory/U.S. Dept. of Energy

    Momentum Technologies has licensed Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s 3D-printed magnet technology and plans to produce the first 3D-printed magnet made from recycled materials for use in electric vehicles, wind turbines and high-speed rail.

  • Credit: Oak Ridge National Laboratory/U.S. Dept. of Energy

    An ORNL-led team discovered a simpler, quicker nontoxic method to synthesize biomass materials without applying heat or solvents. The molecules self-assembled into large-pore-sized hexagonal cylinder-shaped mesostructures suitable for large molecule transfer during catalysis.

  • Credit: Oak Ridge National Laboratory/U.S. Dept. of Energy

    At the Department of Energy’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility, a research team achieved a 500 percent increase in thermal conductivity using a thermoplastic composite made of copper fibers mixed with nylon.

Hydrocarbons – Better oil and gas seeking

Finding optimal locations for extracting petroleum and natural gas from shale could become more economical and efficient thanks to a new approach developed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The research team combined two existing statistical models and applied them to publicly available geographic data to accurately characterize the availability of hydrocarbons in five, high-producing shale plays in the United States and Canada. “Mid-size oil and gas companies, plus those outside of industry, could leverage this method to reduce overall production, extraction time and cost and the potential of environmental disturbances,” ORNL’s Joanna McFarlane said. The research, published in the Journal of Natural Gas Science and Engineering, was led by former student Elisabeth Gallmeier with Shichen Zhang, who both participated in Oak Ridge High School’s Senior Math Thesis program. [Contact: Sara Shoemaker, (865) 576-9219; shoemakerms@ornl.gov]

Image: https://www.ornl.gov/sites/default/files/news/images/01%20Better_oil_gas_seeking.jpg

Caption: A novel approach developed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory could streamline processes for locating oil and natural gas in shale. Image from U.S. Dept. of Energy.

Nanoscience – Inseparable states of matter

An Oak Ridge National Laboratory–led team discovered a link between electrochemistry at the surface and ferroelectricity within the bulk material of ultrathin crystalline films. The findings, published in Nature Physics, explain a decade of anomalous thin-film behavior observations and offers a new mode for control. “We show that surface chemistry can be a third method, besides using traditional substrate strain and octahedral rotation, to achieve similar effects for memories, tunneling junctions, memristors and neuromorphic computing,” ORNL’s Sergei Kalinin said. The research team will explore new opportunities for controlling ferroelectric materials. For example, because light couples weakly to ferroelectricity but strongly to surface chemistry, the discovery may accelerate designs of next-generation detectors and photovoltaics. [Contact: Dawn Levy, (865) 576-6448; levyd@ornl.gov]

Image: https://www.ornl.gov/sites/default/files/news/images/02%20Inseparable_states_matter.jpg

Caption: ORNL’s Sergei Kalinin and Rama Vasudevan (far left) used scanning probe microscopy to discover inseparable interplay between bulk ferroelectricity and surface electrochemistry in a 30-nanometer-thick film of barium titanate, a crystalline material employed in electronics. Photo by Jason Richards, Oak Ridge National Laboratory/Dept. of Energy

Magnets – Momentum licenses ORNL technology

Dallas-based Momentum Technologies has non-exclusively licensed Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s 3D-printed magnet technology and plans to commercialize the first 3D-printed magnet made from recycled materials. ORNL has demonstrated that 3D-printed magnets can outperform those created by traditional methods and could be used in electric vehicles, wind turbines and high-speed rail. Momentum holds two other ORNL technology licenses related to the recovery of rare earth minerals and magnets from electronic waste. “Bringing together these technologies through the Department of Energy’s Critical Materials Institute and ORNL allows us to create a sustainable domestic supply of low-cost magnets made from recycled materials recovered from hard disk drives,” said Momentum’s CEO Preston Bryant. [Contact: Stephanie Seay, (865) 576-9894; seaysg@ornl.gov]

Image: https://www.ornl.gov/sites/default/files/news/images/03%20Momentum_licenses_ORNL_tech.jpg

Caption: Momentum Technologies has licensed Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s 3D-printed magnet technology and plans to produce the first 3D-printed magnet made from recycled materials for use in electric vehicles, wind turbines and high-speed rail.

Catalysis – Simple synthesis

A “lucky finding” by Oak Ridge National Laboratory scientists has led to a simple, nontoxic method to synthesize inexpensive ordered mesoporous materials from plant products. These materials will allow larger molecules to transfer more easily during catalysis, separations and other energy-related applications, said ORNL’s Pengfei Zhang, whose team was originally evaluating tannin, a biomolecule found in plants, for other studies. As they mixed tannin with metallic salt cross-linkers, without applying heat or solvents, the molecules surprisingly self-assembled into hexagonal cylinder-shaped mesostructures with large, uniform pore size. The solid-state process took only one hour as opposed to days when using traditional solution methods. Results of the synthesis process are detailed in Nature Communications. [Contact: Sara Shoemaker, (865) 976-9219; shoemakerms@ornl.gov]

Image: https://www.ornl.gov/sites/default/files/news/images/04%20Simple_synthesis.jpg

Caption: An ORNL-led team discovered a simpler, quicker nontoxic method to synthesize biomass materials without applying heat or solvents. The molecules self-assembled into large-pore-sized hexagonal cylinder-shaped mesostructures suitable for large molecule transfer during catalysis.

Materials – Transferring heat

Reducing the energy and water that power plants require to convert heat to electricity could become easier with a novel heat exchanger designed and 3D printed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. A research team achieved a 500 percent increase in thermal conductivity using a new thermoplastic composite made of copper fibers mixed with nylon. Developed in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin, the material and design can be used in creating heat exchangers for other applications as well. “Additive manufacturing gives us the flexibility to customize the heat exchanger for the task, tailoring the design and scaling the size as needed,” ORNL’s Vlastimil Kunc said. [Contact: Kim Askey, (865) 946-1861; askeyka@ornl.gov]

Image: https://www.ornl.gov/sites/default/files/news/images/05%20Transferring_heat.jpg

Caption: At the Department of Energy’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility, a research team achieved a 500 percent increase in thermal conductivity using a thermoplastic composite made of copper fibers mixed with nylon.

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2-D Material's Traits Could Send Electronics R&D Spinning in New Directions

Researchers created an atomically thin material at Berkeley Lab and used X-rays to measure its exotic and durable properties that make it a promising candidate for a budding branch of electronics known as "spintronics."

Manipulating Earth-Abundant Materials to Harness the Sun's Energy

New material based on common iron ore can help turn intermittent sunlight and water into long-lasting fuel.

Ames Lab Scientists' Surprising Discovery: Making Ferromagnets Stronger by Adding Non-Magnetic Element

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory discovered that they could functionalize magnetic materials through a thoroughly unlikely method, by adding amounts of the virtually non-magnetic element scandium to a gadolinium-germanium alloy. It was so unlikely they called it a "counterintuitive experimental finding" in their published work on the research.

Cut U.S. Commercial Building Energy Use 29% with Widespread Controls

The U.S. could slash its energy use by the equivalent of what is currently used by 12 to 15 million Americans if commercial buildings fully used energy-efficiency controls nationwide.

How a Single Chemical Bond Balances Cells Between Life and Death

With SLAC's X-ray laser and synchrotron, scientists measured exactly how much energy goes into keeping a crucial chemical bond from triggering a cell's death spiral.

New Efficient, Low-Temperature Catalyst for Converting Water and CO to Hydrogen Gas and CO2

Scientists have developed a new low-temperature catalyst for producing high-purity hydrogen gas while simultaneously using up carbon monoxide (CO). The discovery could improve the performance of fuel cells that run on hydrogen fuel but can be poisoned by CO.

Study Sheds Light on How Bacterial Organelles Assemble

Scientists at Berkeley Lab and Michigan State University are providing the clearest view yet of an intact bacterial microcompartment, revealing at atomic-level resolution the structure and assembly of the organelle's protein shell. This work can help provide important information for research in bioenergy, pathogenesis, and biotechnology.

A Single Electron's Tiny Leap Sets Off 'Molecular Sunscreen' Response

In experiments at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, scientists were able to see the first step of a process that protects a DNA building block called thymine from sun damage: When it's hit with ultraviolet light, a single electron jumps into a slightly higher orbit around the nucleus of a single oxygen atom.

Researchers Find New Mechanism for Genome Regulation

The same mechanisms that separate mixtures of oil and water may also help the organization of an unusual part of our DNA called heterochromatin, according to a new study by Berkeley Lab researchers. They found that liquid-liquid phase separation helps heterochromatin organize large parts of the genome into specific regions of the nucleus. The work addresses a long-standing question about how DNA functions are organized in space and time, including how genes are silenced or expressed.

The Rise of Giant Viruses

Research reveals that giant viruses acquire genes piecemeal from others, with implications for bioenergy production and environmental cleanup.


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The Electrochemical Society and Toyota North America Announce 2017-2018 Fellowship Winners for Projects in Green Energy Technology

The ECS Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship Selection Committee has chosen three winners who will receive $50,000 fellowship awards each for projects in green energy technology. The awardees are Dr. Ahmet Kusoglu, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; Professor Julie Renner, Case Western Reserve University; and Professor Shuhui Sun, Institut National de la Rechersche Scientifique (INRS).

Chicago Quantum Exchange to Create Technologically Transformative Ecosystem

The University of Chicago is collaborating with the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory to launch an intellectual hub for advancing academic, industrial and governmental efforts in the science and engineering of quantum information.

Department of Energy Awards Six Research Contracts Totaling $258 Million to Accelerate U.S. Supercomputing Technology

Today U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry announced that six leading U.S. technology companies will receive funding from the Department of Energy's Exascale Computing Project (ECP) as part of its new PathForward program, accelerating the research necessary to deploy the nation's first exascale supercomputers.

Cynthia Jenks Named Director of Argonne's Chemical Sciences and Engineering Division

Argonne has named Cynthia Jenks the next director of the laboratory's Chemical Sciences and Engineering Division. Jenks currently serves as the assistant director for scientific planning and the director of the Chemical and Biological Sciences Division at Ames Laboratory.

Argonne-Developed Technology for Producing Graphene Wins TechConnect National Innovation Award

A method that significantly cuts the time and cost needed to grow graphene has won a 2017 TechConnect National Innovation Award. This is the second year in a row that a team at Argonne's Center for Nanoscale Materials has received this award.

Honeywell UOP and Argonne Seek Research Collaborations in Catalysis Under Technologist in Residence Program

Researchers at Argonne are collaborating with Honeywell UOP scientists to explore innovative energy and chemicals production.

Follow the Fantastic Voyage of the ICARUS Neutrino Detector

The ICARUS neutrino detector, born at Gran Sasso National Lab in Italy and refurbished at CERN, will make its way across the sea to Fermilab this summer. Follow along using an interactive map online.

JSA Awards Graduate Fellowships for Research at Jefferson Lab

Jefferson Sciences Associates announced today the award of eight JSA/Jefferson Lab graduate fellowships. The doctoral students will use the fellowships to support their advanced studies at their universities and conduct research at the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (Jefferson Lab) - a U.S. Department of Energy nuclear physics laboratory managed and operated by JSA, a joint venture between SURA and PAE Applied Technologies.

Muon Magnet's Moment Has Arrived

On May 31, the 50-foot-wide superconducting electromagnet at the center of the Muon g-2 experiment saw its first beam of muon particles from Fermilab's accelerators, kicking off a three-year effort to measure just what happens to those particles when placed in a stunningly precise magnetic field. The answer could rewrite scientists' picture of the universe and how it works.

Seven Small Businesses to Collaborate with Argonne to Solve Technical Challenges

Seven small businesses have been selected to collaborate with researchers at Argonne to address technical challenges as part of DOE's Small Business Vouchers Program.


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New Class of Porous Materials Better Separates Carbon Dioxide from Other Gases

Enhanced stability in the presence of water could help reduce smokestack emissions of greenhouse gases.

Manipulating Earth-Abundant Materials to Harness the Sun's Energy

New material based on common iron ore can help turn intermittent sunlight and water into long-lasting fuel.

Oxygen: The Jekyll and Hyde of Biofuels

Scientists are devising ways to protect plants, biofuels and, ultimately, the atmosphere itself from damage caused by an element that sustains life on earth.

The Rise of Giant Viruses

Research reveals that giant viruses acquire genes piecemeal from others, with implications for bioenergy production and environmental cleanup.

Grasses: The Secrets Behind Their Success

Researchers find a grass gene affecting how plants manage water and carbon dioxide that could be useful to growing biofuel crops on marginal land.

New Perspectives Into Arctic Cloud Phases

Teamwork provides insight into complicated cloud processes that are important to potential environmental changes in the Arctic.

Mountaintop Plants and Soils to Become Out of Sync

Plants and soil microbes may be altered by climate warming at different rates and in different ways, meaning vital nutrient patterns could be misaligned.

If a Tree Falls in the Amazon

For the first time, scientists pinpointed how often storms topple trees, helping to predict how changes in Amazonia affect the world.

Turning Waste into Fuels, Microbial Style

A newly discovered metabolic process linking different bacteria in a community could enhance bioenergy production.

Department of Energy Awards Six Research Contracts Totaling $258 Million to Accelerate U.S. Supercomputing Technology

Today U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry announced that six leading U.S. technology companies will receive funding from the Department of Energy's Exascale Computing Project (ECP) as part of its new PathForward program, accelerating the research necessary to deploy the nation's first exascale supercomputers.


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