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  • 2017-09-05 11:05:18
  • Article ID: 680509

Story Tips from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, September 2017

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

    A 3D printing process developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory repairs and strengthens a Cummins engine without the need to recast parts, which reduces costs and saves energy.

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

    The Oak Ridge National Laboratory research house collects data about the home’s simulated energy use from sensors strategically located throughout the home.

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

    An unoccupied research house located in a private subdivision serves as a single-home test bed for the Smart Neighborhood project led by Southern Company, Alabama Power and Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

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

    The ORNL team used atomic force microscopy to characterize ionic movement at a solar material’s surface. Using other microscopy techniques, spectroscopy and simulations, they analyzed ionic movement deeper down, revealing ionic movement across grain boundaries where iodine and chlorine compete to bond with a methyl ammonium functional group. Because iodine coordinates with methyl ammonium better than chlorine, the chlorine is more likely to migrate when an electric field is applied.

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

    ORNL is co-developing a prototype device, known as a Smart Power Integrated Node or SPIN, which is designed to route multiple direct current energy sources in a home.

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

    The 2017 Molten Salt Reactor Workshop will continue to build on the success of the 2016 event, with numerous presentations on the current research and development on new MSR designs.

Engines – Going the distance 

Diesel engine maker Cummins, Inc., is working with Oak Ridge National Laboratory to develop a material to repair heavy-duty vehicle engines damaged by a million miles of extreme conditions under the hood. Rather than replacing an engine’s cylinder head, the research team “scooped out” the worn section and used additive manufacturing to deposit a high-performance alloy better than the original casting. The goal of the process, developed at DOE’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at ORNL, is to save energy while extending the life of the engine and making it stronger. “We’re decreasing the engine’s thermal conductivity, which holds heat in longer, and turning it into increased efficiency,” said Nikhil Doiphode, Cummins’ parts R&D engineer. “While these are not brand-new engines, we’re striving to make them better than new.” [Contact: Kim Askey, (865) 946-1861; askeyka@ornl.gov]

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

Caption: A 3D printing process developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory repairs and strengthens a Cummins engine without the need to recast parts, which reduces costs and saves energy. Credit: Brittany Cramer/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy 

Energy – Homes get smart

Ways to give homeowners more centralized control over how much electricity their home uses—from the air conditioning unit to the heat pump water heater—are being developed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory. An ORNL team is working with Southern Company and Alabama Power on its Smart Neighborhood, a research project that will implement state-of-the-art appliances and an innovative energy optimization system in a 62-home subdivision in Hoover, Alabama. While Smart Neighborhood is under construction, ORNL is developing energy management algorithms and assessing their performance in a single-home environment located in a traditional subdivision in East Tennessee. Data collected from the research home’s appliances, which are identical to those to be installed in Smart Neighborhood homes, will inform ways to reduce overall house energy demand. After ORNL completes this phase, their solution will be scaled up and implemented at Smart Neighborhood. [Contact: Sara Shoemaker, (865) 576-9219; shoemakerms@ornl.gov]

Image #1: https://www.ornl.gov/sites/default/files/02a%20Energy_homes_get_smart1.jpg

Caption #1: The Oak Ridge National Laboratory research house collects data about the home’s simulated energy use from sensors strategically located throughout the home. Credit: Jason Richards/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Image #2: https://www.ornl.gov/sites/default/files/02b%20Energy_homes_get_smart2.jpg

Caption #2: An unoccupied research house located in a private subdivision serves as a single-home test bed for the Smart Neighborhood project led by Southern Company, Alabama Power and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Credit: Jason Richards/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Imaging – Ionic moves

An Oak Ridge National Laboratory team discovered that adding chloride to promising photovoltaic materials enhances their ionic conduction, signaling a step toward developing electrically and optically tunable technologies. “We combine advanced synthesis methods to create materials with improved properties and advanced imaging techniques to see how material behavior has been enhanced,” said ORNL’s Olga Ovchinnikova. At the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences, the researchers synthesized organo-metallic trihalide perovskites and imaged their electrochemistry with sophisticated techniques. “Through this powerful combination, we build a deeper understanding of mechanisms and phenomena at play at the nanoscale and learn how to tailor the synthesis and processing of materials to tune their functionality for various optoelectronic devices,” Ovchinnikova said. Their finding could benefit development of memristors that employ ions in memory storage and synaptic devices that use chemistry to drive information through logic gates. [Contact: Dawn Levy, (865) 576-6448; levyd@ornl.gov]

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

Caption: The ORNL team used atomic force microscopy to characterize ionic movement at a solar material’s surface. Using other microscopy techniques, spectroscopy and simulations, they analyzed ionic movement deeper down, revealing ionic movement across grain boundaries where iodine and chlorine compete to bond with a methyl ammonium functional group. Because iodine coordinates with methyl ammonium better than chlorine, the chlorine is more likely to migrate when an electric field is applied. Credit: Stephen Jesse/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Electricity – Modern energy routing

Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Flex Power Control are developing a home energy router that collects, converts and distributes electricity from multiple power sources through a single unit. “We are seeing more direct current power from solar panels, electric vehicles and backup energy storage being introduced into the home,” said Greg Smith, president of Flex Power Control. “It all needs to be converted and routed seamlessly for optimal home energy use.” The co-developed home router leverages power conversion hardware based on ORNL’s ENABLE (Environmentally Neutral Automated Building Electric Energy) platform. The hardware will use advanced wide-bandgap semiconductors that can operate at much higher voltages, as well as 3D printed heat sinks that dissipate heat generated by the device, resulting in a smaller, more efficient router. [Contact: Stephanie Seay, (865) 576-9894; seaysg@ornl.gov]

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

Caption: ORNL is co-developing a prototype device, known as a Smart Power Integrated Node or SPIN, which is designed to route multiple direct current energy sources in a home. Credit: Jason Richards/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Nuclear – Reactors of the future

In response to the nuclear industry’s growing interest in molten salt reactors, Oak Ridge National Laboratory will bring together leading experts from around the world to discuss recent developments at its third annual MSR Workshop, October 3–4. This year’s theme will be key technology and safety issues. Workshop attendees from ORNL, the Department of Energy, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, reactor design firms and universities will provide insight on current efforts to make MSRs a reality. This year’s meeting will include a closer look at the design of the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment, which operated at ORNL in the 1960s. “This workshop, which offers a unique opportunity to discuss next steps, hurdles and success stories, has turned into an annual event because people across the field see MSRs as a path toward the next generation of nuclear energy,” ORNL’s Gary Mays said. [Contact: Jason Ellis, (865) 241-5819; ellisjk@ornl.gov]

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

Caption: The 2017 Molten Salt Reactor Workshop will continue to build on the success of the 2016 event, with numerous presentations on the current research and development on new MSR designs. Credit: Carlos Jones/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

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High-Speed Movie Aids Scientists Who Design Glowing Molecules

In a recent experiment conducted at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, a research team used bright, ultrafast X-ray pulses from SLAC's X-ray free-electron laser to create a high-speed movie of a fluorescent protein in action. With that information, the scientists began to design a marker that switches more easily, a quality that can improve resolution during biological imaging.

Biomass-Produced Electricity in the US Possible, but It'll Cost

If the U.S. wants to start using wood pellets to produce energy, either the government or power customers will have to pay an extra cost, a new University of Georgia study has found.

Scientists Make Atoms-Thick Post-It Notes for Solar Cells and Circuits

In a study published Sept. 20 in Nature, UChicago and Cornell University researchers describe an innovative method to make stacks of semiconductors just a few atoms thick. The technique offers scientists and engineers a simple, cost-effective method to make thin, uniform layers of these materials, which could expand capabilities for devices from solar cells to cell phones.

Titan Helps Researchers Suck Mystery Out of Cell's 'Vacuum Cleaners'

In cancer cells, a membrane transport protein called P-glycoprotein, or Pgp, actively pumps anticancer drugs out of the cell, contributing to multidrug resistance. Recently, a team led by computational biophysicist Emad Tajkhorshid from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) used the Titan supercomputer to uncover new details about Pgp that could help the drug discovery community manipulate Pgp function.

Laser-Free Method of Ion Cooling Has Range of Potential Uses

Prof. Daniel Zajfman's universal ion trap cools to a tenth of a degree above absolute zero. The new method does not depend on the type or the weight of the ion and, thus, might be used to investigate the properties of large biological molecules or nanoparticles, among other things.

Tiny Lasers from a Gallery of Whispers

Whispering gallery mode resonators rely on a phenomenon similar to an effect observed in circular galleries, and the same phenomenon applies to light. When light is stored in ring-shaped or spherical active resonators, the waves superimpose in such a way that it can result in laser light. This week in APL Photonics, investigators report a new type of dye-doped WGM micro-laser that produces light with tunable wavelengths.

Copper Catalyst Yields High Efficiency CO2-to-Fuels Conversion

Berkeley Lab scientists have developed a new electrocatalyst that can directly convert carbon dioxide into multicarbon fuels and alcohols using record-low inputs of energy. The work is the latest in a round of studies coming out of Berkeley Lab tackling the challenge of a creating a clean chemical manufacturing system that can put carbon dioxide to good use.

Solar-to-Fuel System Recycles CO2 to Make Ethanol and Ethylene

Berkeley Lab scientists have harnessed the power of photosynthesis to convert carbon dioxide into fuels and alcohols at efficiencies far greater than plants. The achievement marks a significant advance in the effort to move toward sustainable sources of fuel.

New Evidence for Small, Short-Lived Drops of Early Universe Quark-Gluon Plasma?

UPTON, NY--Particles emerging from even the lowest energy collisions of small deuterons with large heavy nuclei at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC)--a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science User Facility for nuclear physics research at DOE's Brookhaven National Laboratory--exhibit behavior scientists associate with the formation of a soup of quarks and gluons, the fundamental building blocks of nearly all visible matter.

New Insights Into Nanocrystal Growth in Liquid

PNNL researchers have measured the forces that cause certain crystals to assemble, revealing competing factors that researchers might be able to control. The work has a variety of implications in both discovery and applied science. In addition to providing insights into the formation of minerals and semiconductor nanomaterials, it might also help scientists understand soil as it expands and contracts through wetting and drying cycles.


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PPPL Physicist Francesca Poli Named ITER Scientist Fellow

Article describes new ITER Scientist Fellow.

Los Alamos Gains Role in High-Performance Computing for Materials Program

A new high-performance computing initiative announced this week by the U.S. Department of Energy will help U.S. industry accelerate the development of new or improved materials for use in severe environments.

UK Commits $88 Million to LBNF/DUNE in First-Ever Umbrella Science Agreement with U.S.

The UK has committed $88 million to the Long-Baseline Neutrino Facility and Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment as part of an umbrella science and technology agreement with the United States.

Wayne State Receives $1.2 Million NSF Grant to Develop Autonomous Battery Operating System

Researchers at Wayne State University led by Nathan Fisher, associate professor of computer science in the College of Engineering, received a $1.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation to address the need for effective, integrative battery operating systems that provide sustained and reliable power.

UAH leads effort that secures $20 million grant from the National Science Foundation

A partnership comprising nine universities in Alabama, including The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) as the lead institution, has been awarded a $20 million, five-year grant by the National Science Foundation's Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR).

Sandia Labs Wins 5 Regional Technology Transfer Awards

Sandia National Laboratories won five awards from the 2017 Federal Laboratory Consortium for its work to develop and commercialize innovative technologies.

Tulane Receives Grant to Reduce Auto Emissions

Members of Tulane University's Shantz Lab will work with industrial scientists to assist in the development of next-generation materials designed to reduce harmful automotive emissions. The three-year old lab and its group of students have received a grant and equipment resources from SACHEM, Inc., a chemical science company.

Lab Leads New Effort in Materials Development

Lawrence Livermore National Lab will be part of a multi-lab effort to apply high-performance computing to US-based industry's discovery, design, and development of materials for severe environments under a new initiative announced by the Department of Energy (DOE) on Sept. 19.

ORNL Innovation Crossroads Program Opens Second Round of Energy Entrepreneurial Fellowships

Entrepreneurs are invited to apply for the second round of Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Innovation Crossroads program.

Los Alamos Recognized as Top Diversity Employer

For the second straight year, Los Alamos National Laboratory was recognized as a top diversity employer by LATINA Style and STEM Workforce Diversity magazine.


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Fungi: Gene Activator Role Discovered

Specific modifications to fungi DNA may hold the secret to turning common plant degradation agents into biofuel producers.

First Look at a Living Cell Membrane

Neutrons provide the solution to nanoscale examination of living cell membrane and confirm the existence of lipid rafts.

High Yield Biomass Conversion Strategy Ready for Commercialization

Researchers convert 80 percent of biomass into high-value products with strategy that's ready for commercialization.

Consequences of Drought Stress on Biofuels

Switchgrass cultivated during a year of severe drought inhibited microbial fermentation and resulting biofuel production.

Clay Minerals and Metal Oxides Change How Uranium Travels Through Sediments

Montmorillonite clays prevent uranium from precipitating from liquids, letting it travel with groundwater.

Tundra Loses Carbon with Rapid Permafrost Thaw

Seven-year-study shows plant growth does not sustainably balance carbon losses from solar warming and permafrost thaw.

Crystals Grow by Twisting, Aligning and Snapping Together

Van der Waals force, which that enables tiny crystals to grow, could be used to design new materials.

Vitamin B12 Fuels Microbial Growth

Scarce compound, vitamin B12, is key for cellular metabolism and may help shape microbial communities that affect environmental cycles and bioenergy production.

Carbon in Floodplain Unlikely to Cycle into the Atmosphere

Microbes leave a large fraction of carbon in anoxic sediments untouched, a key finding for understanding how watersheds influence Earth's ecosystem.

Bacterial Cell Wall Changes Produce More Fatty Molecules

New strategy greatly increases the production and secretion of biofuel building block lipids in bacteria able to grow at industrial scales.


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