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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.
    • 2018-04-26 12:05:44
    • Article ID: 693574

    First 3-D Printed Wind-Blade Mold, Energy-Saving Nanoparticles Earn Sandia National Awards

    • Credit: Brittany Cramer, Oak Ridge National Laboratory

      Sandia National Laboratories collaborated with Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility Team on a 3-D printed wind turbine blade mold.

    • Credit: Randy Montoya, Sandia National Laboratories

      Sandia National Laboratories materials physicist Paul Clem holds a sample of nanoparticle coated glass.

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Sandia National Laboratories has won the Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer’s national 2018 Technology Focus Award for designing the first wind turbine blades fabricated from a 3-D printed mold, which could dramatically shorten the time and expense of developing new wind energy technology.

    The labs also won FLC’s Excellence in Technology Transfer Award for advanced nanomaterial window films that could save consumers billions in energy costs each year.

    “These two deserving collaborations align well with Sandia’s mission,” said Jackie Kerby Moore, manager of Technology and Economic Development and the labs’ representative to the consortium. “They strengthen our nation’s energy security and resilience by lowering the cost of energy technologies.”

    The winners were honored on April 25, 2018, at an award ceremony at the consortium’s national meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

    3-D printing accelerates wind tech innovation

    For four decades, Sandia researchers have designed wind turbines that capture energy more efficiently than prevailing technology and so drive down the cost of renewable energy. But producing prototypes is a drag. Each requires a series of labor-intensive, custom molds that can take up to 16 months to complete before the blade can be built and tested.

    Sandia led a partnership that demonstrated a way to reduce this time to just three months. Teaming with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, a leader in the field of 3-D printing, and TPI Composites, the nation’s largest independent manufacturer of wind turbine blades, Sandia 3-D printed the mold directly from a digital design, slashing more than a year from production time. The demonstration focused on a relatively small 13-meter blade, but if applied at larger scales in industry, designers could take more risks with experimental designs and accelerate innovation in wind technologies.

    The 2018 Technology Focus Award honors Sandia’s collaborative effort to address a pressing energy-related challenge. Sandia led the design of the blade, including an assessment of the feasibility of using additive manufacturing. TPI consulted on the mechanical parameters and performed the structural design and computer aided design geometry required to successfully mold the blade. Oak Ridge printed the mold in several sections in just two weeks, with the final assembly and manufacturing of the blade at TPI.

    The wind department at Sandia has expertise is designing blades, but our group doesn’t work with additive manufacturing,” Sandia researcher Josh Paquette said. “This project was an opportunity to combine expertise from two laboratories and an industry adviser that could immediately bring this knowledge into the private sector.”

    Nanotechnology keeps windows cool in the summer, warm in the winter

    In the United States, single-pane windows still make up about 40 percent of all window glass in the South, and nearly 30 percent in the Midwest and northern states, according to the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy. Collectively, these poor insulators lose a tremendous amount of heating and cooling energy. A partnership between Sandia and Santa Fe, New Mexico-based IR Dynamics is developing advanced nanoparticle films that boost the energy efficiency of windows, which could save American consumers as much as $12 billion each year and significantly reduce national energy consumption.

    The IR Dynamics-Sandia team creates the films with nanoparticles of the compound vanadium dioxide. While some materials, such as aluminum, reflect light and heat, and others, such as glass, transmit them, vanadium dioxide is temperature-sensitive (thermochromic) and does both. The nanoparticle films transition from heat-transparent to heat-reflective in response to the temperature.

    Applying an energy-efficient film would likely be much less expensive than a full window replacement, so consumers would enjoy greater savings sooner.

    “The FLC award recognizes the efforts of the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies as an incubator to support transfer of licensed Sandia technologies to the private sector,” Sandia engineer Paul Clem said. “We have received strong support both from CINT and from Sandia’s technology transfer office, including Cooperative Research and Development Agreements and New Mexico Small Business Assistance, for small-business nanotech collaborative development.” CINT is a DOE Office of Science user facility operated by Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratory.

    “3-D printed casting molds and heat-sensitive nanoparticle films are great examples of how Sandia’s scientific research translates into products that benefit the public, and at the same time enable our missions,” said Mary Monson, senior manager of Technology Partnerships and Business Development at Sandia. “These partnerships are important to Sandia’s contributions in energy security, reliability and efficiency. We look forward to engaging with additional partners to make these and other innovations more widely available.”

    The Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer is a nationwide network of more than 300 members that provides a forum to develop strategies and opportunities for linking laboratory mission technologies and expertise with the marketplace. The awards program annually recognizes federal laboratories and their industry partners for outstanding technology transfer efforts. Since its establishment in 1984, the organization has presented awards to nearly 200 federal laboratories, becoming one of the most prestigious honors in technology transfer.


    Sandia National Laboratories is a multimission laboratory operated by National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Honeywell International Inc., for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. Sandia Labs has major research and development responsibilities in nuclear deterrence, global security, defense, energy technologies and economic competitiveness, with main facilities in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Livermore, California.

    Sandia news media contact: Troy Rummler, trummle@sandia.gov, 505-284-1056

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    Seeing a Salt Solution's Structure Supports One Hypothesis About How Minerals Form

    Oak Ridge National Laboratory scientists used neutrons, isotopes and simulations to "see" the atomic structure of a saturated solution and found evidence supporting one of two competing hypotheses about how ions come together to form minerals.

    New PMLD Technique Improves Tools to Form Organic Multilayers

    Researchers have developed a new class of molecular layer deposition chemistry that paves the way for a new photoactivated molecular layer deposition technique. They report that their new method will expand the tool kit for forming covalently bound organic multilayers at surfaces. These emerging deposition techniques have enabled engineers to produce organic thin films with improved conformality. Richard Closser, Stanford University, will present the findings at the AVS 65th International Symposium and Exhibition, Oct. 21-26, 2018.

    Spotlighting Differences in Closely-Related Species

    Aspergillus fungi play roles in fields including bioenergy, health, and biotechnology. In Nature Genetics, a team led by scientists at the Technical University of Denmark, the DOE Joint Genome Institute, and the Joint Bioenergy Institute, present the first large analysis of an Aspergillus fungal subgroup, section Nigri.

    Researchers switch material from one state to another with a single flash of light

    Scientists from the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have demonstrated a surprisingly simple way of flipping a material from one state into another, and then back again, with single flashes of laser light.

    The Stories Behind the Science: How Does the Ocean's Saltiness Affect Tropical Storms?

    Two researchers with personal experience of hurricanes set out to investigate the role of an underestimated factor in storm's strength - salinity. They found that salinity plays a larger role than anyone thought, including them.

    Surprise finding: Discovering a previously unknown role for a source of magnetic fields

    Feature describes unexpected discovery of a role the process that seeds magnetic fields plays in mediating a phenomenon that occurs throughout the universe and can disrupt cell phone service and knock out power grids on Earth.

    Genetic behavior reveals cause of death in poplars essential to ecosystems, industry

    Scientists studying a valuable, but vulnerable, species of poplar have identified the genetic mechanism responsible for the species' inability to resist a pervasive and deadly disease. Their finding could lead to more successful hybrid poplar varieties for increased biofuels and forestry production and protect native trees against infection.

    Pushing the (Extra Cold) Frontiers of Superconducting Science

    Ames Laboratory has developed a method to measure magnetic properties of superconducting and magnetic materials that exhibit unusual quantum behavior at very low temperatures in high magnetic fields.

    Scientists Find Unusual Behavior in Topological Material

    Argonne scientists have identified a new class of topological materials made by inserting transition metal atoms into the atomic lattice of a well-known two-dimensional material.

    Wind Farms and Reducing Hurricane Precipitation

    New research reveals an unexpected benefit of large-scale offshore wind farms: the ability to lessen precipitation from hurricanes.


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    Physicist Takes Cues from Artificial Intelligence

    In the world of computing, there's a groundswell of excitement for what is perceived as the impending revolution in artificial intelligence. Like the industrial revolution in the 19th century and the digital revolution in the 20th, the AI revolution is expected to change the way we live and work. Now, Cristiano Fanelli aims to bring the AI revolution to nuclear physics.

    Engineering professor receives Department of Energy grant

    New Mexico State University Department of Civil Engineering Assistant Professor Ehsan Dehghan Niri has received a United States Department of Energy grant. This is a three-year award for $400,000 and is a collaboration with Arizona State University.

    Argonne and Capstone receive funding to advance thermal energy storage technology

    The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory and Capstone Turbine Corp. have received $380,000 in DOE Technology Commercialization Funding to refine Argonne's high-efficiency, fast charging/discharging latent heat thermal energy storage system (TESS) for use in building applications and process/manufacturing industries.

    AVS and AIP Publishing Expand Partnership to Launch AVS Quantum Science

    AIP Publishing and AVS: Science and Technology of Materials, Interfaces, and Processing (AVS) today announced an agreement to publish AVS Quantum Science, a new online interdisciplinary journal. The announcement coincides with the AVS 65th International Symposium & Exhibition in Long Beach, California, from October 21-26, 2018.

    Prototype Solar Energy, Battery Systems to Fuel Commercialization

    Designing, building and testing prototype systems that show how renewable energy can power devices, such as a weather and soil sensor station, can help bridge the gap between basic science research and commercialization.

    Argonne to Advance High Performance Computing in Manufacturing

    Argonne awarded funding to partner with Industry to advance the use of high performance computing in manufacturing.

    "Invisible Glass" Wins 2018 Create the Future Design Contest Grand Prize

    Scientists from the Center for Functional Nanomaterials developed a technique for making nonreflecting glass, silicon, and plastic surfaces.

    Missouri S&T researchers win multimillion dollar grant to build fast-charging stations for electric cars

    Researchers from Missouri S&T and three private companies will combine their expertise to create charging stations for electric vehicles that could charge a car in less than 10 minutes - matching the time it takes to fill up a conventional vehicle with gasoline."The big problem with electric vehicles is range, and it's not so much range as range anxiety.

    Making batteries store more energy, last longer

    A new solid polymer electrolyte may help make cell phone batteries store more energy and last longer.

    Three Brookhaven Lab Scientists Named Fellows of American Physical Society

    The American Physical Society (APS), the world's largest physics organization, has elected three scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory as 2018 APS fellows.


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    Cryocooler Cools an Accelerator Cavity

    Researchers demonstrated cryogen-free operation of a superconducting radio-frequency cavity that might ease barriers to its use in societal applications.

    Shining Light on the Separation of Rare Earth Metals

    New studies identify key molecular characteristics to potentially separate rare earth metals cleanly and efficiently with light.

    Placing Atoms for Optimum Catalysts

    Precise positioning of oxygens could help engineer faster, more efficient energy-relevant chemical transformations.

    How to Make Soot and Stardust

    Scientists unlock mystery that could help reduce emissions of fine particles from combustion engines and other sources.

    Breaking the Symmetry Between Fundamental Forces

    Scientists improve our understanding of the relationship between fundamental forces by re-creating the earliest moments of the universe.

    Water Plays Unexpected Role in Forming Minerals

    Water molecules line up tiny particles to attach and form minerals; understanding how this happens impacts energy extraction and storage along with waste disposal.

    Heavy Particles Get Caught Up in the Flow

    First direct measurement show how heavy particles containing a charm quark get caught up in the flow of early universe particle soup.

    Seeing Between the Atoms

    New detector enables electron microscope imaging at record-breaking resolution.

    Scaling Up Single-Crystal Graphene

    New method can make films of atomically thin carbon that are over a foot long.

    Discovered: Optimal Magnetic Fields Suppress Instabilities in Tokamak Plasmas

    U.S. and Korean scientists show how to find and use beneficial 3-D field perturbations to stabilize dangerous edge-localized modes in plasma.


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