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    • 2018-07-02 10:05:14
    • Article ID: 696908

    Story Tips from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, July 2018

    • Credit: Federal Emergency Management Agency

      Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory contributed buildings and structures datasets to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to support emergency response following major volcanic eruptions on the Island of Hawaii. Combined with other mapping layers—such as lava flows, outlined in red, and active or inactive fissures, shown in red or green triangles, respectively—structural information helps identify immediate risks or hazards and aids in damage assessment.

    • Credit: Pengfei Cao and Bingrui Li/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

      Rubbery segments in a ribbon-shaped polymer membrane make it super-stretchy. Hydrogen-bonding molecules, shown as yellow and green spheres, allow the material to self-heal after a cut or break and recover its ability to separate gases such as carbon dioxide, shown as red and black spheres, from nitrogen, depicted as blue spheres.

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

      Researchers at ORNL developed a scalable processing technique to 3D print a plant-based composite material.

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

      The micrograph shows a cross-section of the weld area between two 3D-printed layers of a plant-based composite material developed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

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

      Ben Ollis, left, and Phil Irminger of Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Power and Energy Systems Group test components on the SI-GRID platform in a safe, low-voltage setting.

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

      Postdoctoral researcher Cory Knoot prepares a sample of blue-green algae for neutron scattering experiment on the Bio-SANS instrument at ORNL’s High Flux Isotope Reactor.

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

      ORNL researchers insert a device to be tested on the SI-GRID platform.

    Datasets—Assessing lava flow impacts 

    Geospatial data from Oak Ridge National Laboratory is supporting emergency response to destructive volcanic activity in Hawaii. Researchers provided the Federal Emergency Management Agency with information on buildings and structures that was rapidly extracted from satellite imagery using novel deep learning techniques. Ongoing eruptions from the Kilauea volcano since May have opened fissures of flowing lava across the Big Island, damaging more than 700 homes. Identifying and characterizing vulnerable and affected structures, such as residences, businesses, schools and hospitals, are major aspects of emergency response and post-impact damage assessments. “Our expertise with large datasets combined with high-performance computing resources gives us the ability to provide this information very quickly,” said ORNL’s Mark Tuttle. His team processed data focused near Kilauea in less than a day and all visible structures on the entire Island of Hawaii in two weeks. [Contact: Ashley Huff, (865) 241-6451; huffac@ornl.gov

    Image: https://www.ornl.gov/sites/default/files/news/images/FEMA-Hawaii.jpg 

    Caption: Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory contributed buildings and structures datasets to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to support emergency response following major volcanic eruptions on the Island of Hawaii. Combined with other mapping layers—such as lava flows, outlined in red, and active or inactive fissures, shown in red or green triangles, respectively—structural information helps identify immediate risks or hazards and aids in damage assessment. Credit: Federal Emergency Management Agency 

    Chemistry—Polymer, heal thyself 

    An Oak Ridge National Laboratory–led team has developed super-stretchy polymers with amazing self-healing abilities that could lead to longer-lasting consumer products. The polymers are among the world’s stretchiest and can elongate about 1,000 to 5,600 percent before breaking. After breaking, they can be healed with complete restoration of elasticity by merely touching adjacent pieces. By tailoring the properties of segments and how they link to the polymer, the scientists tuned tensile strength, toughness and elastic recovery. They used stretchy polymeric strips to create a permeable membrane that selectively separated two gases. After that membrane broke, it self-healed to once again separate the gases. Tailoring the degree of hydrogen bonding was the key to self-healing and could be exploited to make other self-healing materials. “These novel materials provide an attractive platform for fabrication of functional films, membranes, coatings and devices with prolonged lifetimes,” said ORNL’s Tomonori Saito. The work was published in Advanced Functional Materials. [Contact: Dawn Levy, (865) 576-6448; levyd@ornl.gov] 

    Image: https://www.ornl.gov/sites/default/files/news/images/Super-stretchy-self-healing-material.jpg 

    Caption: Rubbery segments in a ribbon-shaped polymer membrane make it super-stretchy. Hydrogen-bonding molecules, shown as yellow and green spheres, allow the material to self-heal after a cut or break and recover its ability to separate gases such as carbon dioxide, shown as red and black spheres, from nitrogen, depicted as blue spheres. Credit: Pengfei Cao and Bingrui Li/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy 

    Materials – Printing with plants 

    A scalable processing technique developed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory uses plant-based materials for 3D printing and offers a promising additional revenue stream for biorefineries. Scientists created a new material with excellent printability and performance by tapping into lignin—a key component of plant cell walls that provides sturdiness. Lignin is a current byproduct of the biofuels process that could become a valuable coproduct with this new use. The method combines lignin, rubber, carbon fiber and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, or ABS—commonly used in plastic toys—to 3D print structures with 100 percent improved weld strength between the layers over ABS alone. “To achieve this, we are building on our experience with lignin during the last five years,” said ORNL’s Amit Naskar. “We will continue fine tuning the material’s composition to make it even stronger.” The research team published details about the patent-pending process in Applied Materials Today. [Contact: Kim Askey, (865) 576-2841; askeyka@ornl.gov

    Image 1: https://www.ornl.gov/sites/default/files/Plant-based_3D-printed_material.jpg

    Caption: Researchers at ORNL developed a scalable processing technique to 3D print a plant-based composite material. Credit: Ngoc Nguyen/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy 

    Image 2: https://www.ornl.gov/sites/default/files/Plant-based_3D-printed_material_micrograph.jpg

    Caption: The micrograph shows a cross-section of the weld area between two 3D-printed layers of a plant-based composite material developed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Credit: Christopher Bowland/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy 

    Electricity—Mini-grid to the max 

    Oak Ridge National Laboratory engineers have devised a testbed that lets them mimic high-voltage equipment in a safe, low-voltage setting. The Software-Defined Intelligent Grid Research Integration and Development platform, or SI-GRID, operates below 100 volts—less than a household outlet— and has been used to develop communications and controls for microgrids. The platform gives researchers crucial information on how the grid functions when loads suddenly shift during a power outage, and how it can more quickly recover. It can, for instance, test protective relays that detect electrical faults and prevent damage to the network. “Traditionally, we would rely on computer models of the grid to figure out how new components will work,” said Ben Ollis of ORNL. “With the higher fidelity of a physical system, we can better understand power quality issues and dynamics.” The platform explores ways to monitor the grid, protect it from disturbances like storms and cyber intrusion and make it more resilient when power is disrupted. [Contact: Stephanie Seay, (865) 576-9894; seaysg@ornl.gov

    Image 1: https://www.ornl.gov/sites/default/files/SI-GRID_1.jpg

    Caption: Ben Ollis, left, and Phil Irminger of Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Power and Energy Systems Group test components on the SI-GRID platform in a safe, low-voltage setting. Credit: Carlos Jones/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy 

    Image 2: https://www.ornl.gov/sites/default/files/SI-GRID_2.jpg

    Caption: ORNL researchers insert a device to be tested on the SI-GRID platform. Credit: Carlos Jones/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy 

    Neutrons—Making sustainable biofuels 

    Scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory are using neutrons to understand why certain hydrocarbons produced by blue-green algae are important to their biology, so new strains can be engineered to sustainably produce biofuels. Neutron scattering makes it possible to non-destructively see inside living algae at real world temperatures and in real time. “No one has used neutron scattering to test the hypothesized role hydrocarbons in modulating membrane structure in algae,” said Cory Knoot of the Washington University in St. Louis. “Understanding why alkanes are important to cyanobacterial health could make it easier to engineer new strains of the algae that can sustainably produce alkanes as biofuels.” Knoot used the lab’s Biological Small-Angle Neutron Scattering, or Bio-SANS, instrument, which is designed and optimized to analyze the structure, function and dynamics of complex biological systems.  [Contact: Kelley Smith, (865) 576-5668; smithks@ornl.gov

    Image: https://www.ornl.gov/sites/default/files/neu.png 

    Caption: Postdoctoral researcher Cory Knoot prepares a sample of blue-green algae for neutron scattering experiment on the Bio-SANS instrument at ORNL’s High Flux Isotope Reactor. Credit: Kelley Smith/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

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    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.

    New simulations confirm efficiency of waste-removal process in plasma device

    PPPL scientists have found evidence suggesting that a process could remove the unwanted ash produced during fusion reactions and make the fusion processes more efficient within a type of fusion facility known as a field-reversed configuration device.

    How Animals Use Their Tails to Swish and Swat Away Insects

    A new study shows how animals use their tails to keep mosquitoes at bay by combining a swish that blows away most of the biting bugs and a swat that kills the ones that get through.

    Missing gamma-ray blobs shed new light on dark matter, cosmic magnetism

    Scientists, including researchers from the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, have compiled the most detailed catalog of such blobs using eight years of data collected with the Large Area Telescope (LAT) on NASA's Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope. The blobs, including 19 gamma-ray sources that weren't known to be extended before, provide crucial information on how stars are born, how they die, and how galaxies spew out matter trillions of miles into space.


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    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.

    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.

    Southern Research first to win accreditation under ISO 14034

    Southern Research has become the first organization in the United States to earn accreditation under ISO 14034, a new international standard for evaluating and verifying environmental technologies that was recently adopted by the American National Standards Institute.

    Kawtar Hafidi to head Physical Sciences and Engineering directorate at Argonne

    Physicist Kawtar Hafidi has been appointed Associate Laboratory Director, Physical Sciences and Engineering at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory.


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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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