Engines – Going the distance 

Newswise — 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; [email protected]]

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; [email protected]]

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; [email protected]]

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; [email protected]]

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; [email protected]]

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