Energy—Quantum computing efficiency 

Newswise — New research from Oak Ridge National Laboratory indicates that quantum computers will use dramatically less energy than current supercomputers, which could lead to cost savings for computing equipment manufacturers and data centers. “High-performance computers with thousands of processors currently use lots of power to perform complex scientific calculations,” ORNL’s Travis Humble said. Using a sophisticated simulation technique, the team compared the expected energy usage of a quantum processor that uses quantum physics to the energy usage of a conventional processor found in today’s modern supercomputers. “Along with an unprecedented ability to solve big problems, we found that quantum computers have the potential to reduce energy usage by more than one million kilowatt hours,” he said. The team presented their results during the IEEE Rebooting Computing conference. [Contact: Sara Shoemaker, (865) 576-9219; [email protected]]


Caption: ORNL scientists estimated quantum computing energy usage from a detailed modeling technique. In a study, the team found that quantum computers could reduce energy usage by more than 20 orders of magnitude compared to conventional computers. Credit: Fahd Mohiyaddin/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Materials—Supertough bioplastic

A novel method developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory creates supertough renewable plastic with improved manufacturability. Working with polylactic acid, a biobased plastic often used in packaging, textiles, biomedical implants and 3D printing, the research team added tiny amounts of silicon-based materials called silanes to design a new polymer. “Our fast, scalable approach makes a new form of PLA that is 10 times tougher without sacrificing strength or stiffness,” said ORNL’s Soydan Ozcan. “This could broaden applications where polymer toughness is critical.” The research team detailed the underlying chemical reactions in ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering. The team plans to tailor the new polymer for additive manufacturing and packaging. [Contact: Kim Askey, (865) 576-2841; [email protected]]


Caption: Oak Ridge National Laboratory researcher Halil Tekinalp combines silanes and polylactic acid, or PLA, to create supertough renewable plastic. Credit: Jason Richards/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Buildings—The right stuff

A new system being developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory will help builders and home designers select the best construction materials for long-term moisture durability. “It has become challenging to make informed decisions because of modern building code requirements and new products and materials hitting the market,” ORNL’s Philip Boudreaux said. Researchers will couple input from structural and materials experts with data gleaned from running approximately 800,000 building envelope simulations on ORNL’s Titan supercomputer, accounting for choice of materials, climate, orientation, air tightness and indoor conditions. “The resulting comprehensive database will be accessible via a user-friendly web-based tool, which is undergoing beta testing,” Boudreaux said. ORNL detailed their method in the Journal of Building Physics. The team will further fine-tune the system with data from real-world moisture durability simulations performed on wall assemblies using the lab’s Heat, Air and Moisture Penetration Test Chambers. [Contact: Sara Shoemaker, (865) 576-9219; [email protected]]


Caption: An ORNL-led team conducts moisture durability simulations on construction materials, which will add real-world data to a new system developed to help builders and home designers make informed decisions. Credit: Rachel Brooks/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

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