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Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Story tips: Stealthy air leak detection, carbon to chemicals and recycling goes large

Buildings – The mirage effect 

A team of researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory has developed a method to detect and measure air leaking from a building’s walls and roof that is quicker, cheaper and less disruptive to occupants. 

Current air leak detection options, such as using a blower door and smoke or infrared thermography, are costly and invasive. ORNL’s method is conducted from outside, using an imaging technique to visualize the flow of air leaks and calculate the volumetric flow of air based on the refraction effects imaged by cameras. 

“Similar to a mirage over a black top road in the middle of summer, which looks fuzzy because air above the road is hotter than surrounding air, a building’s wall becomes blurry when indoor air meets outdoor air,” ORNL’s Philip Boudreaux said. “Refraction imaging allows us to see this.” 

Correcting excess air leakage can decrease energy consumption in buildings and reduce potential for mold growth. 

Image: https://www.ornl.gov/sites/default/files/2021-05/buildings_giphy-4.gif 

Caption: ORNL’s non-disruptive air leak detector captures air escaping from exterior walls and uses refractive imaging to calculate the leakage flow rate. Credit: ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy 

Microbes – Carbon to chemicals

A research team led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory bioengineered a microbe to efficiently turn waste into itaconic acid, an industrial chemical used in plastics and paints.

Producing itaconic acid currently involves fungi feeding on relatively pure sugars, which can be expensive. In ORNL’s demonstration, the team used lignin, a waste product from biorefineries and paper mills, to grow the bacterium Pseudomonas putida for potentially cheaper itaconic production.

The trick was to separate the microbes’ growth phase from itaconic production using dynamic controls. ORNL designed and deployed a biosensor that triggers the metabolic pathway for itaconic acid production only after the microbes consume all the nitrogen that fuels their growth.

“This technology could provide additional revenue for biorefineries by turning lignin into a high-value chemical,” ORNL’s Adam Guss said. “One strain achieved nearly 90% of theoretical yield during the production phase and could be further optimized. We can also apply these methods to a range of carbon waste streams.”

Image: https://www.ornl.gov/sites/default/files/2021-05/Putida_forAdam_2clr.jpg

Caption: Scientists genetically engineered bacteria for itaconic acid production, creating dynamic controls that separate microbial growth and production phases for increased efficiency and acid yield. Credit: NREL 

Manufacturing – Recycling goes large 

Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers, in collaboration with Cincinnati Inc., demonstrated the potential for using multimaterials and recycled composites in large-scale applications by 3D printing a mold that replicated a single facet of a precast concrete tool. 

The team added a dual feed system to the Big Area Additive Manufacturing machine that enabled printing with multiple materials in a single build using one extruder. Within seven hours, the large 3D printer produced a 400-pound mold measuring 10 feet in length made of recycled carbon fiber reinforced thermoplastic and syntactic foam. 

Large-scale printing with multimaterials and recycled composites is anticipated to lower the cost of tooling and open opportunities for printing structures with lightweight cores and tailored properties. 

“New mechanical responses can be achieved with multimaterial printing such as soft and rigid segments within a part and impact resistant structures,” said ORNL’s Vidya Kishore. 

Image: https://www.ornl.gov/sites/default/files/2021-05/baam_recycling_gif.gif 

Caption: ORNL, in collaboration with Cincinnati Inc., used the Big Area Additive Manufacturing machine to 3D print a mold made of recycled thermoplastic composite and syntactic foam, demonstrating the potential for multimaterials in large-scale applications. Credit: ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy 

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Newswise: Accelerating the Speed of Science
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Newswise: Accelerating the Speed of Science
Released: 18-Jun-2021 2:35 PM EDT
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Researchers will be able to design their own computer accelerators for faster analysis of large datasets

16-Jun-2021 10:05 AM EDT
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Argonne National Laboratory

Argonne National Laboratory (Argonne) in collaboration with Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), has awarded Codeplay a contract implementing the oneAPI DPC++ compiler, an implementation of the SYCL open standard software, to support AMD GPU-based high-performance compute (HPC) supercomputers.

Newswise: An Ally for Alloys
Released: 16-Jun-2021 6:20 PM EDT
An Ally for Alloys
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Machine learning techniques are accelerating the development of stronger alloys for power plants, which will yield efficiency, cost, and decarbonization benefits.

Released: 16-Jun-2021 1:50 PM EDT
Department of Energy Announces $4 Million for Isotope R&D
Department of Energy, Office of Science

Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced $4 million in funding for 10 awards across 5 efforts to advance R&D for isotope production. This funding is part of a key federal program that produces critical isotopes otherwise unavailable or in short supply for U.S. science, medicine, and industry.

Newswise: A Cousin of Table Salt Could Make Energy Storage Faster and Safer
Released: 16-Jun-2021 10:10 AM EDT
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Department of Energy, Office of Science

Scientists have found that lithium vanadium oxide can rapidly charge and discharge energy. The material has a structure similar to table salt but with a more random atomic arrangement. It charges and discharges without growing lithium metal “dendrites” that can cause dangerous short circuits. This could lead to safer, faster-charging batteries for electric vehicles.

Newswise: Internships Put Futures in Flight
Released: 15-Jun-2021 6:05 PM EDT
Internships Put Futures in Flight
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

PNNL intern Ki Ahn spent this past year as an undergraduate at PNNL gaining hands-on research experience in clean energy storage technologies for vehicles and aviation. Ahn is enrolling in Stanford University this fall to finish his bachelor’s degree. With plans to major in mechanical engineering or computer science, he wants to explore how future aircraft technologies can be designed to reduce harmful environmental effects.

Newswise: Researchers Poised To Deliver Key Scientific Findings In The Fast Lane
Released: 15-Jun-2021 4:25 PM EDT
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PPPL forges ahead with development of streaming media to provide rapid analysis of key findings of remote fusion experiments.

Newswise:Video Embedded efficient-dehumidifier-makes-air-conditioning-a-breeze
VIDEO
Released: 15-Jun-2021 4:05 PM EDT
Efficient Dehumidifier Makes Air Conditioning a Breeze
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

New energy-efficient dehumidifier technology holds promise to reduce energy consumption in residential A/C systems and increase the range of electric vehicles.

Newswise:Video Embedded can-artificial-intelligence-open-new-doors-for-materials-discovery
VIDEO
Released: 15-Jun-2021 2:45 PM EDT
Can Artificial Intelligence Open New Doors for Materials Discovery?
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