ELECTRICITY-- Spotlight on outages . . .
When a storm knocks out power, among the first questions to be answered are how many people are affected and when electricity will be restored. Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Energy Awareness and Resiliency Standardized Services application, or EARSS, uses publicly available data and can help by showing grid status in real time. The goal is to enhance situational awareness for the emergency response community, according to EARSS co-developer Steve Fernandez of ORNL's Computational Sciences and Engineering Division. "Working from up-to-date information, responders on the ground can preposition emergency generators and supplies where they are needed most," said Fernandez, who also wrote an algorithm that predicts regionally when power will be restored. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226; email@example.com]
AUTOMOTIVE -- Calculate your trip . . .
Fueleconomy.gov's new "My Trip Calculator" is an interactive trip calculator and mapping tool that helps travelers plan a route, pick a car and estimate fuel cost for the trip. My Trip Calculator prompts users to enter a start and destination address, set the city driving percentage and select up to three cars for comparison. Based on the traveler's input, My Trip Calculator displays the EPA fuel economy estimate ("MPG"), the national average fuel cost ("Fuel Price"), the amount of fuel used ("Fuel Used (gal)") and the cost of fuel used ("Fuel Cost") for each car. The website, a collaboration between the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy, updates the national average fuel cost each week. Because it's based on a mapping tool, My Trip Calculator provides estimated miles and driving time for your trip, turn-by-turn driving directions and a trip map. [Contact: Bill Cabage, (865) 574-4399; firstname.lastname@example.org]
INSTRUMENTATION -- Focus on perfection . . .
Through a cooperative research and development agreement, Hinds Instruments and Oak Ridge National Laboratory are refining a microscope that can play a role in the success of next-generation nuclear reactors. The 2-MGEM microscope, which won an R&D 100 Award in 2008, delivers unsurpassed performance for characterization and quality control of the coated particle fuel, TRISCO. This fuel, which consists of small kernels of nuclear material sealed with multiple layers of carbon and silicon carbide, will be used in Generation IV very high temperature reactors. The goal is to further refine the microscope to expand the user interface, increase processing speed, replace obsolete third-party components and introduce remote field service capability. With the 2-MGEM microscope, developed by ORNL's Jay Jellison and John Hunn, researchers hope to optimize the microstructure of the carbon layers of the coated particle fuel. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226; email@example.com]
LIGHTING -- Next-generation source . . .
A team from the University of California at Santa Barbara has used NOMAD, the new Nanoscale-Ordered Materials Diffractometer at the Spallation Neutron Source at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, to study the potential of a green-yellow emitting oxyfluoride solid solution phosphor for high-quality solid-state lighting. Solid-state white lighting offers many advantages over traditional lighting, including longer life, reduced energy consumption and an environmentally friendly design without the need for mercury. Researchers used a combination of density functional theory, synchrotron X-ray and neutron powder diffraction and total scattering, and electron paramagnetic resonance to discover that chemical substitutions play a crucial role in tuning the optical properties of the newly developed phosphor. [Contact: Agatha Bardoel, (865) 574-0644; firstname.lastname@example.org]