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Contact: Ron Walli
DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory

June 2013 story tips

TRANSPORTATION Better, cleaner engines . . .

Air in the United States could be cleaner in years to come because of a laboratory researchers expect will help in the development of new standards for fuel economy and emissions evaluations. The Vehicle Systems Integration Laboratory provides unprecedented capabilities that will be invaluable to manufacturers of diesel and conventional engines, transmissions, and other drivetrain and emissions components. The payoff is that manufacturers can test different designs under real-world conditions, saving time and money. "We can test virtually every parameter of light-duty vehicles to hybrid heavy-duty rigs and everything in between," said David Smith of Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Energy and Transportation Science Division. Partners in this Department of Energy project include the Environmental Protection Agency, Cummins, Meritor, the Society of Automotive Engineers and other national laboratories. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226;]

BIOSURVEILLANCE Biodetection symposium . . .

Improving point of care diagnostics and decision support capabilities will be among the topics for Oak Ridge National Laboratory's 2nd Annual Biosurveillance Symposium conference in Alexandria, Va., June 17. Medical professionals and industry leaders from around the world will also be discussing point of care DNA sequencing, data standards for interoperability of point of care systems, electronic health records and biosurveillance-related databases. More information is available at This meeting precedes the Biodetection Technologies Conference ( June 18-19, also being held at the Hilton Alexandria Mark Center and organized by The Knowledge Foundation. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226;]

BATTERIES Manufacturing breakthrough . . .

By using water instead of expensive, flammable and toxic solvents to make lithium-ion batteries, Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers have discovered and demonstrated a path to reduce manufacturing costs and removed environmental concerns. The method also eliminates the explosion-proof processing equipment requirement. "Others have done what we're doing to make anodes, but no one has been successful with both anodes and cathodes," said Jianlin Li, one of the developers of the technology, which has a patent pending. The new manufacturing method uses deionized water instead of a slurry containing the solvent N-methylpyrrolidone, which is expensive, toxic and produces flammable vapors during the electrode manufacturing process. ORNL researchers have demonstrated a battery that features excellent performance. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226;]

NANOSCIENCE -- Chip harnesses mysterious force . . .

A research team that includes scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory has for the first time demonstrated a compact integrated silicon chip that harnesses the power of the Casimir effect. This puzzling force, first measured more than a decade ago, is thought to cause objects to stick together at a very small scale, but its behavior is not fully understood because of difficulties in measuring the effect experimentally. "Our results represent the first step toward on-chip exploitation of the Casimir force," said ORNL's Ivan Kravchenko, co-author on the research reported in Nature Communications. Understanding how the different components in microscale integrated chips interact with each other is key for the development of micro- and nano-machinery with applications in devices such as sensors and tiny motors. [Contact: Morgan McCorkle, (865) 574-7308;]

ENERGY Safer lithium-ion batteries . . .

Research at Oak Ridge National Laboratory is addressing the need for better battery technology, demonstrated recently when aircraft were grounded because of safety issues. ORNL researchers used a combination of neutron scattering at NOMAD, the Nanoscale-Ordered Materials Diffractometer at the Spallation Neutron Source, and computational simulation to characterize low-cost lignin-based carbon materials from biomass for a more reliable anode for lithium-ion batteries. The anode is the positive terminal of an electrolytic cell. The combination of neutron scattering experiments and computation provides researchers with a fundamental understanding of the structure-property relationships in batteries. The expected payoff is safer long-lasting batteries. [Contact: Agatha Bardoel, (865) 574-0644;]

CLIMATE -- Bogs and forests as ecosystem labs . . .

Whole-ecosystem warming technologies for the 10-year Spruce and Peatland Responses Under Climatic and Environmental Change project have been finalized using prototypes designed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Construction has begun in Minnesota to deploy the technologies, which will warm the ecosystem and elevate carbon dioxide levels when experimental treatments begin in FY2014. SPRUCE aims to better understand feedbacks of boreal forests to global warming. In the past year, ORNL supported construction of local access roads and installation of more than three miles of electrical supply lines and extensive "dock" boardwalks to service 17 experimental plots. [Contact: Dawn Levy, (865) 241-4630;]


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