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5-May-2017 Bacterial boost for bio-based fuels
"Electrical" bacteria are the key ingredient in a new process developed by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory that recycles wastewater from biofuel production to generate hydrogen. The hydrogen can then be used to convert bio-oil into higher grade liquid fuels such as gasoline or diesel.
14-Mar-2017 Two-dimensional MXene materials get their close-up
Researchers have long sought electrically conductive materials for economical energy-storage devices. Two-dimensional (2D) ceramics called MXenes are contenders. ORNL scientists using state-of-the-art scanning transmission electron microscopy provided the first direct evidence of the atomic-defect configurations in a titanium-carbide MXene synthesized at Drexel University. Published in ACS Nano, a journal of the American Chemical Society, the study coupled atomic-scale characterization and electrical property measurements with theory-based simulation.
13-Mar-2017 Nidia Gallego: Carbon scientist is as versatile as the element she studies
At the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Nidia Gallego develops carbon materials for energy technologies and space exploration. She investigates the physical and chemical properties of carbon in diverse forms -- including fiber, composites and foam.
'Carbon is a single element that can be many things,' Gallego said. 'It can be hard like diamond, soft like graphite or amorphous like activated carbon. Its material properties depend on how carbon atoms bond with each other.'
3-Jan-2017 Ceramic matrix composites take flight in LEAP jet engine
Ceramic matrix composite (CMC) materials are tough, lightweight and capable of withstanding temperatures 300-400 degrees F hotter than metal alloys can endure. A quarter-century ago, the US Department of Energy began a program, led by DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, to support US development of CMC materials. This year, LEAP, a new aircraft engine, became the first widely deployed CMC-containing product. CFM International, a 50/50 joint venture of Safran and GE, manufactures LEAP.
23-Aug-2016 Neutrino experiments utilize ORNL experts, equipment to explore the unknown
This year the field of neutrino physics is full of enthusiasm as three significant experiments with different goals gear up to advance our understanding of neutrino physics. All three experiments benefit from expertise and facilities at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
5-Aug-2016 Researchers combine simulation, experiment for nanoscale 3-D printing
A research team led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory has created a high-power simulation and design process to print free-standing 3-D structures on the nanoscale using focused electron beam induced deposition. The simulation-guided nanomanufacturing method allows researchers to design and construct complex high-fidelity nanostructures with less guesswork.
27-May-2016 ORNL researchers use strain to engineer first high-performance, two-way oxide catalyst
Catalysts make chemical reactions more likely to occur. In most cases, a catalyst that's good at driving chemical reactions in one direction is bad at driving reactions in the opposite direction. However, a research team led by the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory has created the first high-performance, two-way oxide catalyst and filed a patent application for the invention. The accomplishment is reported in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
18-Apr-2016 ORNL forges connections for sturgeon conservation
Scientists at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory are taking a closer look at how sturgeon, a prehistoric -- and now imperiled -- group of fish species may better be helped to get around the dams that block their migrations.
5-Apr-2016 Chalice receptors attract metal contaminants with new chemical selectivity
Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory found new ways to influence selectivity for specific positively charged ions (cations) with the addition of simple receptors, not for cations but rather for negatively charged ions (anions). This discovery proves that adding an anion receptor can affect the selectivity of extractants used to separate metals. Better selectivity via the addition of anion receptors to enhance discrimination between metals, such as sodium and cesium, could improve future environmental cleanup efforts.
28-Mar-2016 ORNL scientists show charged salts can extract specific central lanthanide elements
Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory wanted to find out if it was possible to make a molecule that could selectively bind to metal cations in the middle of the lanthanide series. The team provided a proof-of-principle by successfully creating a new ligand that selectively extracted central lanthanides. Easier accessibility to these central lanthanides could lead to advances in materials for technologies such as lasers, strong magnets, lights and neutron-absorbing control rods in nuclear reactors.
9-Mar-2016 ORNL's benchmark data set validates global nuclear reactor codes
A re-analysis of nuclear fuel rods from a commercial reactor used improved radiochemical methods developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and characterized more than 50 different isotopes and 16 elements with high accuracy. It produced an experimental data set with uncertainties many times smaller than those obtained by the earlier radiochemical analysis. Modeling and simulation experts at ORNL applied the more accurate experimental data to validate codes widely used by the nuclear safeguards research community.
8-Mar-2016 'Keiser rigs' stress materials to the max to improve products for power, propulsion
For decades, environmental exposure chambers at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, including some called Keiser rigs, have subjected materials to corrosive gases, crushing pressures and calamitous heat. The extreme environments created in the Keiser rigs have spurred advances and continue to do so by providing insight into the conditions under which materials fail so researchers can apply the lessons learned to design better materials for power and propulsion applications.
25-Jan-2016 Cracking cases
A group of nuclear detectives at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory takes on tough challenges, from detecting illicit uranium using isotopic 'fingerprints' to investigating Presidential assassination conspiracies. 'A very big capability at Oak Ridge exists for nuclear analytics, all the way from helping commercial production of nuclear power to making sure the world's nuclear materials are properly accounted for,' said ORNL's Joseph Giaquinto, leader of the Nuclear Analytical Chemistry and Isotopics Laboratories.
19-Jan-2016 ORNL researchers use neutrons to gain insight into battery inefficiency
Scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory are improving the lifetimes of rechargeable batteries that run on lithium, a small atom that can pack tightly into graphite anode materials. The valuable ions are depleted as a battery charges, and they are also lost to the formation of a thin coating on a battery's anode during initial charging. ORNL researchers used two powerful neutron science facilities to try to understand the dynamics behind this phenomenon.
15-Jan-2016 ORNL's thermal cameras snoop beneath surfaces to reveal materials' secrets
In 1995, the Department of Energy's Continuous Fiber Ceramic Composite program, led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory, bought a high-speed infrared camera -- one of the first available for purchase outside the military. Since then, ORNL has acquired at least 10 additional IR cameras for use in a spectrum of projects. The cameras have mapped changing temperatures as heat flows through objects from gears to artwork.
6-Jan-2016 ORNL on team officially recognized for elements 115, 117 discovery
The International Union for Pure and Applied Chemistry has announced formal verification of four new chemical elements, recognizing the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory and its collaborators for the discovery of elements 115 and 117.
10-Nov-2015 Atoms to engines
The Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, FCA US LLC, and the foundry giant, Nemak of Mexico, are combining their strengths to create lightweight powertrain materials that will help the auto industry speed past the technological roadblocks to its target of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.
7-Oct-2015 Laser spectroscopy of ultrathin semiconductor reveals rise of 'trion' quasiparticles
Scientists at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory used ultrafast laser spectroscopy at the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences to demystify the dynamics of the negative trions. They explored the behavior of the charged quasiparticle in a two-dimensional semiconductor that is an excellent absorber of sunlight. Their insights, published in the journal Physical Review B, may prove important for advancing technologies for solar energy and quantum computing.
The Department of Energy's Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time.