News Release

Story tips from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, June 2015

Peer-Reviewed Publication

DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory

To arrange for an interview with a researcher, please contact the Communications staff member identified at the end of each tip. For more information on ORNL and its research and development activities, please refer to one of our media contacts. If you have a general media-related question or comment, you can send it to

SOLAR - Suitability mapping ...

Using remote sensing data, researchers can efficiently determine optimum sites for solar power plants, according to a study led by Olufemi Omitaomu of Oak Ridge National Laboratory. With the target of solar energy providing up to 35 percent of the nation's total energy requirements by 2050, the need for strategic siting of solar plants is vital, Omitaomu said. He and colleagues in ORNL's Critical Infrastructure and Climate Change Group used a digital elevation model with 90-meter resolution to estimate global solar radiation. They added a computational model with overlays built on a geographic information system platform to divide the study area into a grid of cells to determine suitability for each cell. Their models also took into account population density, solar energy potential, federal lands and hazardous facilities. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226;]

LIGHTING - Safer landings ...

Airport runways could be highly visible under even the worst conditions with a lighting technology being developed by a team led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The prototype fixture features infrared and white light generators packaged in the industry standard PAR 38 configuration and uses ORNL's graphite foam. This provides cooling for the light emitting diodes and separately emits infrared light. While the LEDs that have replaced incandescent bulbs at many airports are efficient and bright, they aren't compatible with the enhanced vision systems (IR thermal cameras) onboard many planes. In addition to not being detectable by these systems, "Federal Aviation Administration-sponsored test pilots have reported 'blooming' and 'blinding' when the white light is produced by LEDs," said ORNL researcher James Klett. The light being developed in collaboration with Spectrum FML eliminates this problem. Evaluations of the new lights are slated for runways in Memphis. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226;]

ENERGY - Rooftop A/C retrofit ...

Through some nifty system coordination that limits the number of commercial rooftop air conditioning units that run simultaneously, a technique developed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers can provide savings of thousands of dollars per year. Researchers expect the system, installed at a church in Knoxville, Tenn., to return the $1,200 investment in six months to a year. Compared to other complicated approaches that employ dozens of sensors and can cost thousands of dollars, the ORNL system receives data through public weather services and existing thermostat temperature sensors. The ORNL system effectively reduces costly peak demand - which happens when multiple units are running - by 50 percent. ORNL researcher James Nutaro noted that systems that cost thousands of dollars are unlikely to ever provide a return on investment. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226;]

ENERGY - Good vibrations dryer ...

Tomorrow's clothes dryers could use high-frequency mechanical vibrations instead of heat to extract moisture as a cold mist, dramatically reducing drying time and energy use. Oak Ridge National Laboratory and GE Appliances researchers are developing a prototype that uses ultrasonic transducers with an energy factor that greatly exceeds current heat-based technology. Drying times could be reduced to 15 to 20 minutes with potentially no shrinkage and no fading. "This project can potentially revolutionize the clothes dryer industry and provide 117 billion kilowatt-hours in energy savings," said Ayyoub Momen of the lab's Building Technologies Research and Integration Center. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226;]


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