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Story tips from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, July 2014

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

MATERIALS - Rare earth substitute ...

An alloy discovered at Oak Ridge National Laboratory holds great promise for permanent magnets as the material retains its magnetic properties at higher temperatures yet contains no rare-earth elements. This finding is significant because while rare-earth-based magnets are critical to alternative energy technologies, mining them is costly and the supply is limited. "During our investigations of alternative materials, we discovered some promising permanent magnet properties in hafnium cobalt boron alloys," said Orlando Rios, one of the developers. "The performance is enabled by a unique nano-crystalline structure manufactured using industrially scalable processing technologies." Co-developer Michael McGuire noted that this alloy is competitive with other rare-earth-free permanent magnet materials and can work at significantly higher temperatures than the best rare-earth-containing materials. A patent is pending. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226;]

COMPUTING - Modeling motors ...

Tomorrow's motors for electric vehicles, manufacturing and household appliances could be smaller, use less electricity and contain no rare-earth magnet materials because of a new Oak Ridge National Laboratory characterization technology. The analysis system demonstrates that processing and manufacturing of electrical steel can have significant negative impacts on the operation of motors, resulting in lower efficiencies and larger sizes for a given power rating. "Using these software modeling tools will significantly increase motor model accuracy, allowing designers to circumvent these problems using advanced designs and materials," said Burak Ozpineci, leader of ORNL's Power Electronics and Electric Machinery Group. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226;]

MATERIALS - Muzzling hearing loss ...

A patented Oak Ridge National Laboratory graphite foam that is cutting thousands of dollars a year from arena lighting costs ( could also help preserve U.S. soldiers' hearing. The foam, developed by a team led by James Klett of ORNL's Materials Science and Technology Division, is part of a new muzzle suppression system for military weapons. The technology could reduce medical expenses for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and improve the quality of life for soldiers and veterans. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226;]

COMPUTING - Supercharging injector design ...

An allocation of 15 million hours on Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Titan supercomputer could accelerate advances in fuel injector design, enabling automakers to meet government fuel economy regulations, say researchers at General Motors and ORNL. "The current design optimization process is very time- and labor-intensive," said Sreekanth Pannala of ORNL's Computer Science and Mathematics Division. "As a result, it is not possible to fully investigate the numerous geometry and operating parameters and truly optimize the injector design for best fuel efficiency." By employing Titan, however, researchers can simulate a large matrix of injector designs over a wide range of operating conditions, analyze the results and validate against experimental measurements. This approach can reduce the development time from months to weeks. The award was made through the Department of Energy's Advanced Scientific Computing Research Leadership Computing Challenge. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226;]


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