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

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

ENERGY - Samsung savings ...

Although variable refrigerant flow heat pumps are known to have advantages, higher initial costs and difficulty in quantifying those benefits serve as deterrents to their widespread use. ORNL's flexible research platform, however, provides a solution that enables researchers to characterize real-world performance. In a controlled showdown, Samsung's variable refrigerant flow heat pump outperformed a conventional rooftop unit, providing heating and cooling savings of 80 percent and 26 percent, respectively. The evaluation was performed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory's flexible research platform, an instrumented two-story small office building with 10 thermal zones. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226;]

VEHICLES - New catalyst looms big ...

Gains in engine efficiency are often accompanied by emissions challenges, but a catalyst developed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers could provide a solution. The mixed oxide catalyst features low-cost materials and potentially overcomes the problem of inhibition, in which nitrogen oxides, copper oxide and hydrocarbons effectively clog the catalyst designed to cleanse a vehicle's exhaust stream. This happens as these three pollutants compete for active surface sites on the catalyst. But now a catalyst composed of copper oxide, cobalt oxide and cerium oxides that was studied in simulated exhaust streams shows considerable promise - and it does this at low temperatures without using precious metals. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226;]

MATERIALS--Cleaner crude ...

Crude oil refinement can be an extremely costly chemical process. In an effort to reduce energy and cost demands, Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers Anibal Ramirez-Cuesta and Stuart Campbell are collaborating with University of Nottingham (UK) researchers to develop metal-organic frameworks--substances that can catch and separate different gases during refinement. These porous metal-based compounds have potential applications across the chemical industry, and are produced with water-based solvents, rather than chemical solvents, making separation processes cleaner. The research team plans to collaborate with engineers in industry to bring this process closer to being used on the commercial level. [Contact: Eric Gedenk, (865) 241-5497;]

CLIMATE--Energy data portal ...

A new addition to, home of the U.S. government's open data, focuses on the connection between climate change and the nation's energy infrastructure. Curated by an Oak Ridge National Laboratory-led team, the "Energy Infrastructure" theme contains federally created scientific and technical resources related to the potential effects of climate change on the U.S energy sector and other critical infrastructure. The team's goal is to make climate data more accessible for policy analysts, researchers, decision makers, application developers and others to add value through the development of new tools and applications. "Data are increasingly becoming an indispensable resource for those working to enhance the nation's resilience to climate variability and change," said Benjamin Preston, deputy director of the Climate Change Science Institute at ORNL. [Contact: VJ Ewing, (865) 241-6645;]


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