Story tips from the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, April 2016
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 [email protected]
TRANSPORTATION – Navigating around disasters …
Minimizing the impact on freight movement when events like Hurricane Sandy happen is the focus of an Oak Ridge National Laboratory ongoing study led by Marc Fialkoff, a researcher in the Geographic Information Science and Technology Group. "In the aftermath of disasters, planners and policymakers have to utilize scarce resources and work within legal frameworks to provide recovery for affected citizens and businesses," Fialkoff said. With 19 billion tons of freight moving each year on 4 million miles of highway, 140,000 miles of railway and 25,000 miles of waterway across multiple jurisdictions, a natural or man-made disaster can wreak havoc. However, through planning and by utilizing GIS technology to illustrate effects on transportation, the ORNL team is gaining a better understanding into the logical interdependency among critical infrastructure systems. This could inform a more resilient urban design and planning. Fialkoff presented this work at the Society of American Military Engineers (http://www.tisp.org/) Critical Infrastructure Symposium in Charleston, South Carolina. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226; [email protected]]
Cutline: The Port of Virginia was one of the major ports that received diverted containers as a result of the closure of the Port of New York-New Jersey. Such increased cargo surges could lead to capacity constraints on the road and rail network that supports the port.
NANOSCIENCE – Novel spectroscopy by using aberrations …
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. At Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Uppsala University, researchers have done the scientific equivalent by using, rather than eliminating, flaws inherent to electron microscopy to create probes for performing novel atomic-level spectroscopy. The theory and practical aspects of their "aberrated probes" are described in a recent article in the journal Physical Review B. "Here, we focus on how one can detect magnetic properties in materials," said Juan Carlos Idrobo of the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences, a Department of Energy User Facility at ORNL. "However, electron probe shapes can be tailored via specific aberrations to detect other material properties with unprecedented spatial resolution, such as charge ordering, crystal field splitting, spin-orbit coupling, optical dichroism and other physical phenomena associated with broken symmetries." [Contact: Dawn Levy, (865) 576-6448; [email protected]
Cutline: Researchers used electron microscopy aberrations to create a new method for spectroscopy with atomic-level resolution.
ENERGY – Tumbling clothes drying costs …
Clothes dryers that use thermoelectric heat pump technology being developed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory and industry partner Sheetak could use 40 percent less energy, potentially saving consumers $3 billion in utility costs. "Each month, electric clothes dryers typically consume more energy than any other household appliance," said Kyle Gluesenkamp, who leads the development team for ORNL's Building Equipment Research Group. A key to the efficiency gain is that the thermoelectric heat pump recovers much of the energy required to evaporate water from the cloth. The dryer also features a design in which not all of the elements heat air all the way to the drying temperature. ORNL and Sheetak (http://www.sheetak.com), a U.S. manufacturer of thermoelectric modules, are developing a prototype and are negotiating with appliance manufacturers. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226; [email protected]]
Cutline: A prototype thermoelectric dryer at ORNL can save 40 percent in clothes drying energy.
ENVIRONMENT – Aquatic obstacles …
Fish communities recovering from environmental disturbances could potentially face obstacles presented by road culverts and equipment used to monitor water quality, according to an Oak Ridge National Laboratory study conducted over two decades. Researchers Ryan McManamay and Robert Jett led a study to assess progress in recovering fish communities, tracking indicators such as swimming ability, species diversity and life-span following conservation efforts within the White Oak Creek watershed on the Oak Ridge Reservation. The team found environmental monitoring structures installed to monitor water quality often prevent fish species from full recovery. "We found that in-stream barriers, despite serving important purposes, often fragment aquatic migratory corridors and limit fish populations and communities," said McManamay, an aquatic ecologist. Their study, "Dispersal limitations on fish community recovery following long-term water quality remediation," was published recently in the journal Hydrobiologia. [Contact: Ashanti B. Washington, (865) 241-0709; [email protected]]
Cutline: A barrier, or weir, near 5th Creek Road on the Oak Ridge Reservation used to measure discharge on White Oak Creek acted as a barrier (unintentional) to fish passage. Due to age and failure the structure was removed in the fall of 2015.