Story tips from the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Feb. 2017
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ENERGY – Defending against the cold …
Significant energy savings could be realized by the Department of Defense with the deployment of a low-cost vacuum insulation panel developed with help from researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. A team led by Kaushik Biswas is evaluating how wall retrofit solutions can cut in half energy loss through walls. The innovative manufacturing approach achieves vacuum insulation performance without the need for multi-stage low-pressure vacuum pumping. This evaluation, enlisted by DOD to combat the estimated $200 million per year in energy losses at its facilities, is being conducted at a classroom building in Fort Drum, New York. Initial analysis indicated a 14 percent reduction in heating energy use by adding vacuum insulation panels to existing 2-by-6 wood framed walls with fiberglass. For older, poorly insulated buildings, the savings are expected to be much higher. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226; firstname.lastname@example.org]
Cutline: A vacuum insulation panel can produce big savings, especially for older Department of Defense buildings.
ELECTRONICS – Goodbye to EMI …
Electromagnetic interference, a nuisance to electronic devices used in hundreds of applications that include biomedical, automobiles, manufacturing, satellites and space, could be a non-issue because of a noise filter invented at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Researcher Roger Kisner's noise filter targets EMI in thermocouples in devices in locations that are subject to high-intensity alternating current magnetic fields. "These A/C fields can induce voltages that cause measurement anomalies," Kisner said. Those irregularities can adversely affect, for example, metal manufacturing and other processes that use induction heating. The proprietary technology employs multiple chambers and a series of capacitors in a series of steps that reduce the unwanted noise to virtually zero. Kisner envisions the technology being used in a wide range of industrial, automotive and residential applications. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226; email@example.com]
Cutline: A noise filter developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory could spell doom for unwanted EMI in thermocouple devices.
TRANSPORTATION ¬¬¬¬- Green commuting in NYC …
Simply widening sidewalks and increasing the bike lanes network can boost the number of New York City commuters who choose to take advantage of an option that's healthy for people and the environment, according to Husain Aziz of Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Urban Dynamics Institute. Aziz and ORNL colleagues studied New York Department of Transportation travel survey data and simulated the travel mode choices of approximately 3.5 million commuters. They developed models that can help decision-makers decide evaluate the effects of new infrastructure investments. "Our high-performance commuter-based model examines the impact of proposed changes in walk-bike infrastructure down to the block level," Aziz said. The study also examined the role of social interactions with family and co-workers on the preference to walk and bike. While this study focused on New York, its methodology can seamlessly be adapted to other U.S. cities. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226; firstname.lastname@example.org]
Cutline: This map of New York City shows how many people walk to work each morning. The resolution is block group level.
BATTERIES – Speeding production …
A new process developed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory could alleviate a bottleneck in battery manufacturing and deliver higher capacity batteries for electric vehicles and consumer devices. The formation process – where batteries undergo repeated cycling to stabilize and activate them for use – is one of the most time- and energy-intensive production steps. The researchers' new fast-formation protocol could substantially shorten that time, reducing it by up to 90 percent and saving costs and energy. The ORNL method, published in the Journal of Power Sources, also conserves lithium, which improves battery capacity. "The process is applicable to all lithium-ion batteries and can be tuned for other chemistries as well," said principal investigator David Wood. [Contact: Kim Askey, (865) 946-1861; email@example.com]
Cutline: ORNL researcher and University of Tennessee Bredesen Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Graduate Education student Seong Jin An works with lithium-ion batteries undergoing an ORNL-developed fast-formation protocol that shortens part of battery production by up to 90 percent.
MANUFACTURING – Improved welding …
Oxide removal for welding can be laborious and costly, yet results from a new study indicate the preparation may be unnecessary for certain solid-state joining. An Oak Ridge National Laboratory-led research team evaluated the atomic behavior of iron and aluminum when joined through solid-state welding to determine the fate of resulting oxide film build-up, a part of the process not well researched. Solid-state welding, one of the oldest and most prominent joining techniques, begins with atomically clean materials that are free of oxides or impurities. Through deformation and frictional heating below the melting point, metal sections are joined completely in the solid state. "We determined that the oxide film is not merely 'scraped off' as previously thought, but in fact dissolves in the material being welded near the surface," ORNL's Niyanth Sridharan, lead author, said. Details of the study were published in Scripta Materialia. [Contact: Sara Shoemaker, (865) 576-9219; firstname.lastname@example.org]
Cutline: A new study evaluates the atomic behavior of metals during solid state welding and finds the resulting oxide film is dissolved near the material's surface.