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Story tips from the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, May 2016


Credit: ORNL

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]

ENERGY – High-efficiency storage …

The gap between electricity generation and use could be narrowed with an Oak Ridge National Laboratory system that extracts energy from thin air. Actually, Ground-Level Integrated Diverse Energy Storage, or GLIDES, stores electricity mechanically in the form of compressed gas that displaces water in high-pressure vessels described by co-inventor Wale Odukomaiya as the heart of the system. He noted that GLIDES overcomes the site limitations of pumped storage hydroelectricity and compressed air energy, and the higher cost of batteries. Compared to these conventional energy storage systems, GLIDES ( also features near constant-temperature processes, higher efficiency and more flexible scalability. In addition, the system uses the world's smallest Pelton turbine, which extracts energy from the impulse of moving water, manufactured at ORNL's Manufacturing Demonstration Facility. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226; [email protected]]


Cutline: The GLIDES approach has the potential to change the way energy is stored.

BATTERIES – New life for old tires …

Hard carbon materials recycled from tires continue to show great promise as anodes in sodium-ion batteries for large-scale energy storage, according to an Oak Ridge National Laboratory study led by Yunchao Li. The carbons, captured by pyrolyzing, or baking in the absence of oxygen, tire rubber at 1,100, 1,400 and 1,600 degrees Celsius showed capacities of 179, 185 and 203 milliamp hours, respectively, after 100 cycles in sodium-ion batteries. Researchers demonstrated a long cycle life with a capacity of 154 milliamp hours after 600 cycles in sodium-ion batteries. "This study provides a new pathway for inexpensive, Environmentally benign and value-added waste tire-derived products toward large-scale energy storage applications," said Li, a member of ORNL's Chemical Sciences Division. The study is published in the Journal of Power Sources. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226; [email protected]]


Cutline: Discarded tires can provide material useful for lower-cost sodium-ion batteries for energy storage.

NUCLEAR – Accident-tolerant fuels …

Silicon carbide-based materials could be a winning alternative to zirconium alloys commonly used in fuel and core structures in today's light water reactors, according to preliminary findings of a team led by Yutai Katoh of Oak Ridge National Laboratory. "Fuels and core structures in current light water reactors are vulnerable to catastrophic failure in severe accidents," Katoh said. This is largely because of the rapid oxidation kinetics of zirconium alloys in a water vapor environment at very high temperatures. Continuous silicon carbide fiber-reinforced matrix ceramic composites offer outstanding safety benefits because the material reacts with water vapor about 1,000 times slower and retains its strength at temperatures exceeding 2,000 degrees Celsius. This allows it to proportionately reduce generation of heat and hydrogen. ORNL's approach features a dual-purpose coating on the silicon carbide composite cladding wall to alleviate corrosion and gas permeation issues. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226; [email protected]]


Cutline: ORNL's dual-purpose coating potentially offers key advantages for fuel and core structures in light water reactors.

MANUFACTURING- 3D-printed tools…

A successful test of 3D-printed thermoplastic molds demonstrates the potential of additive manufacturing in the tooling industry. Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Manufacturing Demonstration Facility collaborated with a team of industry partners to 3D-print and machine several large molds and test them in one of Boeing's industrial autoclaves. The thermoplastic molds survived the high-temperature, high-pressure conditions in the autoclave, which is used to cure aerospace-grade composite parts. "This was the first successful demonstration of 100 percent digitally manufactured tools in an industrial autoclave," said ORNL researcher Vlastimil Kunc. Researchers note that digital manufacturing could help lower manufacturing costs by accelerating production times; each tool was printed and machined in a matter of hours, whereas a mold produced with conventional techniques has an average lead time of 14 weeks. [Contact: Morgan McCorkle, (865) 574-7308; [email protected]]


Cutline: A 3D-printed thermoplastic mold manufactured at ORNL withstood testing in an industrial autoclave.


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