Hydropower — Supply chain crunch
Credit: Bureau of Reclamation
Hydropower — Supply chain crunch
A new Department of Energy report produced by Oak Ridge National Laboratory identifies several supply chain must-haves in maintaining the pivotal role hydropower will play in decarbonizing the nation’s grid.
The “Hydropower Supply Chain Deep Dive Assessment” is part of a series of reports on energy sector readiness that spotlights the impacts of a burdened supply chain — from an aging workforce to a lack of domestic sourcing for components such as microchips and large steel castings for turbines.
While the supply chain adequately supports the existing U.S. hydropower fleet, the sector is preparing for longer lead times in procuring components for new construction and modernization efforts in response to growing demand for hydropower.
“It was illuminating to see how little public data are available to trace hydropower supply chains,” said ORNL’s Rocio Uria-Martinez. “But this analysis has brought all parties together to better inform policy and develop workable solutions.” — Mimi McHale
Media Contact: Kimberly A. Askey, 865.576.2841, [email protected]
Caption: A wide-head turbine runner is delivered to the Hoover Dam in Nevada. Credit: Bureau of Reclamation
Caption: A large generator is installed at the Meldahl hydropower plant in Kentucky. The energy sector anticipates longer lead times in procuring such large components for increasing construction and modernization of U.S. hydropower plants. Credit: American Municipal Power
Tech transfer — Safer batteries on impact
Several electrolyte and thin-film coating technologies, developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, have been licensed by BTRY, a battery technology company based in Virginia, to make batteries with increased energy density, at lower cost, and with an improved safety profile in crashes.
The enabling technologies, called Safe Impact Resistant Electrolytes, or SAFIRE, are particularly suitable for application in the electric vehicles and aerospace industries.
“In a lithium-ion battery, a thin piece of plastic separates the two electrodes,” said ORNL’s Gabriel Veith. “If the battery is damaged and the plastic layer fails, the electrodes can come into contact and cause the battery’s liquid electrolyte to catch fire.”
ORNL’s technology mixes an additive into the conventional electrolyte to create an impact-resistant electrolyte. It solidifies when hit, preventing the electrodes from touching if the battery is damaged. This new stability reduces the need for bulky protective shielding.
Media contact: Karen Dunlap, 865.341.1582, [email protected]
Caption: Virginia-based battery technology company BTRY has licensed several electrolyte and thin-film coating technologies, developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, to make batteries with increased energy density, at lower cost, and with an improved safety profile in crashes. Credit: Carlos Jones/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy
Imaging — Lithium light bright
Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers demonstrated an electron microscopy technique for imaging lithium in energy storage materials, such as lithium ion batteries, at the atomic scale.
The properties of energy storage materials stem directly from their atomic structures, which are only visible using electron microscopy. Today’s advanced electron microscopes are able to image heavy elements at atomic resolution. One challenge is simultaneously observing light elements including lithium, sodium and potassium, which are essential for modern batteries.
Scientists at ORNL’s Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences used “center-of-mass” scanning transmission electron microscopy, or CoM-STEM, to observe lithium along with heavier elements in battery materials at atomic resolution.
“Imaging light and heavy elements together is important for advancing energy storage materials, but many techniques require significant expertise or yield data that are difficult to interpret,” said ORNL’s Michael Zachman. “CoM-STEM is a straightforward technique that will now be more accessible across the research community.”
Media contact: Ashley Huff, 865.241.6451, [email protected]
Caption: Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory demonstrated center-of-mass scanning transmission electron microscopy to observe lithium along with heavier elements in battery materials at atomic resolution. Credit: Chad Malone/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy
Method of Research
Subject of Research
Robust Atomic-Resolution Imaging of Lithium in Battery Materials by Center-of-Mass Scanning Transmission Electron Microscopy
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