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CASL, Westinghouse simulate neutron behavior in AP1000 reactor core

February 19, 2014 8:06 am | News | Comments

Scientists and engineers developing more accurate approaches to analyzing nuclear power reactors have successfully tested a new suite of computer codes that closely model neutronics, the behavior of neutrons in a reactor core. A team from Westinghouse used the Virtual Environment for Reactor Applications core simulator (VERA-CS) to analyze its AP1000 advanced pressurized water reactor (PWR).

Scientists successfully test code that models neutrons in reactor core

February 19, 2014 7:15 am | News | Comments

Technical staff at Westinghouse Electric Company LLC, supported by a light water reactor research team at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, have used a new core simulator to analyze its AP1000 advanced pressurized water reactor. The testing focused on modeling the startup conditions and its “neutronics”: the behavior of neutrons in a reactor core.

Scientists find more precise way to measure neutron lifetime

February 5, 2014 12:32 pm | News | Comments

A team NIST scientists, with collaborators elsewhere, has achieved a five-fold reduction in the dominant uncertainty in an experiment that measured the mean lifetime of the free neutron, resulting in a substantial improvement of previous results. However, the accomplishment reveals a puzzling discrepancy when compared to different method, and researchers are planning to re-run the experiment in upgraded form.

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ORNL, Local Motors sign CRADA to enable rapid design, manufacturing of vehicles

January 30, 2014 8:14 am | by Morgan McCorkle, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | News | Comments

Local Motors Inc. and Oak Ridge National Laboratory have signed a new partnership to develop and deliver technology to produce the world’s first production 3-D printed vehicle. The CRADA between Local Motors and ORNL will explore making vehicle construction more efficient, including lower production time, costs and part count, coupled with higher standards of control, safety, aesthetics and mechanical flexibility.

Study advances quest for better superconducting materials

January 28, 2014 7:37 am | News | Comments

Nearly 30 years after the discovery of high-temperature superconductivity, many questions remain, but an Oak Ridge National Laboratory team is providing insight that could lead to better superconductors. Their work examines the role of chemical dopants, which are essential to creating high-temperature superconductors.

Researchers invent “sideways” approach to 2-D hybrid materials

January 10, 2014 7:48 am | News | Comments

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville have pioneered a new technique for forming a 2-D, single-atom sheet of two different materials with a seamless boundary. The study could enable the use of new types of 2-D hybrid materials in technological applications and fundamental research.

Comprehensive phonon “map” offers direction for engineering new thermoelectric devices

January 9, 2014 7:48 am | News | Comments

To understand how to design better thermoelectric materials, researchers are using neutron scattering at the Spallation Neutron Source and the High Flux Isotope Reactor at Oak Ridge National Laboratory to study how silver antimony telluride is able to effectively prevent heat from propagating through it on the microscopic level.

Supercomputers help identify key molecular switch that controls cell behavior

December 17, 2013 2:53 pm | News | Comments

Researchers based at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Univ. of Tennessee have discovered a molecular “switch” in a receptor that controls cell behavior. Researchers identified the molecular switch using detailed molecular dynamics simulations on a computer called Anton, built by D. E. Shaw Research in New York City.

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ORNL devises recipe to fine-tune diameter of silica rods

December 16, 2013 3:22 pm | News | Comments

The goal of fabricating fixed-size one-dimensional silica structures and being able to precisely control the diameter during growth has long eluded scientists. Now, Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers Panos Datskos and Jaswinder Sharma have demonstrated what they describe as the addressable local control of diameter of each segment of the silica rod.

Energy savings in 3-D

November 21, 2013 7:37 am | News | Comments

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory are working with aircraft makers to determine energy savings through the use of additive manufacturing, also known as 3-D printing. The research team is printing airplane parts to show additive manufacturing’s potential as a technology that should be considered foundational to processes seeking more energy efficiency.

Chaotic physics in ferroelectrics hints at brain-like computing

November 19, 2013 7:20 am | News | Comments

Ferroelectric materials are known for their ability to spontaneously switch polarization when an electric field is applied. An Oak Ridge National Laboratory-led team took advantage of this property to draw areas of switched polarization called domains on the surface of a ferroelectric material. To the researchers’ surprise, the domains began forming complex and unpredictable patterns that the researchers say should not be possible.

Study uses neutron scattering, supercomputing to demystify biofuel production

November 14, 2013 7:23 am | News | Comments

Researchers studying more effective ways to convert woody plant matter into biofuels have identified fundamental forces that change plant structures during pretreatment processes used in the production of bioenergy. Experimental techniques including neutron scattering and x-ray analysis with supercomputer simulations revealed unexpected findings about what happens to water molecules trapped between cellulose fibers.

Researchers make strides toward a copper oxide solar cell

October 31, 2013 7:53 am | News | Comments

Amit Goyal and his team of research scientists are using copper oxide to redesign the face of solar power. The once-dismissed solar semiconductor, one of the first discovered, is the basis of ongoing research at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where scientists are creating cheaper and safer alternatives for solar conducting technology.

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Neutrons, electrons and theory reveal secrets of natural gas reserves

October 28, 2013 3:08 pm | News | Comments

Gas and oil deposits in shale have no place to hide from an Oak Ridge National Laboratory technique that provides an inside look at pores and reveals structural information potentially vital to the nation’s energy needs. The research could clear the path to the more efficient extraction of gas and oil from shale.

The science of scents

September 19, 2013 8:21 am | News | Comments

Of the five senses, smell is the least understood, but an Oak Ridge National Laboratory researcher is sniffing out answers that could help establish a systematic understanding of how people categorize odors. The paper could ultimately result in more complete explanations of how the brain’s odor processing mechanism represents and categorizes odors, and help in the effort to predict mental impressions of odors from chemicals.

Oxygen “sponge” presents path to better catalysts, energy materials

August 29, 2013 12:01 pm | News | Comments

Scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have developed a new oxygen “sponge” that can easily absorb or shed oxygen atoms at low temperatures. It consists of strontium cobaltite which has been synthesized in a desirable phase known as perovskite. Materials like this would be useful in devices such as rechargeable batteries, sensors, gas converters and fuel cells.

Phase-locking for Diode Arrays

August 28, 2013 12:45 pm | Award Winners

Broad-area laser diode arrays offer high electrical power conversion efficiency (from 50 to 70%), up to 100 W of light power and are relatively inexpensive to fabricate. However, the diodes in the array suffer from multi-transverse mode emission, which means that phase-locking is impossible. This limits beam quality and brightness. Oak Ridge National Laboratory invented an efficient method to extract a high-quality optical beam from a broad-area laser array by using a V-shaped (off-axis) external optical cavity.

Clearing Big Data Hurdles

August 28, 2013 12:19 pm | Award Winners

For Big Data applications I/O needs to be efficient and scalable so that large data sets can be accessed quickly and fed to applications for processing. With this goal in mind, a team led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory has created ADIOS, a software framework designed to handle the I/O requirements of Big Data projects.

Digging Through the Mess

August 28, 2013 12:06 pm | Award Winners

Every person, company and government organization is faced with continuously flowing, massive streams of data that can’t be manually analyzed. Computers help, but the sheer volume of data has foiled many approaches. Software engineers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have now developed a new way of dealing with this seemingly intractable problem.

Revving Up Engine Development

August 28, 2013 11:35 am | Award Winners

The efficiency of internal combustion engines plays a major role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and lowering resource consumption. One specific but important task is ensuring that lubricant oil is not diluted by fuel, thereby hurting viscosity and efficiency. The Da Vinci Fuel-In-Oil (DAFIO) measurement system, developed by Da Vinci Emissions Services Ltd., Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Cummins Inc., is a tool that engineers can use to rapidly—within five to 10 min—develop engines and engine control strategies that minimize the chances of fuel dilution of lubricant oil. The tool replaces the accepted standard method of gas chromatography.

A Cool Geothermal Solution

August 28, 2013 10:22 am | Award Winners

The ClimateMaster Trilogy 40 Q-Mode water-to-air packaged geothermal heat pump unit, developed by ClimateMaster and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, is the first geothermal heat pump to exceed a certified cooling efficiency of 40 EER (energy-efficiency ratio) under the AHRI’s part load ground loop rating conditions.

Separate from the Rest

August 28, 2013 9:13 am | Award Winners

Lithium-ion battery separators prevent the anode and cathode layers from contacting each other, allowing cell potential to be maintained and safe operation of the battery. The SYMMETRIX HPX-F polymer-ceramic composite separator, developed by Porous Power Technologies and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, achieves this functionality while improving safety over conventional polyolefin membranes.

Little critters, big energy

August 20, 2013 7:58 am | News | Comments

Tennessee scientists are using one of Earth’s smallest creatures to solve some of the government’s biggest bioenergy problems. For the next three years, a $2.1 million grant is allowing researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory to use a process called microbial electrolysis to transform plant biomass into hydrogen to produce energy-rich biofuel for use in combustion engines.

ORNL team uses lignin to power green battery

August 19, 2013 8:24 am | News | Comments

Lignin is a waste material that is produced when paper is manufactured from wood. Instead of disposing of the lignin, a research team at the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory has learned how to take the material and convert it into powering a green battery.

ORNL superconducting wire yields unprecedented performance

August 15, 2013 3:40 pm | News | Comments

A team led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Amit Goyal, a former R&D Scientist of the Year, has demonstrated that superconducting wires can be tuned to match different operating conditions by introducing small amounts of non-superconducting material, or defects, that influences how the overall material behaves. A wire sample grown with this process exhibited new levels of performance in terms of engineering critical current density.

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