- Number 366 |
- July 2, 2012
Thanks to TV shows such as The Jetsons and Star Trek, many Americans grew up dreaming that homes of the future would be equipped with fantastic high-tech features, driven by an unlimited supply of energy.
Research engineers at DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have a different vision for the home of the future. The team is working on a "smart" home that will communicate with the electricity grid to know when power is cheap, tell appliances when to turn on or off, and even know when renewable energy resources are available to offset peak demand.
A newly developed carbon nanotube material could help lower the cost of fuel cells, catalytic converters and similar energy-related technologies by delivering a substitute for expensive platinum catalysts.
The precious metal platinum has long been prized for its ability to spur key chemical reactions in a process called catalysis, but at more than $1,000 an ounce, its high price is a limiting factor for applications like fuel cells, which rely on the metal.
In a search for an inexpensive alternative, a team including researchers from DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory turned to carbon, one of the most abundant elements. Led by Stanford University's Hongjie Dai, the team developed a multi-walled carbon nanotube complex that consists of cylindrical sheets of carbon.
For the first time, researchers at DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have shown that pollution increases warming in the atmosphere through enlarging thunderstorm clouds. The scientists conducted a computational study with resolutions high enough to show the clouds developing. They found that for warm summer thunderstorms, pollution particles lead to stronger storms with larger, anvil-shaped clouds, which also last longer. The warming effect dominated by trapping more heat, especially at night, even though these larger clouds also reflected more daytime sunlight warmth back into space.
A new coronary stent, which incorporates an innovative metal alloy developed by scientists at the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) and Boston Scientific Corporation, Inc. (BSCI), has received a 2012 Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer. BSCI, the commercialization partner, utilized the improved alloy performance to develop new coronary stent products with superior properties compared with existing stainless steel stents.
More than 10 years ago, scientists at BSCI recognized NETL’s metallurgy capabilities and asked if the laboratory could help with research to improve coronary stents. Over the next decade, NETL’s Paul Turner, Paul Jablonski, and Edward Argetsinger, along with scientists from BSCI, worked together to develop a novel platinum/chromium (PtCr) alloy and design process to produce the alloy for use as a stent material. The final product features a bold new grade of highly modified stainless steel with more flexibility, corrosion resistance, and strength uniquely suited for next-generation stent products.