May 2002 Story Tips
Story ideas from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory. To arrange for an interview with a researcher, please contact the Communications and External Relations staff member identified at the end of each tip.
Paper mills across the country have more reliable and efficient recovery boilers because of ORNL and partners. The problem faced by numerous paper mills was that their recovery boilers, which burn organic waste to generate steam and electric power for the mills, were developing cracks. Repairs or replacements are costly, so researchers in ORNL's Metals and Ceramics Division were asked to help solve the problem. Researchers conducted studies that showed that certain alloys were far more resistant than the industry standard stainless steel. Over the past few years, new or retrofitted boilers have been installed at paper mills from Longview, Wash., to Plymouth, N.C. Each boiler saves about 370 billion British thermal units per year and, collectively, the boilers are helping make the process safer, cleaner and more efficient. [Contact: Media Relations; 865.574.4160; email@example.com]
If a so-called dirty bomb were deployed anywhere in the United States, a system developed at ORNL could save thousands of lives. SensorNet, which provides near real-time detection, identification and assessment of chemical, biological and radiological threats, allows informed first-responders to be dispatched within minutes of an event. The system combines assets from government and private sectors to provide state-of-the-art sensors and remote telemetry at some of the 30,000 existing cellular communications sites throughout the nation. These strategically placed towers provide the nation with unparalleled wireless telecommunications capabilities. First responders would know the critical details of the event, including the chemical or biological agent as well as levels of radiological releases. In addition, emergency management personnel would know the projected path of the plume in time to take corrective action. [Contact: Media Relations; 865.574.4160; firstname.lastname@example.org]
Ecotera Energy's new microturbine-based engine promises to deliver high performance in a compact and energy-efficient package. The engine, based on a technology developed at ORNL and licensed to Ecotera, also boasts low emissions and quiet operation, making it ideal for a wide range of applications. Ecotera Energy sees the thermochemical energy conversion engine being used initially for transportation such as for hybrid vehicles and aerospace applications and to generate electricity in remote locations. Other advantages of the engine include increased reliability, 25 percent greater fuel efficiency than conventional power sources and fuel flexibility. The engine can be powered by fossil fuels, biomass, solar, nuclear and industrial waste heat. [Contact: Media Relations; 865.574.4160; email@example.com]
A change in agricultural policy focus could lead to greater energy security, lower greenhouse emissions and a cleaner environment, according to researchers at ORNL and the University of Tennessee. With a doubling of bioenergy crop yields in the United States and changes in payment programs, the nation's dependence on foreign oil could be cut significantly and net farm income could increase an estimated $6 billion annually by 2020. Advances in the understanding of gene function in plants could lead to a two-fold increase in crop yield, the researchers claim. That and a shift from traditional crops to switchgrass, hybrid poplar and willow could offset projected 2020 Persian Gulf oil imports used for gasoline with only limited impacts on food production. [Contact: Media Relations; 865.574.4160; firstname.lastname@example.org]