January 2009 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.
A project to speed and further safeguard the shipping of thousands of radioisotopes in the United States and afar hits the highway this year, but researchers expect the benefits to extend well beyond. Using radio frequency identification, or RFID, in conjunction with other technologies in use and being developed, the research team led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory aims to take the world of commerce to the next level of efficiency. This effort puts into motion work performed over the last five years by the Environmental Protection Agency, the departments of Energy, Defense, Homeland Security and Defense as well as the Nuclear Regulatory Agency and numerous private sector shippers. Also involved are the European Union and the European Commission. "The payoff will be a streamlined, safer and far more efficient system of moving high-value and hazardous cargo throughout the world," said Randy Walker of ORNL's Computational Sciences and Engineering Division. [Contact: Ron Walli; 865.576.0226; email@example.com]
Assistance to Navistar in developing a new lightweight truck bumper that can save gasoline without compromising safety is being performed by a materials process team headed by Gail Ludtka of Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Materials Science and Technology Division. Characterizing and analyzing data developed using her innovative testing method, Ludtka worked with ORNL colleague Don Erdman to help establish the material requirements needed for this bumper to be 40 percent lighter than conventional chrome plated bumpers while maintaining the same fatigue performance required under highway operating conditions. The lighter weight improves the truck's fuel efficiency while providing the same durability, protection and crash benefits of standard materials bumpers. The ORNL work is funded the DOE Office of Vehicle Technologies' Reduction Materials program. [Contact: Fred Strohl; 865.574.4165; firstname.lastname@example.org]
Structural defects introduced into carbon nanotubes could lead the way to carbon nanotube circuits, research led by Vincent Meunier of Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Computer Science and Mathematics Division shows. Individual carbon nanotubes are excellent conductors of electricity, but that conductivity goes away when they are connected together into circuits because the junctions act as barriers, and the connections are effective insulators. However, work conducted at the Department of Energy's Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences at ORNL and Mexico's National Laboratory for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Research shows that imperfections in the carbon lattice structure, which is typically hexagonal, improve conductivity between nanotubes. The finding could lead to nanoscale circuits that enable more compact and more powerful computers made of carbon nanotube materials that outperform silicon. The research is published in the journal ACS Nano; an article also appears in the Dec. 15 issue of New Scientist. The work is supported by the Division of Materials Sciences and Engineering, DOE Office of Basic Energy Sciences. [Contact: Bill Cabage; 865.574.4399; email@example.com]