Energy - Confronting a biofuel barrier
December 01, 2011 — New supercomputing simulations at Oak Ridge National Laboratory are tackling a major bottleneck to cost-effective biofuel production. Lignin, a major component of plant cell walls, forms problematic clumps during the high-temperature pretreatment of biomass. Until now, it has been unclear how and when the lignin structure changed.
Transportation - High tech yields high MPGs
December 01, 2011 — Of the top 10 fuel efficient vehicles made in 1984 to the present, half are available for sale in the 2012 model year, according to the latest ratings on htp://www.fueleconomy.gov, a website developed and maintained by Oak Ridge National Laboratory for the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency.
Desalination - Clever conversion
December 01, 2011 — Superhydrophobic coatings developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory could be the key to efficiently converting saltwater to freshwater. Small-scale tests have produced encouraging results, according to John Simpson, inventor of the material, which pins a layer of air on the coating's surface.
Neutrons - 'Imagine' data faster
December 01, 2011 — Imagine an instrument that collects thousands of diffraction data points in days instead of months with the help of a cylindrical image plate detector and an intense polychromatic neutron beam.
Materials - Carbon fiber lite
December 01, 2011 — Lignin-based carbon fiber for heat management of renewable energy systems offers excellent performance at a low cost and is the focus of a project between Oak Ridge National Laboratory and industry. A key challenge is whether the technology can be scaled to meet cost and production needs for industry partners looking at advanced energy efficiency systems.
Cybersecurity - Foiling exfiltration
November 08, 2011 — Computer hackers could lose a huge advantage because of a system being developed by a team led by Justin Beaver of Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
Energy - Inexpensive renewable hydrogen
November 08, 2011 — Solar and wind energy could become more viable because of an innovation that produces a hydrogen stream of greater than 99 percent purity without using the more traditional proton-conducting polymers.
Magnetism - Chilling discovery
November 08, 2011 — Something odd happens when you expose the element gadolinium to a strong magnetic field: Its temperature jumps up. Remove the field and the temperature drops below the starting point. This behavior, known as the magnetocaloric effect, is usually found in ferromagnets, materials that lose their magnetism above a certain temperature.
Materials - Rebuffing temperatures
November 08, 2011 — Carefully combining materials that shrink when heated with materials that expand creates a material unaffected by extreme temperature. Researchers can apply this concept to satellites that experience drastic temperature changes as they orbit the Earth but must also maintain precise data.
Diesel - Greater expectations
November 08, 2011 — A recent study of diesel particulate filter performance has revealed positive news for manufacturers and industry, indicating longer service lifetime expectations than ever before. Critical to vehicle emissions control, the filter removes soot and particulates from diesel exhaust. Under excessive stress, it can crack and fail — yet the technology very often outlasts manufacturer warranties.