Skip to main content

ORNL, Y-12 staff members win nine R&D 100 awards

Researchers and engineers at the Department of Energy's (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and at the Y-12 Plant have won nine R&D 100 Awards, pushing their total to a combined 103 since the awards began in 1963.

The awards, announced today by ORNL Director Alvin W. Trivelpiece, are presented annually by R&D Magazine in recognition of the year's most significant technological innovations. Of the nine awards, six were submitted by ORNL, two by Y-12 and ORNL as joint entries, and one was submitted jointly by a North Carolina company and the laboratory.

The honors were for the following processes or inventions: .

High Performance Storage System (HPSS), developed by ORNL's Randall Burris and Ken Kliewer of the Center for Computational Sciences and by Daniel Million, Deryl Steinert and Vicky White of the Information Technology Services Division. Other HPSS developers are from Lawrence Livermore, Los Alamos and Sandia national laboratories and IBM Global Government Industry.

This system manages enormous amounts of data produced and used in modern high-performance computing, data collection and analysis, imaging and enterprise environments and with capability to serve next-generation platforms. The most innovative characteristic of the system is its scalability, meaning it can be customized to meet specific needs for data transfer rate, storage capacity, file size, the number of files, directories and storage server nodes. It can also serve more than one client simultaneously.

Modular Technetium 99-m Concentrator, developed by ORNL's Emory Collins of the Chemical Technology Division and Life Sciences Division's Saed Mirzadeh and Russ Knapp.

This system improves upon conventional methods to produce technetium-99m, the principal radioisotope used in diagnostic nuclear medicine with an estimated 10 million medical tests per year at a cost of between $3 billion and $4 billion. The method is environmentally cleaner, safer and less expensive than conventional methods of producing the parent radioisotope, molybdenum-99, by fission of enriched uranium-235.

Production of chemicals from biologically derived succinic acid, developed by Brian Davison, Nhuan Nghiem and Bruce Suttle of ORNL's Chemical Technology Division. This was a joint entry with Argonne National Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Applied CarboChemicals.

This process produces succinic acid by fermenting glucose sugar from corn. After separation and purification, the succinic acid is used as a chemical intermediate that is converted into chemical feedstocks used to make an assortment of products. This process will compete with petrochemical methods of production by providing a lower-cost means of obtaining commodity chemicals from renewable resources.

Electron-beam-curable cationic epoxy resins, developed by Chris Janke of ORNL's Engineering Technology Division, George Dorsey of Y-12, Stephen Havens of Oak Ridge Institute for Science Education and Vincent Lopata of Atomic Energy of Canada.

Electron beam curing dramatically reduces the processing time and the overall manufacturing costs for electron beam-curable cationic epoxy resins. The development of electron beam-curable materials with engineering properties that meet the demanding requirements of high-performance composites makes it possible to build high-quality products while eliminating requirements for expensive fabrication tools, slow, high-temperature, high-pressure curing cycles, harmful chemical hardeners and volatile emissions.

Methylated Sol-Gel Sorbent, developed by Michael Sigman and Amy Dindal of ORNL's Chemical and Analytical Sciences Division and George Wachob of Supelco Incorporated.

This product detects airborne pollutants such as carcinogens and industrial effluents. Because of its chemical and thermal stability, researchers expect it to do the job more efficiently and less costly than air sampling traps on the market. The product is licensed to Supelco, a Pennsylvania-based supplier of environmental products.

Metal Compression Forming, developed by Srinath Viswanathan of ORNL's Metals and Ceramics Division and Robert Purgert of Thompson Aluminum Casting Company of Cleveland.

This process makes possible pore-free cast aluminum alloy components with properties comparable to those of forged parts at up to one-third the cost. This allows cast aluminum alloy parts to be used in safety-critical structural applications requiring high tensile strength and ductility and high-fatigue strength, particularly for automotive applications. The process makes it possible to achieve weight reductions in safety-critical components (engine mount brackets, steering knuckles and control arms) of automobiles without sacrificing strength. Cast aluminum alloy components are about half the weight of steel, cast iron or ductile iron.

Vari-Wave, Microwave Heating Instrument, developed by ORNL's Bob Lauf (Metals and Ceramics Division), Don Bible (Instrumentation and Controls Division) and Zak Fathi, Mike Hampton and Ralph Stevens of Lambda Technologies of Morrisville, N.C., the licensee.

This instrument represents a new concept in microwave ovens used in manufacturing. It dramatically reduces curing time (from two hours to three minutes) of adhesives and polymers used in the production of circuit boards and components. It may also have applications in waste remediation, where it could selectively destroy contaminants, and in biomedical treatments.

Enclosed Space Detection System, developed by researchers at Y-12 and at ORNL, detects vibrations from the heartbeat of a person hiding in a vehicle or other enclosed space. It provides a quick, accurate and unobtrusive way to monitor vehicles entering and leaving a jail, a prison or other secure facility.

The system was developed by Leo Labaj, Michael Bath, Vivian Baylor, Michael Carroll, Mike Fuller, Tim Hickerson, Tom McCoig and Richard Pack, all of Y-12, and by ORNL's Bill Dress and Stephen Kercel of the Instrumentation and Controls Division. Metal Ceramic Composite Crucible, developed by Marvin Morrow of Y-12, James Kiggans Jr. of ORNL's Metals and Ceramics Division, Cressie Holcombe (retired from Y-12) and Don Rexford of Blausch Precision Ceramics of Albany, N.Y.

This product is a carbon-free ceramic that contains an embedded metal colander and is used to melt metal by induction heating. The industry uses induction heating for melting metals to form billets or molded shapes because it is more efficient than other methods. The Y-12/ORNL invention joins ceramic and metal materials into an integrated structure for the induction-melting industry and eliminates the transfer of unwanted carbon to the metal product.

Since 1963, ORNL has been named on 94 R&D 100 awards; Y-12, 11 and K-25 (now known as the East Tennessee Technology Park), one.

ORNL, which is managed by Lockheed Martin Energy Research Corporation, is one of DOE's multiprogram research laboratories. Y-12 is managed for DOE by Lockheed Martin Energy Systems.