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ORNL's Communications team works with news media seeking information about the laboratory. Media may use the resources listed below or send questions to news@ornl.gov.

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Batteries—Polymers that bind

A team of researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have demonstrated that designed synthetic polymers can serve as a high-performance binding material for next-generation lithium-ion batteries.

Strain-tolerant, triangular, monolayer crystals of WS2 were grown on SiO2 substrates patterned with donut-shaped pillars, as shown in scanning electron microscope (bottom) and atomic force microscope (middle) image elements.

A team led by scientists at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory explored how atomically thin two-dimensional (2D) crystals can grow over 3D objects and how the curvature of those objects can stretch and strain the 

Pictured in this early conceptual drawing, the Translational Research Capability planned for Oak Ridge National Laboratory will follow the design of research facilities constructed during the laboratory’s modernization campaign.

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., May 7, 2019—Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Congressman Chuck Fleischmann and lab officials today broke ground on a multipurpose research facility that will provide state-of-the-art laboratory space 

The illustrations show how the correlation between lattice distortion and proton binding energy in a material affects proton conduction in different environments. Mitigating this interaction could help researchers improve the ionic conductivity of solid materials.

Ionic conduction involves the movement of ions from one location to another inside a material. The ions travel through point defects, which are irregularities in the otherwise consistent arrangement of atoms known as the crystal lattice. This sometimes sluggish process can limit the performance and efficiency of fuel cells, batteries, and other energy storage technologies.

In this MXene electrode, choosing the appropriate solvent for the electrolyte can increase energy density significantly. This scanning electron microscopy image shows fine features of a film only 5 microns thick—approximately 10 times narrower than a human hair. Credit: Drexel University; image by Tyler Mathis

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., March 4, 2019—Scientists at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Drexel University and their partners have discovered a way to improve the energy density of promising energy-storage materials, conductive two-dimensional ceramics called MXenes. The findings are published in Nature Energy.

ORNL will use state-of-the-art R&D tools at the Battery Manufacturing Facility to develop new methods for separating and reclaiming valuable materials from spent EV batteries.

The use of lithium-ion batteries has surged in recent years, starting with electronics and expanding into many applications, including the growing electric and hybrid vehicle industry. But the technologies to optimize recycling of these batteries have not kept pace.

Nuclear—Deep space travel

By automating the production of neptunium oxide-aluminum pellets, Oak Ridge National Laboratory scientists have eliminated a key bottleneck when producing plutonium-238 used by NASA to fuel deep space exploration.

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Oak Ridge National Laboratory scientists studying fuel cells as a potential alternative to internal combustion engines used sophisticated electron microscopy to investigate the benefits of replacing high-cost platinum with a lower cost, carbon-nitrogen-manganese-based catalyst.