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ORNL scientists are combining their expertise in environmental science, physics, sensors and additive manufacturing to create model fish for use in testing of hydropower turbine designs. The project supports healthy ecosystems and hydropower—the nation’s largest renewable energy resource. Photo credit: Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy.

Hydropower developers must consider many factors when it comes time to license a new project or renew an existing one: How can environmental impacts be mitigated, including to fish populations?

Starch granules

Scientists at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have developed a new method to peer deep into the nanostructure of biomaterials without damaging the sample. This novel technique can confirm structural features in starch, a carbohydrate important in biofuel production.

ORNL researchers developed sodium-ion batteries by pairing a high-energy oxide or phosphate cathode with a hard carbon anode and achieved 100 usage cycles at a one-hour charge and discharge rate. Credit: Mengya Li/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Researchers at ORNL demonstrated that sodium-ion batteries can serve as a low-cost, high performance substitute for rechargeable lithium-ion batteries commonly used in robotics, power tools, and grid-scale energy storage.

Geothermal energy storage system

Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers created a geothermal energy storage system that could reduce peak electricity demand up to 37% in homes while helping balance grid operations.

Smart Neighborhood homes

To better determine the potential energy cost savings among connected homes, researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory developed a computer simulation to more accurately compare energy use on similar weather days.