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Background image represents the cobalt oxide structure Goodenough demonstrated could produce four volts of electricity with intercalated lithium ions. This early research led to energy storage and performance advances in myriad electronic applications. Credit: ORNL/Jill Hemman

Two of the researchers who share the Nobel Prize in Chemistry announced Wednesday—John B. Goodenough of the University of Texas at Austin and M. Stanley Whittingham of Binghamton University in New York—have research ties to ORNL.

A new method uses E. coli to generate DNA with methylation patterns that target microbes recognize and accept as their own, facilitating customization of microbes for biofuels production.

Scientists at the US Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have demonstrated a method to insert genes into a variety of microorganisms that previously would not accept foreign DNA, with the goal of creating custom microbes to break down plants for bioenergy.

Electro-Active Tech license signing ceremony

Electro-Active Technologies, Inc., of Knoxville, Tenn., has exclusively licensed two biorefinery technologies invented and patented by the startup’s co-founders while working at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The technologies work as a system that converts organic waste into renewable hydrogen gas for use as a biofuel.

Laccaria bicolor is fruiting aboveground and colonizing the Populus deltoides plant root system belowground in a greenhouse setting.

A team of scientists led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory have discovered the specific gene that controls an important symbiotic relationship between plants and soil fungi, and successfully facilitated the symbiosis in a plant that typically resists it.

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.

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.

carbon nanospikes

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., March 1, 2019—ReactWell, LLC, has licensed a novel waste-to-fuel technology from the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory to improve energy conversion methods for cleaner, more efficient oil and gas, chemical and bioenergy production.

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.

Researchers analyzed the oxygen structure (highlighted in red) found in a perovskite’s crystal structure at room temperature, 500°C and 900°C using neutron scattering at ORNL’s Spallation Neutron Source. Analyzing how these structures impact solid oxide f

A University of South Carolina research team is investigating the oxygen reduction performance of energy conversion materials called perovskites by using neutron diffraction at Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Spallation Neutron Source.