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Water and energy are inextricably linked, yet in our 20th-century water systems we use freshwater once then throw it away. With innovations designed to enhance desalination technologies, agricultural runoff, produced water from industry, and inland brackish groundwater that are now seen as untreatable could all be sources of clean, safe, and affordable water.

The National Alliance for Water Innovation, a partnership of the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, other national labs, university and private sector partners, has been awarded a five-year, $100 million Energy-Water Desalination Hub by DOE to address water security issues in the United States.

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.

Heat impact map

A detailed study by Oak Ridge National Laboratory estimated how much more—or less—energy United States residents might consume by 2050 relative to predicted shifts in seasonal weather patterns 

ORNL collaborator Hsiu-Wen Wang led the neutron scattering experiments at the Spallation Neutron Source to probe complex electrolyte solutions that challenge nuclear waste processing at Hanford and other sites. Credit: Genevieve Martin/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy.

Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Washington State University teamed up to investigate the complex dynamics of low-water liquids that challenge nuclear waste processing at federal cleanup sites.

Desalination diagram

A team of scientists led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory used carbon nanotubes to improve a desalination process that attracts and removes ionic compounds such as salt from water using charged electrodes.

Molecular dynamics simulations of the Fs-peptide revealed the presence of at least eight distinct intermediate stages during the process of protein folding. The image depicts a fully folded helix (1), various transitional forms (2–8), and one misfolded state (9). By studying these protein folding pathways, scientists hope to identify underlying factors that affect human health.

Using artificial neural networks designed to emulate the inner workings of the human brain, deep-learning algorithms deftly peruse and analyze large quantities of data. Applying this technique to science problems can help unearth historically elusive solutions.

Illustration of the intricate organization of the PKA structure, wherein different parts of the protein are connected through elaborate hydrogen bonding networks (dashed yellow lines), glued together by the hydrophobic assemblies (light blue and orange volumes)—all working together to build the functional active site. Insert shows protonation of the transferred phosphoryl group (cyan mesh) and its many interactions with water and the active site amino acid residues. Credit: Jill Hemman/ORNL

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., March 20, 2019—Direct observations of the structure and catalytic mechanism of a prototypical kinase enzyme—protein kinase A or PKA—will provide researchers and drug developers with significantly enhanced abilities to understand and treat fatal diseases and neurological disorders such as cancer, diabetes, and cystic fibrosis.

Neutron scattering allowed direct observation of how aurein induces lateral segregation in the bacteria membranes, which creates instability in the membrane structure. This instability causes the membranes to fail, making harmful bacteria less effective.

As the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria known as superbugs threatens public health, Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Shuo Qian and Veerendra Sharma from the Bhaba Atomic Research Centre in India are using neutron scattering to study how an antibacterial peptide interacts with and fights harmful bacteria.

Trees in an Oak Ridge National Laboratory plot

Higher carbon dioxide levels caused 30 percent more wood growth in young forest stands across the temperate United States over a decade, according to an analysis led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

(From left) ORNL Associate Laboratory Director for Computing and Computational Sciences Jeff Nichols; ORNL Health Data Sciences Institute Director Gina Tourassi; DOE Deputy Under Secretary for Science Thomas Cubbage; ORNL Task Lead for Biostatistics Blair Christian; and ORNL Research Scientist Ioana Danciu were invited to the White House to showcase an ORNL-developed digital tool aimed at better matching cancer patients with clinical trials.

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., March 4, 2019—A team of researchers from the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory Health Data Sciences Institute have harnessed the power of artificial intelligence to better match cancer patients with clinical trials.