Category Archives: Energy Issues

GE uses ORNL’s Titan to study combustion

combustionA simulation of combustion within two adjacent gas turbine combustors. (ORNL image)

General Electric has used Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Titan supercomputer — a Cray XK7 system capable of more than 20 million billion calculations per second — to simulate combustion and increase the efficiency of GE’s H class natural gas-powered turbines, which are reportedly the most efficient turbines of their kind. Continue reading

ORNL sets new standard for wireless charging of electric vehicles

wirelessOak Ridge National Laboratory announced Thursday that it had successfully demonstrated a new 20-kilowatt wireless charging system for electric vehicles.

The lab said the charging system achieved 90 percent efficiency at three times the rate of the plug-in systems commonly used to recharge electric vehicles.

“This ability can help accelerate the adoption and convenience of electric vehicles,” ORNL said in a release distributed to the news media.

The Department of Energy laboratory collaborated on technology development with Toyota, Cisco Systems, Evatran, and Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research. Continue reading

ORNL achieves milestone reducing carbon-fiber costs; seeks commercial partners

carbonfiberOak Ridge National Laboratory has achieved a milestone in manufacturing research, significantly lowering the cost of producing industrial-grade carbon fiber and broadening the potential use of the light and strong material in motor vehicles and a range of other products.

ORNL’s Technology Transfer Office last week published a notice seeking applications from companies interested in licensing a new process developed at the lab for commercial use.

“Historically, carbon fiber has been too expensive for widespread use in automobiles and other high-volume industrial applications,” UT-Battelle — the government’s managing contractor at ORNL — said in notice published on the Federal Business Opportunities website. Continue reading

ORNL to help small biz in DOE voucher program

paulusThe U.S. Department of Energy last week made the first awards in a small-business voucher program, enabling 33 companies to gain access to expertise and top-notch research facilities at national labs.

Nine of the clean-energy projects will be carried out at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and the first round of the pilot program has generated an enthusiastic response.

“This is kind of a grand experiment,” said Mike Paulus (pictured right), ORNL’s director of technology transfer. Continue reading

ORNL to support nuclear industry projects

ornlentrance2Oak Ridge National Laboratory will support two projects to develop and demonstrate technologies for advanced nuclear reactor designs, according to info released by the lab.

The Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy recently announced that it would commit about $6 million initially and later up to $80 for the nuclear industry projects headed by Southern Co. and X-energy. Continue reading

EPRI lab gets $3.1M grant from Energy Dept.

epri2The Electric Power Research Institute’s Knoxville lab  will receive a $3.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to work with five utilities to “design, develop and demonstrate technology for end-to-end grid integration of energy source and load management with PV generation.” The grant to EPRI was among DOE’s announcement this week of awards totaling $18 million to develop solar energy storage solutions and other projects to boost grid resiliency.

ORNL to play big role in DOE’s Grid Modernization

ORNLmrfOak Ridge National Laboratory will play a big role in the Department of Energy’s Grid Modernization Initiative. DOE today announced awards totaling $220 million over three years, and ORNL is involved in more than 25 of the funded projects.

According to lab spokeswoman Morgan McCorkle, ORNL will receive about $11 million in Fiscal Year 2016 and a total of about $22 million over the three years. Here’s a list of the projects and the institutions involved. Continue reading

ORNL achieves milestone in producing plutonium-238 for space missions


An Oak Ridge National Laboratory employee uses a remote-manipulator to move a vial of plutonium-238 oxide inside a shielded hot cell at ORNL’s Radiochemical Engineering Development Center. (ORNL photo/Jason Richards)

Oak Ridge National Laboratory announced Tuesday it had achieved production of 50 grams of plutonium-238. That’s roughly the mass of a golf ball, according to the Department of Energy, but it’s considered an important milestone in re-establishing a U.S. stockpile of Pu-238 for use as a power source on deep-space missions.

ORNL has been developing the capability over the past couple of years with funding that NASA provided via the DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy. The lab uses the High Flux Isotope Reactor for production of the plutonium isotope and then processes and purifies the radioactive material in a series of shielded hot cells. Continue reading

IG critiques the ORNL steam plant resolution

steamAn elevated view of the Boiler Operating Area at Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s reconfigured Steam Plant. (ORNL photo/Jason Richards)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Inspector General this week issued an audit report that looked at the agency’s resolution of the steam plant problems at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. ORNL came to an agreement for a new gas-fired steam plant with Johnson Controls after the earlier biomass-fuel system failed to work as planned and created a hazardous environment.

Although the situation was reportedly resolved in a positive way, the IG identified some lingering issues. Continue reading