New step towards clean energy production from enzymes
    A new field of physics called valleytronics.

    This is the monthly round up or research highlights form The Oak Ridge National Lab

    SOLAR – Cleaner coatings …

    Keeping energy-concentrating mirrors at solar thermal power plants free from dirt is both labor and time intensive. Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory are working to address the challenge with lab-developed superhydrophobic coating technology. “We’ve shown that applying superhydrophobic coating to the surface of solar mirrors reduces dust particle accumulation,” said ORNL’s Georgios Polyzos. “Now, we’re working to improve the coating’s durability, which could make it a cost-effective solution for boosting energy production and operational efficiency at concentrated solar power plants.” The ORNL team is subjecting thinly sprayed mirror samples to simulated harsh desert conditions. Following successful lab testing, they plan to evaluate the coatings on mirrors in the field. [Contact: Sara Shoemaker, (865) 576-9219,]

    NUCLEAR — Testing future reactors …

    03 Nuclear_storytipimage_TestLoop

    ORNL researchers use infrared photos to identify temperature loss that could create problems in the high-temperature fluoride salt pumped test loop.

    Fluoride salt-cooled high-temperature reactors are a promising design in the next generation of nuclear energy production, and one of the first steps from concept to reality is underway at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. A team led by ORNL’s Graydon Yoder Jr. is operating a test loop to see how fluoride salts would perform in transferring heat from the FHR’s core. “It’s the first high-temperature fluoride salt pumped test loop facility in the U.S. since the 1970s,” Yoder said. “The loop can provide useful information to reactor developers showing that liquid salt heat transfer meets performance goals and safety requirements.” The FHR would provide temperatures well above 600 degrees Celsius, which increases energy efficiency while maintaining a low pressure because the fluoride salt is far from its boiling point. The research team is also testing other new concepts, including silicon carbide as a piping component and a dry rotating gas seal design. [Contact: Jason Ellis, (803) 804-4122;]

    MATERIALS – Modeling radiation damage …

    In nuclear reactors, energetic neutrons slam into metal atoms that are ordered in a lattice, displacing them with enough force to trigger a cascade of collisions. Laurent Béland,Yuri Osetsky and Roger Stoller, of the Energy Dissipation to Defect Evolution Energy Frontier Research Center at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, modeled radiation damage and discovered that the number of defects ultimately created in a material correlates with atomic displacements that high-pressure shock waves generate early in the collision cascade. “In a typical simulation, the forces emerging from interatomic interactions at these distances are inaccurately modeled, which impacts the final outcome of the cascades,” Béland said. “This region where we had only an ad hoc description of collisions is where all the important things happen,” Stoller added. Their better understanding will improve simulations of chemically complex alloys. [Contact: Dawn Levy, (865) 576-6448;]


    New step towards clean energy production from enzymes
    A new field of physics called valleytronics.
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