Tabletop particle accelerator
    Battery technology could charge up water desalination

    This is the monthly update from the DOE Oak Ridge Lab

    Hybrid packs power 

    Batteries for grid and stationary applications could get a boost with an approach that uses inexpensive and plentiful aluminum and lithium-containing cathodes to increase capacity, cycling performance and safety. The hybrid battery, developed by researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, uses aluminum as the anode – a negative electrode – instead of lithium or graphite. It also uses a new cell design that dramatically reduces the problem of corrosion caused by the strong acidic nature of electrolytes. The result of this work, published in the journal Chemical Communications, is a battery that potentially offers alternative energy storage devices for multiple applications at a lower cost. The paper is available at!divAbstract. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226;]

    Cleaner biomass cookstoves …


    With just a few small sticks, Envirofit International’s M-5000 Wood clean cookstove can boil water in seven minutes. research team. CREDIT: ORNL

    Some of the estimated 4 million premature deaths each year attributed to indoor cookstove smoke might be prevented because of the work of researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Colorado State University and Envirofit International.

    With 3 billion people in developing countries using open fire cookstoves, the need is great for durable, low-cost corrosion-resistant materials that also enable a stove to burn cleaner, said ORNL’s Mike Brady, who has led alloy design efforts for the team since this work began in 2007. The team is now reporting a new alloy (iron-chromium-silicon base) that shows early promise for better corrosion resistance than the current state-of-the-art alloys (iron-chromium-aluminum) at lower cost.

    The team is also publishing corrosion test methods, data and mitigation approaches for next-generation cookstove combustor materials that can be used by cookstove manufacturers to design more durable, better-performing cookstoves. This work was presented recently at the Engineers in Technical and Humanitarian Opportunities of Service conference in Kirkland, Washington. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226;]

    ENERGY – Critical materials, critical role …

    Ensuring a reliable supply of rare earth elements, including four key lanthanides and yttrium, is a major goal of the Critical Materials Institute as these elements are essential to many clean-energy technologies. These include energy-efficient lighting, electric vehicles, photovoltaic panels and wind power. Collaborating with partners of the Ames Laboratory-led CMI, Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers are using a variety of approaches, including computing, to speed processes and to identify technology gaps in the supply chain for critical materials. One of the efforts involves using froth flotation – the separation of hydrophobic mineral particles from hydrophilic ones – to concentrate rare earth minerals from various ores. Another is focused on finding better methods to recover lithium from geothermal brine. “By taking an indirect tack to diversify the supply of critical rare earth elements, we are also developing new uses for the abundant rare earth elements lanthanum and cerium,” said Bruce Moyer, a group leader in the lab’s Chemical Sciences Division. “This will improve the economics of recovering and purifying the less abundant critical rare earth elements.” [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226;]

    NANOSCIENCE – Learning from nanocrystal growth …

    To tailor tiny nanocrystals for catalysts, semiconductors and other applications, scientists must predict what happens inside the particle, at the boundary and in the solvent during particle growth. Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Kentucky tackled this tricky task by developing a framework to analyze crystal growth mechanisms, collective dynamics and proximity effects. In situ liquid scanning transmission electron microscopy captured behavior that simulations correlated to physical and chemical phenomena. “Insight into the physics and chemistry of nanocrystals’ formation and growth will improve our understanding of their physiochemical properties,” said postdoctoral fellow Anton Ievlev of the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences, a Department of Energy User Facility at ORNL. “This knowledge may aid in the design of new materials for microelectronics, biomedicine and other fields.” [Contact: Dawn Levy, (865) 576-6448;]

    CLIMATE – Populations at risk …

    Increased extreme weather events expected to accompany climate change pose a significant risk to coastal regions, home to more than half of the U.S. population with more people on the way. In fact, the rate of population growth in areas within 50 miles of the coasts is projected to nearly triple the national rate, according to Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers. Consequently, vast amounts of critical infrastructures for oil and gas, power generation, water, rail and road transportation, and banking are located in these areas. They are all particularly vulnerable to hurricanes, tsunamis, storm surges, flooding, sea level rise and erosion. “Our research profiles these areas in order to enhance understanding of the challenges, risks and opportunities for improving the reliability and resiliency of infrastructure services in these areas,” said Thomaz Carvalhaes, who presented a talk titled “Profiling Populations at Risk Due to a Changing Climate in Coastal Areas of the United States” at theUTK GeoSym 2016. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226;]


    Tabletop particle accelerator
    Battery technology could charge up water desalination