ORNL Office of Science technologies recognized as 2017 R&D Magazine Award Finalists

The Department of Energy Office of Science’s national laboratories had 27 technologies recently chosen as 2017 R&D 100 Award Finalists. Of those 27 technologies, several were from Oak Ridge National Laboratory with an advanced energy application.

Each year, R&D Magazine recognizes the most outstanding technology developments with promising commercial potential. The coveted awards – now in their 55th year – are presented annually in recognition of exceptional new products, processes, materials, or software that were developed throughout the world and introduced into the market the previous year.

These esteemed technologies include:

  1. ACMZ Cast Aluminum Alloys

Lightweight, high-temperature aluminum alloys will play a vital part in improving automotive fuel efficiency in the future. Common commercial alloys soften rapidly at high temperatures, limiting how manufacturers can use them in vehicles. In contrast, alloys that can withstand elevated temperatures are prohibitively expensive and difficult to cast. ACMZ cast aluminum alloys are affordable, lightweight superalloys. They withstand temperatures of almost 100 degrees Celsius, more than current commercial alloys, while providing equivalent mechanical performance. Their properties can meet the varied demands of different automotive engine components. They are also strong enough for manufacturers to use in next-generation high-efficiency combustion engines.

2. SAFIRE – Safe Impact Resistant Electrolyte

Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Safe Impact Resistant Electrolyte (SAFIRE) improves the safety of plug-in electric vehicle batteries. In typical automotive lithium-ion batteries, the liquid electrolyte (which conducts the electrical current) poses a fire risk in high-speed collisions. To minimize this risk, current plug-in electric vehicles use heavy shielding that reduces their range and efficiency. In contrast, the SAFIRE electrolyte eliminates this risk by using an additive that transforms the liquid electrolyte to a solid upon impact. By blocking contact with electrodes, it prevents short circuiting and a potential fire. Under normal conditions, SAFIRE performs as well as conventional electrolytes. In vehicles, it has the potential to significantly reduce electric vehicle weight and increase travel range.

3. Low Cost Carbon Fiber

Carbon fiber has historically been a high-priced specialty material, which has limited its widespread use. Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Low Cost Carbon Fiber (LCCF) production method makes high-strength carbon fiber comparable to commercially available material at approximately half the finished product cost. It is also much faster than other methods and reduces energy usage by about 50 percent. Manufacturers can also combine LCCF with plastic materials to produce lightweight composites. This product can potentially make carbon fiber an affordable material for high-volume, cost-sensitive applications such as fuel-efficient automobiles and wind turbine blades.

4. ACE: The Ageless Aluminum Revolution

Lightweight materials such as aluminum alloys can help substantially increase the efficiency of vehicles and airplanes. ACE is a new family of aluminum alloys that exhibits better performance at high temperatures and is easier to cast than previous alloys. By combining aluminum and cerium, or a similar element, with traditional alloying materials, ACE is better able to resist corrosion and be stretched into wires. ACE alloys remain stable at temperatures 300 degrees Celsius higher than leading commercial alloys. They can also withstand 30 percent more tension before they deform. Manufacturers can successfully cast ACE alloys in a wide variety of structural components without energy-intensive heat treatments. Eliminating these treatments could significantly increase production output and reduce manufacturing costs in some cases by almost 60 percent.

Click here for more ORNL technologies nominated as R&D 100 Award Finalists.

ORNL Innovation Crossroads program opens second round of energy entrepreneurial fellowships

Entrepreneurs are invited to apply for the second round of Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Innovation Crossroads program.

Up to five innovators will receive a two-year post-doctoral entrepreneurial fellowship that includes vouchers worth up to $350,000 for collaborative research and development at ORNL, startup business guidance and mentoring, and health and travel benefits. Entrepreneurs selected during the merit-based process are expected to begin the program by May 2018.

Innovation Crossroads is one of three U.S. Department of Energy Lab-Embedded Entrepreneurship Programs designed to embed top technical post-doctoral talent within national labs as research fellows with goal of subsequently launching businesses. The program focuses on early-stage research and development along with entrepreneurial guidance to enable innovators to inject new ideas into the national labs and transform their novel ideas into U.S.-based companies.

“We are very excited to be recruiting our second cohort. We believe that as knowledge of the program spreads, we’re going to see an increasing number of relevant startup companies working in the energy and advanced manufacturing space,” said Beth Conerty, Project Manager for Entrepreneurship in ORNL’s Office of Industrial Partnerships and Economic Development. “Even though we’ll only be selecting five, it’s great to get connected with these companies and see all the progress that is being made. Our first cohort has been so enjoyable to work with, and we’re looking forward to adding to that group and getting to meet more innovative scientists.”

Innovation Crossroads fellows have access to world-class research facilities and scientific expertise at ORNL, including the Manufacturing Demonstration Facility, the National Transportation Research Center, the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility, the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences, and the Spallation Neutron Source.

Through regional partnerships with entrepreneurial and business accelerator organizations, fellows also receive assistance with developing business strategies, conducting market research, introductions to potential commercial partners, and finding additional sources of funding.

The first cohort of Innovation Crossroads fellows began their terms this summer. These first-time entrepreneurs include Anna Douglas (SkyNano), who is developing a process that uses carbon dioxide as a feedstock to produce low-cost carbon nanotubes; Matthew Ellis and Samuel Shaner (Yellowstone Energy), who are jointly developing an advanced nuclear reactor design; and Mitchell Ishmael (Active Energy Systems), who is developing a system for low level heat recovery and energy storage.

Click here for the original ORNL announcement. 

Technov865

Technov865 will be hosted by Oak Ridge National Lab and the University of Tennessee Research Foundation. Join us for a showcase of the latest upcoming technologies in the area and hear from the inventors behind them.

Register for the event here.

Technov865 to showcase latest UTRF, ORNL technologies

Technov865 is promising a full line-up of the latest tech coming out of East Tennessee from Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Tennessee Research Foundation.

The event will be held Tuesday, September 19 from 2:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. EST at The Square Room in Market Square in Downtown Knoxville.

It will be an exclusive opportunity to meet and hear from the inventors, and the event will also feature several speakers with unique perspectives on innovation.

Jetta Wong, Senior Advisor at the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI), will serve as featured keynote speaker.

Jetta has over 14 years of experience developing programs and policies that support energy and environment technologies. Prior to joining LACI, Jetta Wong established the Office of Technology Transitions for the United States Department of Energy and served as its first Director. In that capacity, she assisted the private sector, state and local governments, universities, laboratories and other stakeholders and engaged with the Department on the commercialization of new technology.

If you’re interested in attending Technov865, click here.

Along with the inventors, leaders from TVA, UTRF, and ORNL will speak about the exciting innovation and technology happening at their organizations including:

  • Joe Hoagland, TVA’s Vice President of Stakeholder Relations
  • Stacey Patterson, Interim University of Tennessee Vice President for Research
  • Tom Rogers, Director of Industrial Partnerships & Economic Development at ORNL
  • Mike Paulus, Director of the Technology Transfer Office at ORNL

The Innovation Crossroads’ innovators will also be presenting during this event. Innovation Crossroads is a program based at ORNL that matches aspiring energy entrepreneurs with the experts, mentors, and networks in technology-related fields to take their world-changing ideas from R&D to the marketplace.

Anna Douglas with SkyNano Technologies, Mitchell Ishmael with Active Energy Systems, and Matthew Ellis and Samuel Shaner with Yellowstone Energy were selected to transform their ideas into clean energy companies with financial support from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). These three teams will be giving presentations during Technov865.

The Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council and Launch Tennessee provide non-exclusive business mentoring services to the Innovation Crossroads innovators.

Anna Douglas will also be pitching on Startup Day 2017 happening September 21, 2017 at the U.S. Cellular Stage at the Bijou Theatre. She will be competing for up to $15,000 in cash prizes, including the Startup Day 2017 Crowd Favorite Prize presented by SunTrust Bank.

Innovation Crossroads’ cohort one teams hiring research fellow

Innovation Crossroads has posted a job opening for interested applicants.

Each of the three teams within Cohort One are hiring a research fellow for a year.

Innovation Crossroads is a program based at ORNL that matches aspiring energy entrepreneurs with the experts, mentors, and networks in technology-related fields to take their world-changing ideas from R&D to the marketplace.

Anna Douglas with SkyNano Technologies, Mitch Ishmael with Active Energy Systems, and Matthew Ellis and Samuel Shaner with Yellowstone Energy were selected to transform their ideas into clean energy companies with financial support from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE).

The Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council and Launch Tennessee provide non-exclusive business mentoring services to the Innovation Crossroads innovators.

The Innovation Crossroads Applied Research Experience provides a mentored opportunity for pre-doctoral scientists and engineers to apply their education in support of an impact-driven research and development project at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Through participation in this prestigious program, participants will:

  • Be responsible for the planning and completion of a research-oriented project with direct impact on critical technical development milestones
  • Gain deep insights into energy technology commercialization through mentorship and participation in business development activities
  • Help develop innovative technologies that will have a real impact on the U.S. economy, environment, and society

Participants will receive a stipend to be determined by ORNL and the Advanced Manufacturing Office of the U.S. Department of Energy. Stipends are typically based on the participant’s academic standing, discipline and experience. In addition, participants will receive a stipend supplement to offset the costs of health insurance.

To read more about the eligibility requirements and to apply for this opportunity, click here.