TennSMART Consortium to accelerate intelligent mobility in Tennessee

A group of 20 public and private partners have launched the TennSMART Consortium to accelerate the development and deployment of intelligent mobility innovations in Tennessee. The specific intelligent mobility focus areas identified by the TennSMART Consortium are 1) connected and automated vehicles, 2) heavy duty trucking and freight efficiency, 3) cybersecurity, 4) electric vehicles, and 5) multimodal commuting.

Founding members include Bridgestone Americas, Cummins Filtration, Inc., DENSO Manufacturing Tennessee, FedEx Corporation, GRIDSMART Technologies, Inc., Local Motors, Lyft, Miovision, Nissan North America, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Stantec Consulting Services Inc., Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT), Tennessee Tech University, Tennessee Valley Authority, Top Five Inc., University of Memphis, The University of Tennessee, and Vanderbilt University.

“Connected and automated vehicles bring new opportunities to help increase safety on roadways across Tennessee,” said TDOT’s Ryan Simpson. “TennSMART brings together industry leaders, research institutions, and government to integrate intelligent mobility advances into long-range plans for the Tennessee transportation system.”

Consortium members will assist with the creation of a technology roadmap and strategic plan for intelligent mobility initiatives in Tennessee. The consortium will address mobility opportunities that individual organizations could not tackle alone.

“Working closely with government and industry is critically important to ensure we are leveraging scientific resources such as high-performance computing and the Department of Energy’s national transportation research facility to solve relevant, complex problems in intelligent mobility,” said ORNL’s Claus Daniel, sustainable transportation program manager. “Our aim is to use cutting-edge research and development to help Tennessee and the nation advance safety and energy savings from increased connectivity.”

TennSMART hosted its inaugural meeting at the University of Tennessee’s Howard H. Baker Center for Public Policy on September 21, 2017. The 2018 TennSMART membership meetings are currently being planned and will be announced soon. Additional members are welcome to join.

Learn more about TennSMART at www.tennsmart.org or send an email to info@tennsmart.org.

TennSMART is a public-private consortium encompassing a growing number of Tennessee and regional organizations working together to develop scientific knowledge and new technologies that could change how America transports people and goods.

Oak Ridge National Lab exec appointed to TVA board

The U.S. Senate confirmed the nomination of Jeff Smith, Executive Vice President for Operations for UT-Battelle and Deputy for Operations at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, to the TVA board of directors.

He was nominated September 21, 2017 by President Donald Trump. The confirmation will become official with the president’s signature and when he is sworn in by a federal judge.

Pictured: Jeff Smith

Smith along with James “Skip” Thompson, III; Kenneth Allen; and A.D. Frazier were among the four members confirmed to join the TVA board. They’ll be serving alongside current board members Richard Howorth, Virginia Lodge, Eric Satz and Ron Walter.

Smith delivered the following opening remarks before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works prior to his confirmation:

Chairman Barrasso, Ranking Member Carper, and Members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. My name is Jeffrey W. Smith and I am the Deputy for Operations at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. I am honored to have been nominated by President Trump to serve on the Tennessee Valley Authority Board of Directors.

In 1999, I moved my family to East Tennessee to take on the role of Deputy for Operations at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The laboratory consumes significant amounts of power, and as the Chief Operating Officer, I know large amounts of reliable, low cost electricity is important to executing the important missions assigned by the Department of Energy to Oak Ridge. The laboratory often works with TVA to help recruit new business to the TVA region, and in my role as a senior executive I have participated in these recruitments and seen first-hand the strength of TVA as a driver of economic development. More personally, I own a home on Norris Lake, one of TVA’s reservoirs. As a result, I understand the complex dynamic between hydropower production, flood management, and recreational use of the water resources under TVA control. Based on my professional and personal experiences with TVA over the last 18 years, it is my belief that to successfully fulfill its mission to improve the quality of life for all who live and work in the Valley, TVA must provide clean, reliable, resilient, low-cost power to our homes and businesses, while protecting the waterways we enjoy, and the air we breathe.

ORNL has a longstanding relationship with the Tennessee Valley Authority, going all the way back to the 1940s and the Manhattan Project. The Manhattan Project needed a site with ample fresh water and access to tremendous amounts of power. Sixteen miles downstream from TVA’s Norris Damn a site was selected as the home of the secret city that would produce the nuclear materials that accelerated the end of World War II and helped win the Cold War. Simply put, without TVA there would be no Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

During my 18 years at ORNL, I have had the privilege to lead a $400 million modernization effort that has been instrumental in transforming ORNL into the Department of Energy’s largest open science laboratory. I oversee the day to day and operations of an organization with a $1.4 billion annual operating budget, we host approximately 5,000 researchers and associated workers on site, and maintain the infrastructure similar to a small city covering over 4,000 acres.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory operates one of two Department of Energy research reactors. Granted, the High Flux Isotope Reactor is roughly 1/10th the scale of today’s commercial power reactors such as those in the TVA fleet, but the responsibility for this reactor has taught me something about the importance of a strong nuclear safety culture.

I have also had the opportunity to be involved with TVA in several economic development recruitments in which the laboratory has partnered with the State of Tennessee, local municipalities, and TVA to attract new companies to the region. I can tell you that low cost, clean and reliable power is always a consideration in site selection. My personal experience tells me TVA is dedicated to working with local and state governments to encourage economic development and create jobs in the region and this is something that I will continue to support.

I have had a long standing relationship with Battelle Memorial Institute, a not-for-profit company that specializes in managing several R&D laboratories. I have served on the governing Boards for the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, the Brookhaven National Laboratory, the Idaho National Laboratory, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. As a result, I’ve been involved in the recruitment and selection of several laboratory directors and in the event there is a change in leadership at TVA during my appointment, I believe I can add something to this process.

I have interacted with TVA as an industrial user, as a partner in infrastructure expansion, and to promote economic development. These engagements have given me useful insight into the breadth and depth of TVA’s operations, and to its importance for our region. I believe my background and experience has prepared me for the challenge and responsibility of joining the TVA board.

If confirmed, I am committed to working with my fellow board members and TVA staff to ensure that TVA continues to fulfill its mission to serve the people of the Tennessee Valley. I appreciate your consideration of my nomination and thank you for the opportunity to be here today.

TAEBC’s “Opportunities in Energy” forum focused on entrepreneurship and innovation

NOTE: Originally published on Teknovation.biz

By: Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

Nearly 80 people registered for the “Opportunities in Energy” forum organized by the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council (TAEBC).

Held at The Square Room in Downtown Knoxville, the theme of this year’s annual event was entrepreneurship and innovation. The nearly three-hour program featured a fireside chat with two leaders in the region that I had the privilege of moderating as well as pitches from three start-ups in the Energy Mentor Network coordinated by TAEBC and funded by Launch Tennessee.

Beverly Davenport, the new Chancellor of the University of Tennessee’s Knoxville campus, and Craig Blue, Director of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Programs at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), comprised the fireside panel that I facilitated. The focus was on the foundations their institutions have established, the plans they have for the future to help Tennessee build on its national reputation for excellence in the advanced energy sector, and how their innovation efforts can help create new businesses and expand existing ones.

Read the full story here.

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

The Department of Energy Office of Science’s national laboratories had 33 technologies recently chosen as 2017 R&D 100 Award Finalists. Of those 33 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.