Story tips from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, May 2014

May 02, 2014

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DIESELS - Reducing soot . . .

Nine U.S. diesel engine manufacturers and Oak Ridge National Laboratory are using their collective horsepower to tackle the perennial industry-wide problem of efficiency-robbing soot in engines. Over time, heat exchangers in diesel engines become coated with soot and unburned fuel that robs 1-2 percent of the engine's efficiency. While that may not seem like a big number, ORNL researcher Michael Lance noted that it means thousands of gallons in wasted fuel. However, with advanced microscopy and neutrons that allow for non-destructive imaging, ORNL researchers are gaining a better understanding of the properties of the soot and how it forms in real-world components provided by the manufacturers. Contributions from researchers at the National Transportation Research Center are also vital to the success of the project, Lance said. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226;]

HYDROPOWER - Untapped resources . . .

Waterways across the United States with no dams or hydropower facilities could add more than 65 gigawatts of hydropower to the grid, or about 128 percent of the nation's hydropower net annual generation, according to an Oak Ridge National Laboratory report. The study took advantage of advanced geospatial datasets to analyze the potential for hydropower development in more than 3 million segments of streams -- or "stream-reaches." With 17 gigawatts of untapped hydropower, the Pacific Northwest has the highest potential, followed by the Missouri River Basin with 11 gigawatts, according to the report, the most detailed evaluation of U.S. hydropower potential at undeveloped stream-reaches to date. Hydropower provides the U.S. with about 6 percent of its electricity. The report, prepared for the Department of Energy, is available at [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226;]

VEHICLES - Understanding driver behavior . . .

America's roadways could be safer in the future as the result of a project to automatically analyze 3,000 drivers' reactions and responses over 1 million hours as they motored around the nation. Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers are examining information gathered with multiple video cameras and sensors that provide data streams from forward-looking radar, the accelerator, geographic positioning systems and a passive alcohol sensor. "We'll be able to provide an unprecedented look into what a driver was doing leading up to a crash or near-crash as well as their actions during routine driving," said David Bolme of ORNL's Imaging, Signals, & Machine Learning Group. This project builds on a study being conducted by the Second Strategic Highway Research Program. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226;]

MATERIALS -- Record-setting wire . . .

An international team of researchers from several Korean institutes, one Australian university and Oak Ridge National Laboratory has reported on a performance record in high-temperature superconducting wires. The material, fabricated through a Korean-developed manufacturing process and tested at ORNL, is capable of carrying a high critical current -- up to 1,500 amperes per centimeter of width -- over long lengths of wire. "These are among the highest values ever reported from any lengths of cuprate-based HTS wire or conductor," said ORNL's Amit Goyal, a co-author on the study published in Nature Magazine's Scientific Reports. The cost-effective manufacturing process could help accelerate the use of HTS wires in a broad range of electric-power applications, such as underground power transmission cables, fault current limiters, motors and generators. [Contact: Morgan McCorkle, (865) 574-7308;]

DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory

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