Story tips from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, September 2002

September 03, 2002

MILITARY - ORNL aims to cut gun barrel casualties . . .

Oak Ridge National Laboratory's 300,000-watt plasma arc lamp and a touch of science could help the Army solve a problem that's causing major casualties to heavy artillery barrels. The problem is that normal wear from projectiles, propellants and combustion gases causes fatigue, erosion and corrosion in conventional gun barrel material, leading to cracks that render a weapon useless. Using the powerful lamp, researchers hope to metallurgically bond a metallic coating to a metal substrate to demonstrate that barrel materials can be made more resistant to these forces. Compared to mechanical bonding, metallurgical bonding results in far greater strength of the bonds between the atoms of the coating and substrate. [Contact: Bill Corwin]

CHEMISTRY - Guarding the nation's water supplies . . .

ORNL's water sentinel enlists the help of naturally occurring algae biosensors to serve as a first-alert warning system for chemical warfare attacks on water supplies. The system, developed by scientists in the lab's Chemical Sciences Division, works by detecting toxic chemicals in reservoirs, rivers and lakes. Through wireless transmission, the biosensors send data to a database for quick comparison and analysis and provide inexpensive, instantaneous and around-the-clock monitoring of water sources. [Contact: Eli Greenbaum]

MILITARY - Combat ID targets enemy . . .

Researchers at ORNL and Sandia National Laboratories are attacking the problem of soldiers and noncombatants killed by friendly fire using technologies that will help them better understand the battlefield and battle space. The Combat ID analysis will focus on ground, air and soldier detection and identification efficiency and related information. Combat ID is part of an integrated system whose purpose is to develop the Army's future combat system and give U.S. forces increased survivability and superior firepower. [Contact: Glenn Allgood]

FORENSICS - Invisible fingerprints . . .

Law enforcement agencies could have another way to trace the origin of anthrax and other chemical or biological agents with a technique being developed by researchers in ORNL's Chemical Sciences Division. The novel fingerprinting system takes advantage of stable isotopes, which are found in our bodies and throughout nature. Virtually all elements have at least two or more stable isotopes for which very subtle differences exist. So by looking at the isotope ratios of carbon and nitrogen, researchers could tell, for example, if two batches of anthrax were made in the same lab or perhaps by the same person. [Contact: Juske Horita]
To arrange for an interview with any of these researchers, please contact Ron Walli of Communications and Community Outreach at (865) 576-0226;

DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory

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