Nav: Home

Story tips from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, November 2016

November 02, 2016

To arrange for an interview with a researcher, please contact the Communications staff member identified at the end of each tip. For more information on ORNL and its research and development activities, please refer to one of our media contacts. If you have a general media-related question or comment, you can send it to news@ornl.gov.

MATERIALS - Mixed results...

Scientists have developed a process for mixing unmodified lignin with general-purpose rubber and other components that yields high-performance renewable thermoplastics containing up to 41 percent of lignin content. The Oak Ridge National Laboratory-led research team tested two combinations of materials using different lignin varieties resulting in samples that were either "stretchy" or demonstrated tensile strength comparable to glassy plastic such as acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, or ABS. By using low-cost additives, the sturdy lignin was broken down through the mixing method that bypasses expensive, and often chemically intensive, pre-processing typically required for lignin to be viable. The ORNL-developed bio-derived materials could be suitable for automotive and household applications. Details of the project were published in Green Chemistry. [Contact: Sara Shoemaker, (865) 576-9219, shoemakerms@ornl.gov]

Image: https://www.ornl.gov/sites/default/files/news/images/Rubber-lignin_samples.jpg

Caption: Mixing in low-cost additives increases the viability of lignin to produce high-performance renewable thermoplastics, an ORNL-led study shows.

GEOCHEMISTRY - Squeezing more fuel...

For an ExxonMobil-funded study, Oak Ridge National Laboratory chemists helped characterize shale that holds onto methane gas tightly. Conducting the first direct measurements of methane density in tight shale, the researchers used small-angle neutron scattering to study features smaller than 10 nanometers--a plethora of petite pores produced when hydrocarbons "cooked" and matured to make methane. The large surface area of small pores means gas molecules have lots of places to which to stick. Consequently, the researchers found methane was twice as dense in pores less than four nanometers wide compared to larger pores. "A better understanding of where gas is inside these tight shales will translate to better modeling and better understanding of extraction processes," said Gernot Rother, who set up pressurized neutron scattering experiments with ORNL colleague David Wesolowski. [Dawn Levy, (865) 576-6448, levyd@ornl.gov]

Image: https://www.ornl.gov/sites/default/files/news/images/PorousRock.jpg

Caption: Horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing are expected to at least double natural gas extraction from tight shale by 2040. Neutron scattering showed shale rich in organic matter and characterized by small pores held twice the methane of shale with greater inorganic content and larger pores. (Image credit: Andy Sproles, Gernot Rother/ORNL)

BUILDINGS - Exterior performance...

Oak Ridge National Laboratory will lead the 13th international conference on Thermal Performance of the Exterior Envelopes of Whole Buildings XIII on December 5-8 in Clearwater, Florida, an event that attracts building envelope experts from around the world to share state-of-the-art research and technology applications. One topic of interest will be a mold growth index model workshop, explaining the model's development and application and providing examples of how MGI usage could vary depending on building materials. The MGI model is expected to become a new buildings standard. Along with ORNL, the event's sponsors this year include the Department of Energy, National Institute of Building Sciences and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers. Since 1989, ORNL has led the event known as the Buildings 13 Conference, which occurs every three years. [Contact: Sara Shoemaker, (865) 576-9219, shoemakerms@ornl.gov]

Image: https://www.ornl.gov/sites/default/files/news/images/Wall_assembly_with_exterior_insulation.jpg

Caption: One topic of interest building envelope experts will discuss during the ORNL-led Buildings 13 Conference is the mold growth index model, which could become a new buildings standard.
-end-


DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Related Methane Articles:

Microbial fuel cell converts methane to electricity
Transporting methane from gas wellheads to market provides multiple opportunities for this greenhouse gas to leak into the atmosphere.
Methane seeps in the Canadian high Arctic
Cretaceous climate warming led to a significant methane release from the seafloor, indicating potential for similar destabilization of gas hydrates under modern global warming.
Methane emissions from trees
A new study from the University of Delaware is one of the first in the world to show that tree trunks in upland forests actually emit methane rather than store it, representing a new, previously unaccounted source of this powerful greenhouse gas.
Oil production releases more methane than previously thought
Emissions of methane and ethane from oil production have been substantially higher than previously estimated, particularly before 2005.
Bursts of methane may have warmed early Mars
The presence of water on ancient Mars is a paradox.
More Methane News and Methane Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Teaching For Better Humans
More than test scores or good grades — what do kids need to prepare them for the future? This hour, guest host Manoush Zomorodi and TED speakers explore how to help children grow into better humans, in and out of the classroom. Guests include educators Olympia Della Flora and Liz Kleinrock, psychologist Thomas Curran, and writer Jacqueline Woodson.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#535 Superior
Apologies for the delay getting this week's episode out! A technical glitch slowed us down, but all is once again well. This week, we look at the often troubling intertwining of science and race: its long history, its ability to persist even during periods of disrepute, and the current forms it takes as it resurfaces, leveraging the internet and nationalism to buoy itself. We speak with Angela Saini, independent journalist and author of the new book "Superior: The Return of Race Science", about where race science went and how it's coming back.