DOE’s Office of Science and ORNL team up for a conversation on “science and the community”

By Cynthia Merse, Senior Writer, Piper Communications

On October 20, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) hosted a virtual conversation about the role of the lab as an economic driver in the Knoxville-Oak Ridge community. The event’s featured speakers were Dr. Chris Fall, Director of the Office of Science, and Dr. Thomas Zacharia, Director of ORNL. Several prominent local leaders were also in attendance to ask questions and contribute to the discussion.

For this conversation, Dr. Fall wanted to learn what it means to have a national lab in the Knoxville-Oak Ridge community, what it means to be a good neighbor and a good employer, and how ORNL can play a role in driving economic development in East Tennessee.

The first topic of discussion was workforce development, specifically how to attract and retain scientific and technical talent. Dr. Fall and University of Tennessee (UT) President Randy Boyd noted the advantages of living in East Tennessee, such as low taxes and a great quality of life. Efforts around creating an entrepreneurial ecosystem were also discussed, including the connectivity that exists among resources like ORNL, UT, and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).

“We have a spirit of cooperation that will allow us to take that connectivity to a new level in our efforts to create and invest in businesses,” said Boyd.

The conversation then shifted to public-private partnerships. Boyd spoke about the RevV! program, which gives Tennessee manufacturers access to ORNL’s researchers and facilities to solve manufacturing challenges. Dr. Fall mentioned the new INFUSE program, which will enable companies to work with ORNL to develop cost-effective, innovative fusion energy technologies.

Dr. Zacharia noted several significant partnerships ORNL has with the private sector including Volkswagen and Microsoft. He recognized the need to capitalize on these partnerships to encourage “leading-edge technology companies to come and invest in the cutting-edge technology being developed here.”

The next major topic was the role of higher education in supporting and furthering ORNL’s mission. At the center of discussion was the recently established Oak Ridge Institute at the University of Tennessee and its potential as a force multiplier for UT and ORNL. As a talent pipeline, Dr. Zacharia said the Institute “has the potential to be a difference maker. It’s my hope that the Institute’s students will choose to stay in East Tennessee and create the next $3 billion industry.”

As the conversation drew to a close, attention turned to raising Oak Ridge’s profile as a destination to live and work. Dr. Zacharia noted that UT, ORNL, and TVA launched a survey to learn about East Tennessee’s entrepreneurial climate and identify several steps that can be taken to attract more entrepreneurs to the area.

“We’re not starting from scratch here,” Dr. Fall said. “We have all the raw materials: a diverse research university, a diverse research laboratory. What’s the one thing that’s going to drive folks to come here? Once we figure that out, we need to go all in at the state level, regional level, and university level and talk about Oak Ridge as that place to be.”

Advanced Energy 101 for LPCs: Combined Heat and Power

Combined Heat and Power: Advanced Energy 101 for LPCs. RSVP here. Did you miss the event? Watch the recording here.
Passcode: xm73Vk@x

About this Event

TVA responded to stakeholder input and market demand for more advanced energy options when it announced the Flexibility Proposal earlier this year. The Flexibility Proposal gives local power companies the opportunity to self-generate or procure distributed generation. Technologies and solutions seem limitless and ever changing as utilities try to navigate how to become energy companies of the future. So how do local power companies start exploring options that are best for them, their customers, and their specific demands?

The Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council and Seven States are co-hosting an “Advanced Energy 101” webinar series for local power companies to learn more about distributed generation options, advanced energy and finance models.

The first webinar in our series is “Combined Heat and Power.” Panelists include:

  • Isaac Panzarella, Director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Southeast Combined Heat and Power Technical Assistance Partnership (CHP TAP), located at North Carolina State University
  • Emily Robertson, Business Development Team Manager, 2G Energy
  • Ben Edgar, CEO, White Harvest Energy

Webinars will be presented via Zoom in an interactive format and include ample time for audience Q&A.

Tennessee companies receiving DOE SBIR, STTR Phase II grants

(Originally published on Department of Energy)

The Department of Energy (DOE) will award 105 grants totaling $116 million to 92 small businesses in 31 states, including some in Tennessee. 

Funded through DOE’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs, the selections are for Phase II research and development (R&D). 

Small businesses that demonstrated technical feasibility for innovations during their Phase I grants competed for funding for prototype or processes development during Phase II. 

In addition, prior Phase II awardees competed for second or third Phase II awards to continue prototype and process development. The median Phase II award is $1,100,000 for a period of two years.   

Those awardees include:

  • Coulometrics (Chattanooga)

Project Title: The development of a stabilized SEI layer for si-containing lithium ion battery anodes

  • Carbon Rivers LLC (Knoxville)

Project Title: Recovery of glass fiber reinforcement from retired wind turbine blades for recycled composite materials

Summary: An innovative process is being developed to convert waste from retired wind turbine blades, as well as other reinforced plastics, into new materials for manufacturing. If successful, this technology would allow for wind blades and other reinforced plastics to be diverted from landfills and into new lightweight materials for making products like fuel efficient vehicles.

DOE awards $20 million to new Oak Ridge Institute at the University of Tennessee

(Crossposted from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville)

The U.S. Department of Energy today awarded $20 million to the new Oak Ridge Institute at the University of Tennessee to expand the university’s partnership with Oak Ridge National Laboratory to train the next generation of American scientists and engineers.

“This $20 million federal grant is in support of an institute that is the culmination of 40 years of effort to merge the strengths of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory,” said U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee. “The Oak Ridge Institute will be a pipeline for a new supply of American-trained scientists and engineers, which our country sorely needs in this competitive world. It will also combine the resources and experience of the nation’s largest science and energy laboratory and a major research university. Already, the UT–Oak Ridge partnership has 250 joint faculty, five joint institutes and 250 PhD students in jointly administered energy and data programs. With such a strong foundation and such strong current leadership, I am betting that during the next 80 years, the Oak Ridge Corridor brand and the Oak Ridge Institute will be recognized as one of the most important science and engineering alliances in the world.”

For the past six years, Alexander has been chair of the Senate Energy and Water Subcommittee on Appropriations, which provides funding for the national laboratories.

“We are thankful to the Department of Energy for its support of this program that will deliver a top-tier interdisciplinary workforce talent in emerging fields for industry, government, and academia,” said UT System President Randy Boyd. “This is the first step in establishing ORI as a force to change our state and nation.”

Read more here.

ORNL researchers win five R&D 100 Awards

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) researchers and scientists were recently named winners of five R&D 100 Awards. R&D World magazine and its parent company, WTWH Media, LLC., made the announcement, bringing ORNL’s total wins to 221 since the creation of the award in 1963.

The winners are as follows:

  1. “CellSight – Rapid, Native Single Cell Mass Spectrometry,” developed by ORNL and Cytena GmbH
  2. “Multiparameter Sensor Platform for Cyber-Physical Security of the Electric Grid,” developed by ORNL and Brixon
  3. “High Strength Binder System for Additive Manufacturing,” developed by ORNL and ExOne
  4. “Voltanol: Electrochemical Conversion of Carbon Dioxide to Ethanol,” developed by a team of ORNL researchers
  5. “Unified Communications X (UCX),” submitted by Los Alamos National Laboratory and co-developed with ORNL

“This awards program is so well recognized across the R&D community. Being named as one of the R&D 100 is an incredible honor,” said Paul J. Heney, Vice President, Editorial Director for R&D World. “These 100 winning products and technologies are the disruptors that will change industries and make the world a better place in the coming years.”

U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) researchers were involved in 41 of the 100 awards. Researchers at Vanderbilt University also won an award for “Real-time Intraoperative Parathyroid Identification to Prevent Accidental Removal of Parathyroid Glands During Thyroid Surgery.”

Winners will be honored at the annual R&D 100 Conference on December 5.