ORNL spotlights eight promising inventions at latest “Technology Innovation Showcase”

(Originally published: Teknovation.biz)

Many of the technologies on display at Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s (ORNL) annual “Technology Innovation Showcase” could have a significant impact on the automotive sector.

The event, organized by the Office of Technology Transfer, is designed to showcase the lab’s most promising technologies to those most likely to be interested in commercializing them. At least five and probably six of the eight inventions spotlighted at the event had direct application in the automotive sector. They ranged from electrolytes for advanced battery applications to a new family of cast aluminum alloys for automotive engine applications above 2500C and another alloy to meet the performance and cost targets for components like exhaust valves.

You get the picture. These are cutting-edge inventions that have great promise in addressing critical upcoming needs, but they also are not likely to secure immediate funding from traditional sources. Bridging that gap to make them more commercially ready is the goal of two programs – one that is ORNL specific (the “Technology Innovation Program” or {TIP}) and the other that comes out of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) called the “Technology Commercialization Fund” (TCF).

The results of the former show the long-term potential for both strategies.

Read more here.

Report spotlights importance of DOE to Tennessee economy and region

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Oak Ridge Reservation is an economic engine for the state of Tennessee, according to a report released by the East Tennessee Economic Council (ETEC). The report studied the effects of DOE’s investment in Tennessee in fiscal year 2017.

This report details the scope and scale of DOE’s impact on Tennessee’s economy. It examined job creation, state GDP growth, private-sector procurements, payroll and pension disbursement, state and local tax contributions, and community development conferred on the state by DOE, as well as the ripple effects of this spending.

Key findings from the report include:

  • DOE’s economic impact on the state of Tennessee equals $5.6 billion.

           Tennessee’s gross domestic product increased by approximately $3.4 billion as a result of overall spending by DOE and its contractors. Additionally, $2.2 billion in total personal income was generated by DOE–related activities in the state.

  • More than 34,000 full-time jobs are supported by DOE activities, with a workforce that spans 50 of Tennessee’s 95 counties.

           12,618 jobs were directly created by DOE and its contractors in Tennessee. An additional 21,878 jobs were generated by the indirect effects of DOE investment. For every one job created by DOE and its contractors, an additional 1.7 jobs were created across the state.

  • The private sector supports DOE’s missions in Oak Ridge.

           Of the approximately $1.1 billion in non-payroll spending from DOE and its contractors, more than $943 million went to Tennessee businesses for the procurement of raw materials, services, and supplies.

  • Over $32 million in state and local taxes were generated by DOE-related spending.

           A portion of these tax dollars enable the City of Oak Ridge to provide critical infrastructure to support DOE missions and also funds education and schools.

“This report confirms that the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Reservation is critical to the state’s economic success,” ETEC president Jim Campbell said. “The men and women who work in Oak Ridge deploy science and engineering innovation to make Tennesseans’ quality of life better, our planet healthier and our nation safer.”

Beyond the billions in economic gain, the report confirmed substantial community and educational benefits from DOE’s presence in Tennessee. DOE and its contractors gave over $2.4 million in charitable donations in 2017. They contributed more than $627,000 to education initiatives in East Tennessee. DOE facilities in Oak Ridge attracted over 50,000 visitors, a number poised to grow from heritage tourism due to the recently announced Manhattan Project National Historical Park and History Museum to commemorate Oak Ridge’s role in ending World War II.

Oak Ridge is integral to our national security and nuclear nonproliferation efforts. It is home to leading scientists and researchers and nearly 2,300 patents and licenses, 127 of which were secured in 2017. State-of-the-art facilities enable these experts to conduct transformative science and technological research to tackle global dilemmas. These assets cement Tennessee’s stature in scientific leadership. Leading firms and experts in energy, nuclear technology, advanced manufacturing, computing and artificial intelligence are drawn to the region to partner with expertise found in Oak Ridge.

Research on DOE’s economic impact in the state of Tennessee in FY2017 was conducted in part by a Booz Allen Hamilton economist and initiated by the East Tennessee Economic Council.

To read the full report visit, https://eteconline.org/initiatives/doe-eis-fy17

ORNL welcomes new entrepreneurial research fellows to Innovation Crossroads

Oak Ridge National Laboratory welcomed a second group of technology innovators to join Innovation Crossroads, the Southeast’s only entrepreneurial research and development program based at a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory.

Selected through a merit-based process, these scientists and engineers will have access to world-class science expertise and capabilities at ORNL, including Titan, the nation’s most powerful supercomputer; the Manufacturing Demonstration Facility, DOE’s largest advanced manufacturing research center; and the Spallation Neutron Source, offering atomic-level insight into advanced materials. The innovators also will be partnered with a powerful network of mentoring organizations in the Southeast to help them develop business strategies to advance their breakthroughs to market.

Read more at ORNL.gov

Passage of FY 2018 Omnibus Bill means more funding for DOE, ORNL programs

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) celebrated the conclusion of the Fiscal Year 2018 (FY 2018) appropriations process. The Omnibus bill, signed by President Trump, includes $34.5 billion in funding for the DOE.

Some highlights from the package include:

  • $6.3 billion for Science research programs
  • $2.3 billion for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE)
  • $353 million for The Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E)

The DOE budget provides funding for critical priorities, including over $500 million to advance exascale computing and over $100 million for cybersecurity to protect electric grid and energy infrastructure.

According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, the new spending deal provides a record 16 percent increase in funding for the Office of Science, which will support the work happening at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

The passage of the spending bill also signifies a 15 percent increase to the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s budget. At ORNL, vehicle technology research, building technologies, advanced manufacturing, weatherization and biomass fuel research all fall under EERE.

ARPA-E, a high-risk, high-reward, government research incubator, the budget deal boosts it by $47 million. ORNL participates in 11 ARPA-E projects, five of which it is the leader on.

It should be noted the bill also includes $50 million more than last year for advanced manufacturing. $20 million of that will fund ORNL’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility and $14 million will fund ORNL and the University of Tennessee’s Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation.

Click here for the full story from the Knoxville News Sentinel.

July marks beginning of Thomas Zacharia’s new role as ORNL director

Thomas Zacharia, who built Oak Ridge National Laboratory into a global supercomputing power, has been selected as the laboratory’s next director by UT-Battelle, the partnership that operates ORNL for the U.S. Department of Energy.

The UT-Battelle board conducted an open, competitive search for a new director after Thom Mason announced he would be leaving to join Battelle after 10 years leading ORNL. Among the goals Zacharia outlined if he were chosen as director: leading ORNL to be the world’s premier research institution; building on the lab’s original sense of mission – winning World War II while pushing the boundaries of research – to reshape its creative energy for the future; celebrating a science and technology culture that encourages individuals to be the best in their fields; and pursuing institutional excellence that advances US leadership in neutron science, computing, materials, and nuclear science and engineering.

Thomas Zacharia (Credit: ORNL)

Zacharia’s appointment as director became effective July 1, after Mason was appointed senior vice president for laboratory operations at Battelle in Columbus, Ohio.

“Thomas has a compelling vision for the future of ORNL that is directly aligned with the U.S. Department of Energy’s strategic priorities,” said Joe DiPietro, chair of the UT-Battelle Board of Governors and president of the University of Tennessee.

Zacharia came to ORNL in 1987 as a postdoctoral researcher after receiving his Ph.D. in engineering science from Clarkson University in New York. He also holds a master’s in materials science from the University of Mississippi and a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from the National Institute of Technology in Karnataka, India.

When UT-Battelle became ORNL’s management and operating contractor in April 2000, Zacharia was director of the Computer Science and Mathematics Division. In 2001, he was named associate laboratory director for the new Computing and Computational Sciences Directorate, and over the next eight years he built a scientific enterprise that brought more than 500 new staff to Oak Ridge and opened the nation’s largest unclassified scientific computing center, the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility, a user facility of DOE’s Office of Science.

Zacharia was named ORNL’s deputy for science and technology in 2009, responsible for the lab’s entire research and development portfolio. During his tenure, the lab has strengthened its translational energy programs, establishing the Nuclear Science and Engineering Directorate and the Energy and Environmental Sciences Directorate.

In 2012, Zacharia took a leave to serve as executive vice president of the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, overseeing research in energy and the environment, information and computing technology, life sciences and biomedical research, and social sciences, as well as leading the country’s science and technology park, which is home to more than 40 multi-national companies including GE, Microsoft and Siemens. He returned to ORNL in 2015, where he previously served as Deputy Lab Director for Science and Technology.