Some ‘Secret City’ secrets shouldn’t stay hidden

(Originally published on The Oak Ridger)

By D. Ray Smith/Historically Speaking

Oak Ridge might be known as the “Secret City,” but sometimes, secrets are too important to stay hidden. One of these “secrets” the Oak Ridge community should be proud of is Centrus Energy’s effort to bring advanced nuclear manufacturing and innovation to East Tennessee. Right now, the company is working on advanced nuclear fuel production to ensure the country has a reliable fuel supply for the next generation of nuclear reactors — a notable mission worth recognizing.

Centrus Energy’s work emphasizes that Oak Ridge is and always has been on the forefront of scientific discoveries. From fighting a global pandemic to space travel to nuclear medicine, Oak Ridge experts are making incredible discoveries and producing outstanding solutions every single day.

After all, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory is leading in the fight against COVID-19 through its expertise in computational science, advanced manufacturing, data science, and neutron science. Early ORNL discoveries using the IBM AC922 Summit supercomputer led to the foundation of The COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium, while other researchers recently completed a three-dimensional atomic map of COVID-19’s viral replication mechanism. In advanced manufacturing, Cummins and the Carbon Fiber Technology Facility (CFTF) recently partnered to produce enough filter media to supply over a million face masks and respirators a day. This effort was possible because of the work of the inventor of N95 filter media and local hero, Peter Tsai.

Oak Ridge might not be the first city that comes to mind when discussing space, but key institutions have formed valuable partnerships with NASA to advance the future of space travel. On NASA’s Mars 2020 mission that began last summer, NASA announced ORNL-produced plutonium-238 will power the agency’s Perseverance rover across the planet’s surface. In 2017, experts at Y-12 National Security Complex manufactured and delivered a uranium reactor core for NASA’s Kilopower Reactor Using Stirling Technology, or KRUSTY, to support deep space travel.

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.

These are exciting times for Anna Douglas and SkyNano

(Crossposted from Teknovation.biz)

This is a pretty exciting time for Anna Douglas, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of SkyNano LLC, a member of the first cohort of Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s (ORNL) “Innovation Crossroads” (IC) program.

She just won two U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) grants that total $2.7 million, including cost share for one, and has two other smaller projects lined-up for the start-up founded in January 2017 and focused on manufacturing of low-cost, high-value carbon materials from carbon dioxide.

It’s an understatement to say there are a lot of moving parts for SkyNano right now, but they align very well with the long-term goals of the recent Vanderbilt University PhD who quickly became the public face of the IC initiative shortly after her arrival in Knoxville in May 2017.

“These are two pretty different projects,” Douglas says of the DOE-funded activities. One is a Phase I $200,000 Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) award that was announced May 20 as part of a $53 million package; the other, announced June 16, is a $2.5 million research and development project that requires a $500,000 cost-share match. SkyNano was one of 11 recipients of the latter that distributed $17 million with most of it going to universities including three awards alone to institutions in Kentucky.

Keep reading Anna Douglas’ full story.

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, UTK awarded DOE advanced reactor project utilizing BWRX-300 Small Modular Reactor design

(Crossposted from WebWire)

The U.S. Department of Energy has announced awards to two teams of industry experts to develop tools to transform the operations and maintenance of advanced nuclear reactors through the use of Artificial Intelligence-enabled digital twins using the GE Hitachi (GEH) BWRX-300 small modular reactor as a reference design.

GE Research and MIT have been awarded grants through the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) Generating Electricity Managed by Intelligent Nuclear Assets (GEMINA) program to lead the project teams that will develop digital twin technology for advanced nuclear reactors utilizing artificial intelligence and advanced modeling controls.

The GE Research-led team consisting of Exelon Generation, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and GEH will build a digital twin of BWRX-300 critical components and utilize artificial intelligence predictive technologies to make risk informed decisions. Exelon, which operates the largest U.S. fleet of nuclear power plants, will provide historical data based on significant experience to inform the model and targets which are aimed at reducing the operating and maintenance costs of advanced reactors.

Read more here.