ORNL and TVA to collaborate on advanced reactor technologies

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) have signed an agreement to explore a new generation of flexible, cost effective advanced nuclear reactors. According to the agreement, the two organizations will work to boost the economic feasibility of possibly licensing, building, operating, and maintaining one or more advanced nuclear reactors, such as a small modular reactor.

These reactors offer the potential for lower-cost, carbon-free energy due to shorter construction times and increased operational flexibility. Recently, federal regulators approved an early site permit for TVA’s small modular reactor capable of generating 800 megawatts on the Clinch River in Oak Ridge.

This partnership continues decades of collaboration between ORNL and TVA. Speaking about this new partnership, TVA President and CEO Jeff Lyash remarked that it “supports TVA’s mission for innovation and will allow us to better explore potential future nuclear technologies that benefit the 10 million people across seven states and help lead nuclear energy’s future in the United States.” 

ORNL Director Thomas Zacharia emphasized that nuclear energy has long been a “key component” of the country’s energy portfolio and that “growing demand for emission-free electricity requires that we innovate to ensure safe, affordable and efficient nuclear power for generations to come.”

According to the memorandum of understanding, specific areas of importance that will be evaluated by the two entities include, but are not limited to:

  • Development of advanced construction techniques
  • Evaluation of integrated development activities for site infrastructure support
  • Development of various economic deployment catalysts
  • Innovation of advanced manufacturing technologies
  • Use of technology deployment to meet regulatory and safety requirements more efficiently

TAEBC champions advanced energy as a job creation and economic development strategy in Tennessee. This collaboration allows both organizations to help nuclear generation play a stronger role in providing clean, reliable energy for TVA’s customers.

Volkswagen, UTK, and ORNL to create innovation hub at UT Research Park

Volkswagen, the University of Tennessee, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have partnered to create the automaker’s first innovation hub in North America. The hub will be located at the UT Research Park at Cherokee Farm. Key stakeholders recently held a press conference at UT Research Park to announce the collaboration and hold a formal ribbon cutting ceremony. 

According to the official press release, the collaboration involves research opportunities for doctoral students with initial work focused on creating lighter vehicle components made from composite materials, electric vehicles, and other innovative automotive pursuits. 

Randy Boyd, President, University of Tennessee speaking

“Working with the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory is a great opportunity to continue growing Volkswagen’s engineering footprint in the North American region,” said Wolfgang Demmelbauer-Ebner, VW’s executive vice president and chief engineering officer for the region. “This hub, along with other research institutions here, is an integral part of Volkswagen’s global research and development efforts and can also directly contribute to vehicles in North America.”

Volkwagen first partnered with the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga, when it opened its Chattanooga Assembly plant in 2011. In late 2019, the automaker broke ground on a $800 million expansion of its Chattanooga Assembly Plant that will produce two battery-powered cars and create 1,000 new jobs in the area. 

TAEBC welcomes advanced energy solutions and partnerships like the innovation hub. This opportunity reinforces the state’s goal of becoming the top electric vehicle producer in the country, as previously stated by Bob Rolfe, Tennessee Economic and Community Development Commissioner.

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.

Innovation Crossroads applications for Cohort Four are due on Halloween!

Interested in applying for the Innovation Crossroads program or know an aspiring energy entrepreneur who should? The application deadline for Cohort Four is tomorrow, October 31 at 5:00 p.m. EDT. 

Innovation Crossroads is an Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) program that matches aspiring energy entrepreneurs with experts and mentors in technology-related fields to take their world-changing ideas from R&D to the marketplace. Participants receive a two-year fellowship and lab access and funding to support their innovations. They also have access to entrepreneurial training and exclusive networking opportunities. 

To be eligible to apply, applicants must have a PhD or equivalent experience; be focused on energy or manufacturing innovation; leverage ORNL R&D capabilities and have an impact on the Department of Energy or TVA mission; be willing to relocate to the Knoxville-Oak Ridge area; and be a lawful U.S. citizen or permanent resident. 

Here are some key dates and information to keep in mind about the application timeline:

  • Applications close: October 31, 2019 at 5:00 p.m. EDT
  • Initial application review: November 2019 – Applications are reviewed by the Innovation Crossroads team, as well as scientific and industry subject matter experts
  • Phone interviews: December 2019 – Based on initial review, selected applicants will be invited to conduct a brief phone screen with the Innovation Crossroads team.
  • In-person interviews: January/February 2020 – Interviewees will be invited to visit ORNL to tour facilities, connect with potential collaborators, principal investigators and mentors, and present for our team of reviewers.
  • Cohort Four selected: March 2020
  • Cohort Four starts at Innovation Crossroads: May 2020

Ready to apply? Click here for the application. Contact innvcrossrds@ornl.gov if you have any questions.

Innovation Crossroads Cohort Four Informational Webinar

Innovation Crossroads is an Oak Ridge National Laboratory program that matches aspiring energy entrepreneurs with experts and mentors in technology-related fields to take their world-changing ideas from R&D to the marketplace. The program is now welcoming applications for Cohort Four and encouraging interested individuals to sign up for informational webinars.

Seven entrepreneurs will be chosen for this cohort, where sponsors include DOE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO) and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). Specific topics of interest identified by DOE’s AMO and TVA include technologies in Energy and Advanced Manufacturing and Shared Integrated Grid, respectively.

Applicants whose technology doesn’t fall under the aforementioned categories are still encouraged to apply. To learn more about the program’s benefits, application process and more, sign up for an informational webinar at one of the following times:

  • Thursday, October 24th at 2:30 p.m. ET

Selected participants will receive a two-year fellowship, lab access and research funding, and business mentors, entrepreneurial training, and networking opportunities.

Ready to apply? Here is the application. Contact innvcrossrds@ornl.gov if you have any questions.