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.

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.

LeMond Composites announces carbon fiber plant opening in Oak Ridge, brings 242 jobs

The old Theragenics facility in Oak Ridge will soon be getting a facelift thanks to a $125 million investment by LeMond Composites. This announcement is not only opening the door for East Tennesseans by offering 242 high-paying jobs but also for the state’s economy.

lemond-cycles-2017-carbon-fiber-bicycles-comingLeMond Composites is part of LeMond Companies, a group led by three-time Tour de France winner Greg LeMond.

Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd alongside company officials announced LeMond Composites will begin making a new industry-disrupting carbon fiber for the transportation, renewable energy and infrastructure markets.

Carbon fiber is a strong, lightweight material used for advanced composites in a variety of applications including making both bikes and vehicles more efficient by making them weigh less.

LeMond Composites “Grail” carbon fiber is low-cost and high-quality and its changing the industry because not only is it more affordable but the way it’s produced uses substantially less energy compared to other carbon fiber manufacturing processes.

With the invention of “Grail” carbon fiber, Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards of 54.5 mpg by 2025 are now achievable.

Photo Credit: Composites Manufacturing Magazine

Photo Credit: Composites Manufacturing Magazine

The former professional road racing cyclist says he was exposed to his first carbon fiber bike 30 years ago. Just as weight in a car requires more energy consumption, riding like LeMond did requires more energy if the bicycle is heavier.

Today, LeMond Composites has executed a license with ORNL for what the company describes as “one of the most significant developments in carbon fiber production in over 50 years.”

A breakthrough process invented by Connie Jackson, Co-CEO of LeMond Composites and a research team at ORNL’s Carbon Fiber Technology Facility (CFTF) will reduce production costs by more than 50% relative to the lowest cost industrial grade carbon fiber. Incredibly this new carbon fiber has the mechanical properties of carbon fiber costing three times as much. Until now, manufacturing carbon fiber was an extremely energy-intensive process. This new method reduces energy consumed during production by up to 60%.

LeMond plans to break ground on the new facility in January and the first commercially available product will be ready in the first quarter of 2018.