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.”

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, UT technologies included in latest “R&D 100 Awards” finalists

(Originally published on Teknovation.biz)

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and the University of Tennessee (UT) are among finalists that R&D Magazine has just announced for its annual “R&D 100 Awards.”

At times described as the equivalent of the Academy Awards, the recognition, now in its 56th year, have long been considered the most globally prestigious recognition of invention and innovation. The awards recognize 100 of the top innovations across five categories: analytical/test, IT/electrical, mechanical devices/materials, process/prototyping, and software/services.

The finalists were selected by an independent panel of more than 50 judges representing R&D leaders in a variety of fields.

ORNL was named as the primary or sole developer on six of the recognized technologies and was a co-developer on two more including something named the “Mobile Universal Grid Analyzer” where UT was the primary developer.

Read more here.

“Electric Mass Transit as an Option for Urban Mobility” panel discussion reviews policy issues, smart mobility case studies

A panel held at the Baker Center Toyota Auditorium in Knoxville covered a variety of topics regarding electric mass transit and its potential in the United States.

Discussions ranged from technology and connectivity concerns to examining smart mobility case studies. Policy options and issues were also reviewed, as well as evaluating future visions and groundtruthing.

The two day panel, open to the public, analyzed the costs, benefits, and barriers associated with electrified transit and intelligent transportation system technologies while also addressing what local governments, utilities, and transit agencies must consider in making the switch.

With the emergence of these technologies expanding, best practices were also identified through smart mobility case studies and further analysis was conducted and discussed at what can be done at the local, state, and federal levels to provide momentum for these technologies.

“Electric Mass Transit as an Option for Urban Mobility” was jointed hosted by the Baker Center, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, and the Tennessee Valley Authority.

To view the recording of the June 20 discussions, click here

To view the recording of the June 21 discussions, click here

UT Earns Top EPA Award

The University of Tennessee has received a 2017 green power leadership award from the US Environmental Protection Agency.

The annual awards recognize America’s leading green power users for their commitment to advancing the nation’s voluntary green power market.

Green power is electricity generated from environmentally preferable renewable resources, such as wind, solar, geothermal, biogas, eligible biomass, and low-impact hydro. Using green power helps accelerate the development of those sources in the United States and advance the American green power market.

The EPA presented UT Sustainability Manager Preston Jacobsen an Excellence in Green Power Use Award at the 2017 Renewable Energy Markets Conference in New York City in October.

“This is UT’s top environmental and sustainability award to date, and we look forward to achieving a higher standing in the years to come as our campus moves toward a more sustainable place to learn, live, and work,” Jacobsen said.

In addition, UT ranks 35th on EPA’s National Top 100 list, and first on the Top 30 College and University list. Each list highlights EPA Green Power Partners using the most renewable energy annually as of July 2017.

“Being honored among the nation’s top green power users is affirmation that our program is among the nation’s best, but to receive this latest award is quite an accomplishment for our university,” Jacobsen said. “It places UT among the ranks of Google, Apple, and Microsoft as organizations who not only champion sustainability but put these technologies into action.”

UT was one of only eight organizations nationwide to receive an Excellence in Green Power Use Award.

UT is currently purchasing nearly 246 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of green power annually, which is enough to meet 95 percent of the organization’s electricity use.

UT became an EPA Green Power Partner in 2005.

Read the complete story here.