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Browse Early Stage R&D Marketing Summaries

Early Stage R&D Technology Marketing Summaries

Here you'll find marketing summaries of early stage research and development technologies from U.S. Department of Energy laboratories and participating research institutions. The summaries provide descriptions of the latest technologies from the laboratories including their benefits, applications and industries, and development stage.

57 Technology Marketing Summaries
CategoryTitle and AbstractLaboratoriesDate
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Early Stage R&DPLZT Nano-Precursors for High Energy Density Applications

To improve the manufacturing and performance of ceramic materials Sandia National Laboratories has developed a method for synthesizing lanthanum-doped lead zirconate titanate (PLZT) nanoparticle precursors.

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Early Stage R&DA SERS Method for Handheld Portable Raman

Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) has made an initial investment in the research and development of Surface Enhanced Raman hardware capable of being integrated into a handheld Raman system, which can provide detection for certain analytes down to ppm levels.  The developed method concentrates vapor phase analytes for subsequent deposition onto a functionalized SERS surface.   SNL is seeking commercial partners who are interested in investing in the further development of this... read more

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Early Stage R&DMicrosystems R&D and Fabrication

Sandia National Laboratories (Sandia) seeks parties interested in utilizing world-class facilities to advance the "state-of-the-art" in microsystems research and development and fabrication.  

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Early Stage R&DLow Resistivity Contact to Iron-Pnicitide Superconductors

Superconductors are materials which carry electrical current without dissipation. However, feeding electrical current into a superconductor generates heat dissipation into the contacts and degrades maximum attainable current value. The degradation in contacts is also different depending on the different chemical nature of the superconducting materials. Iron-pnictide based superconductors have a number of superior properties as compared to other known high temperature superconductors and due... read more

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Early Stage R&DHigh Aspect Ratio Metallic Structures for Use as Transparent Electrodes

Polymer-based photovoltaic devices have received intense interest in recent years because of their potential to provide low-cost solar energy conversion, flexibility, manufacturability, and light weight.  However, the efficiency of organic solar cells is about 4-6%, and increasing this efficiency is critical for developing practical applications and commercially viable devices.  One approach to increasing efficiency is to increase the light absorption on the organic film without... read more

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Early Stage R&DImproved Method to Measure Glare and Reflected Solar Irradiance

Sandia has developed a cheap, efficient, and accurate method of measuring the irradiance from solar reflections using a digital camera. Measurements of reflected solar irradiance is of great importance to industry, military, and government agencies to assess potential impacts of glint and glare from growing numbers of solar power installations around the world. In addition, this measurement technique can be used to monitor and maintain system performance for concentrating solar power... read more

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Early Stage R&DAdditive Manufacturing - Materials by Design
Livermore materials scientists and engineers are designing and building new materials that will open up new spaces on many Ashby material selection charts, such as those for stiffness and density as well as thermal expansion and stiffness. This is being accomplished with unique design algorithms and research into the additive manufacturing techniques of projection microstereolithography, direct ink writing, and electrophoretic deposition.

Additive manufacturing is the process of building... read more
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Early Stage R&DAn Environmentally Safe Detector for Hazardous Gas
ORNL researchers developed a breakthrough design for a hazardous-gas detector
that is environmentally safe and inexpensive and that includes both sensing and
detecting means. The invention can detect and identify volatile organic and inorganic
substances in vapors faster than conventional methods. Improved sensitivity using less
complicated, less expensive measuring devices is another key feature of this invention.
The core of this invention is based on observations that when an ionic liquid is... read more
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Early Stage R&DMethod of Preparing Hydrous Hafnium, Cerium, or Aluminum Oxide Gels and Spherules
An internal gelatin process for preparing hydrous hafnium, cerium, or aluminum oxide
microspheres was invented at ORNL. The invention is a type of sol-gel process that
solidifies droplets of solution as they enter into a warm environment. The resulting gel
spheres have been proven to be structurally strong.

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Early Stage R&DStandoff Detection of Chemicals Using Rydberg Fingerprint Spectroscopy and Microwave Rayleigh Scattering
The invention relates to a method for standoff trace chemical sensing. The basis for
the technique is Rydberg Fingerprint Spectroscopy followed by microwave-based

In Rydberg Fingerprint Spectroscopy, target molecules are first excited to a
Rydberg state (usually 3s) and then pass through higher lying Rydberg states when
probed by two-photon ionization. Transitions between the Rydberg states reveal
a highly resolved and purely electronic spectrum that is extremely characteristic
of the... read more
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Early Stage R&DNanomechanical Sensor Detects and Identifies Chemical Analytes
ORNL researchers developed a cost-efficient nanomechanical sensor that can
detect chemicals adsorbed to a surface and then quickly analyze and identify
those chemicals. The device is a significant improvement over current detection
technologies, which are not able to perform reliable identification. Rapid
identification of trace amounts of chemicals(e.g., polymers, explosives) is important
for ensuring safety in pharmaceutical, transportation, and other sectors.

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Early Stage R&DPhotoacoustic Microcantilevers for Spectroscopy
ORNL researchers invented a unique microcantilever design that can identify the
chemical structure of minute sample materials using photoacoustic and photothermal
spectroscopy. The design advances current technology, which cannot identify specific
chemicals, and furthers the detection of vapors, cells, and tissues. The technology can
also characterize biomass, biomaterials, and pharmaceuticals.

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Early Stage R&DComposite Solid-State Scintillators for Neutron Detection
Using a room temperature process, a new type of transparent, crack-free, monolithic
scintillator has been developed at ORNL. This invention uses thin-film, glass, and
fiber-optic sensors, and is based on the preparation of neutron scintillators with a
room temperature sol-gel process. The result is an inexpensive, versatile system that is
compatible with both inorganic and organic dopants for hybrid material processing.
Typically, solid-state neutron scintillators are prepared by high temperature... read more
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Early Stage R&DFluorescent Nanoparticles for Radiation DetectionFluorescent Nanoparticles for Radiation Detection
Researchers at ORNL invented a promising material for more efficient nanoscale
scintillators, or radiation detectors. The new material, which can detect most kinds
of radiation, consists of fluorescent nanoparticles embedded in a transparent matrix.
The invention addresses needs in research, security, and industry for detectors with
improved light output and higher detection efficiency. The technology offers high
count rate capability and better time resolution.

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Early Stage R&DReal-Time High Resolution Quantitative Imaging by Three Wavelength Digital Holography
An optical system capable of reproducing three-dimensional images was invented at
ORNL. This system can detect height changes of a few nanometers or less and render
clear, single shot images. These types of precise, high speed measurements are important
for a variety of nanoscience applications.

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Early Stage R&DPhotoacoustic Point Spectroscopy
ORNL researchers invented a detector that uses photoacoustic waves to excite a
vibratory sensor coated with unknown molecules. This invention can be used to
identify these molecules and study solid, gas, or liquid samples.

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Early Stage R&DMethod for Confidence Metric in Optic Disk Location in Retinal Images
To improve accuracy in diagnosis of retinal disease, ORNL researchers invented a
method for assigning a confidence metric to computer-aided optic disc analysis. The
physical condition of the optic disk determines the presence of various ophthalmic
pathologies, including glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy. Unfortunately, localization
of the optic disk and detection of its boundaries on the retinal image are not easy tasks.
With this invention, the review process can be entirely automated.

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Early Stage R&DImproved Lithium-Loaded Liquid Scintillators for Neutron Detection
A liquid scintillator with a substantially increased lithium weight was developed by
ORNL researchers. Scintillators are widely used for the detection of neutron radiation
emitted by radioactive sources.

Conventional liquid scintillators are loaded with neutron absorbers. However, these
scintillators generally have lower than optimum light output and pulse shape
discrimination. This invention addresses these limitations with higher lithium loads
that can remain transparent in the liquid composition.... read more
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Early Stage R&DNanoscopic Electrode Molecular Probes
ORNL researchers invented a nanoscopic electrode system for measuring the
electron transport properties of a molecule. This invention offers a means of
enhancing measurements of a molecule positioned between two nanoscopic
electrodes for study. Currently, molecular sensing and identification is challenged
by uncertainty in conductance measurements.

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Early Stage R&DReal-Time Airborne Particle Analyzer
Particle analysis is useful for determining chemical compositions in a wide range
of disciplines, from ascertaining the source of a petroleum sample to duplicating a
fragrance. The technique is appealing to a broad cross section of analytical sciences,
but its applications are limited because, for existing equipment, sample size is limited
and the testing is carried out under a high vacuum.

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Early Stage R&DMicrocantilever Counter Electrode Electrochemical Sensor in a Three-Electrode Cell
Researchers at ORNL have invented a compact, highly accurate system to detect
and measure chemicals in solution. The device can be used to detect ions and other
electroactive species, hostile biological agents, and protein fragments. The device is
a three-electrode cell in which the counter electrode is a microcantilever. The entire
sensor (or an array of sensors) could be fabricated as an integrated circuit on a silicon

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Early Stage R&DUltrasonic-Based Mode-Synthesizing Atomic Force Microscopy
In a single run and without damaging the sample, ORNL’s mode-synthesizing
atomic force microscopy (MSAFM), along with mode-synthesizing sensing, acquires
a variety of information and allows for new sensing modalities. ORNL’s invention uses
nonlinear nanomechanical interactions at ultrasonic frequencies to noninvasively and
nondestructively detect multiple surface and subsurface properties of materials at
the nanoscale.

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Early Stage R&DStandoff Spectroscopy Using a Conditioned Target Identifies Hazardous Materials at a Distance
A safer method for the standoff (long distance) detection and identification of
molecules on a surface has been invented by researchers at ORNL and the University
of Tennessee. This invention avoids the necessity of close and potentially hazardous
contact. It combines tunable infrared (IR) and ultraviolet (UV) spectroscopy techniques
to target identifying properties of surface residues.

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Early Stage R&DIn-Vessel Torsional Ultrasonic Wave-Based Level Measurement System
At Three Mile Island in 1979, a partial meltdown of the core was caused by a sudden,
undetected loss of reactor coolant water. In the past, a reactor’s high temperature and
pressure environment has complicated the implementation of level measurement
devices. To effectively measure the level of coolant, ORNL has developed a torsional
wave-based level measurement system. This system can be placed within a high
temperature and pressure environment.

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Early Stage R&DHand-Held Analyzer Quickly Detects Buried Human Remains
A lightweight hand-held analyzer invented by ORNL researchers uses visual and
auditory cues to quickly alert investigators to the presence of buried human remains.
The Lightweight Analyzer for Buried Remains And Decomposition Odor Recognition
(LABRADOR) is a significant step forward in the field of forensic chemistry for
clandestine grave detection.

Traditional detection using canines and ground-penetrating radar is often slow and
unreliable. LABRADOR improves the ability to distinguish human... read more
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Early Stage R&DNovel Instruments Usher in a New Paradigm for Eye Surgery (Cornea NanoPunch and Retina Velcro)
ORNL scientists working in conjunction with the Hamilton Eye Institute at the
University of Tennessee–Memphis invented new methods and devices to reduce
risk in surgical procedures for removing scar tissue and treating damage to the
eye from corneal erosion. Retina Velcro and the Cornea NanoPunch represent
significant microsurgical advancements in the invasive treatment of the eye. Both
inventions can improve patient outcome and minimize the risk of vision loss from
current surgical methods.

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Early Stage R&DTriply Redundant Integrated Navigation and Asset Visibility System
A quartz time, positioning, and navigation array that solves a fundamental
sensitivity problem is under development by ORNL researchers. Existing systems
with good timing stability are limited by poor motion sensitivities. In contrast, this
invention has stability at a much lower size, weight, and power; better acceleration
and shock tolerance; wider temperature tolerance; and very high reliability.

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Early Stage R&DRaptor: An Enterprise Knowledge Discovery Engine

Enterprises generate large quantities of information contained in documents, presentations, spreadsheets, and databases. This information is stored across file shares, intranet portals, user desktops, and other business unit applications. Combined with a lack of structured organizational tools, keywords, tags, or other automated retrieval tools, organizations struggle to index, search, and find information across these disparate platforms.

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Early Stage R&DRadio Channel Simulator
Radio Channel Simulator (RCSim) is a simulation package for making site-specific predictions of radio signal strength. The software computes received power at
discrete grid points as a function of the transmitter location and propagation environment. It is intended for use with wireless network simulation packages and to support wireless network deployments. 
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Early Stage R&DSlow Waveguide Structures for Particle Accelerators
A waveguide design that can save time and money in the construction and tuning of
a particle accelerator was developed by ORNL researchers. Particle accelerators use
electromagnetic fields to propel charged particles to high speeds within a well-defined
beam. The beam line is used for basic science investigations as well as for applications
in biotechnology and energy. This invention can be used in normal conducting and
superconducting accelerators.

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Early Stage R&DPulse Thermal Processing of Functional Materials Using a Directed Plasma Arc
Using pulses of high density infrared light from a directed plasma arc, ORNL researchers
invented a method to thermally process thin films and other functional materials on
temperature-sensitive substrates. This approach, pulse thermal processing, could
revolutionize the handling of functional materials because it reduces the necessary
processing time to seconds from what is currently minutes or hours.

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Early Stage R&DSoftware with Mobile Agents for Peer-to-Peer Information Sharing
Technologies like DARPA’s Tactical Ground Reporting System use information sharing
methods similar to Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter. Unfortunately, all of these
technologies rely on centralized web service that is vulnerable to a single point of
failure. To avoid potential sudden system collapse, researchers at ORNL developed
a Java-based mobile agent information software called Knowledge Acquisition
Ubiquitous Agent Infrastructure (KAUAI).

KAUAI supports information on demand at the site of... read more
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Early Stage R&DComputational Method for Improved Forewarning of Critical Events
ORNL’s computational method for analyzing nonlinear processes provides improved
forewarning of imminent critical events. This is achieved through phase space
dissimilarity analysis of data from mechanical or electrical devices, biomedical data, or
other physical processes. The need to distinguish between similar, yet distinct, states in
a nonlinear process is essential to many engineering, research, and medical applications.

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Early Stage R&DDetecting Temporal Precursor Words and Phrases Using a Learning Algorithm and Wavelet Analysis

Most research on mammography focuses on image data, not textual reports. However, the reports associated with patient visits offer a valuable set of observations. To take advantage of these sequential writings, a robust ORNL learning algorithm assembles, searches, and analyzes cue phrases in radiology reports to determine if they define normal or abnormal traits in mammograms over time.

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Early Stage R&DFisheye Video Imaging for Diagnosis and Monitoring
A variety of investigative settings, from medicine to law enforcement, rely on the clarity
of wide-angle images in order to make accurate interpretations. At ORNL, researchers
developed a computerized video imaging process that maps the coordinates of a
moving image to computer-based reference coordinates. This helps to stabilize and
align images for review.

The ORNL invention addresses several current imaging problems. Medical images
usually have low contrast features. The borders of organs are not... read more
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Early Stage R&DAgent-Based Software for Gathering and Summarizing Textual and Internet Information
ORNL’s Piranha solves the challenge most users face: finding a way to sift through
large amounts of data that provide accurate and relevant information. This requires
software that can quickly filter, relate, and show documents and relationships. Piranha is
JavaScript search, analysis, storage, and retrieval software for uncertain, vague, or complex
information retrieval from multiple sources such as the Internet. With Piranha, researchers
have pioneered an agent approach to text analysis that... read more
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Early Stage R&DSuperhydrophobic Transparent Glass Thin Films
Glass used in building materials (curtain walls), windshields, goggles, glasses,
optical lenses, and similar applications must be durable and transparent. To meet
this challenge, ORNL researchers have invented a method to produce durable,
superhydrophobic, antireflective glass thin films for coating such surfaces.
Other processes exist for producing materials with the desired qualities,
including superhydrophobic and antimicrobial surfaces; however, in most cases
the resulting materials exhibit poor... read more
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Early Stage R&DTransparent Conductive Nano-Composites
Indium Tin Oxide, the most widely used commercial transparent conducting coating, has severe limitations such inflexibility, high processing temperatures for fabrication, increasing cost of raw materials and breakability.

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Early Stage R&DPlant Pathogen Resistance
Crop plants are infected by numerous fungal and bacterial pathogens that reduce crop quality and yield. Common methods for addessing this problem include time consuming processes such as genetic engeneering, and possibly enviromentally risky processes, such as treatment of plants via synthetic anti?pathogen compounds.

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Early Stage R&DAutomated Surface Sampling Probe for Mass Spectrometry
Dr. Gary Van Berkel and colleagues have developed a liquid microjunction surface sampling probe (LMJ?SSP). The LMJ?SSP provides mass spectrometry with a simple and efficient ambient surface sampling method that can be coupled with any liquid introduction ionization source.

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Early Stage R&DNovel Phase-Coherent Programmable Clock

Direct digital synthesis (DDS) technology permits the generation of high frequency-resolved waveforms that can be changed on the nanosecond time scale (4 ns minimum). However when the DDS switches frequency, it occurs at any point in the phase accumulation consequently the output waveform during frequency stepping may be quite different. This randomness of frequency transition is called "DDS frequency transition jitter".

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Early Stage R&DSynthesis of Ionic Liquids
Chemical separation, such as processes producing alkanes from olefins, often requires series of distillation steps that are highly energy intensive.

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Early Stage R&DRisk-Based Sensor Placement Methodology
Current methods for sensor placement are based on qualitative approaches ranging from “best guess” to expensive, customized studies.

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Early Stage R&DCytometric Therapies for Cell Delivery
Stem cell therapies are a viable treatment options for some human diseases. Efficacy of such therapies can be maximized by addressing critical issues such as cell delivery and cell survival post delivery. Conventional methods for cell delivery do not determine the viability of the transplanted cell. For example, an estimated 5?10% of cells transplanted into the central nervous system survive post?transplantation, leaving only a small portion of the originally grafted cells to contribute in... read more
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Early Stage R&DCarbon NanoFiber Systems for Tissue Interfacing
Scientists at ORNL have created vertically aligned carbon nano?fibers (VACNF) that are well suited for cell and tissue interfacing applications, such as electrophysiological stimulus and recording, and drug and gene delivery. VACNFs are produced in an uniform manner that allows for structural controls over the location, length, diameter, conicity, and surface composition.
Preliminary data with nanoelectrode arrays show effective tissue stimulation due to improved contact with tissue and higher... read more
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Early Stage R&DOptimization of Industrial Enzymes
Enzymes are highly efficient naturally occurring catalysts that are used in a wide range of applications from industrial processes to new drug development. Conventional mechanism for understanding the mechanisms of enzyme functions are costly and time consuming. Moreover, many applications do not increase the activity energy to be applied to enzymes with slow reaction rates.

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Early Stage R&DSuperhydrophobic Coating for Evaporative Purification and Minerals Extraction
Researchers at ORNL are using their superhydrophobic coating technology to tackle the age-old problem of obtaining potable water. In the process, they have
also developed a cost-effective method to extract industrial minerals and metals such as potassium, lithium, and magnesium from the seas and other waters.
Potable water is becoming an increasingly scarce resource. Evaporative desalination is one of the cheapest, easiest, simplest ways to covert salt or brackish
water into fresh water.... read more
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Early Stage R&DAdvanced Credentialing for Trusted Networks
During and following disasters, rapid, valid systems are needed to exchange information—among emergency responders, with others in the community, and with the outside world. ORNL researchers have developed a Web 2.0 credentialing system that offers greater assurance of the validity of information on social networks and media and the potential to thus improve and enhance the unimpeded flow of vetted information and resources during and following a disaster to assist impacted areas and... read more
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Early Stage R&DProduction of Materials with Superior Properties Utilizing High Magnetic Field
Processing materials in a magnetic field is an innovative and revolutionary means to change materials and structural properties by tailoring the microstructure. Properties, equivalent or beyond, can be achieved with significantly less energy than materials treated by conventional thermal methods. New properties can also be created by manipulation of phase stability through the application of a high magnetic field.

Researchers at ORNL have developed various novel methods which offer improvements... read more
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Early Stage R&DBio-based ethylene able to replace petroleum as a feedstock

Ethylene is the most produced gaseous organic compound in the chemical industry and future demand is forecasted to grow at an average of 4.1 % per year.  It is the raw material used to manufacture polymers such as polyethylene, polyester, polyvinyl chloride, and polystyrene as well as fibers and other chemicals used in the industrial and consumer markets of packaging, transportation and construction. It can be used directly as a fuel, or serve as a precursor for longer carbon chain... read more

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Early Stage R&DBio-based photosynthetic conversion of CO2 and water to replace petroleum feedstock on an industrial scale

Alpha-ketoglutarate (AKG) is widely used as an organic synthesis intermediate, a medical and biochemical reagent, and as a nutritional additive in food and sports drinks.  Typically, it is produced from a derivative of petroleum and concentrated hydrochloric acid.  However, the rising cost of petroleum has led to the exploration and development of alternative, biological production systems for fuels and chemicals.  Recently, a number of organizations have successfully... read more

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Early Stage R&DSuppression of Tin Whiskers in Lead-Free Solder

Scientists at the Savannah River National Laboratory have identified a treatment method that slows or prevents the formation of whiskers in lead-free solder.  The current stage of research has shown initial time studies in comparison to a base-line that whisker formation is minimized or almost nonexistent (some hillocks are noted).

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Early Stage R&DSimultaneous distribution of AC and DC power

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s 2010 International Energy Outlook, solar energy is expected to grow globally by 12.7% per year until 2035; more than any other renewable energy source. The growth of on-site DC (Direct Current) power in new and existing buildings has significant energy savings potential through the elimination of inverters necessary to convert DC source power into AC (Alternating Current) as well as the elimination of equipment normally used to... read more

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Early Stage R&DParallel Integrated Thermal Management

Many current cooling systems for hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) with a high power electric drive system utilize a low temperature liquid cooling loop for cooling the power electronics system and electric machines associated with the electric drive system.  These vehicles may contain additional cooling or thermal management systems for other vehicle components, such as an internal combustion engine, batteries, or the vehicle passenger cabin.  The cost of the separate low temperature... read more

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Early Stage R&DSkin-Like Prosthetic Polymer Surfaces
Artificial limbs help to restore normal function to amputees. Surface materials for prostheses need to look realistic, hold up to exposure, and mimic skin. ORNL scientists combined superhydrophobic polymer inventions with carbon nanotubes to create a self-cleaning skin-like surface material with the ability to transmit heat. This material provides an improved external covering for mechanical prosthetics.
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Early Stage R&DLinearly Polarized Thermal Emitter for More Efficient Thermophotovoltaic Devices
Thermophotovoltaic (TPV) devices can be used to generate power from photons, and consist of a thermal emitter and photodiode. These limitations of photovoltatic (PV) devices solar cells—since sunlight is composed of many different wavelengths, not all incident photons have an energy larger than the energy band gap (Eg) of the semiconducting material of the photodiode and thus, not all photons can contribute to the photo-current. If the thermal emitter of a TPV can absorb all incoming... read more
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Early Stage R&DAluminum-Alkaline Metal-Metal Composite Conductor
Researchers have developed a high strength, lightweight aluminum wire for high-voltage power transmission with reduced electrical resistance for overhead electrical lines.  High-voltage electric power transmission cables based on pure aluminum strands with a stranded steel core (ACSR) or stranded aluminum alloy (ACAR) core have the disadvantages of mediocre tensile strength, high density, and poor strength and conductivity retention at elevated temperatures. This combination of properties... read more