Dr. Ikenna C. Nlebedim is an associate scientist and group leader at Ames Laboratory and the magnet thrust co-lead for the Critical Materials Institute (CMI). He contributes to CMI research efforts on recycling, additive manufacturing, thermomagnetic processing and system levels finite element modeling. He has a Ph.D. from Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK, and an M.Sc. from KTH, Stockholm, Sweden. His research interests include recycling of materials, magnetoelastic and magnetoelastic materials, magnetic non-destructive evaluation, and magnetic systems modeling.
He is a research and development engineer in the Experiment Analysis Group of Nuclear Science and Technology at Idaho National Laboratory. In his present position, he leads in-pile instrumentation development for transient irradiation testing and is a principal investigator for transient testing of metallic fuels. He is an experiment safety and performance analyst for experiments at the Advanced Test Reactor and the Transient Reactor Test Facility. In addition, he is a technical lead for measurement of thermophysical properties of nuclear materials. He has expertise in energy transport in condensed matter, liquids, gases, and material interfaces. He has significant experience in advanced measurements of thermophysical properties of nuclear materials using multi-scaled approaches, including nano-scale measurements using atomic force microscopy, laser-based microscopic photothermal methods, and bench-scale high temperature thermal conductivity techniques. He also has expertise in numerical and commercial finite element analysis. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Utah State University and a joint doctorate from Utah State University and Universite de Reims Champagne-Ardenne. He is a member of American Nuclear Society (ANS) and American Society of Mechanical Engineers. He was the founding president of the ANS Student Chapter at Utah State University and currently serves as an Executive Committee member for the Material Science and Technology Division of ANS.
He received his bachelor's in chemistry from Reed College in 1990, and his doctorate in chemistry from Harvard University in 1996. He specializes in multi-disciplinary problem solving in the physical sciences and their corresponding engineering disciplines. Over his 22-year research and development (R&D) career, he has developed expertise in physical chemistry, chemical kinetics, atmospheric chemistry, instrumentation, electronics (digital, analog, power, and RF), spectroscopic sensing, lasers, fiber optics and wave guides, classical optics, electro-optics, electromagnetics, electromechanical systems, heat transfer, materials science, mechanical engineering, manufacturing processes, and renewable energy technologies.
He has won four R&D 100 Awards, holds numerous patents, has 10 active licenses on his inventions, and given many invited talks on the subject of serial innovation. In 2015, he was selected by the U.S. Department of Energy as its Inaugural SunShot Innovator in Residence. He invented the Radical-Ion Flow Battery under the SunShot Innovator in Residence Program to address the need for low-cost, highly scalable electrochemical grid storage, and the performance limitations of prior art battery chemistries in this demanding application. His current research portfolio is focused on electrochemical grid storage, the elimination of rare-earth magnets in wind turbines, and semiconductor thermal management (power electronics, CPUs, GPUs).
He is responsible for the development of science-based simulations for use in accelerating energy technology development. He was architect of the widely used, open-source multiphase CFD code, known as Multiphase Flow with Interphase eXchanges (MFIX), and led the development of software for linking process- and device-scale simulations and the C3M chemical kinetics software. As a fellow of the American Academy of Chemical Engineers, he specializes in multiphase flow, computational fluid dynamics (CFD), fluidization, and various energy processes. He is a founding technical director of National Energy Technology Laboratory’s Carbon Capture Simulation Initiative (CCSI). He has received numerous awards, such as the Energy Secretary’s Achievement Honor Award and American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) Fluidization Process Recognition Award. His many publications address topics, such as gasifier advanced simulation models; multiphase hydrodynamics of gas-solids flow; modeling coal gasification processes; hydrodynamics of particle segregation in fluidized beds; and simulation of granular layer inversion in liquid fluidized beds. He has a bachelor’s in chemical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology (BHU) Varanasi, and a master’s and doctorate from the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago.
He is a staff scientist at Idaho National Laboratory (INL) and a recognized expert in materials characterization and instrumentation. He has a doctorate in materials science and condenser matter physics from the University of California, Davis. His work has spanned global and nationwide collaborations. He has worked at premier nanocharacterization facilities at national laboratories and universities and has expert knowledge of scanning transmission electron microscopy, atom probe tomography and electron loss spectroscopy. His primary research interests lie in the investigation of materials and the origins of their physical properties. He has heavily leveraged the use of multidimensional microscopy, diffraction and artificial intelligence to address delays in data access and extraction, which has led to a new frontier in advanced microscopy. At INL, he continues to focus on the development and application of machine and deep learning in order to decipher and decimate information from images, spectra, and diffraction patterns to maximize the effectiveness, efficiency and utility of advanced microscopy. He is an invited academic faculty member and manager for a diverse group of postdoctoral research scientists, graduate students, and technicians across several national laboratories and universities. He is an author of 45 peer-reviewed publications, a recognized reviewer, and a technical contributing member to energy materials research. He was awarded two patents and has three patents pending, including an innovative approach to computational microscopy using machine learning.
He is a research mechanical engineer in the Energy Conversion Engineering Directorate of the National Energy Technology Laboratory’s Research and Innovation Center (R&IC). He is responsible for the technical direction of sensors and controls research by R&IC within the Crosscutting Research Program. He holds a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from Ohio University and master’s and doctorate in mechanical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
He has more than 20 years of research experience in the areas of harsh environment sensors and combustion. He has worked on a diverse set of applied research problems, including flame ionization sensors for gas turbine combustion, laser-based sensors for process control in harsh applications, rapid analysis of gas mixtures using Raman spectroscopy for process control, solids flow measurement with microwave Doppler for chemical looping combustion, high temperature optical fiber sensing, and steam diluted oxy-fuel combustion for power generation.
He is the technology manager of National Energy Technology Laboratory’s (NETL) Natural Gas and Oil Research and Development (R&D) program. In this capacity, he manages an R&D portfolio encompassing advanced technology projects ranging from basic energy science (modeling, materials development, sensors, controls) through large-scale field demonstrations and includes natural gas (shale gas), enhanced oil recovery, deepwater oil and gas production, and methane hydrates. He has 17 years of diversified engineering and management experience that spans a broad spectrum of technology areas including electric power generation, advanced greenhouse gas control, process control, coal conversion processes (oxycombustion, gasification and chemical looping), thermoelectric water management, and simulation/systems analysis.
Previously at NETL, he served as director of the Office of Coal and Power R&D Program and technology manager of the Carbon Capture Program and Engineering Systems Analyst. Prior to joining NETL, he worked as a chemical engineer for Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) and as a research/process engineer for Calgon Carbon Corporation. He has a bachelor’s and master’s in chemical engineering from the University of Pittsburgh.
He is a human factors engineer in the Human Factors, Controls, and Statistics Department with 37 years of experience in various human factors engineering roles in heavy industry, defense, nuclear, and commercial organizations. His primary focus is on making work more effective, efficient, and satisfying through the design of human-centered tools, methods, and work environments. He has worked at Idaho National Laboratory since 2010. His current work includes researching and developing methods and procedures to integrate human factors principles in the systems engineering process for advanced and modernized nuclear power stations with an emphasis on human-system interfaces and control room design and information visualization. He has a master’s degree in human computer interaction from the University of South Africa and associate degrees in human computer interaction and industrial engineering.
He is a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and a distinguished member of the technical staff at Sandia National Laboratories, where he has worked since 1993 on problems involving solar energy, water safety and sustainability, heat- and mass-transfer processes in porous media, and microchemical sensor systems for environmental monitoring. Since 2008, he has worked in the Concentrating Solar Technologies Department at Sandia performing research on high-temperature solar thermal receivers, heliostat optics, and systems analyses. He has authored over 200 scientific papers, holds 11 patents, is an author and co-editor of three books, and is the associate editor of Solar Energy Journal. He received an Outstanding Professor Award at the University of New Mexico in 1997, and received the national Asian American Engineer of the Year Award in 2010. He received an R&D 100 Award in 2013 for his development of the Solar Glare Hazard Analysis Tool, and another R&D 100 Award in 2016 for his development of the Falling Particle Receiver for Concentrated Solar Energy. In 2008, he won Discover Magazine’s “The Future of Energy in Two Minutes or Less” video contest.
He received his bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1989, and his master’s and doctorate degrees in mechanical engineering from the University of California at Berkeley in 1990 and 1993.
He is a research scientist from Idaho National Laboratory (INL) with extensive experience in the fields of materials electrochemistry as applied to reactive and refractory metals, process metallurgy, synthesis and characterization of high-temperature metals and materials, energy-efficient manufacturing processes, and materials recycling. While working at Bhabha Atomic Research Center, India, he developed an entirely new (molten salt based) process flow-sheet for the production of vanadium metal with a view to fabricate a self-powered beta detector. He also worked on the development of a new high-temperature process for the production of commercial-grade zirconia and silica powders from the indigenously available zircon mineral. His other projects have been aimed at recovering valuable materials from waste, secondary resources, and lean ore bodies. His team could successfully develop a technology for the conversion of Zr-2.5Nb alloy scrap to high purity zirconium crystal bar by van Arkel de Boer process. This technology can be adopted to successfully transform the alloy scrap into high purity zirconium crystal bar, a metal of significant importance to the nuclear energy program. At the University of Cambridge, he worked on the process optimization studies pertaining to the preparation of titanium metal and its alloys by a novel molten salt electrochemical process. He developed a preparative process for titanium-lanthanum alloy from their mixed oxides. At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he worked on a high-temperature electrochemical process to generate oxygen from the lunar regolith. This is one of the two technologies shortlisted by NASA for its eventual deployment to produce breathable oxygen from in situ (lunar) resources. At INL, the scientific underpinning of his research activities has been to study the behavior of metals and materials under a given set of conditions. His diverse research pursuits include materials electrochemistry, energy-efficient manufacturing processes, and materials recycling.
He is a research scientist specializing in crosscutting applications and advancement of sensor research to enable resilient real-time measurement and control of process variables within the nuclear and other critical industries. His research expertise includes applications of pattern recognition and machine learning techniques, instrumentation and controls, data analytics, battery modeling, risk and reliability, digital signal processing, acoustic telemetry, diagnosis/prognosis using wavelets and empirical mode decomposition, time series analysis, power management, wireless communication protocols, and wireless sensor networks. He has authored 51 peer-reviewed publications and one book chapter, and two U.S. patent applications filed. To date, he was involved in 13 research projects and has been the principal investigator for eight. He serves as a reviewer for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Transactions on Image Processing, Energy Conversion, Industrial Informatics, Industrial Applications, Power Delivery, Systems, Machine and Cybernetics, Instrumentation and Measurement, and the American Nuclear Society (ANS) Transactions on Nuclear Technology. He serves as an external reviewer for U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science and Office of Nuclear Energy. Since 2009, he has been section editor for the Journal of Pattern Recognition Research. Since 2015, he has served as an elected member of the ANS Human Factors, Instrumentation, and Controls Division and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Nondestructive Prognostics and Diagnostic Division since 2016.
His research focuses on ferroic functional materials and their applications in clean energy and energy efficiency applications. Current research directions include caloric materials, such as elastocaloric materials for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, refrigeration; application and magnetocaloric materials for gas liquefaction; advanced soft magnetic materials, such as high silicon electrical steel for inductors, transformers, and motors; permanent magnetic materials, such as Mn-based, rare-earth-free permanent magnetic materials and rare-earth permanent magnets with high toughness; high temperature anti-ferroelectric capacitor materials; and ferroelastic shape memory alloys. The overall materials development strategy is theory guided high throughput experimentation, utilizing DFT-based computation to identify alloy composition space and combinatorial bulk synthesis and scanning materials characterization techniques to discover, and down-select candidate compositions. He holds joint positions with Ames Laboratory and the Materials Science and Engineering Department at Iowa State University.
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