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Thermal expansion differences between the porous anode/active anode and dense electrolyte in an anode supported solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) result in a camber (out of plane deflection) after high-temperature heat treatments. Researchers at PNNL have devised two methods to reduce the camber by applying a symmetrical thermal expansion design to the planar cell assembly.
The first method (13536-E) focuses on placing an equilibrating thermal expansion layer on the back of the anode in a designed pattern which enables functionality of the cell to be maintained. The other (13851-B) is a low-thermal expansion additive to the anode that counterbalances the camber during the cooling down phase of cell operation.
Either method or a combination of both inventions provides several benefits in the manufacturing of anode-supported SOFCs.
Sandia’s neutron scatter camera is an innovative design which combines the benefits of gamma ray imaging with fast neutron imaging. The camera detects special nuclear material (SNM) and rejects backgrounds from naturally occurring radiation sources that can produce false alarms. Additionally, the camera can detect and localize neutrons at greater distances and through shielding since fast neutrons are more penetrating than gamma rays. One of the key advantages is higher signal to background over non imaging detectors.
Sandia’s neutron camera design is sensitive, has good angular resolution, portable, and non hazardous. The design is scalable for shorter dwell times and longer stand-off detection.
Insuring a constant supply of radioisotopes is of great importance to healthcare around the world. With the increase need for a stable US supply of medical isotopes, this technology can help alleviate this problem.
Sandia’s patented method and design is a new apparatus for the transmutation of isotopes which enables swift and flexible production on demand by using repetitive high energy pulsed power to achieve transmutation. This invention is based on a combination of high repetition rate high energy pulsed power supply and a magnetically-injected anode plasma source diode. This is used to provide pulsed particle beams having intermediate energy and average power levels of hundreds of kilowatts to megawatts. This will increase the rate of isotopic production by 2-3 orders of magnitude over processes based on conventional accelerators.
Reliable determination of the presence and/or quantity of a particular analyte in the field can be greatly enhanced if the analytical instrument is equipped with a time-of-use calibration standard. While proper calibration is necessary for reliability and accuracy, it can be challenging and cumbersome to provide such calibration in the field using conventional methods found in analytical laboratories.
Sandia’s Microfabricated Field Calibration Assembly is a small, easy-to-use calibration source that can be integrated with field-portable instruments, or embedded in unattended remote sensors. The Field Calibration Assembly is designed at a small scale for incorporation into the intake or housing portion of a sensor or analytical instrument. The small size and placement are conducive to calibrating in the field with quantities as low as picograms.
Researchers at INL have developed methods and systems for providing real-time monitoring and characterization of radionuclides in air, water, and soil. By allowing for in-filed, real-time monitoring, the need to collect samples and send them to a lab for processing is eliminated, significantly reducing time and expense.
The Large-Area Beta-Gamma Detector System (LABS) is a large area specialized multi-layer detector and analysis system that can be used to scan large areas for a range of low-energy beta and gamma-ray emitting radionuclides or can be used to measure process streams or samples containing these radionuclides. The system provides a highly sensitive nondestructive detector system for the analysis of beta emitters in air, water and soil.
Plastics products—such as grocery bags, packaging foam, plates, and cups—are lightweight, strong, and inexpensive to produce. However, because these products are not biodegradable, they collect in landfills, litter the environment, and present a long-term environmental problem. Through a new process developed by an Argonne scientist Vilas Pol, a wide range of waste plastics can be converted into a fine black carbon powder or carbon nanotubes. This carbon-based substance has numerous industrial applications, ranging from its use as an anode material in manufacturing lithium-ion batteries to serving as a component in water purification, tires, electronics, paints, and printer inks and toners.
Plastic bags have become a fact of life for businesses and consumers. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Americans use over 100 billion plastic bags annually, but only about 13% are recycled.
Plastics are not biodegradable. They collect in landfills and litter roadsides. Scientists say plastics take more than 100 years to decompose. Conventional recycling methods are ineffective because different types of plastics—polystyrene and polyethylene, for example—cannot be mixed and the quality of recycled plastic is typically poor.
At Argonne, chemist Vilas Pol has devised an environmentally green method that breaks down plastics and transforms them into a highly usable substance. In Dr. Pol’s solvent-free process, plastic bags are inserted into a specially designed reactor and heated to 700 degrees Celsius, forming a fine black powder. The powder contains tiny carbon spheres— around 2 to 5 micrometers wide and one-twentieth the width of a human hair.
If a cobalt-based catalyst is added during the heating, the powder forms microscopic carbon nanotubes. Both substances—carbon nanotubes and carbon spheres—have numerous industrial applications. They are used to manufacture lithium-ion batteries, which power cell phones, laptops, and other products. The batteries also serve as the power source for electric cars. Moreover, the properties of carbon micropheres make them useful in water purification and the tire industry, as well as in the manufacture of paint, printer inks, and toners.
Iowa State University and Ames Laboratory researchers have developed a method to create gadolinium silicide nanoparticles which retain ferromagnetic properties at room temperature.
This innovative method creates Gd5Si4 nanoparticles that retain the ferromagnetic properties of the bulk material at room temperature. These nanoparticles may be useful as a MRI contrast agent or for other applications that would benefit from materials that highly respond to a magnetic field, such as transcranial magnetic stimulation, MRI thermometry, and hyperthermic cancer treatment. The gadolinium-based ferromagnetic particles are produced using ball milling in an inert atmosphere. The resultant particles retain an order of magnitude greater magnetization compared to conventionally prepared gadolinium particles. Ordinary preparation methods destroy the ordered structure required for ferromagnetism, resulting in materials with the much weaker paramagnetic properties - ferromagnetic materials have a high susceptibility to magnetization when subjected to a magnetic field and retain that magnetization after the field is removed; paramagnetic materials respond to a magnetic field but do not retain any magnetization when removed from the field.
ISU and Ames Lab researchers have developed a method for producing AlNiCo magnets that employs the substitution of less expensive materials for cobalt in the AlNiCo alloy.
AlNiCo magnets account for a little more than four thousand metric tons of material with a market value of $280mn. AlNiCo magnets are often used as a replacement magnet for ferrite magnets when high temperature performance is required. Raw materials are estimated to account for approximately 33% of the cost of AlNiCo magnets, with the most expensive element being cobalt. The technology involves the substitution of less expensive materials for cobalt therefore significantly reducing production costs. Previous attempts at this substitution have almost exclusively used a 1:1 substitution of iron for cobalt. The results have been a decrease in the performance of the magnet with the increased substitution. The inventors have used a different approach to substitution, substituting several low cost elements for cobalt. The resulting magnet not only matches the performance of a traditional AlNiCo magnet, but production time is significantly reduced and can occur a much lower temperatures further reducing production costs.
Iowa State University and Ames Laboratory researchers have developed a process to produce extremely flat and smooth surfaces on hard materials without involving a chemical etchant.
Chemical mechanical polishing (CMP) is a process used to create defect-free, smooth and flat surfaces, primarily for the semiconductor industry, and involves both mechanical polishing and chemical etching. CMP slurries (which provide the physical interface between the sample and the polishing equipment) typically consist of an abrasive (most often a metal oxide such as silica, ceria, alumina or zirconia), a liquid medium (normally water, but can be others depending on the application), and chemical agents (oxidizers, bases, acids) which treat the surface.By tweaking the abrasive composition and size as well as the liquid medium, this technology removes the need for a chemical agent and can provide a nearly atomically flat surface. Through multiple steps, this process can create much flatter and smoother surfaces than produced using commercial materials (rough mean square roughness of 0.314nm versus 0.753nm for conventional polishing).
Iowa State University and Ames Laboratory researchers have developed an improvement to KBBF crystal systems for the generation of ultraviolet laser light by creating an alternative prism geometry that eliminates the need for contacting fluid or optical coupling devices.
Lasers consisting of light from the ultra-violet portion of the spectrum have both scientific and commercial applications. Scientifically, vacuum ultraviolet (VUV) lasers can be used in angle resolved photoemission spectroscopy to study the electronic parameters of solids. Commercially VUV lasers are of interest in semiconductor manufacturing, as the wavelength of the higher frequency spectra could produce much finer structures using photolithography. One source for generation of VUV lasers is passing a lower frequency laser beam through potassium beryllium fluoroborate (KBBF) crystals, resulting in a harmonic frequency laser. For economic reasons, KBBF crystals are grown very thin; as incident light upon the crystals is at a very acute angle, the resultant VUV laser has a low efficiency as most of the light is subsequently reflected off the surface of the crystal.
Samples are available for testing, and ISU is seeking commercialization partners for this technology.
Superconductors are materials which carry electrical current without dissipation. However, feeding electrical current into a superconductor generates heat dissipation in 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 to their high critical magnetic fields, can be competitive alternatives for generating high magnetic fields without loss of resistance. In order to take advantage of these properties, Iowa State University and Ames laboratory researchers have discovered a contact material and developed a method for its application which provides the necessary low electrical resistivity for iron-pcnitide superconductors. This new technology is easily adaptable to current solder methods used for creating electrical contacts and has the advantage of being very economical.
Iowa State University and Ames Laboratory researchers have developed a process for the synthesis of alane with quantitative yields at ambient temperature and moderate hydrogen or ambient gas pressure while controlling side reactions.This novel synthesis route significantly increases yields and reduces the production costs for this compound.
Alane exceeds the DOE performance criteria for hydrogen storage for transportation vehicles, but does not have a cost-efficient production route. Synthesis of alane by metathesis reactions in organic solvents is inefficient because of the need to remove solvents from the resultant alane solvates that inevitably leads to thermal decomposition of a substantial fraction of the formed alane. Traditional mechanochemical synthetic routes require cryogenic processing to control side reactions leading to decomposition of more than 60% of the formed alane. This new method allows for the use of a mechanochemical process at ambient temperatures and slightly elevated hydrogen or inert gas pressures to produce alane while still suppressing side reactions to produce alane in quantitative yields. By eliminating the desolvation step inherent in the solvent-based route and the cryogenic environment of traditional mechanochemical synthesis, this novel synthesis route significantly increases yields and reduces the production costs for this compound.