Lab Partnering Service Discovery
Use the LPS faceted search filters, or search by keywords, to narrow your results.
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.
Iowa State University and Ames Laboratory researchers have developed a modular sample stage and thermal conductivity measurement device that is compatible with a variety of cryogenic and magnetic field apparatus. This modular device allows for easy switching between apparatus to perform a variety of measurements without sample or thermometer remounting.
The thermal conductivity of a material is of great importance for determining suitability for a given application. While many techniques have been developed to measure thermal conductivity at moderate temperatures, measurement at low (sub-kelvin) temperatures are difficult to achieve. These low temperature measurements are important to characterize novel materials, particularly in determining the superconducting state while isolating electronic degrees of freedom. As there is no singular cyrogenic solution for measurement of thermal conductivity that can cover broad ranges of temperature, magnetic field strength, and magnetic field direction, thorough characterization requires the sample to be tested in multiple apparatus. A modular and portable sample stage and conductivity measurement device that can be readily moved between apparatus, and is compatible with broad temperature and magnetic field ranges, is desirable to reduce the error introduced by multiple setups as well as different thermometers and calibrations.
Iowa State University and Ames Laboratory researchers have developed a fast solver for the Gutzwiller approximation for electronic structure of atoms.
State of the art computational tools for atomic modeling use the Local Density Approximation Density Functional Theory (LDADFT).However, LDADFT often has issues in properly describing situations which include van der Waals forces, charge transfer and transition states. Simultaneously optimizing the three sets of parameters in the Gutzwiller approximation can address some of these specific situations and produce a more accurate model. ISURF #03958 provides a solver for the Gutzwiller approximation from first principles. ISURF #04135 takes an alternative approach, starting with a set of common parameters for optimization rather than starting from first principles. For the majority of applications, ISURF #04135 produces as an accurate model as does ISURF #03958 but in a much faster computation. This technology is related to ISURF 4135: A General Efficient Gutzwiller Solver for Electronic Structure Simulation Package (software: http://isurftech.technologypublisher.com/techcase/4135).
Current oil and salt based heat transfer fluids have significant limitations such as usable temperature, high cost, and limited thermal conversion efficiency. To achieve the Department of Energy SunShot goal of high efficiency, low cost renewable power generation, a highly efficient and economical way to absorb solar heat and to store the thermal energy is important for broad deployment of concentrating solar power (CSP) plants as baseload power.
Engineers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have developed a high-temperature “direct” supercritical CO2 (s-CO2) receiver for CSP applications. The direct s-CO2 receiver can be coupled with an s-CO2-Brayton power cycle to meet the DOE SunShot cost and performance goals. The near-blackbody (NBB) design employs a working mechanism resembling a blackbody furnace, and minimizes thermal losses from convection and radiation through reducing direct exposure of heated surfaces to the cool ambient surroundings. An ideal blackbody furnace design uses a well-known radiative mechanism and captures nearly all incoming radiation. The infrared (IR) re-radiation losses also behave as NBB emission, therefore a significant design emphasis is on minimizing IR emission. The NBB design maximizes solar energy collection efficiency while reducing IR re-radiation and convection losses for high performance.
This receiver design performs at greater than 650°C operating temperature with less than 10% thermal loss (defined as the ratio of energy delivered to the heat transfer fluid divided by the total energy that enters the receiver aperture), while minimizing the thermal stress (and hence material requirements) of the receiver. Such a design enables use in a modular, small tower s-CO2 power system, where the s-CO2 power block may be directly integrated with the receiver on top of the tower, resulting in less piping requirements and parasitic consumptions.
Iowa State University and Ames Laboratory researchers have developed a high strength, lightweight aluminum wire for high-voltage power transmission with reduced electrical resistance for overhead electrical lines.
The Al/Ca composite has demonstrated promising corrosion resistance and elevated temperature performance properties while creep and fatigue strengths are being investigated. 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 causes excessive sag in overload situations and limits the mechanical tension the cables can bear in icing and high wind situations. Alternative materials that increase cable strength generally have poor conductivity and/or high cost. Iowa State University and Ames Laboratory researchers have discovered a method to produce an aluminum matrix wire composite with reduced density that adds strength while retaining maximum ampacity.