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Microgrids are localized energy grids that provide flexibility through their ability to operate independently from the bulk power grid. Well-designed microgrids support resiliency, security, efficiency, local control, and increased access to renewable resources. Sandia’s Microgrid Design Toolkit (MDT) is a decision support software toolkit that aids designers in creating optimal microgrids.
Employing powerful algorithms and simulation capabilities, MDT searches the trade space of alternative microgrid designs based on user-defined objectives (e.g., cost, performance, and reliability) and produces a set of efficient microgrid solutions. MDT allows designers to investigate the simultaneous impacts of several design decisions and gain a quantitative understanding of the relationships between design objectives and trade-offs associated with alternative technological design decisions. MDT can account for grid-connected and islanded performance, power and component reliability in islanded mode, and dozens of parameters as part of the trade space search, and presents designers with an entire trade space of information from which to base final design decisions. Without MDT, designers rely on engineering judgment and perhaps a quantitative analysis of relatively few candidate designs. MDT allows designers to explore a larger field of options and provides defensible, quantitative evidence for design decisions.
ISU and Ames Laboratory scientists have developed an adapter that conserves the volume of resin used in the 3D printing of smaller parts.
Common commercial 3D-printers have a single build platform that requires a significant volume of material for every printing task, regardless of size of your target part. Consequently, screening different materials demands production of large amounts of resins. Furthermore, only one resin can be tested in a single run so testing multiple candidate resins is either time consuming or requires several costly printers operating in parallel. Iowa State University and Ames laboratory scientists devised a high throughput screening adapter that can be attached to any commercial sterolithographic 3D printer that divides its build platform and resin tank into sets of smaller individual platforms and tanks. This can reduce the amount of resin needed from 100 mL or more ($150-$400 per liter resin), to 2 mL per reservoir.
Iowa State University and Ames Laboratory researchers have developed a metamaterials-based terahertz emitter that could drastically improve communication speeds and imaging resolution.
The terahertz gap, which lies between the infrared and millimeter spectral regions (from approximately 100 GHz to 15THz) poses one of the most demanding challenges for technology and fundamental science today. The lack of efficient light sources and detectors makes THz physics one of the least explored parts of the entire electromagnetic spectrum. This is despite the underlying demand in the fields of communication and sensing, to push the gigahertz switching speed limit of today’s logic/memory/wireless communication devices into the terahertz range and to extend the conventional visible/infrared spectrum of today’s security and medical imaging devices into the THz spectrum, which provides more transparency and has more distinct spatial signatures suitable for non-invasive and label-free imaging. ISU researchers have accomplished efficient broadband, single-cycle THz pulse generation by developing a novel THz emitter from metamaterials. This efficient and compact THz source is extremely useful for many applications including integrated nano-photonics and nano-electronic circuits, high-speed information and communication technology and ultra-small, non-invasive biological and medical evaluation. http://isurftech.technologypublisher.com/technology/21453 Technology ID: 04109/ AL 616
Iowa State University and Ames Laboratory researchers have developed a series of alloy design and powder or spray processing steps that lead to the low-cost production of oxidation or corrosion resistant metallic alloys.
Alloys used in applications such as exhaust valves are increasingly subject to demanding operating environments, such as high temperatures and exposure to corrosive gases; these alloys must also be able to resist high cycle fatigue, extreme surface wear, and long-term creep deformation. Iron (Fe)-based superalloys have been developed through a mechanical alloying process that results in a dispersoid strengthened metallic material.However, mechanical alloying can add significant costs for making alloys that perform well in high temperature environments because it requires expensive milling equipment and extensive milling time; thus commercial applications may be limited.The long milling time required can also lead to contamination within the alloy powders. To overcome these drawbacks, ISU and Ames laboratory researchers have developed a method of making dispersoid strengthened, corrosion/oxidation resistant atomized alloy powder particles for high temperature structural applications. The method employs gas atomization reaction synthesis (GARS) linked with alloy design and atomizing parameters to result in the low-cost production of corrosion and/or oxidation resistant metallic alloy particles which are strengthened by disperoids that are highly resistant to coarsening and strength degradation at elevated temperatures. This new molten metal processing technique can thus result in precision parts with superior properties.
ORNL researchers developed a broad class of dynamic hybrid phase change materials and coupled them to residential heat pumps, inventing a super energy saver heat pump. This invention significantly improves heating/cooling efficiency in existing pumps and decreases greenhouse gases, due to reduced energy consumption.
The ORNL invention uses what are essentially off-the-shelf components to obtain substantially higher performance than conventional technology. The key feature of this invention is the production, packaging, and configuration of the hybrid phase change material in the heat pump cycle.
The material combines Group I and II halides with silica gel. This is then placed around a finned heat exchanger, housed in a porous drainage pipe. The device permits the heat pump to extract and store heat from ground and air via the dynamic exchange of water between soil solution, water vapor, and phase change material. The design reduces inefficiencies in the heat pump, enables load shifting, and saves electricity.The phase change materials are made from halides, compounds of a halogen such as fluorine, chlorine, bromine and iodine. This is the only group in the periodic table that contains elements in all three states of matter (solid, liquid, and gas) at standard temperature and pressure. When such materials change from solid to liquid and back again, they are capable of storing and releasing large amounts of energy.
Researchers at Berkeley Lab have developed a highly efficient technology for the reclamation of waste heat in mechanical heat engines widely used in solar-thermal, geothermal, and industrial processes. This new approach yields gains in efficiencies for both high temperature and intermediate temperature thermal sources, marking a significant advance over strategies that focus predominately on high temperature efficiency solutions.
The Berkeley Lab energy reclamation technology uses an Organic Flash Cycle (OFC) that increases exergetic efficiency with isentropic or "dry" aromatic hydrocarbons as working fluids that almost perfectly match the temperature of the thermal resource, reducing a major contributor of system energy conversion inefficiencies. Heat addition takes place completely in the liquid phase of the cycle with the working fluid vaporized during flash evaporation.
The OFC invention has several configurations, each suited to different conditions and cycle requirements. For high temperature applications between approximately 200ºC and 400ºC, the single flash OFC achieves efficiencies comparable to the optimized Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC), but uses a simpler configuration. For lower temperature thermal resources in the range of approximately 80ºC to 150ºC, a secondary flash stop vaporizes more fluid for additional reclamation gains.
Another variation on the basic OFC replaces the throttling valve with a more efficient two-phase expander to reduce system irreversibility. The OFC outperforms the basic ORC with approximately 20% to 50% greater thermal energy utilization. It has approximately 90% heat addition efficiency compared to about 70% for basic ORC, about 75% for a zeotropic Rankine cycle with a binary ammonia-water mixture, and about 80% for a CO2 transcritical cycle.
Current cycle technologies for reclaiming waste heat are extensively used in traditional manufacturing industries including petroleum refining, pulp and paper, iron and steel, food and beverages, cement, fabricated metals. The implementation of OFC in these industries has the potential of an annual recovery of up to 1,703 quadrillion BTUs from waste heat with an approximate savings of $5.8 billion per year. The OFC is also a promising reclamation strategy for renewable energy sources such as solar thermal, geothermal, and biomass.
Argonne National Laboratory has developed a way to make commercially viable lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and electric vehicles that are safer, will last longer, and cost less than current Li-ion batteries. Argonne researchers, Drs. Khalil Amine and Zonghai Chen, accomplished this goal by making only a small change to the Li-ion chemistry. The scientists are testing a new molecule based on boron and fluorine as an additive in the electrolyte of Li-ion batteries. By adding a small amount of this substance to battery cells, they found they can keep individual cells in the battery from reaching unsafe voltage levels. The new molecule picks up electrons and keeps the cell charge from increasing if the cell reaches an unsafe voltage level.
Reliance on rechargeable lithium batteries is growing because they offer the greatest chance for breakthroughs. The development of hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) and PHEVs can be increased by removing barriers related to calendar and operating life, safety, and cost. The performance limitations arise largely because of uncontrolled reactions that occur at high and low potentials at the electrolyte/electrode interface, leading to high cell impedance, reduced energy and power output, and a limited cycle life (less than two years). Argonne’s invention is a charge transfer mechanism for Li-ion battery overcharge protection. When the battery is overcharged, the redox shuttle is oxidized by losing an electron to the positive electrode. The radical cation formed is then diffused back to the negative electrode, causing the cation to obtain an electron and be reduced. The net reaction is to shuttle electrons from the positive electrode to the negative electrode without causing chemical damage to the battery (Figure 1).
Typically, cancer patients who require radiation therapy may experience an array of side effects, such as nausea, diarrhea, fatigue, or changes in the skin. In addition, the x-ray treatment is linked to secondary cancers. Recently misaligned x-ray treatment systems have caused illnesses—and even death. This groundbreaking innovation in radiation therapy provides successful, cost-effective radiation without the limitations of conventional treatment. The innovation, an endoscopic electron beam, promises to transform the delivery of radiation treatment for millions of cancer patients—including many for whom radiation was previously impossible.
Radiation has proven an effective therapy in cancer treatment. However, because human tissue absorbs the electrons, physicians must limit patients’ exposure to radiation and generally prescribe such treatment only for surface cancers or procedures that require large surgical incisions to expose the body core.
Researchers at Argonne National Laboratory, led by John Noonan, have devised an innovative radiation treatment that capitalizes on the benefits of conventional radiation therapy while overcoming its drawbacks. Transporting the electron beam to the internal cancer, the beam can be absorbed by the tumor only, with healthy tissue minimally damaged.
An electron beam, less than 1 millimeter in diameter and at very low beam emittance, is delivered through a laparoscopic tube inserted through a small incision and positioned directly at the tumor. The beam can vary in energy from 1 million to 10 million electron volts, suitable to cover tumors ranging from approximately 0.5 cm to 5 cm, respectively. Enormous doses of radiation can be delivered endoscopically without fear of exceeding advisable total body dose exposure.
The endoscopic method will be highly effective in treating a number of cancers previously regarded as inoperable or in radiation-sensitive areas, such as the spine, nerves, the optic nerve, and organs, including the brain.
Being able to vary the beam’s energy level gives physicians control in preventing damage to healthy tissue. In the case of brain tumors, the laparoscopic tube provides an additional advantage during therapy, as a means of removing dead cells that could harm healthy ones. In addition, because of the technology’s precision, treatment time is shortened, with electron beams potentially requiring only a single treatment as compared with conventional radiation therapy requiring several months—a significant improvement in patient care.
Scientists at Argonne National Laboratory have created a process by which amorphous and nanophase pharmaceutical compounds can be synthesized without the use of a container, thus avoiding potential contamination. The process involves acoustic levitation—that is, a technique in which an object is suspended through pressure created by intense sound waves—to form molecular gels and amorphous solids. The method is expected to help pharmaceutical manufacturers create drugs that dissolve more quickly on delivery.
The containerless method involves the use of a levitator, a chamber in which objects can be suspended through sound-wave pressure. Argonne scientists developed two protocols using this technique on several over-the-counter and prescription medicines. In the first method, the team dissolved such drugs as ibuprofen and the antibiotic clofoctol in ethanol, and then allowed droplets of the solution to evaporate while suspended in the levitator. In the second method, researchers used a laser to melt the antihistamine cinnarizine into droplets and suspend them as they cooled.
For years, radio frequency identification (RFID) technology has been used in a variety of applications, from passports to inventory tracking in retail environments. Homeland security concerns have heightened the need for sensitive, real-time tracking of thousands of radioactive and hazardous material packages to ensure accountability, safety, security, and worker and public health. Through the support of DOE, Argonne researchers have developed and tested a patented RFID tracking and monitoring technology called ARG-US (which means “watchful guardian”) that will modernize the management of nuclear and
The heart of the ARG-US system is a battery-powered RFID tag that remotely monitors the vital parameters of packages containing sensitive materials in storage and transportation. The ARG-US RFID tag incorporates a suite of sensors for seal integrity, temperature, humidity, shock, radiation and battery strength. New sensors can be added via the tag’s built-in expansion interface. As designed and developed, ARG-US can add an extra layer of security, functionality and savings to the handling, storage and transport of nuclear and radioactive materials and other sensitive items.
The ARG-US system provides continuous, near-real-time tracking and monitoring of packages during transport, in-transit stops and storage by using multi-functional RFID tags attached to each package, in conjunction with RFID readers, control computers, stand-alone and web-based software, and satellite or cellular-based channels. Two specialized software applications—ARG-US TransPort and ARG-US OnSite—have been developed, providing a powerful, customizable platform for full life-cycle materials management during transport and storage. The system incorporates secure communications, databases, and web services. Together, these features can dramatically increase efficiency while reducing costs associated with nuclear material operations and aging management.
The need for ARG-US technology has grown beyond its initial application of managing nuclear materials as a result of demonstrated performance, and now includes its application to civilian fuel cycles, incident responses, and emergency management.
In April 2011, ARG?US was chosen by an industry panel to receive RFID Journal’s prestigious “Most Innovative Use of RFID” Award. ARG?US was also selected as a finalist to present at the 2011 World’s Best Technology Innovation Marketplace, a preeminent technology forum. In February 2012, the system was featured in a case study in the U.S. for the World Institute for Nuclear Security and the World Nuclear Transport Institute Joint International Best Practice Guide on Electronic Tracking for the Transport of Nuclear and Other Radioactive Materials, Revision 1.0.
Copper is drawing much attention as an electrode and interconnect material for integrated sub-micron circuit technology due to its low resistivity and high electro- and stress-mitigation resistance which are superior to Al and Al-alloys. Cu is also a promising candidate to replace Pt due to its low-cost, high conductivity and easier reactive etching properties. However, the successful substitution of Cu into thin-film devices requires the solution to critical issues such as adhesion of Cu layers to Si, SiO.sub.2 and ferroelectric layers, Cu diffusion, and elimination of oxidation of the Cu during growth of oxide films. A significant problem is that Cu oxidizes at relatively low temperatures at a significant rate, which results in degradation of the electrical conduction properties of the Cu electrode layers. Thus protection against oxidation is necessary when growing ferroelectric or high permittivity oxide films on Cu electrode layers, since synthesis of those layers requires high temperature and oxygen ambient or oxygen plasmas.
Argonne’s invention is a multi-layer thin film device containing copper layers protected by amorphous TiAl oxide and devices incorporating TiAl. The layered device comprises a substrate of or containing silicon and/or a compound thereof or of or containing diamond, an adhering layer on the substrate, an electrical conducting layer on the adhering layer, a barrier layer of an oxide of TiAl and a high dielectric layer forming one or more of an electrical device and/or a magnetic device (see figure).
To prevent oxidation of the copper layer during growth of the oxide layer on the copper layer, a TiAl oxygen diffusion barrier is put on top of the copper layer before growing the oxide layer. The TiAl layer absorbs oxygen preferentially binding it to the constituent elements (Ti and Al) of the layer and inhibiting the diffusion of oxygen atoms towards the copper layer while growing the oxide film in an oxygen environment at high temperature. The TiAl oxygen diffusion barrier layer can be deposited by MOCVD, molecular beam epitaxy, atomic layer deposition or physical vapor deposition or any other method suitable for growing oxide thin films.
Scientists at Argonne National Laboratory have created an in vitro, cell-free system and method for producing several types of protein: membrane proteins, membrane-associated proteins, and soluble proteins.
With advances that can be gleaned from the study of high quality samples of this type, this method is expected to drive advances in membrane protein structural biology and deepen our approaches for characterizing biological activity as cellular interfaces.
In most organisms, cell membranes are the vital structures that serve as the interface between an organism and its environment, enabling the creation of compartments where proteins carry out the cell’s basic functions. Proteins in these membranes carry out the essential functions of the cell, such as uptake of nutrients, excretion of wastes, energy generation, and signal transduction. The functions performed by membrane proteins are extremely important for all organisms. Previously, researchers studying these proteins needed to replicate them within cells: a complex, time-consuming process.
Despite the fact that they represent approximately 30% of every genome and comprise more than 60% of all drug targets, only about 100 unique membrane protein structures have been determined to date (compared to about 10,000 unique structures in soluble protein families). One reason for this relatively low number of unique membrane protein structures is that it is difficult to isolate membrane proteins using conventional methods. Also, once isolated, purification is highly protein-specific, is not adaptable to high-throughput methodologies, and rarely yields the amounts of pure membrane proteins needed for extensive biochemical studies and crystallization trials.
The in vitro method is capable of producing membrane proteins, membrane-associated proteins, and soluble proteins. This methodology promises to become an important tool for deepening scientists’ understanding of life and driving advances in molecular biology.