Lab Partnering Service Discovery
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Iowa State University and Ames Laboratory researchers have developed a method to produce sintered, final-shape magnets with high density and aligned microstructure.The resulting permanent magnets feature higher energy product and improved remanence versus standard processing, with improved performance in motors and generators.
Iowa State University and Ames Laboratory researchers have developed a process to create AlNiCo magnets in near final shape with improved energy product and remanence versus magnets produced without using directional solidification or zone refinement. Magnets resulting from this process are characterized by highly controlled and aligned microstructure in the solid state.Magnet alloy precursor powder is aligned while being added to the mold, with compression molding locking the aligned particles in place. The resulting microstructural template for grain growth persists through a thermal de-binding treatment and sintering of the magnet. Magnets produced by this molding process display enhanced energy density, as well as optimized coercivity and magnetization, and have the potential for high volume manufacturing because they are manufactured in near-final shapes.
Iowa State University and Ames Laboratory Critical Materials Institute researchers have developed a cost effective step that easily separates rare earth oxalates into a light rare earth stream and a heavy rare earth stream.
For many rare earth ores, the percentage of the valuable heavy rare earths (in particular, terbium, europium, dysprosium, yttrium and gadolinium) in the ore is very low, making separation and recovery of these elements from the other rare earths not cost-effective. Iowa State University and Ames Laboratory researchers have developed a process that can be added on to conventional ore processing that readily separates rare earth oxalates into two streams, one containing the light rare earths (La – Sm) and the other containing heavy rare earths (Gd – Y). This one step process requires no special equipment and minimal capital investment. The process is water-based, and uses a “green” extractant to remove the heavy REEs from the light REEs.
Although research is currently inactive on the patented technology "Low Temperature Sorbents for Removal of Sulfur Compounds from Fluid Feed Streams," the technology is available for licensing from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL).
Disclosed in this patent is a process consisting of a material reactive with sulfur, a binder unreactive with sulfur, and an inert material that in combination can absorb sulfur from fluid feed gas streams at temperatures ranging between 30 and 200 degrees Centigrade. Research has shown that the sulfur absorption capacity has reached as high as 22 weight percent through the application of this process.
Although vapor-phase fuel streams provide valuable commodities, such as liquefied petroleum gases, these commodities cannot be commercially used until contaminants within them are removed. The most typical contaminants are sulfur-containing compounds, such as hydrogen sulfide and others. Removal of the sulfur is necessary to preserve the environment and protect components, such as catalysts, fuel cells, and turbines, contained in power generation systems. Some techniques currently exist for sulfur removal but are limited by only incorporating high temperature ranges. Low temperature processes for removing sulfur also exist but are limited by low sulfur capacities.
The NETL-developed technology provides a solid sorbent that removes sulfur compounds at low temperatures. The process operates at temperatures ranging between 30 degrees and 200 degrees Centigrade, while exhibiting the capacity to absorb high levels of sulfur. In addition, the sorbent itself is relatively inexpensive to manufacture and maintain. The process features a combination of readily available sulfur-reactive materials with diluents and support materials to produce a porous sulfur-absorbing substrate, resulting in the use of less materials and minimal costs.
Xiaogan Liang of Berkeley Lab has invented an inexpensive, high-throughput process for depositing pure few-layer-graphene (FLG) in a desired pattern onto substrates, such as silicon wafers. This method uses electrostatic forces to print FLG in dimensions ranging from less than 20 nm to 100 μm and has the potential to be combined with step-and-repeat technology to cover large areas.
In the Berkeley Lab technology, the desired pattern is created on the pristine surface of a highly oriented pyrolytic graphite (HOPG) stamp. The stamp is brought into contact with the substrate, and one to three layers of graphene are deposited with great accuracy by the application of electrostatic forces. The stamp is removed and the graphene remains bonded to the substrate by van de Waals forces alone.
The invention was used to create 1.4 μm pillars and 18 nm-wide nanolines of FLG on SiO2/Si substrates. These structures were visualized with scanning electron microscopy and atomic force microscopy, and their graphene composition was confirmed with Raman spectroscopy. The nanolines were used to create transistors that had excellent transport properties with highly mobile holes and electrons. The rapid current in the FLG nanolines and nanoribbons and their high sensitivity to electric fields may also allow for applications in biosensors, antennae, and photovoltaics.
Graphene offers significant advantages over silicon as a potential semiconductor because of its exceptional electronic properties: high carrier mobility, stable 2D structure, and the potential to enable scatter-free electron movement at room temperature. However, several obstacles have prevented graphene from being used for commercial electronics. Primarily, it is difficult to deposit graphene in a precise and electronically useful pattern over the relatively large (6 in., 8 in., or 12 in.) surface of a standard silicon wafer or other substrate. Current methods such as epitaxial growth, adhesive application, and reactive deposition are either expensive or risk contamination of the deposited material. The Berkeley Lab technology overcomes these limitations to make graphene a viable semiconductor material.
Iowa State University researchers have developed a flexible pathway to turn glucose into nylon or PET using inexpensive catalysts and moderate reaction conditions.
Using a combination of biological, electrochemical, and catalytic processes, ISU researchers have developed a pathway to convert glucose into precursors for both nylon and PET manufacture. The first phase utilizes an engineered strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae to produce high levels of muconic acid from a glucose feedstock (a titer of 752mg/L). Next, muconic acid can be partially hydrogenated to hexenedioic acid or fully hydrogenated to adipic acid via an electrochemical process. Both hexenedioic acid and adipic acid can be combined with hexaminediamine to make Nylon 6,6. If hexenedioic acid is used in the nylon backbone, the remaining double bond can be further modified using controlled radical polymerization to create a functionalized nylon with potential applications in packaging and other areas. Alternately the muconic acid can undergo a series of reactions to produce terephthalic acid (one of the building blocks for PET, the most common thermoplastic polyester). These steps include electrocatalytically isomerizing the cis,cis- or cis,trans- muconic acid to the trans,trans- variant for PET and other high-value chemical production. This suite of technologies enables the production of a variety of similar polymers with different physical characteristics that can be targeted toward specialized end products. This technology is related to ISURF #4289: Electrocatalytic Hydrogenation of Muconic Acid for the Production of Biorenewable Synthetic Polymer Precursors (http://isurftech.technologypublisher.com/techcase/4289), and ISURF #4402: Electrochemical Isomerization of Muconic Acid (http://isurftech.technologypublisher.com/techcase/4402)
Argonne scientists have developed a super hard and slick nanocomposite coating (SSC) that significantly reduces friction and wear and can eliminate scuffing-related failures. The coating can be used in components of moving mechanical systems, including engines. Eliminating scuffing is especially important because it is a life-limiting factor in many components used under heavy loading or in heavy machinery, such as earth-moving and mining equipment. The SSC also increases energy efficiency by reducing friction by as much as 80%. SSCs can be produced at moderate temperatures (200–400°C) on almost any kind of metallic substrates at high growth rates.
Argonne’s SSCs are based on special formulations of hard and soft phases that provide friction coefficients of 0.02 to 0.05 under boundary lubricated sliding conditions and prevent wear. Therefore, the SSCs can extend wear life, reduce maintenance costs, and reduce environmental emissions by reducing fuel consumption.
Argonne researchers have collaborated with Galleon International and Hauzer Technocoating to develop a production-scale deposition system to meet the demands of large-volume applications in the transportation and manufacturing sectors. The new system uses a modified version of existing plasma coating equipment that is well-suited for demonstrating flexible, production-scale coating for large-volume industrial applications. The SSC is unique in that the ingredients used in its synthesis were predicted by using a crystal-chemical model proposed by the developers of the SSC technology. In the collaborations, the scientists are using special coating ingredients that are predicted by using the crystal-chemical model.
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.
Current dielectric materials are limited and unable to meet all operating, temperature, response frequency, size, and reliability requirements needed for uncooled high-reliability electronics. To address this problem, scientists at Sandia have developed a method for producing dielectric materials using engineered chemical disorder, creating semi-conductor material that outperforms what is currently available.
By developing a composition with dissimilar cations ((Ba,Bi)(Zn,Ti)O3), they created competing driving forces for crystallographic distortion resulting in a highly polarizable material. In addition to the structural distortion at the atomic level, the thermodynamics associated with mixing these systems lead to chemical disorder and gradients at the mesoscopic level during thermal processing. This multi-level chemical and structural frustration results in large permittivity level values that are stable across a wide range of operating temperatures (250ºC+) and applied electric fields. In turn, Sandia’s dielectric material possesses multiple advantages: 1) the material exists in a highly polarizable state; 2) results in a heterogeneous microstructure that aids in the dielectric properties; 3) high temperature resistivity; and 4) high temperature stability. Capacitors based on Sandia’s dielectric materials were developed for use in grid-tied storage; however, the resulting products will have various high operating temperature applications.
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.