Oak Ridge National Laboratory


News Release

Media Contact: Fred Strohl (strohlhf@ornl.gov)
Communications and External Relations


ORNL researchers receive Technology Transfer awards

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., May 8, 1996 — Three teams of researchers at the Department of Energy's (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have received award recognition by the Federal Laboratory Consortium (FLC) for technology developed at the lab and then successfully transferred to companies in the private sector.

The Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer for 1996 was presented by the FLC at its National Technology Transfer meeting May 7 in Seattle to nominees Barbara Hoffheins, Instrumentation and Controls Division; and Robert Lauf, Ogbemi Omatete, Claudia Walls, Roddie Judkins, and David Stinton all of the Metals and Ceramics Division.

Barbara S. Hoffheins and Robert Lauf received an award for their collaboration with the DuPont Electronics Co. in developing a new hydrogen sensor. The sensor, fabricated by conventional hybrid circuit techniques, is rugged, easily mass-produced, and inexpensive. A new DuPont sensor material was developed and patented during the collaboration. The success of the sensor has led to an additional collaboration with the Allied Signal DOE Kansas Plant to initiate a program to continue the development and commercialization of the device.

Uses for the sensor include protection of personnel and equipment in confined spaces, such as reactor containment buildings; safety issues such as hydrogen buildup in oil-filled transformers before failure; charging batteries in electric vehicles; and monitoring of nuclear weapons stockpiles. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has also expressed an interest in the sensor for safety applications on the space shuttle and other hydrogen-fueled vehicles.

Hoffheins is a group leader in the Instrumentation & Controls Division. She has a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Tennessee Technological University and a master's degree from The University of Tennessee in electrical engineering. Hoffheins has also received two R&D 100 awards. She and her husband live in Knoxville.

Lauf is a group leader in the Metals and Ceramics Division. He has received three R&D 100 Awards and 18 U.S. patents.

David Stinton and Roddie Judkins of the Metals and Ceramics Division received an award for their work with 3M to improve and commercialize ORNL's patented ceramic composite filter technology. High-temperature filters will be required in emerging coal-fueled turbine technologies to prevent abrasive coal ash particles created during combustion or gasification from entering the power turbines and destroying vanes and blades.

The 3M ceramic composite filter is made from a combination of continuous and chopped ceramic fibers that are made rigid with a silicon carbide matrix. Advantages of the composite filter over conventional materials include its light weight, reduced pressure drop, and excellent thermal shock resistance. Other potential uses of the technology include filters for industrial waste incinerators, metal smelters, and diesel engines.

Stinton, a Fellow of the American Ceramic Society, has a bachelor's and master's degree in Ceramic Engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute. Other accomplishments include three R&D 100 awards and eight patents. Stinton lives in West Knoxville with his wife, Lisa, and four sons; Shaun, Cory, Aaron and Ryan.

Judkins, a fossil energy program manager, joined ORNL's nuclear fuel cycle analysis group in 1977 and since 1980 has worked in various research and development and management roles. He received his bachelor's degree in engineering chemistry, and his master's degree in chemistry from Tennessee Technological University. Judkins completed his doctorate in physical chemistry at Georgia Institute of Technology. He lives in West Knoxville with his wife, Christine, and six children; Bridget, Lisa, Emily, Joni, Sam and Jacob.

Ogbemi Omatete and Claudia Walls were nominated for the gelcasting process for making complex shapes, such as rotors for gas turbine engines, in advanced ceramic materials. They worked closely with their industrial partners in California, AlliedSignal Ceramic Components and LoTEC Inc. in Utah, to ensure the high performance of this new process.

Omatete, a chemical engineer, was responsible for the gelcasting process development and for conducting research on the rheological behavior of ceramic slurries and gelation kinetics. Walls, a principal technologist, was responsible for processing, validation and scale-up.

Omatete has been at ORNL since 1988 and is a senior development staff member. He obtained his bachelor's and master's degrees in chemical engineering from Princeton University, and his doctorate in chemical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. Prior to coming to ORNL, he was professor and chairman of the Chemical Engineering Department, University of Lagos, Nigeria.

Omatete has won numerous scientific, technological and research and development achievement awards. He has three U.S. patents and has written more than 40 publications and presentations.

He lives in West Knoxville with his wife, Cecilia, and they have three sons, Toju, Jolomi and Mogy.

Walls began her career at ORNL in 1982 with the ceramic processing group. Since 1989, she has worked in gelcasting where she is a principal technologist. Walls graduated from State Technical Institute, Knoxville, with an associate's degree in mechanical engineering. In addition to her FLC award, she received the R&D 100 award in 1995. Walls lives in Oak Ridge with her husband, Wayne, and children, Corwin, Morgan, and godchild, Alexis Burgess.

ORNL, one of DOE's multiprogram national research and development facilities, is managed by Lockheed Martin Energy Research Corporation.