Oak Ridge National Laboratory


News Release

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


ORNL researcher designs better way to melt metal and wins award

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Oct. 24, 1996 — Vinod Sikka of the Department of Energy's (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) received a special recognition award today at the annual National Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Awards in Washington, D.C.

The DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy presents the 35 awards to companies, individuals, institutions and government agencies that have implemented energy-related projects benefiting America's economy, environment and security.

Sikka's award was in industrial technology, one of the competition's six awards categories. His project, Exo-Melt, demonstrated an innovative way to melt nickel aluminides that is 50 percent more efficient than standard methods.

"It brings science to life and is 100 percent consistent with the philosophy of ORNL," he said. "If you weren't able to melt the metal, you couldn't make a product out of it."

The Exo-Melt process results in reduced emissions, pollution and energy needs, decreased public land mining and enhanced life of the manufacturing components made out of nickel aluminide. One example is the ten fold increase in the life of a hot forging die, a product of the Exo-Melt process.

"This project will make a real difference in the lifestyle of the common man but not in an obvious way," Sikka said. "It will make automotive manufacturing more efficient and make American industry more competitive in the global market."

ORNL's Joseph Vought, a laboratory technician in the Metals and Ceramics materials processing group, and visiting scientist Seetharama Deeri of Philip Morris, USA, contributed to the success of the Exo-Melt process.

Individuals in each State Energy Office and a panel of judges representing national energy-related organizations evaluated the projects, which must have been active for at least one year and demonstrate program results and energy savings. Winning projects were selected according to program effectiveness, natural resource conservation, economic progress as well as energy education and awareness.

Sikka, who has been with ORNL since 1974, is leader of the Materials Processing Group in the Metals and Ceramics Division. He is an American Society of Metals International Fellow and has received four R&D 100 awards from R&D Magazine. He also is a recipient of the 1991 Advanced Technology Award with the International Hall of Fame of the Inventors Clubs of America.

Sikka earned two bachelor's degrees, one in chemistry from the University of Delhi, India, in 1965, and the other three years later in metallurgical engineering from the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, India. He later attended the University of Cincinnati, where he received a master's and doctorate in metallurgical engineering in 1970 and 1973, respectively. He also is the 1990 Distinguished Alumnus of the University of Cincinnati's College of Engineering.

He resides in Oak Ridge with his wife, Veena. The Sikka's have one son, Neal, and a daughter, Monica.

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