Energy and Environmental Sciences Directorate

News & Highlights

July 2011

Making Industry Part of the Climate Solution
July 2011 ORNL Energy Story Tip: Eliminating barriers to energy efficiency of U.S. industry is the focus of a new report commissioned by the Department of Energy and performed by Georgia Institute of Technology and Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

May 2011

ORNL marks completion of solar-assisted EV charging stations
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., May 25, 2011 — With 125 solar-assisted electric vehicle charging stations to be built from Knoxville to Memphis, Tennessee is poised to lead the nation with an electric vehicle demonstration project led by the Department of Energy and industry partners. At an Oak Ridge National Laboratory ceremony, industry and lab officials celebrated the completion of 25 solar-assisted electric vehicle charging stations.

ORNL energy harvesters transform waste into electricity
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., May 16, 2011 — Billions of dollars lost each year as waste heat from industrial processes can be converted into electricity with a technology being developed at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

March 2011

Key plant traits yield more sugar for biofuels
OAK RIDGE, Tenn, March 29, 2011 - New clues about plant structure are helping researchers from the Department of Energy's BioEnergy Science Center narrow down a large collection of poplar tree candidates and identify winners for future use in biofuel production.

BESC scores a first with isobutanol directly from cellulose
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., March 7, 2011 — In the quest for inexpensive biofuels, cellulose proved no match for a bioprocessing strategy and genetically engineered microbe developed by researchers at the Department of Energy's BioEnergy Science Center.

February 2011

'Fingerprints' match molecular simulations with reality
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Feb. 22, 2011 — ORNL's Jeremy Smith collaborated on devising a method -- dynamical fingerprints --that reconciles the different signals between experiments and computer simulations to strengthen analyses of molecules in motion. The research will be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

New lignin switchgrass boosts biofuel yield by more than one-third
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Feb. 14, 2011 — Bioethanol from new lines of native perennial prairie grass could become less costly because of plant engineering by The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation and fermentation research at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

ORNL receives two national tech transfer awards
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Feb. 1, 2011 — Two teams from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory have won awards for excellence in technology transfer from the Federal Laboratory Consortium.

September 2010

ORNL strengthens DOE-funded clean vehicles team
As a member of the clean vehicles consortium, part of the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center, ORNL researchers are focusing on a suite of technologies to put more electric and hybrid vehicles on the road.

June 2010

DOT Secretary Ray LaHood names ORNL's Diane Davidson among Transit Rail Advisory Committee for Safety
Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood announced members of the Transit Rail Advisory Committee for Safety (TRACS), a newly-formed advisory committee that will assist the Federal Transit Administration with developing national safety standards for rail transit. TRACS members include Diane Davidson, Director of the Center for Transportation Analysis, Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

May 2010

Nuclear Energy Innovation Hub Announced
ORNL will lead an effort to establish and operate a new Nuclear Energy Modeling and Simulation Energy Innovation Hub. The Hub, which includes partners from universities, industry and other national labs, will use the world’s most powerful computers to advance nuclear reactor design and engineering.

Advancing the nuclear enterprise through better computing
Scientists at the Nuclear Science and Technology Division are merging decades of nuclear energy and safety expertise with high-performance computing to effectively address a range of nuclear energy- and security-related challenges.

April 2010

ORNL and Industry to Collaborate in Advanced Battery Research
A $6.2 million collaboration will tackle some of the most critical challenges facing lithium ion battery production.

ORNL's 'green' efforts recognized by Office of Science
ORNL's research and operations programs in sustainability and energy efficiency have resulted in recognition from the DOE's Office of Science.

February 2010

New ORNL sensor exploits traditional weakness of nano devices
A team led by ORNL's Panos Datskos is developing a chemical and biological sensor with unprecedented sensitivity

ORNL researcher assists 'Extreme Makeover' crew
ORNL's Jeff Christian provided assistance for "Extreme Makeover Home Edition" TV series episode

New ORNL system provides hybrid electric autos with power to spare
Researchers at the ORNL have designed, fabricated and demonstrated a PHEV traction drive power electronics system that provides significant mobile power generation and vehicle-to-grid support capabilities

November 2009

Transportation - Gone hybrid
Fuel economy ratings for the new 2010 model year automobiles are now posted at the web site, which Oak Ridge National Laboratory developed and maintains for the U.S.

October 2009

ORNL, Da Vinci sign licensing agreement
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Oct. 20, 2009 — An Oak Ridge National Laboratory technology for analyzing automotive engine oil has been licensed to a Texas firm that specializes in a broad suite of combustion engine lubrication and emissions testing services and equipment.

Highways - Better barriers
Advanced computer simulations could be a big hit for truckers and the people who design guardrails, protective barriers and roadway signs.

September 2009

Transportation - Maximum capacity . . .
Oak Ridge National Laboratory is partnering with SBE Inc. to help test and improve electric vehicle capacitors.

August 2009

ORNL to assist Nissan with electric car power recharge needs
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Aug. 6, 2009 — Nissan's plan to build 5,000 short-haul electric cars with a range of 100 miles will get a boost from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

July 2009

Vehicles - Cool ride . . .
Researchers at ORNL's Power Electronics and Electric Machinery Research Center have developed an innovative cooling concept that could improve vehicle performance, life expectancy and overall efficiency without increasing costs.

June 2009

Energy Story Tips: Energy efficient jobs ...
Hundreds of new jobs are expected to result from production of a super-efficient water heater developed under an Oak Ridge National Laboratory-General Electric partnership.  Much of the work was conducted at ORNL's Building Technologies Research and Integration Center. More ...

October 2008

ORNL nano technologies big winners in DOE call
Eight ORNL nanomanufacturing technologies have won $8.4 million in funding from DOE's Industrial Technologies Program.  More ...

August 2008

Revolutionary Green Technology Bus has DOE Roots
Fisher Coachworks' lightweight hybrid bus, which achieves twice the fuel economy of current hybrid buses, has some ORNL roots.  More ...

July 2008

ORNL Researchers Win Six R&D 100 Awards
Energy & Engineering Sciences researchers won three of the six R&D 100 Awards won by ORNL this year.  More ...

June 2008

ORNL, General Electric collaborate on super efficient electric water heater
ORNL and GE have collaborated to finalize, test and market the first product from a major brand to meet DOE's new Energy Star criteria for electric heat pump water heaters.  More ...

May 2008

New titanium manufacturing process saves energy, helps protect troops
Whether for stopping cars or bullets, titanium is the material of choice, but it has always been too expensive for all but the most specialized applications.  More ...

Audio Spot: Energy -- Rubber hits the road…
Tractor-trailers operating with single wider tires recorded improved fuel efficiency numbers when compared to rigs operating on dual tires.  More ...

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles may have unexpected value
The plug-in hybrid electric vehicle envisioned by DOE would be plugged at night into a home wall outlet, connecting the car to a local electrical distribution system that would recharge the battery.  More ...

April 2008

Directors named for two new ORNL divisions
Johney Boyd Green Jr. has been named director for the Energy and Transportation Science Division while Ken Tobin Jr. has been named director of the Measurement Science and Systems Engineering Division  More ...

March 2008

ORNL study shows hybrid effect on power distribution
A recent ORNL study examined how an expected increase in ownership of hybrid electric cars and trucks will affect the power grid depending on what time of day or night the vehicles are charged.  More ...

ORNL part of project to help power developing nations
With a proposed fiscal year 2009 budget of $20 million, the effort by ORNL and partners to develop grid-appropriate reactors is gaining steam.  More ...

Latin American Imports Help U.S. Meet Energy Goals
Latin American nations could become important suppliers of ethanol for world markets in coming decades, according to a recently released ORNL study.  More ...

January 2008

Oak Ridge to lead auto supplier R&D partnership
ORNL will lead research and development work for the automotive supplier industry initiated through the USAutoPARTs collaborative.  
More ...

December 2007

Nevada company, ORNL develop potential lifesaver
A Las Vegas business and ORNL are improving the odds for people medically at risk from dehydration or congestive heart failure.  More ...

ORNL super water repellent could cause big wave in market
A water repellent developed by researchers at ORNL outperforms nature at its best and could open a floodgate of commercial possibilities.  More ...

November 2007

Vinod Sikka honored as ORNL's top scientist for 2007
Vinod Sikka has received the UT-Battelle Director's Award for Outstanding Individual Accomplishment in Science and Technology. He was also honored with ORNL's Inventor of the Year Award.  More ...

October 2007

ORNL Partnership Reaches Across Atlantic
The Global Lab has been established as part of the AtlanTICC Alliance, a sustainable energy research consortium comprising Imperial College London, Georgia Institute of Technology and ORNL.  More ...

ORNL's Saed Mirzadeh Wins Seaborg Medal Award
Saed Mirzadeh whose work has led to development of new treatments for cancer and other diseases, is the recipient of the American Nuclear Society's 2007 Seaborg Medal Award  More ...

September 2007

Solar experts gather at ORNL for summit
Researchers, engineers, architects and other renewable energy experts from the region convene at ORNL Oct. 24-25 for the first Southeast Solar Summit.  More ...

August 2007

New roof system means savings for homeowners
Homeowners could see their summer utility bills fall by 8 percent or more with a new roof and attic system being developed at ORNL.
More ...

July 2007

Losing Weight
The Department of Energy's current goal for 2020 is to develop materials and manufacturing technologies that, if implemented in high volume, could reduce the average weight of vehicle structure and subsystems by 50%.  More ...

Fuel cell development bolstered by agreement
An agreement between ORNL and Research Centre Julich in Germany could ultimately lead to lower cost, higher performance fuel cells for transportation and portable power applications.  More ...

ORNL wins six R&D 100 Awards
Researchers at ORNL have won six R&D 100 Awards, pushing ORNL's total to 134. The awards are given annually by R&D Magazine to the year's most technologically significant new products.  More ...

June 2007

Energy—New Life for Reactors
Comprehensive risk analysis provided by ORNL researchers plays a crucial role in keeping billions of dollars of electricity generation on line—without compromising safety.  More ...

Sensors for Energy Security
Thousands of fuel storage tanks across the country could be protected from sabotage with an integrated wireless sensor system developed by engineers at ORNL and industry partners.  More ...

Hybrid solar lighting earns national technology transfer award
An ORNL developed technology has earned an Excellence in Technology Transfer Award from the Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer.  More ...

May 2007

Laser-based device offers alternative to video surveillance
Surveillance systems take on a new look with a technology developed by researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.  More ...

April 2007

ORNL part of team to win 2006 Ohio Governor's Award
For the second year in a row, ORNL researchers have been part of industry teams to win the Ohio Governor's Award for Energy Efficiency.  More ...

March 2007

ORNL researcher earns prestigious award for paper
Fusion Energy Division's Masanori Murakami has won the Nuclear Fusion Award from the IAEA for a co-authored paper.  More ...

February 2007

Head of U.S. ITER project named IEEE Fellow
Oak Ridge physicist Ned Sauthoff has been named a Fellow of the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers.  More ...

Energy—Hot savings...
Homeowners could see their electric bills reduced considerably with Oak Ridge National Laboratory's integrated heat pump.  More ...

January 2007

Materials—Lasers in a stir...
Researchers at ORNL have developed a hybrid process where they use a laser in combination with friction-stir welding (FSW).  More ...

ORNL aids diesel parts manufacturers
Researchers at the HTML help diesel engine and parts manufacturers develop technologies to meet tough new emissions regulations for 2007.  More ...

Polymer material may ease hydrogen flow for future service stations
Fiber-reinforced polymer material to construct pipelines that will transport hydrogen to service stations is being developed.  More ...

December 2006

Engineering — Real World Stress
To see if your system or instrument will stand up to real-world stresses, put it through its paces in Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Environmental Effects Laboratory.  More ...

Electricity — Power to spare
With thousands of substation power transformers around the nation operating on borrowed time, ORNL and partners are focusing on materials for a new generation of transformers.  More ...

November 2006

Science for the Long Haul
Scientists at the National Transportation Research Center are applying state-of-the-art technology and instrumentation to making the trucking industry more efficient.  More ...

October 2006

Ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel
New low-sulfur diesel available at gas stations and travel centers across the nation has Oak Ridge National Laboratory research behind it.  
More ...

Checking the Grid
ORNL researchers, in a partnership with TVA, have developed a visualization system that gives responders a real-time sense of the state of a power grid before, during and after a potentially catastrophic storm or other emergency.  More ...

September 2006

ORNL helps introduce new superconducting cable
Twenty thousand households in Columbus, Ohio, are about to receive electricity through a high temperature superconducting cable developed at ORNL  More ...

U.S. ITER Project Completes Management Team
A team of scientists and engineers has been chosen to manage the United States' role in a multinational project to harness the power of fusion.  More ...

August 2006

ORNL hybrid lighting technology gaining momentum around nation
With five hybrid solar lighting systems already in place and another 20 scheduled to be installed in the next couple of months, the forecast is looking sunny for a technology developed at ORNL.  More ...

July 2006

ORNL wins its first Nano 50 award
ORNL's high-temperature superconducting (HTS) wire technology "HTS Wires Enabled via 3D Self- Assembly of Insulating Nanodots" has been named a winner in the second annual Nanotech Briefs Nano 50 Awards.  More ...

June 2006

Three ORNL scientists recognized for patent milestone
Three Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers have been honored as Battelle Distinguished Inventors for obtaining 14 or more patents during their careers at the Laboratory.  More ...

EESD scientist receives Science Spectrum honor
Justin Baba of ORNL's Engineering Science and Technology Division is the recipient of Science Spectrum magazine's 2006 Most Promising Scientist Award.  More ...

ORNL engineers take page out of nature's playbook
Designing complex systems such as nuclear reactors for space applications is a daunting task, but Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers have made it less so by borrowing from nature.  More ...

May 2006

Christensen Named EES Director
Dr. Dana C. Christensen has been named as Associate Laboratory Director for the Energy and Environmental Sciences Directorate effective 6/5/2006. More ...

Reducing industrial energy costs
A new DOE initiative is helping large industrial plants and factories to quickly assess and identify how they can operate with greater energy efficiency. DOE's Save Energy Now program, introduced in the fall of 2005 by Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman, has scheduled Energy Savings Assessments to be conducted in 2006 at 200 large industrial sites in 39 states. The effort is being managed by a group headed by Tony Wright of Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Engineering Science and Technology Division. During a time when companies are facing a period of tightening supplies and rising energy costs, the assessments already conducted in 2006 have resulted in recommendations equivalent to $95 million in annual saved energy costs. The funding source is DOE's Industrial Technologies Program.

[Contact: Fred Strohl; 865.574.4165;]

April 2006

ORNL uses nanodots to boost superconductivity
Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers have demonstrated a way to sustain high supercurrents in wires in the presence of a large applied magnetic field -- a step which could greatly expand practical applications of superconductors. More ...

March 2006

Carbon fiber cars could put U.S. on highway to efficiency
Highways of tomorrow might be filled with lighter, cleaner and more fuel-efficient automobiles made in part from recycled plastics, lignin from wood pulp and cellulose.  More...

February 2006

ORNL contributes to developing fuel cell technology
Advancing hydrogen fuel cell technology as an alternative energy source to power automobiles is the goal of researchers at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory.  More...

Infrared technology finds hidden art work
An infrared imaging technology used to study the composition of materials has been used by a researcher at the DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory to find a hidden sketch covered over by an 1880s painting of a Civil War general.  More...

U.S. ITER Project Office relocating to ORNL
The U.S. project office for ITER, a major international fusion experiment, is relocating from Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory to Oak Ridge National Laboratory.  More...

January 2006

Early Skin Cancer Detector
Preliminary results of an optical sensing technique for early detection of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, are encouraging, according to developer Justin Baba of Oak Ridge National Laboratory. While traditional techniques involve cost-intensive physical examinations and often unnecessary tissue biopsies, this technique is non-invasive and would provide rapid and efficient early detection of skin cancer.

A prototype version of the instrument, which utilizes multiple wavelengths of polarized light, was used to image nine consenting patients at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. Researchers were evaluating the ability of the instrument to distinguish between cancerous and non-cancerous lesions. Data gathered during this recent trial will serve as the basis for a National Institutes of Health proposal for further instrumentation development and miniaturization of the device.

Each year, melanoma accounts for about 7,600 deaths in the United States alone.

[Media Relations Contact: Ron Walli; (865) 576-0226;]

Rushton Named to Lead Nuclear Science & Technology Division
Dr. James E. Rushton has been named to lead ORNL's Nuclear Science and Technology Division effective immediately. Dr. Rushton brings more than 30 years of experience in advanced nuclear technology to the position. More...

November 2005

Duraloy Technologies and ORNL license agreement will improve U.S. steel mills
Technology developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory that dramatically improves efficiency and operation of steel mills has been licensed to Duraloy Technologies, a Scottdale, Pa.,-based foundry and fabricator of high alloy steels. More...