Jeff Dagle, P.E., an electrical engineer at DOE's  Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.PNNL’s Jeff Dagle: Incorporating reliability and resiliency into the nation’s power grid

Being an engineer in a science-centric system can make it challenging to quantify research results.

“When you’re an engineer, your accomplishments are different than, say, a chemist. You measure impact differently,” said Jeff Dagle, P.E., an electrical engineer at DOE's  Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

“My brother is a chemical engineer at PNNL, so we have a lot of banter between the applied and fundamental research,” Dagle said. “I focus on grid reliability, so it’s hard to measure savings and impact. How do you take credit for blackouts that didn’t happen?”

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Computer simulations show a single proton (pink) can cross graphene by passing through the world’s thinnest proton channel.Graphene ‘gateway’ discovery opens possibilities for improved energy technologies

Graphene, a strong, lightweight carbon honeycombed structure that’s only one atom thick, holds great promise for energy research and development.  Recently scientists with the Fluid Interface Reactions, Structures, and Transport (FIRST) Energy Frontier Research Center, led by DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, revealed graphene can serve as a proton-selective permeable membrane, providing a new basis for streamlined and more efficient energy technologies such as improved fuel cells.

The work, published in the March 17 issue of Nature Communications, pinpoints unprecedented proton movement through inherent atomic-scale defects, or gaps, in graphene.

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See also…

DOE Pulse
  • Number 435  |
  • March 23, 2015
  • PPPL researchers find 3-D printed parts provide low-cost, custom alternatives for lab equipment

    3D printed parts provide the stands for the aluminum globes in PPPL's Planeterrella, a device that simulates Northern Lights. Photo credit: Elle Starkman/PPPL The 3-D printing scene, a growing favorite of do-it-yourselfers, has spread to the study of plasma physics. With a series of experiments, researchers at the DOE's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have found that 3-D printers can be an important tool in laboratory environments.

    "The printer is now a crucial piece of our laboratory and used regularly," said Andrew Zwicker, the head of Science Education at PPPL and lead author of a paper that reports the results in the American Journal of Physics. "The versatility of the printer is such that our first reaction to an equipment need is no longer whether we can find or purchase the required piece of equipment, but can we print it?"

    Three-dimensional printers create objects by laying down layers of material, whether plastic, metal, ceramic or organic. A computer controls a moveable nozzle that extrudes the hot material according to digital computer-aided design (CAD) files. Each layer is thin, often measuring only several hundred millionths of a meter in height.

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  • Monitoring the invisible: New technology for nuclear detection

    The Tri-Ace particle collector with developers Lindsay Sexton, Timothy Riley and Daniel Radford. A new device created by researchers at the Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL) and Oak Ridge National Laboratory is able to immediately collect airborne particles to help determine if radioactive isotopes are present. This device could prove to be a valuable asset to organizations responsible for monitoring nuclear activities worldwide.

    The Tamper Resistant/Tamper Indicating Aerosol Containment Extractor (TRI-ACE) is about the size of a small cooler and can collect particles such as plutonium, uranium , and other nuclear material in the air before it is able to settle on a surface. It’s also able to clearly demonstrate if anyone tries to interfere with the sampling. The TRI-ACE offers constant, unattended collection, flags abnormalities, and collects material that may be used to indicate if illegal nuclear activities have taken place at a facility.

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  • New process recycles valuable rare earth metals from old electronics

    Scientists at the Critical Materials Institute at Ames Laboratory use magnesium in a liquid-extraction method to recycle rare earths from magnet scraps. Scientists at the Critical Materials Institute at DOE's Ames Laboratory have developed a two-step recovery process that makes recycling rare-earth metals easier and more cost-effective.

    “Recycling rare-earth metals out of consumer waste is problematic, and there are multiple obstacles in the entire chain from manufacturing to collection infrastructure to sorting and processing,” said CMI and Ames Laboratory scientist Ryan Ott. “We’re looking at ways to make the processing part of that chain—removing the rare-earths from scrap magnet material—better."

    Building upon previous research work done at the Ames Laboratory, Ott and his research group have developed a two-stage liquid metal extraction process that uses differences between the solubility properties of different elements to separate out rare-earth metals.

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  • Quest for efficiency in thermoelectric nanowires

    Graham Yelton and Sandia National Laboratories colleagues have developed a single electroforming technique that tailored key factors to better thermoelectric performance: crystal orientation, crystal size and alloy uniformity. Yelton is among Sandia’s researchers who published a paper, “Using Galvanostatic Electroforming of Bi1-xSbx Nanowires to Control Composition, Crystallinity and Orientation,” in the Jan. 28 edition of the Materials Research Society’s MRS Bulletin. (Photo by Randy Montoya) Efficiency is big in the tiny world of thermoelectric nanowires.

    Researchers at DOE's Sandia National Laboratories say better materials and manufacturing techniques for the nanowires could allow carmakers to harvest power from the heat wasted by exhaust systems or lead to more efficient devices to cool computer chips.

    Sandia researchers published a paper, “Using Galvanostatic Electroforming of Bi1-xSbx Nanowires to Control Composition, Crystallinity and Orientation,” in the Jan. 28 edition of the Materials Research Society’s MRS Bulletin. The authors are W. Graham Yelton, Steven J. Limmer, Douglas L. Medlin, Michael P. Siegal, Michelle Hekmaty, Jessica L. Lensch-Falk, Kristopher Erickson and Jamin Pillars.

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