Ali ErdemirA smooth ride: Argonne’s Ali Erdemir recognized for anti-friction technology

The national labs take an all-angles approach to getting the most bang for America’s energy buck, and one of the key areas of investigation over the past several decades has been reducing friction in an internal combustion engine. The plethora of moving parts throughout today’s vehicles represent a major opportunity for researchers to not only increase efficiency, but also reduce emissions and extend vehicle life.

Few people are more dedicated to unlocking that efficiency than Ali Erdemir. A scientist at DOE's Argonne National Laboratory since 1987, Erdemir has dedicated nearly his entire career to reducing the friction between moving parts, an effort that recently culminated in his receipt of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers’ (ASME) Mayo D. Hersey Award “in recognition of distinguished and continued contribution over a substantial period of time to the advancement of lubrication science and engineering.”

Greatly reducing friction could increase the efficiency of a vehicle by one or two percent, for example, a number that may seem trivial to the unfamiliar. But when that efficiency is applied on a national scale, the number becomes truly significant and greatly impacts America’s energy portfolio, said Erdemir.

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SRNL researchers use virtual reality for nuclear materials handling training.3D Training: Virtual Reality for Nuclear Materials Handling, and Facility D&D Planning

The Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL) is applying a high-tech work planning and training solution to complex and dangerous workforce training – virtual reality. Through the use of three dimensional programs, SRNL is making it easier to understand complex facilities and tasks, reducing the risk of accidental exposure to employees. Much in the same way that pilots use flight simulators, SRNL is using this technology to help train the nuclear workforce.

“The system works basically like a 3D movie,” explained SRNL Principal Engineer John Bobbitt. “The difference is that the system can track movements and the operator can move through a facility and operate tools on the screen, just like you would in the real world.” Similar technology is used in military and recreational applications to train and experience conditions that approximate real situations.

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See also…

DOE Pulse
  • Number 445  |
  • August 10, 2015
  • National labs put power behind NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto

    The radioisotope thermoelectric generator (black) undergoing testing during the "hot fit check" in November 2005 prior to the January 2006 launch, courtesy of NASA. After a journey of three billion miles lasting more than nine years, NASA’s New Horizons mission finally flew by Pluto and its mysterious moons. The craft is powered by a radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG) that was assembled, tested and prepared for launch by researchers at DOE's Idaho National Laboratory.

    New knowledge and scientific discoveries have been flowing from New Horizons since its closest approach to Pluto on July 14. The bounty of data will continue to trickle back to Earth for the next 16 months, and the craft's long journey will continue deep into the Kuiper belt — the vast region of icy objects and remnants of the formation of the solar system dating from more than 4 billion years ago.

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  • Fermilab sets neutrino beam record

    Fermilab’s Main Injector particle accelerator. A key element in particle accelerator-based neutrino experiments is the power of the proton beam that gives birth to neutrinos: The more protons you can pack into that beam, the higher the number of neutrinos produced and the better the chance to record neutrino interactions. This summer, scientists at DOE’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory set a world record for the production of high-energy neutrinos with a proton accelerator.

    More than 1,000 physicists from around the world will use this high-intensity beam to more closely study neutrinos and fleeting particles called muons, both fundamental building blocks of our universe.

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  • Neutrons find “missing” magnetism of plutonium

    Doug Abernathy, left, ARCS instrument scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Marc Janoschek, Los Alamos National Laboratory, prepare their sample for experiments at the Spallation Neutron Source. Credit: Genevieve Martin/ORNL. Groundbreaking work at two Department of Energy national laboratories has confirmed plutonium’s magnetism, which scientists have long theorized but have never been able to experimentally observe.  The advances that enabled the discovery hold great promise for materials, energy and computing applications.

    Plutonium was first produced in 1940 and its unstable nucleus allows it to undergo fission, making it useful for nuclear fuels as well as for nuclear weapons. Much less known, however, is that the electronic cloud surrounding the plutonium nucleus is equally unstable and makes plutonium the most electronically complex element in the periodic table, with intriguingly intricate properties for a simple elemental metal.

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  • Orange is the new red

    Translocation of the carotenoid pigment within a critical light-sensitive protein called the Orange Carotenoid Protein triggers a shifting of the protein from the light-absorbing orange state to the energy- quenching red state, providing cyanobacteria with protection from too much sunlight. Overexposure to sunlight, which is damaging to the natural photosynthetic systems of green plants and cyanobacteria, is also expected to be damaging to artificial photosynthetic systems. In a study led by Cheryl Kerfeld, a structural biologist with DOE's Berkeley Lab, researchers found that in cyanobacteria protection from too much solar energy is triggered by an unprecedented, large-scale movement (relatively speaking) from one location to another of a critical light-sensitive protein called the Orange Carotenoid Protein (OCP). As a result of this translocation, the OCP interacts with a different set of amino acid neighbors causing it to shift from an “orange” sunlight-absorbing state to a “red” solar energy-quenching state. This turns out to be an unanticipated molecular priming event in photoprotection.

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  • Scientists hijack light-loving bacteria to make high-value products

    In Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s Microbial Cell Dynamics Laboratory, scientists produce microorganisms for biofuels and alternative fuel research. Scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Colorado School of Mines have directed a common bacterium to produce more of a valuable fatty acid, lauric acid, than it typically does. The achievement is noteworthy not simply because of the increased production of fatty acid, which can be a useful component of biofuels. The work opens the door for scientists to manipulate such organisms to produce compounds useful as fuels or medicines.

    "We now know enough about redirecting traffic inside the cell that we can engineer cells to make more of the products that have high value. This is useful not only for making commercially viable biofuels but also commodities such as pharmaceuticals," said microbiologist Alex Beliaev, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, who led the study, which was published in Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology.

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