August 16, 2022



Drought-resistant crops, hydropower, AI for atomic measurement, controlling refrigerants and recycling e-waste

5 min read

Orchestrating rhythms of the sunshine

Newswise — A employees of scientists led by Oak Ridge Nationwide Laboratory developed a precept that thylakoids, membrane networks key to plant photosynthesis, moreover carry out as a safety mechanism to harsh rising conditions, which can assist the occasion of hardier crops.

Thylakoids embody grana, constructions resembling stacked money that broaden and contract when water flows in and out, similar to the bellows of an accordion. The movement mirrors the movement of guard cells, constructions on plant leaves that act like accordion buttons, allowing carbon dioxide in and water vapor out. 

These constructions harmonize the motion of electrons with carbon uptake all through photosynthesis. Scientists have questioned why such a sophisticated group exists in hardier crops. ORNL researchers theorize that it helps crops tolerate fluctuating conditions corresponding to too little or an extreme quantity of water and daylight.

The precept was developed as scientists studied large-scale photosynthesis and might help refine world carbon biking fashions, talked about ORNL’s Lianhong Gu. — Stephanie Seay  


Caption: The bellows-like movement of the thylakoid membrane inside plant chloroplasts harmonizes the motion of electrons to vitality photosynthesis. A employees of scientists led by ORNL theorize the thylakoid would possibly assist crops reply to worrying rising conditions corresponding to drought. Credit score: Nathan Armistead and Jacquelyn DeMink/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Vitality


The main points behind hydropower

To further the potential benefits of the nation’s hydropower property, researchers at Oak Ridge Nationwide Laboratory have developed and preserve an entire water vitality digital platform generally known as HydroSource that informs key stakeholders of enchancment and operational costs, environmental issues and licensing requirements.

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Hydropower accounts for virtually 7% of all electrical vitality generated inside america and provides quick-start capabilities all through blackouts and the facility to retailer vitality for high-demand intervals.

HydroSource provides updated knowledge on hydropower companies and infrastructure, fashions and visualizations for future enchancment, and analytical devices to larger understand how and the place hydropower may be utilized all by the U.S.

“We created this digital platform to allow stakeholders, together with hydropower builders and operators, non-governmental companies and advocacy teams, and coverage makers to make data-driven choices,” talked about ORNL’s Debjani Singh. “All of us need the identical factor – to develop dependable, sustainable vitality whereas defending the setting.” — Mimi McHale


Caption: The Melton Hill Dam on the Clinch River in East Tennessee can generate as a lot as 79 megawatts of vitality for the Tennessee Valley Authority. Credit score: Jason Richards/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Vitality


Automating neutron experiments with AI

Oak Ridge Nationwide Laboratory researchers are rising a first-of-its-kind artificial intelligence gadget for neutron scattering generally known as Hyperspectral Computed Tomography, or HyperCT. The completely automated, AI-driven platform can rotate a sample in nearly any path, eliminating the need for human intervention and significantly reducing extended experiment events.

The design permits scientists using neutron scattering, a manner that measures atoms inside provides, to complete characterizations of samples with out pauses for adjustments. The AI software program program determines the optimum angles to measure based mostly totally on a sample’s kind, tremendously reducing the amount of pointless data which may decelerate experimental outcomes.

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“With just a few enter parameters, HyperCT will give us extra correct knowledge roughly 4 occasions quicker than typical strategies,” talked about ORNL’s Hassina Bilheux.

As soon as developed, the experience could be utilized on any neutron scattering instrument, which is ready to significantly enhance the number of experiments and improve the usual of scientific data that solely neutrons can current. (video)


Caption: The AI-driven HyperCT platform has three major components of articulation which will rotate a sample in nearly any path, eliminating the need for human intervention and significantly reducing extended experiment events. Credit score: Genevieve Martin, ORNL/U.S. Dept. of Vitality


Regular as a result of it goes and flows

Oak Ridge Nationwide Laboratory researchers demonstrated that microchannel heat exchangers in heating, air move and air conditioning objects can keep refrigerants evenly and often distributed by inserting a instrument generally known as a piezoelectric-driven magnetic actuator, or PEDMA.

Warmth exchangers are shells or pipes that use metallic tubing to change heat from one place to a special. In distinction, a microchannel exchanger makes use of a maze of smaller pathways, making it low weight and reduce worth whereas providing superior effectivity. Nevertheless, these small channels might trigger refrigerant maldistribution, inserting additional pressure on the compressor.

In a research, the employees developed a prototype PEDMA insert consisting of 3D printed resin components and small eternal magnets.

“The magnets work to actively change the geometry contained in the exchanger as soon as inserted into the gear,” ORNL’s Joseph Rendall talked about. “Testing confirmed vital enchancment of refrigerant move. This represents a brand new technique for controlling move distribution in microchannel warmth exchangers.”

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Caption: Oak Ridge Nationwide Laboratory researchers developed a instrument generally known as a piezoelectric-driven magnetic actuator, or PEDMA, that could be inserted into the header of a microchannel heat exchanger to take care of refrigerants flowing evenly and the HVAC unit working successfully. Credit score: ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Vitality


Saving e-waste scraps

Researchers at Oak Ridge Nationwide Laboratory and Momentum Applied sciences have piloted an industrial-scale course of for recycling valuable provides throughout the a whole lot of hundreds of tons of e-waste generated yearly inside america.

Uncommon earth elements, or REEs, are strategic property in extreme demand nevertheless in restricted present for superior clear vitality and safety utilized sciences. Home pathways for securing present chains are needed.

Researchers beforehand demonstrated a way for recycling scrap eternal magnets in shopper electronics using membrane solvent extraction. Now the experience has met an important step in direction of deployment. The system has been scaled as a lot as acquire high-purity separations, as reported in Superior Engineering Supplies.

“The system is modular and scalable with a small footprint and minimal waste,” talked about ORNL’s Ramesh Bhave.

“We’re working with companions towards commercialization and exploring purposes to recycle REEs utilized in rising expertise areas, similar to wind energy and electrical autos,” talked about ORNL’s Syed Islam.


Caption: Oak Ridge Nationwide Laboratory’s Ramesh Bhave and employees partnered with Momentum Applied sciences to develop a modular, scalable system for recycling scrap eternal magnets in e-waste. Credit score: Carlos Jones/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Vitality

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