October story tips from Oak Ridge National Laboratory

October 22, 2013 by  
Filed under Solar Energy Tips

MATERIALS—Improving panel performance . . .

Researchers are using supercomputers to design better and less expensive solar panels that can capture the sun’s rays more efficiently and maximize power production. Using Titan to simulate the formation of active layers that transform solar energy into electricity at a molecular level, Mike Brown and a team of scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory are determining the best ways to generate energy with the compounds that coat the surface of organic photovoltaic cells. These experiments could produce solar cells that can be used on a wide variety of surfaces. The paper was published in the journal Physics Chemistry and Chemical Physics by a team at the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility and the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences. [Written by Jennifer Brouner, brounerjm@ornl.gov] [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226; wallira@ornl.gov]

METALLURGY—Better magnetic materials . . .

Understanding the electrons that hold materials together may help scientists design strong, compact, lightweight and radiation-resistant metals at a lower cost. Using supercomputers to study the atomic structures of nickel and iron—the two main components of stainless steel—researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory are exploring ways to improve the quality of metals used in items such as cars, pipelines and nuclear reactors. This research could also help engineers create new metals and alloys that have better structural and mechanical properties than those that are commercially available. The ORNL research team is led by Markus Eisenbach. [Written by Jennifer Brouner, brounerjm@ornl.gov] [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226; wallira@ornl.gov]

TRANSPORTATION – Energy-saving lubricant additives…

A team of Oak Ridge National Laboratory and General Motors researchers has developed a new group of ionic liquids as lubricant additives that could help improve the energy efficiency of cars and trucks. The ionic liquid, when added to prototype low viscosity engine oil, boosted fuel economy by more than 2 percent compared to a commercially available synthetic 5W-30 oil, as demonstrated by an industrial standard fuel efficiency engine test. “This breakthrough ionic lubricant technology could potentially save the U.S. tens of million barrels of oil annually,” said ORNL researcher Jun Qu. The prototype oil also successfully passed a 100-hour high-temperature, high-load engine dynamometer test. The Department of Energy’s Vehicle Technologies Office sponsored the research. [Contact: Morgan McCorkle, (865) 574-7308; mccorkleml@ornl.gov]

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