Story Tips from the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory …

February 6, 2014 by  
Filed under Solar Energy Tips

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ENERGY – LEDs to light UT arena . . .

With the installation this month of LED fixtures, the University of Tennessee’s Thompson-Boling Arena will become the first major sports venue to feature lights that are smaller, brighter and up to 85 percent more efficient than conventional arena metal halide lights. The light-emitting diode fixtures developed by Oak Ridge-based LED North America incorporate an Oak Ridge National Laboratory-developed lightweight graphite foam that cools the LED array. This enables 90 400-watt LED fixtures to bathe the arena’s floor with 200 foot-candles per square foot compared to the 130 foot-candles produced by the arena’s existing 110 1,100-watt fixtures. Ultimately, LED North America’s SuperSport luminaires could revolutionize sports and entertainment venues worldwide, according to Andrew Wilhelm, president of LED North America. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226;]

ENERGY – Self-cleaning solar panel . . .

A low-cost superhydrophobic coating developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory could be like a ray of sunshine for solar power reflectors, increasing efficiency and decreasing operating costs. The coating protects against the accumulation of dust and sand, which are efficiency drags for solar power plants and can reduce reflectivity up to 50 percent in just 14 days. The ORNL coating repels water and most viscous liquids and solid particulates, significantly reducing the amount of solar radiation-blocking contaminants on the mirror or photovoltaic surfaces. The minimal amount of dust and other particles that settle on the surfaces are naturally cleaned by wind and rain or can be lightly washed with brackish water, eliminating the need to clean panels with deionized water and detergents. Unlike other superhydrophobic approaches that employ high-cost vacuum deposition and chemical etching to achieve the desired surface, ORNL’s coatings are deposited by conventional painting and spraying methods. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226;]

BIOENERGY – Understanding the enemy . . .

Insight from a new Oak Ridge National Laboratory study is helping bioenergy researchers defeat lignin, one of the biggest barriers to efficient biofuel production. Lignin, a woody component in plant cell walls, is made of three monomers: guaiacyl, syringyl, and p-hydroxyphenyl (H). Experimental studies have shown that higher concentrations of the H monomer lead to plants that break down more easily into sugar, but scientists have not known why. ORNL researchers used supercomputer simulations to explain this phenomenon, showing how the H subunits “cap” lignin’s growth and prevent the polymer from forming long chains. “Shorter chains will lead to easily extractable lignin during biomass processing,” said ORNL’s Amandeep Sangha. The team’s study, supported by DOE’s BioEnergy Science Center, is published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry B. [Media contact: Morgan McCorkle, (865) 574-7308;]

PREPAREDNESS – New tool for first responders . . .

By integrating millions of dollars in existing tools, models and datasets, an Oak Ridge National Laboratory program called SAVANT promises to save lives at no further cost to taxpayers. Rick Lusk, creator of SAVANT — Situational Awareness Visualization ANalysis Tool — plans to collaborate with law enforcement agencies, first responders and federal agencies in anticipation of the launch of a pilot project. “Ultimately, SAVANT will provide the equivalent of supercomputer services to front line emergency management command centers,” Lusk said. “It will offer an unprecedented understanding of existing conditions during the first phases of a crisis, and this new level of awareness happening in real time will save lives.” SAVANT incorporates existing population, geophysical characteristics, critical infrastructure, live meteorological feeds and energy delivery data. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226;]


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