ORNL wins two “R & D 100 Awards” solely, collaborates with others on five more

Research teams from Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and their technologies have received seven 2021 “R&D 100 Awards” plus special recognition for a COVID-19-related project.

The winners (click here to see the full list) were announced at a virtual awards ceremony last week. It was the second consecutive year of making the announcements virtually rather than the gala that typically is held.

Established in 1963, the ‘R&D 100 Awards’ annually recognize 100 accomplishments in research leading to new commercial products, technologies and materials from around the world notable for their technological significance. This year’s wins bring ORNL’s total number of “R&D 100 Awards’ to 232.

“This recognition is a testament to our staff’s commitment to developing truly innovative technologies,” ORNL Director Thomas Zacharia said. “I am extremely proud of their creativity and dedication.”

A majority of the seven were developed with collaborators:

  • Precision Deicer, developed by Clinch River Computing LLC and ORNL, helps cash-strapped cities more precisely gauge the amount of deicing materials, such as salt or brine, needed to deice a particular road.
  • QED: Quantum Ensured Defense of the Smart Electric Griddeveloped by Los Alamos National Laboratory, ORNL, and EPB in Chattanooga. Based on cutting-edge quantum science and network security, QED uses quantum communications in an effort to protect power grid control signals from third-party infiltration. EPB was one of the demonstration sites for the technology.
  • GridDamperdeveloped by ORNL, University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK), and the Electric Power Research Institute. It is a deployment-ready technology to allow more renewable electricity in power grids.
  • MSC MillMax, developed by ORNL, MSC Industrial Supply Company, and Manufacturing Laboratories. The technology uses measurements to eliminate wavy marks on metal that occurs in milling when a tool’s spindle is not stiff enough.
  • BIG-NET: Bis-iminoguanidine Negative Emission Technology, developed by ORNL, ReactWell, and Holocene Climate Corporation. The team developed a method for separation of carbon dioxide from the air that has the potential to permanently remove billions of tons of the greenhouse gas out of the atmosphere. In the process, scientists use an aqueous solution containing ORNL-discovered receptors called Bis-iminoguanidine, or BIGs, to absorb carbon dioxide. ReactWell is an ORNL licensee, and one of its affiliates – Chem Chip – is part of the “Spark Innovation Center” at the UT Research Park.

Individual projects, developed within ORNL, were:

  • Autonomous self-healing sealant that tackle the problem of brittle, leaky sealants with an adhesive material that self-heals autonomously.
  • UCC: Ultraconductive Copper-Carbon Nanotube Composite. Copper is a key element in many electrical devices, but its resistance leads to power losses, meaning that new low-resistance conductors are needed in order to meet current clean energy goals. ORNL researchers have developed an ultraconductive copper-carbon nanotube composite, or UCC, as an alternative that improves on the mechanical and electrical properties of pure copper.

In addition, R & D World recognized the work of ORNL researchers, Techmer PM in Clinton, and retired UTK Professor Peter Tsai in adapting melt-blowing capabilities at the Carbon Fiber Technology Facility to enable the production of filter material for N95 masks in the fight against COVID-19. The team used polypropylene supplemented with an additive from polymer material manufacturer Techmer PM.  Tsai, N95 mask material inventor, assisted ORNL in building a novel electrostatic charging device to charge the melt-blown material in production.

Click here to read about each of the technologies.

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