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January 07, 2024 | Katelyn Keenehan

ORNL’s 2023 innovations that could change our world

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) released last year's list of accomplishments.

We wanted to share the three that stuck out to for their perceived long-term impact on our planet, production, and way of life.

1. Top-of-the-line AI research

In September 2023, ORNL announced the launch of its new Center for AI Security Research (CAISER) to study the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on society and security. The program aims to assess present and future personal and international security risks through AI-driven data processing, operational efficiencies, and decision-making.

“ORNL is already advancing the state of the art in AI to solve the Department of Energy’s (DOE) most pressing scientific challenges, and we believe the lab can help DOE and other federal partners answer critical AI security questions while providing insights to policymakers and the public,” said ORNL Deputy for Science and Technology Susan Hubbard in the September press release.

In many ways, AI systems are more vulnerable to various attacks. ORNL said adversaries can infiltrate malicious malware into training data to corrupt the output.

“We’re defining a new field of AI security research and committing to intensive research and development of mitigating strategies and solutions against emerging AI risks,” said Edmon Begoli, the Advanced Intelligent Systems section head and CAISER founding director.

Read the feature here.

2. Dry Manufacturing process changes EV Battery market

In July 2023, ORNL researchers tested lithium-ion batteries and their compatibility with a dry manufacturing process. The successful discovery could remove the need to use toxic solvents and reduce the cost of making these batteries.

ORNL partnered with Navitas Systems to study the structure of battery materials and their electrochemical properties.

“When you’re looking at the giga scale factories, you’re looking at billions of dollars to scale batteries up,” said Bryan Steinhoff, the technical lead, and lead researcher on the project for Navitas. “Dry processing can eliminate the coating and solvent equipment currently necessary for large-scale battery production. If you can use a dry process instead, you can reduce your footprint by up to 40 or 50%, saving hundreds of millions of dollars.”

The team is continuing to test the practicality of bringing dry manufacturing practices into battery factories all over the globe. If successful, the technology will offer a path to cleaner, more affordable electric vehicle batteries, making electric cars more affordable to the public.

Now, that’s exciting stuff.

Read more from ORNL here.

3. ORNL’s supercomputer helps decrease fuel costs

ORNL’s Frontier  (OLCF-5) is the world’s first and fastest exascale supercomputer. According to researchers, “Frontier’s processing speed is so powerful, it would take every person on Earth combined more than four years to do what the supercomputer can in one second.”

In June 2023, ORNL and Frontier teamed up with GE Aerospace in Le Bourget, France to assist in the development of a new type of engine for aircraft. Using Frontier’s technology, GE Aerospace was able to simulate the air movement of a full-scale open fan engine design.

According to a press release from ORNL, this new engine technology could enable a future engine to achieve at least 20% lower fuel consumption and 20% fewer CO2 emissions compared to today’s most efficient engines.

“Together with the U.S. Department of Energy and ORNL, we are showing supercomputing to be a revolutionary tool for designing aircraft engines for a once-in-a-generation step change in improved fuel efficiency — critical for helping the aviation industry toward its target of net zero CO2 emissions by 2050,” said Mohamed Ali, Vice President and General Manager of Engineering for GE Aerospace.

Read more from ORNL here.


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