ORNL (6)

With a 3-D printed twist on an automotive icon, the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory is showcasing additive manufacturing research at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

ORNL’s newest 3-D printed vehicle pays homage to the classic Shelby Cobra in celebration of the racing car’s 50th anniversary. The 3-D printed Shelby will be on display January 12-15 as part of the show’s inaugural Technology Showcase.

Researchers printed the Shelby car at DOE’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at ORNL using the Big Area Additive Manufacturing (BAAM) machine, which can manufacture strong, lightweight composite parts in sizes greater than one cubic meter. The approximately 1400-pound vehicle contains 500 pounds of printed parts made of 20 percent carbon fiber.

Recent improvements to ORNL’s BAAM machine include a smaller print bead size, resulting in a smoother surface finish on the printed pieces. Subsequent work by Knoxville-based TruDesign produced a Class A automotive finish on the completed Shelby.

“Our goal is to demonstrate the potential of large-scale additive manufacturing as an innovative and viable manufacturing technology,” said Lonnie Love, leader of ORNL’s Manufacturing Systems Research group. “We want to improve digital manufacturing solutions for the automotive industry.”

The team took six weeks to design, manufacture and assemble the Shelby, including 24 hours of print time. The new BAAM system, jointly developed by ORNL and Cincinnati Incorporated, can print components 500 to 1000 times faster than today’s industrial additive machines. ORNL researchers say the speed of next-generation additive manufacturing offers new opportunities for the automotive industry, especially in prototyping vehicles.

“You can print out a working vehicle in a matter of days or weeks,” Love said. “You can test it for form, fit and function. Your ability to innovate quickly has radically changed.  There’s a whole industry that could be built up around rapid innovation in transportation.”

The Shelby project builds on the successful completion of the Strati, a fully 3-D printed vehicle created through a collaboration between Local Motors and ORNL.

The lab’s manufacturing and transportation researchers plan to use the 3-D printed Shelby as a laboratory on wheels. The car is designed to “plug and play” components such as battery and fuel cell technologies, hybrid system designs, power electronics, and wireless charging systems, allowing researchers to easily and quickly test out new ideas.

The ORNL booth at NAIAS highlights additional research and development activities in manufacturing and vehicle technologies including displays on energy absorption, composite tooling, printed power electronics and connected vehicles.

The project was funded by the Advanced Manufacturing Office in DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and ORNL’s Laboratory Directed Research and Development program.

For more information, visit: web.ornl.gov/sci/manufacturing/media/news/detroit-show

Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have demonstrated an additive manufacturing method to control the structure and properties of metal components with precision unmatched by conventional manufacturing processes.

Ryan Dehoff, staff scientist and metal additive manufacturing lead at the Department of Energy’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at ORNL, presented the research this week in an invited presentation at the Materials Science & Technology 2014 conference in Pittsburgh.

“We can now control local material properties, which will change the future of how we engineer metallic components,” Dehoff said. “This new manufacturing method takes us from reactive design to proactive design. It will help us make parts that are stronger, lighter and function better for more energy-efficient transportation and energy production applications such as cars and wind turbines.”

The researchers demonstrated the method using an ARCAM electron beam melting system (EBM), in which successive layers of a metal powder are fused together by an electron beam into a three-dimensional product. By manipulating the process to precisely manage the solidification on a microscopic scale, the researchers demonstrated 3-dimensional control of the microstructure, or crystallographic texture, of a nickel-based part during formation.

Crystallographic texture plays an important role in determining a material’s physical and mechanical properties.  Applications from microelectronics to high-temperature jet engine components rely on tailoring of crystallographic texture to achieve desired performance characteristics.

“We’re using well established metallurgical phenomena, but we’ve never been able to control the processes well enough to take advantage of them at this scale and at this level of detail,” said Suresh Babu, the University of Tennessee-ORNL Governor's Chair for Advanced Manufacturing. “As a result of our work, designers can now specify location specific crystal structure orientations in a part.”

Other contributors to the research are ORNL’s Mike Kirka and Hassina Bilheux, University of California Berkeley’s Anton Tremsin, and Texas A&M University’s William Sames.

The research was supported by the Advanced Manufacturing Office in DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

ORNL is managed by UT-Battelle for the Department of Energy's Office of Science. DOE's Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time.

For more information, visit: www.ornl.gov/user-facilities/mdf

The Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory is partnering with Cincinnati Incorporated, a manufacturer of high quality machine tools located in Harrison, Ohio, to develop a large-scale polymer additive manufacturing (3-D printing) system.

The partnership aims to accelerate the commercialization of a new additive manufacturing machine that can print large polymer parts faster and more cheaply than current technologies. The partnership agreement supports the Department’s Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative to increase the efficiency of the U.S. manufacturing sector and ensure that innovative clean energy technologies continue to be developed in America.

Additive manufacturing, often called 3-D printing, can offer time, energy and cost savings over traditional manufacturing techniques in certain applications, but most 3-D polymer printers on the market today can only fabricate small prototype parts. By building a system that is 200 to 500 times faster and capable of printing polymer components 10 times larger than today’s common additive machines – in sizes greater than one cubic meter – the ORNL-CINCINNATI project could introduce significant new capabilities to the U.S. tooling sector, which in turn supports a wide range of industries. Access to such technology could strengthen domestic manufacturing of highly advanced components for the automotive, aerospace, appliance, robotics and many other industries.

“The Energy Department and its national labs are forging partnerships with the private sector to strengthen advanced manufacturing, foster innovation, and create clean energy jobs for the growing middle class,” said David Danielson, the Energy Department’s Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. “Developing innovative manufacturing technologies in America will help ensure that the manufacturing jobs of tomorrow are created here in the United States, putting people to work and building a clean energy economy.”

The cooperative research and development agreement was signed today at the Manufacturing Demonstration Facility (MDF) established at ORNL by DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and funded through its Advanced Manufacturing Office. The MDF helps industry develop, demonstrate and adopt new manufacturing technologies that reduce life-cycle energy and greenhouse gas emissions, lower production costs and create new products and opportunities for high-paying jobs.

“When private-sector businesses connect with the tremendous expertise and capabilities of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, everybody wins,” said U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-Chattanooga), who attended Monday’s signing. “That’s not just the company and scientists.  Most importantly it’s the American taxpayer, whose investments in the National Laboratory System are so important for driving American competitiveness.”

The project will draw on CINCINNATI’s experience in the design, manufacturing and control of large-scale manufacturing systems, especially laser cutting systems used in metal fabrication. CINCINNATI focuses on manufacturing powdered metal compacting presses, a process used to produce high volume production parts for the automotive industry.  The machine tool manufacturer has shipped more than 55,000 machines during its 115 years of operation.

“Cincinnati Incorporated has enjoyed a long working relationship with Oak Ridge National Laboratory,” said CINCINNATI CEO Andrew Jamison.  “Over the years we have supplied over 40 metal working machine tools to Oak Ridge and its various subcontractors.  As one of the oldest U.S. machine tool manufacturers, with continuous operation since 1898, we view this exciting opportunity as starting a new chapter in our history of serving U.S. manufacturing.  Out of this developmental partnership with ORNL, CINCINNATI intends to lead the world in big area additive manufacturing machinery for both prototyping and production.”

The partners will start by incorporating additive manufacturing technology with the machine base of CINCINNATI’s state-of-the-art laser cutting system, creating a prototype, large-scale additive manufacturing system. The research team will then integrate a high-speed cutting tool, pellet feed mechanism and control software into the gantry system to offer additional capabilities.

“Today’s agreement with Cincinnati Incorporated exemplifies ORNL’s strong commitment to working with industry to move our innovations into real-world applications,” said ORNL Director Thom Mason. “These partnerships come with the potential for significant energy and economic impacts.”

For more information, visit: science.energy.gov

Turning lignin, a plant's structural "glue" and a byproduct of the paper and pulp industry, into something considerably more valuable is driving a research effort headed by Amit Naskar of Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

In a cover article published in Green Chemistry, the research team describes a process that ultimately transforms the lignin byproduct into a thermoplastic - a polymer that becomes pliable above a specific temperature. Researchers accomplished this by reconstructing larger lignin molecules either through a chemical reaction with formaldehyde or by washing with methanol. Through these simple chemical processes, they created a crosslinked rubber-like material that can also be processed like plastics.

"Our work addresses a pathway to utilize lignin as a sustainable, renewable resource material for synthesis of thermoplastics that are recyclable," said Naskar, a member of the Department of Energy laboratory's Material Science and Technology Division.

Instead of using nearly 50 million tons of lignin byproduct produced annually as a low-cost fuel to power paper and pulp mills, the material can be transformed into a lignin-derived high-value plastic. While the lignin byproduct in raw form is worth just pennies a pound as a fuel, the value can potentially increase by a factor of 10 or more after the conversion.

Naskar noted that earlier work on lignin-based plastics utilized material that was available from pulping industries and was a significantly degraded version of native lignin contained in biomass. This decomposition occurs during harsh chemical treatment of biomass.

"Here, however, we attempted to reconstruct larger lignin molecules by a simple crosslinking chemistry and then used it as a substitute for rigid phase in a formulation that behaves like crosslinked rubbers that can also be processed like plastics," Naskar said.

Crosslinking involves building large lignin molecules by combining smaller molecules where formaldehyde helps to bridge the smaller units by chemical bonding. Naskar envisions the process leading to lower cost gaskets, window channels, irrigation hose, dashboards, car seat foam and a number of other plastic-like products. A similar material can also be made from lignin produced in biorefineries.

For more information, visit: www.ornl.gov

The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory launched a new era of scientific supercomputing today with Titan, a system capable of churning through more than 20,000 trillion calculations each second—or 20 petaflops—by employing a family of processors called graphic processing units first created for computer gaming. Titan will be 10 times more powerful than ORNL's last world-leading system, Jaguar, while overcoming power and space limitations inherent in the previous generation of high-performance computers.

Titan, which is supported by the Department of Energy, will provide unprecedented computing power for research in energy, climate change, efficient engines, materials and other disciplines and pave the way for a wide range of achievements in science and technology.

The Cray XK7 system contains 18,688 nodes, with each holding a 16-core AMD Opteron 6274 processor and an NVIDIA Tesla K20 graphics processing unit (GPU) accelerator. Titan also has more than 700 terabytes of memory. The combination of central processing units, the traditional foundation of high-performance computers, and more recent GPUs will allow Titan to occupy the same space as its Jaguar predecessor while using only marginally more electricity.

"One challenge in supercomputers today is power consumption," said Jeff Nichols, associate laboratory director for computing and computational sciences. "Combining GPUs and CPUs in a single system requires less power than CPUs alone and is a responsible move toward lowering our carbon footprint. Titan will provide unprecedented computing power for research in energy, climate change, materials and other disciplines to enable scientific leadership."

Because they handle hundreds of calculations simultaneously, GPUs can go through many more than CPUs in a given time. By relying on its 299,008 CPU cores to guide simulations and allowing its new NVIDIA GPUs to do the heavy lifting, Titan will enable researchers to run scientific calculations with greater speed and accuracy.

"Titan will allow scientists to simulate physical systems more realistically and in far greater detail," said James Hack, director of ORNL's National Center for Computational Sciences. "The improvements in simulation fidelity will accelerate progress in a wide range of research areas such as alternative energy and energy efficiency, the identification and development of novel and useful materials and the opportunity for more advanced climate projections."

Titan will be open to select projects while ORNL and Cray work through the process for final system acceptance. The lion's share of access to Titan in the coming year will come from the Department of Energy's Innovative and Novel Computational Impact on Theory and Experiment program, better known as INCITE.

Researchers have been preparing for Titan and its hybrid architecture for the past two years, with many ready to make the most of the system on day one. Among the flagship scientific applications on Titan:

Materials Science The magnetic properties of materials hold the key to major advances in technology. The application WL-LSMS provides a nanoscale analysis of important materials such as steels, iron-nickel alloys and advanced permanent magnets that will help drive future electric motors and generators. Titan will allow researchers to improve the calculations of a material's magnetic states as they vary by temperature.

"The order-of-magnitude increase in computational power available with Titan will allow us to investigate even more realistic models with better accuracy," noted ORNL researcher and WL-LSMS developer Markus Eisenbach.

Combustion The S3D application models the underlying turbulent combustion of fuels in an internal combustion engine. This line of research is critical to the American energy economy, given that three-quarters of the fossil fuel used in the United States goes to powering cars and trucks, which produce one-quarter of the country's greenhouse gases.

Titan will allow researchers to model large-molecule hydrocarbon fuels such as the gasoline surrogate isooctane; commercially important oxygenated alcohols such as ethanol and butanol; and biofuel surrogates that blend methyl butanoate, methyl decanoate and n-heptane.

"In particular, these simulations will enable us to understand the complexities associated with strong coupling between fuel chemistry and turbulence at low preignition temperatures," noted team member Jacqueline Chen of Sandia National Laboratories. "These complexities pose challenges, but also opportunities, as the strong sensitivities to both the fuel chemistry and to the fluid flows provide multiple control options which may lead to the design of a high-efficiency, low-emission, optimally combined engine-fuel system."

Nuclear Energy Nuclear researchers use the Denovo application to, among other things, model the behavior of neutrons in a nuclear power reactor. America's aging nuclear power plants provide about a fifth of the country's electricity, and Denovo will help them extend their operating lives while ensuring safety. Titan will allow Denovo to simulate a fuel rod through one round of use in a reactor core in 13 hours; this job took 60 hours on the Jaguar system.

Climate Change The Community Atmosphere Model-Spectral Element simulates long-term global climate. Improved atmospheric modeling under Titan will help researchers better understand future air quality as well as the effect of particles suspended in the air.

Using a grid of 14-kilometer cells, the new system will be able to simulate from one to five years per day of computing time, up from the three months or so that Jaguar was able to churn through in a day.

"As scientists are asked to answer not only whether the climate is changing but where and how, the workload for global climate models must grow dramatically," noted CAM-SE team member Kate Evans of ORNL. "Titan will help us address the complexity that will be required in such models."

ORNL is managed by UT-Battelle for the Department of Energy. The Department of Energy is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time.

For more information, visit: www.olcf.ornl.gov/titan

Common material such as polyethylene used in plastic bags could be turned into something far more valuable through a process being developed at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

In a paper published in Advanced Materials, a team led by Amit Naskar of the Materials Science and Technology Division outlined a method that allows not only for production of carbon fiber but also the ability to tailor the final product to specific applications.

"Our results represent what we believe will one day provide industry with a flexible technique for producing technologically innovative fibers in myriad configurations such as fiber bundle or non-woven mat assemblies," Naskar said.

Using a combination of multi-component fiber spinning and their sulfonation technique, Naskar and colleagues demonstrated that they can make polyethylene-base fibers with a customized surface contour and manipulate filament diameter down to the submicron scale. The patent-pending process also allows them to tune the porosity, making the material potentially useful for filtration, catalysis and electrochemical energy harvesting.

Naskar noted that the sulfonation process allows for great flexibility as the carbon fibers exhibit properties that are dictated by processing conditions. For this project, the researchers produced carbon fibers with unique cross-sectional geometry, from hollow circular to gear-shaped by using a multi-component melt extrusion-based fiber spinning method.

The possibilities are virtually endless, according to Naskar, who described the process.

"We dip the fiber bundle into an acid containing a chemical bath where it reacts and forms a black fiber that no longer will melt," Naskar said. "It is this sulfonation reaction that transforms the plastic fiber into an infusible form.

"At this stage, the plastic molecules bond, and with further heating cannot melt or flow. At very high temperatures, this fiber retains mostly carbon and all other elements volatize off in different gas or compound forms."

The researchers also noted that their discovery represents a success for DOE, which seeks advances in lightweight materials that can, among other things, help the U.S. auto industry design cars able to achieve more miles per gallon with no compromise in safety or comfort. And the raw material, which could come from grocery store plastic bags, carpet backing scraps and salvage, is abundant and inexpensive.

Other authors of the paper, titled "Patterned functional carbon fibers from polyethylene," are Marcus Hunt, Tomonori Saito and Rebecca Brown of ORNL and Amar Kumbhar of the University of North Carolina's Chapel Hill Analytical and Nanofabrication Laboratory.

For more information, visit: www.ornl.gov

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