May 2006 story tips from Oak Ridge National Laboratory

MILITARY – Super-smart radios . . .

Soldiers of tomorrow could be equipped with radios immune to the enemy's attempts to jam communication and able to perform numerous functions that increase a soldier's chances of survival. Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Cognitive Radio Program integrates next-generation communication technology with sensors and computational intelligence capabilities that will make radios incredibly powerful devices. As part of the program, sensors, cameras and microphones embedded in the radio would help a soldier gain total awareness of surroundings, including chemical, biological or radiological hazards. Meanwhile, the software-defined radio system features technology that could periodically – and automatically – change the bandwidth and other parameters that make the signal difficult or impossible to jam. The software-defined radio system also allows the unit to quickly assume a new personality, allowing it to become a global positioning device, cell or satellite phone, or a secure first-responder radio. This work is funded by the departments of Energy, Homeland Security and Defense. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226; wallira@ornl.gov]

BIOPROCESSING – New era for nano . . .

Barriers to commercializing high-quality nanomaterials useful for an array of applications could tumble because of a process invented at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. NanoFermentation represents a fundamentally new approach for producing extremely fine, uniform and highly crystalline powders useful for magnetic media, ferrofluids, xerographic toner, catalysts, pigments, water treatment and coatings. The process works at or near room temperature using conventional industrial equipment and straightforward fermentation processes. Furthermore, NanoFermentation uses bacterial strains that are completely natural instead of those that have been genetically engineered. Patent holders Tommy Phelps and Bob Lauf believe that by making tailored nanomaterials available in economic quantities, their process will help stimulate interest in the development of new applications and eliminate a roadblock that has prevented the field of nanotechnology from reaching its potential. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226; wallira@ornl.gov]

ENERGY -- Reducing industrial energy costs . . . A new DOE initiative is helping large industrial plants and factories to quickly assess and identify how they can operate with greater energy efficiency. DOE's Save Energy Now program, introduced in the fall of 2005 by Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman, has scheduled Energy Savings Assessments to be conducted in 2006 at 200 large industrial sites in 39 states. The effort is being managed by a group headed by Tony Wright of Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Engineering Science and Technology Division. During a time when companies are facing a period of tightening supplies and rising energy costs, the assessments already conducted in 2006 have resulted in recommendations equivalent to $95 million in annual saved energy costs. The funding source is DOE's Industrial Technologies Program. [Contact: Fred Strohl (865) 574-4165; strohlhf@ornl.gov]

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