Story tips from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, October 2006

EMISSIONS -- Ultra-low sulfur . . .

New low-sulfur diesel available at gas stations and travel centers across the nation has Oak Ridge National Laboratory research behind it, proving that reducing sulfur content in diesel fuel is critical to lessening emissions. Beginning Oct. 15, the Environmental Protection Agency is requiring all retailers to sell diesel containing just 15 parts per million sulfur compared to previous standards of 500 parts per million. Although industry data indicated a need for lower sulfur content in diesel to meet lower emissions standards going into effect next year, a seven-month study at ORNL confirmed at the vehicle-system level that ultra-low sulfur reduced nitrogen oxide and soot emissions by 90 percent. [Contact: Larisa Brass, (865) 574-4163; brasslm@ornl.gov]

MICROSCOPY -- New understanding . . .

Highly detailed images that show how matter organizes first into clusters and then into particles with thousands of atoms are helping researchers better understand catalytic processes. Ultimately, this greater understanding could make these chemical reactions with a wide range of industrial applications happen faster, more efficiently or both. Using Oak Ridge National Laboratory's aberration-corrected electron microscope, Larry Allard and colleagues at the University of Texas at Austin are analyzing nanoparticles of gold, palladium and their alloys. Gold-based catalysts are of particular interest to researchers because of their effectiveness in controlling many types of catalytic reactions. Images gained with ORNL's microscope provide sub-angstrom resolution. Funding is provided by DOE FreedomCAR and Vehicle Technologies. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226; wallira@ornl.gov]

TRANSPORTATION -- Ultralight transit bus . . .

A bus that weighs half as much as conventional buses, boasts three times the fuel economy and can carry 20 percent more passengers could debut by the middle of next year. At the heart of the bus is an ultra-high-strength stainless steel body and chassis that would actually be up to 30 percent less expensive to build than the standard bus body. ORNL researchers are helping develop the lightweight structure and chassis by performing computer crash studies. Results show the side intrusion to be within allowable limits. The bus would be much quieter and have far less of an environmental impact compared to typical diesel-powered buses. The bus would also provide significant operational cost savings. The hybrid electric bus is being developed through a collaboration of several partners, including Autokinetics of Rochester Hills, Mich., Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Department of Energy Office of FreedomCAR and Vehicle Technologies Program. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226; wallira@ornl.gov]

ENERGY -- Easier hydrogen flow . . .

Oak Ridge National Laboratory research on fiber-reinforced polymer pipes could help distribute hydrogen more efficiently to service stations of the future. High-pressure fluidized hydrogen can cause cracks, leaks and other failures in metallic piping. The ORNL team led by Tim Armstrong has found fiber-reinforced polymer material significantly reduces embrittlement created in metallic materials. Polymer material also reduces the number of welds and joints, where failures tend to occur. The research has determined installation of the polymer pipeline is cheaper and allows for installation of sensors that can more quickly and accurately identify the pipeline failures. The funding source is the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Hydrogen, Fuel Cells and Infrastructure Program office. [Contact: Fred Strohl, (865) 574-4165; strohlhf@ornl.gov]

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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