Technology Transfer Opportunities in the National Laboratories
This report is part of a series examining technology opportunities at National Laboratories of possible interest to electric utilities
1 ORNL Organization
3. ORNL Technologies & Programs
10. ORNL Contacts
This report is proprietary and confidential. It is for internal use by personnel of companies that are subscribers in the UFTO multi-client program. It is not to be otherwise copied or distributed except as authorized in writing.
This report details findings about technology and technology transfer opportunities at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) that might be of strategic interest to electric utilities. It is based on two visits to ORNL in Oak Ridge, Tennessee (in November 1993 and March 1994), as part of a project for PSI Energy, which had the additional goal to establish relationships that will enable PSI to monitor developments and gain access on an ongoing basis.
Noting the tremendous scope of research underway in the research facilities of the U.S. government, and a very strong impetus on the government’s part to foster commercial partnering with industry and applications of the technology it has developed, PSI Energy supported this project to become familiar with the content and process of those programs, and to seek out opportunities for collaboration, demonstration or other forms of participation that will further the business objectives of PSI. PSI has agreed to make these results available to the participants in UFTO.
Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is a “GOCO” lab (government-owned, contractor operated). Martin Marietta Energy Systems Inc., a division of Martin Marietta Corp., is the contractor that manages ORNL and four other facilities, including the Y-12 Plant and the K-25 Site in the town of Oak Ridge, and gaseous diffusion enrichment facilities at Paducah (KY) and Portsmouth (OH). [Added Note: The recently announced merger of Lockheed and Martin Marietta is not anticipated to have any major impact on ORNL, except that over time there may be more joint activity with Idaho National Energy Lab. This is similar to the closer contact with Sandia that developed after Martin Marietta took over the management of that facility.]
Thus ORNL is a separate entity and organization from Y-12 and K-25, though they are all operated by the same management company. There are many overlapping activities, and some ORNL staff have their offices and facilities physically located at the other sites. For example, Y-12 is also the site of a joint program called “Centers for Manufacturing Technology” (Dave Beck is the contact), a manufacturing skills campus available to private industry on a full cost recovery basis. Thus, any interaction with ORNL will also provide a point of entry to the other Oak Ridge facilities.
Similar to other DOE labs, ORNL has a matrix organizational structure, where “divisions” aligned by discipline have the people, and “programs” have the projects and budgets. On some occasions, divisions do get funds and projects of their own. Overall, the matrix system is mature and functions very effectively at ORNL.
Both divisions and programs live in research “ALD’s” or Associate Laboratory Directorates, headed by Assoc. Lab Directors who along with other administrative and support groups report to the Laboratory Director (Alvin Trivelpiece).
ORNL’s four research ALD’s are:
– Physical Sciences & Advanced Materials
– Engineering and Manufacturing (name recently changed from “Nuclear Technologies”)
– Biomedical & Environmental Sciences
– Advanced Energy Systems
There is work in all four ALDs of potential interest to utilities. The point of contact for this study was established through the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Program, which oversees activities involving 11 different research divisions. Contact was also made with the Fossil Energy Materials Program, with a similarly broad scope. Both of these programs are in the Advanced Energy Systems ALD.
ORNL also takes on a program management role nationally on behalf of DOE, for some aspect of a DOE program, e.g. supporting PETC or METC or the DOE program office directly, or in collaboration with other national labs.
Mechanisms to Work with ORNL
There are a variety of mechanisms for working with ORNL. The laboratory often subcontracts work to industry (usually cost-shared), and can also perform industry-funded work (but must demonstrate that it is not competing with other private industry companies).
One of the major mechanisms is the “CRADA” (cooperative research and development agreement), which is analogous to a joint venture between private companies. No money changes hands, but both parties bring something to the table, and get something of benefit from it, most typically intellectual property rights.
ORNL also has a number of “User Facilities” and “Centers” that focus on particular subjects, and make special equipment, facilities and expertise available to outside users, on a fee or collaborative basis.
One other general point: — the lab annually publishes an “Institutional Plan”, which is organized according to which DOE Program Office supports the work, not the lab’s own organizational structure. Thus a “mapping” between the two structures is required to be able to see the work of the groups within the lab. In most instances, divisions and programs also publish annual progress reports, providing detailed though not always current accounts of the work
Specific ORNL Technologies & Programs
Covered in this section:
Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Program
• Power Systems Technology Program
• Superconducting Technology Program for Electric Energy Systems
• Electric & Magnetic Fields Bioeffects
• Power Electronics Technology Center
• Fuels, Combustion and Propulsion Technology Group
• Efficiency and Renewables
• Biofuels Feedstock
• Bioprocessing R&D Center
• Integrated Resource Planning
• Energy Planning and Evaluations
• Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (CDIAC)
• Center for Global Environmental Studies
• Developing Country Program
Fossil Energy Materials Program
• Energy Efficiency Materials Program
Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Program
A.C.(Tony) Schaffhauser, Director, 574-4826. This office manages a wide spectrum of programs involving many functions and groups within ORNL.
• Power Systems Technology Program, James VanCoevering, Manager, 574-4829
ORNL has been active in T&D research since 1974, and handles all DOE work in T&D. “System 2020 Workshop” (Denver 1990) identified high priorities for T&D (DOE and utilities). ORNL focus is on high capacity transmission and power electronics. A complex organizational framework to coordinate initiatives has very little utility representation except thru EPRI and BPA & WAPA.
High Capacity Transmission Options: Goal is to develop new-construction options that increase power density on a corridor. Work is in areas of High-Phase Order and HVDC.
Real Time Control: They see T&D network as the world’s most complex process system, with trend away from “security by reserves” to “security by control.” Goal is zero reserve capacity — “N-1” criteria are expensive in terms of idle equipment. (Niagara Mohawk is only other utility representation on technical committee for this.)
High Capacity Power Electronics: Goal to reduce converter costs to make DC compete with AC at 150 miles instead of 400 mi.
Power Transients: Geomagnetic Induced currents and EMP/Lightning transients
Equipment Diagnosis: SF6 degradation detection — major CRADA, with work at NIST, Ontario Hydro and ORNL.
Reliability Centered Maintenance of T&D equipment — approach is to understand underlying physical processes, and acquire data on degradation processes. [Alternate approach would emphasize codifying “expert” experience.]
SMES Market Potential & Benefits for Electric Utilities: Extensive array of studies with utilities just getting started in early ’94, to examine various uses for SMES. Five under contract already, and 2 more in negotiation. AD Little did major evaluation of utility benefits for Storage and PLC.
[Anchorage Elec and B&W got $5 mil ARPA grant to design and build a SMES unit!]
• Superconducting Technology Program for Electric Energy Systems
Robert Hawsey, Director, 574-8057
In partnerships with ANL, LANL and industry. Issue quarterly bulletin. ORNL has advisory, study role, and receives 1/4 of the $20 million DOE budget. Doing work on motors, generators, transmission, but not bearings or current limiters. HTSC applications of greatest interest.
Interested particularly in adding inductor/reactors and transformers to the original list of applications of potential use to the utility industry. Also see SMES discussion above.
Looking for vertically integrated teams — “Partnership Initiatives” — 3 @ $2 million each, with a manufacturer, utility and laboratory. OPPORTUNITY
• Electric & Magnetic Fields Bioeffects Paul Gailey, Program Manager 574-0419
ORNL has lead role in coordinating DOE effort–program mgt., conferences, Q/A, publications, etc. on Engineering and Biological Effects. Good relations with EPRI. Also issue RFPs for DOE. Biology research looking for theoretical models, going outside of EMF community to main technical/academic societies (e.g. engineering study of current tomography of the human body).
Staff are urging more attention be given to what it would cost to mitigate EMF, for use in social risk/benefit decisions.
• Motors Ben McConnell, 576-2733
Motors themselves are already very efficient, and only small gains can be made. However, if the entire system (electric motor system — EMS) is taken into account, 30% improvements are possible. The entire system includes the power conditioning (ASD), the motor, mechanical drive/coupling, and the process device (e.g. pump, impeller, fan, etc.). The problem is that these are never looked at as a system, but as separate components. (Even in large companies involved in more than one area, the motor people don’t talk to the drive people don’t talk to the device people).
The “Motor Challenge Showcase” will start in ’94. Awards will be made to 5-6 industry teams, each to consist of a customer, a manufacturer, and a utility. A Notice of Program Interest (NOPI) is due shortly. Voluntary industry/government collaboration to promote efficient EMS; develop tools, protocols, guidelines; national EMS database and information clearinghouse.
• Power Electronics Technology Center William Key 576-0278
Advanced motor development, based on ultra centrifuge program. Axial gap permanent magnet; working with HTSC to see how to use it in motors.
(Note: referred by Ron Graves to Dan Linehan and John Conyer, ETD at K25, program development staff for adv. motors. Also to Y-12 Howard Haynes and Don Casada for Electric Motor Signature Analysis & Condition Assessment — for Reliability Centered Maint. Already successful with valves in nuclear plants.)
Inverters — internal development program for hi effic, hi reliability, low EM interef. 40kW 300VDC for automotive program.
Photonics — also internal effort — on non-contact remote power sensor and strain measurement (EPRI–B. Dooley), fiber optic sensors, Si rubber weight-in-motion.
Flywheels (Dave O’Kain) –applying experience from gas centrifuge program that was canceled in ’85 –high speed rotor in vacuum. High peripheral velocity is key variable. Hold world record. Spin test facility can spin to failure. Program not a solo effort — team with others for system.
Elec Machinery Systems Test Facility
Motor Test Lab (Bob Schilling, 576-7859) Based on work for NRC on life extension and aging of motor operated valves, studying reliability and harmonics of high efficiency motors. For large motors (50-100 hp and higher) harmonics measured back at transmission substation (with Commonwealth Edison).
Diagnostics (Steve McNeany) Remote temperature measurement and Electrical Current Signature Analysis – can see mechanical vibration, etc. by analyzing the current waveform, with exciting implications for assessing motor/systems condition on line.
• Fuels, Combustion and Propulsion Technology Group (Ron Graves) (located at Y-12)
Work for EPRI on FBC; also applied chaos theory.
Piston Engine tests– emissions, advanced materials, alternate fuels; CRADA’s with auto makers.
Full vehicle test–managed Federal Methanol fleet project; detailed measurements, especially effects on lube oil.
Program Mgt. for DOE in Alternate Fuels; Subs with Detroit Diesel, Caterpillar on adv. diesel; Emission reducing additives for diesel fuels (with Cummins and Texaco) — NOx down 40% with expensive custom molecule; natural gas in diesels.
ORNL not involved with large stationary engines, but has work in fuel chemistry relevant to standby generators (fuel stagnation and fire safety). Also Cogen (GT and diesel) for military bases.
Emissions after-treatment — sensors, controls, instrumentation.
• Efficiency and Renewables Dr. George Courville 574-1945, Jeff Christian 574-9338
“Building Technology Center” is a “User Facility”, and has the recently consolidated activities related to buildings. There are major test facilities for heating, air conditioning, refrigeration, insulation and building materials. The also do performance analysis for Program Evaluation projects, and have a strong role in ASHRAE and ASTM standards, tests and procedures committees.
There are several technology developments also:
– Powder Evacuated Panels (PEP) insulates 5 times better than conventional insulation, or >R25 per inch. (It’s similar in structure to a package of vacuum packed coffee.) GE and Corning are vigorously pursuing applications, and ORNL’s role is on process and measurement improvements.
– Gas adsorption A/C — ORNL has basic patents on “triple adsorption”, licensed to Trane.
– Improvement for auto and window A/C–permitted 20% improvement in performance by overcharging the system while avoiding the “slugging” problem that usually results. It’s basically an liquid overfeed system, a separator/accumulator that keeps the liquid refrigerant from entering the compressor.
– High efficiency building block — a new geometry that reduces the front-to-back thermal bridging and amount of mortar that’s needed.
– Handbooks for Builders on building envelope, foundations, etc.
• Biofuels Feedstock Janet Cushman 574-7818; Lynn Wright; Robin Graham 576-7756
ORNL has managed the DOE’s Transportation Program’s work in crops and cropping systems for biofuel for over 14 years. (SERI/NREL handles the conversion technology.) An emphasis on ethanol is now broadened, with additional funding from DOE/EER and EPRI. Initially focused on crop yield research, there is now also work on demonstration and analysis (environmental CO2, economic development benefits, etc.)
Working with utilities on trees, especially interested due to opportunity to co-fire with wood, and “closed CO2 cycle” aspects. Also with ethanol producers and NREL. No plans to use existing forests, but need fuel while waiting for trees to grow. Ultimate objective is agricultural cropping. Doing project with TVA (Bruce Gold) and EPRI on cofiring woodwaste and crop residues, and resource assessment (economics, GIS/network model, etc.). Planting 1000 acre poplar farm in S. Minn., cofunded with EPRI, NSP and Minn. Power.
Species breeding — focus on poplars (hardwood). Best non-wood option is switch-grass–screening/breeding program at Purdue.
DOE/NREL recently released an RFP for feasibility studies of complete systems for biomass power and liquid fuels. (When making alcohol from biomass, 25% of mass is lignin, which goes unused unless it’s burned for power–i.e. power as a by-product–same idea would apply for paper mills.)
Ethanol producers formed a Consortium for Plant Biotechnology at Purdue, to use cellulose waste. (Involves New Energy of Indiana and ADM)
• Bioprocessing R&D Center Charles D. Scott, Director 574-6775
Timothy Scott 574-5962
Applied (not basic) biological research, making basic processes into high production rate systems (as distinct from slow chemical reactions):
– Cellulose –> glucose
– Remove S, N from coal (difficult) and from liquid/gas fuels (more likely)
– Stack gas cleanup with biocatalysts–lab stage; about 3 years to decision on next steps.
– Liquefying coal with enzymes
Bioengineering–unconventional, faster, more efficient. Reactor systems, separation and purification, models for scale up.
Looking for industry participation in segregated waste paper to ethanol project
• Integrated Resource Planning Eric Hirst 574-6304
Series of studies on relationship between regulation and DSM/IRP. Also an evaluation of “collaboratives”, which refers to programs to involve interest groups and intervenors in utility planning. Also survey of PUCs on DSM incentives.
“Climate Challenge” is new program like EPA’s Green Lights involving DOE and 60 utilities.
• Fuel Cycle Externalities are receiving renewed attention. ORNL has some notable work by Russ Lee in this area, that has gotten the attention of the NCA, among others.
• Energy Planning and Evaluations Marilyn Brown 576-8152
Evaluate the effectiveness of programs from weatherization to tech transfer.
– National Evaluation of DOE Weatherization Program for Low Income Households
Services delivered through local community agencies, and utilities can piggyback to deliver services to low income customers. A number of utilities have worked with the program.
– Economics of Low Income DSM Programs (ongoing with 4 utilities–Con Ed, Duke, CP&L, and Niagara Mohawk, 2 states and DOE): How will Utilities and PUCs assess cost effectiveness, and how to treat government funds?
– New England Audit Program (“NEAT”) is a software package available to agencies, and provides a user-friendly shell around DOE-2 for single family houses.
– Support DOE commercialization efforts, in tracking, data collection and analysis of experience and success rates–have done case studies in building technology and Energy related invention program.
• Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (CDIAC) 574-0390
In the Environ. Sciences Division, CDIAC provides extensive data services and products on CO2 and trace gases in the atmosphere, and their impacts on climate and ecosystems. Numerous reports, periodicals and publications are available.
• Center for Global Environmental Studies Michael P. Farrell, Director 576-7785
This program cuts across the entire lab. Principal strengths include data systems; large scale environment study; scientific measurement and instrumentation (spin offs from defense work). Working with CIA to declassify some data — especially population and energy consumption; Photo Interpretation Center — system to scan old photos to develop land use histories; Energy Policy and Human Systems Analysis — human behavior–cause & effects — technology & population as drivers–model economic incentives.
• Developing Country Program Thomas J. Wilbanks 574-5515
Developing countries experiencing very high growth rates, but face capital constraints for new capacity, e.g. explosive growth in appliances in China and India, putting pressure on power systems. Thus, utilities have to be innovative. Also, as they go to the world financial market, there are new pressures regarding the environment, growth, DSM, conservation, etc. They want U.S. experience to guide them, especially in management and organizational structure.
US utilities can get involved, and not just to make $$:
– Public service philosophy, especially to help stabilize the global environment!!
– Foreign situations offer a laboratory to test things
– Provides interesting careers for utility senior staff–good for morale
– Money available from US and international agencies.
-Can help with economic development back home.
“Joint Implementation” on Climate/Greenhouse gases — producers invest elsewhere to buy abatement credits (e.g. tree planting). TVA is helping fund IRP in China to open it up for Joint Implementation.
He’s working with EPRI/Wash DC office, and AID, World Bank, etc. Since ’82, more than 60 projects in 34 countries. AID setting up a “Sister Utility Program” with USEA.
Fossil Energy Materials Program
Rod Judkins, Director 574-4572. The Fossil Energy Materials Program is manager of the national program in materials development, which also involves 5 other labs and many contractors. They provide support to PETC Clean Coal and METC. They’re involved in bioprocessing and EIS/assessments for Clean Coal projects. In combustion there is work to evaluate fuels, and mild gasification (pyrolysis), and a CRADA with B:&W to study deterministic chaos theory applied to mixing of coal in FBCs.
There is also a User Center for Characterizing Materials.
Gas Clean-up with Ceramic Composite Filters (Dave Stinton 574-4556) They have a long history in CVD for coating nuclear fuel with continuous fiber ceramic composites, and are now doing chemical vapor “Infiltration”. A Nikalon fiber preform is infiltrated with CV Silicon Carbide, to make tougher high temperature materials impervious is breakage by thermal shock. Near term applications include filters for PFBC flyash and char. (Commercially available candle filters aren’t tough enough.) In work funded by METC, 3-M won the bid to commercialize, and is making 5′ candles prototypes, replacing the traditional clay or glass binder with CV Si Carbide, making it very resistant to corrosion. They performed well in tests by Westinghouse. (Not related to EPRI’s candle filter project in the U.K.)
Applications work on alloys, ceramics for corrosion problems: Iron Aluminide alloys have superb resistance to sulphadizing, e.g. in H2S in coal gasification (not the same as sulfates in combustion). Good structurally only to 600°C, but as a cladding to 1100 °C in sulfur environment and to 1300°C in an oxidizing environment.
An application has been developed to create a porous sintered filter metal. Amitech is the licensee for the invention, and makes the powder. In 1987, the Pall Corp. and Amitech entered into an informal collaboration with ORNL, and Pall is making filters from this material, and is replacing its own product on the market. The market is small currently, but since hot gas cleanup technology doesn’t exist–plants are designed more conservatively than may be necessary, particularly in the area of heat recovery. The technology may make 700°C flue gas cleanup possible.
OPPORTUNITY A utility could do the tests needed to go to the next step!
• Energy Efficiency Materials Program
Ron Bradley, Assoc Director, Metals & Ceramics Div. (MC) 574-6094
Michael Karnitz, Manager, Industrial Conservation Program, 574-5150
Philip Sklad, Manager, Adv. Industrial Concepts Materials Program, 574-5069
Metallurgy and Ceramics originally supported the nuclear program, but the scope has been broadened over time. Ron Bradley also is responsible for the Material Research activities in the Energy Efficiency and Renewables Program.
The MC Division has a budget of $60 million, almost all from DOE. It does both basic and applied research. About 1/3 is for energy efficiency, however none in solar PV, wind or geothermal.
Materials for Energy Efficiency: similar to the Iron Aluminide development, Nickel Aluminides came out of work on ordered inter metallic alloys, and have the interesting property that their strength increases with temperature! While they have good high temperature properties and oxidation resistance, they have poor sulphadation resistance. They do have applications in industry, such as heat treatment furnace components, and are being evaluated by Cummins under a license for turbocharger rotors.
Ceramics for automotive Gas Turbine–ORNL has managed the DOE effort for 10 years. Silicon Nitride ceramics have met the performance requirements for GT rotors, and the next issue being addressed is cost, and possible use in IC piston (diesel) and stationary GT for industry and utility use. (Allied Signal is already using ceramics for vanes in auxiliary power units for aircraft.)
A new program at DOE has been set up mid ’93 jointly by Fossil and Energy Efficiency, to develop advanced turbine systems, with efficiencies increased to 60% for large machines and into the high 40’s for smaller ones. (GE’s goal for 1998 is a new 250 MW turbine operating at 2550˚ C and 60% efficiency.) There are contracts in place with Allison, GE, Westinghouse and Solar Turbine, and possibly one with Siemens. ORNL’s role is materials support: coatings (silicon nitride), alloy development, machine characterization, ceramics for vanes, shrouds and uncooled blades.
A utility could become involved in possible application to GT/CC. There hasn’t been much interaction with EPRI, though Wate Bakker was testing the Iron Aluminide at Lockheed.
Corrosion in scrubber linings and coal powder abrasion are key issues for coal utilities.
ORNL had done a big review on corrosion 15 years ago, and couldn’t offer much at the time. Now, ceramic work tends to be aimed in different direction. Intermetallics a possibility–just learning how to put FeAl coatings down on steel, and NiAl would be ideal, but how to install? Aluminides being developed for gasifiers perform very well in high temperature sulfur environments–some common problems in DOE incinerator work.
Inorganic membrane technology from the isotope separation work is just emerging from secrecy. It has been licensed for some commercial applications, and there could be some intriguing possibilities of using it for hot gas separation in power plants.
general phone # Martin Marietta Energy Systems 615-576-5454
Oak Ridge National Labs
Primary UFTO Contact:
A.C.(Tony) Schaffhauser, Director, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Program 574-4826
Office of Technology Transfer — part of Martin Marietta Energy Systems, overseeing technology transfer for all the facilities they manage. Mission is to facilitate contacts and help with business arrangements. Want long term strategic partnerships/teaming with industry, not just companies buying lab technology. Martin Marietta’s winning bid to manage ORNL in ’84 had strong tech transfer component. “Nothing is not possible.” “Never say no, say how” There’s always a way to make something work. Always looking for new ideas.
William R Martin, Vice President & Director, Technology Transfer 576-8369
Ralph Donnelly was named Deputy Director in March ’94
Martin Marietta Energy Systems, Carol Grametbauer 574-1640, Ms. Eddie Stout, Assistant
ORNL Public Affairs Dept., 574-4160