Technology Transfer Opportunities –

Final Report
Technology Transfer Opportunities in the Federal Laboratories
Argonne National Laboratory
Argonne, Illinois
September 1998
Prepared for:
Utility Federal Technology Opportunities (UFTO)
Edward Beardsworth
Overview & Organization
Technologies & Programs

This report is part of a series examining technology opportunities at National Laboratories of possible interest to electric utilities
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 Argonne National Laboratory that might be of strategic interest to electric utilities. It is a major update and revision to materials developed previously, and is based on a visit to the lab in July 1998. It also draws from various publications, collateral information and website content.
ANL — Overview & Organization
Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) is a “GOCO” lab (government-owned, contractor operated). It is managed by the University of Chicago. It was started in 1946 with the express purpose to develop peaceful uses for nuclear power. The current annual budget is approximately $470 M, and there are 4500 employees. About 20% of the funding is “work for others”, which includes government agencies other than DOE, and private industry. Since 1990, more than half of the projects with industry have been with small businesses.
Similar to other DOE labs, ANL has a matrix organizational structure of “Divisions” and “Programs.” The divisions are aligned by programmatic area, and have the people, projects and budgets. Programs are mainly to coordinate the Laboratory’s efforts across divisions. In a few instances, programs take on a larger role; e.g., in the case of fuel cells.
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.
Argonne’s four research ALD’s are:
– Physical Research (basic research in fundamental sciences)
– Advanced Photon Source (a new high-energy X-ray facility for basic research)
– Engineering Research (mostly advanced nuclear and national security)
– Energy & Environmental Science & Technology (EEST)
Of these, virtually all work of potential interest to utilities is in EEST. However, much of the work in EEST programs is carried out by cross-ALD, cross-divisional teams. For example, the work of the Electrochemical Technology Program involves major participation by staff from the Chemical Technology Division of the Engineering Research ALD.
ANL 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. These are housed within programs and divisions.
The Advanced Photon Source is a major new facility that has just begun operations recently. About 30 private companies use its unique capabilities to examine the structure of materials (metals, alloys, proteins, catalysts, etc.) and to watch the dynamics of chemical processes at time scales of a billionth of a second.
EEST itself has a number of the divisions and programs, four of which are grouped together as:
“Energy & Industrial Technologies”
Richard W. Weeks, General Manager, 708-252-9710
– Energy Systems Division – approx 200 people
William Schertz, Director, 708-252-6230,
– Energy Technology Division – approx 120 people
Roger Poeppel, Director, 708-252-5118,
– Electrochemical Technology Programs (Mike Myles)
– Fossil Energy Programs (David Schmalzer)
Others include:
– Environmental Research Division (Chris Reilly, Director)
– Environmental Assessment Division (Anthony Dvorak, Director) – approx 170 people
– Decision & Information Sciences Division (Tom Wolsko, Director) – approx 150 people
– Environmental Technology & Restoration Programs (James Helt)
– Center for Mechanistic Biology & Biotechnology (E Huberman, Director)
– Infrastructure Assurance Center (P.L. Scalingi)
Key Contacts:
Primary UFTO contact:
Argonne’s Working Group on Utilities*:
– Dick Weeks, 630-252-9710,
– Tom Wolsko, 630-252-3733,
Technology Transfer: (Licensing and CRADAs)
Paul Eichamer, Industrial Technology Development Center,
Bldg. 201, 9700 South Cass Avenue, Argonne, IL 60439
Tel 800-627-2596; fax: 630-252-5230,
* Argonne has established an “Industrial Partnerships Committee”, with a number of working groups addressing various sectors, e.g., Transport, Materials, Manufacturing, etc. The Utility Working Group has pulled together technology and capabilities from across Argonne and organized it into the following 13 groupings–one page “Topic Capability Sheets” have been prepared for each one (see UFTO website):
Nuclear Technology
David Weber, 630-252-8175,
– Operations and Maintenance, Materials, Reactor Analysis, Safety, Spent-Fuel Disposition
Fossil Technology
David Schmalzer, 630-252-7723,
– Basic and Applied Research, Technology R&D, Market, Resource, and Policy Assessments
Transmission and Distribution
John Hull, 630-252-8580,
– System Components, Energy Storage, Distributed Generation, Data Gathering and Analysis, Biological Effects
Energy Systems and Components Research
Richard Valentin, 630-252-4483,
– Component Reliability, Sensors, Systems Analysis
Materials Science and Technology
Roger Poeppel, 630-252-5118,
– Materials Characterization, Modeling and Performance, Advanced and Environmental Materials, Materials Properties, Superconductivity
Fuel Cell Research and Development
Walter Podolski, 630-252-7558,
– Fuel Processing, System Design, Modeling, and Analysis, Testing, Energy-Use Pattern Analysis
Advanced Concepts in Energy Storage
K. Michael Myles, 630-252-4329,
– Secondary Batteries, Ultracapacitors and High-Power Energy Storage, Flywheels, Superconducting Magnets
Information Technology
Craig Swietlik, 630-252-8912,
– Computer Security and Protection, Independent Verification and Validation, Information Management, Advanced Computing Technologies
Environmental Science and Technology
Don Johnson, 630-252-3392,
– Environmental Characterization, Process Modifications, Emissions Controls, Waste Management, Site Management
Environmental and Economic Analysis
Jerry Gillette, 630-252-7475,
– Electric System Modeling and Analysis, Risk Assessment and Management, Environmental Assessment, Cost and Economic Analysis, Legal and Regulatory Analysis
Decontamination and Decommissioning
Tom Yule, 630-252-6740,
– Operations, Technology, Technical Analysis
End-Use Technologies
William Schertz, 630-252-6230,
– Plasma Processes, Ultrasonic Processing, Electrodialysis Separation Processes, Recycling Technologies, Aluminum and Magnesium Production
Thermal Energy Utilization Technologies
Kenneth Kasza, 630-252-5224,
– Compact Heat Exchangers, Ice Slurry District Cooling, Advanced Thermal Fluids
Technologies & Programs
Sensor monitor and fault detection system (MSET)
On-Line Plant Transient Diagnostic
Steam Generator Tubing Diagnostics
Leak Rate Test Facility
Advanced NOx Control with Gas Co-firing
Enhanced Surface Condensers Improve Heat Rate
Superconductor Technology
Sensors and Component Reliability
Millimeter-wave remote chemical sensor
Near-Frictionless Carbon
GASMAP — Analysis and Tracking Tool for the Natural Gas Industry
Ceramicrete Phosphate Ceramic
Multi-Fuel, Compact Fuel Processor for Fuel Cells
Advanced Fuel Cells for Utilities
GC Tool: A Dynamic Fuel Cell System Simulation Model
Batteries and Energy Storage
Battery Analysis and Diagnostic Laboratory
Information Management
Dynamic Information Architecture System (DIAS)
Mesoscale Weather Modelling
Hazardous Materials Information Exchange (HMIX)
Technology Evaluation
Strategic Planning Systems
Cost Engineering
Oxygen Enriched Diesels
Microwave Recovery of Hydrogen and Sulfur from Refinery Wastes
Nanoparticle catalysts
Advanced Electrodialysis Separations
Recovering Zinc from Galvanized Scrap
Sensor monitor and fault detection system (MSET)
Sensor monitor and fault detection system knows if the system is misbehaving or the sensor is wrong. Can see slow drift, signal dropout, and noise, giving early indicators of sensor failure, and providing assurance that the process itself is operating normally, thus reducing unneeded shutdowns. It also can monitor the process itself, for wide ranging quality control applications.
MSET stands for Multivariate State Estimation Technique. A model learns expected relationships among dozens or hundreds of sensor inputs, and makes predictions for what each sensor should say, and this is compared with the actual sensor signal. Argonne has patented a unique statistical test for residual error (the difference) which replaces the usual setting of fixed limit levels. There are also important innovations in the system modeling algorithm, which is completely non-parametric. (Argonne’s patented modelling algorithm is vastly superior to neural nets, achieving 1-2 orders of magnitude higher accuracy and in a tiny fraction of the computation time.) This extremely sensitive system detects the smallest developing faults at the earliest possible time and alerts plant personnel, substantially enhancing system safety, availability and operating efficiency for a wide range of applications in utilities, aerospace, industrial and other settings. An 1998 R&D 100 Award winner.
Applications have ranged from the NASA shuttle engine, to several power plants, to the stock market.
ANL contacts: Ralph Singer, 630-252-4500,
Kenny Gross, 630-252-6689,
A spin off company is doing applications in everything else but electric generation. (Think of the possibilities in T&D!!) They call the product ProSSense.
Website is at http//
Contact: Alan Wilks, Smart Signal Corp, Mt. Prospect IL
On-Line Plant Transient Diagnostic
PRODIAG monitors thermal-hydraulic processes and identifies faulty components, such as clogged filters and pipe breaks, in real time during off-normal process operating conditions. Intended originally for diagnosing off-normal process conditions in nuclear power plants, PRODIAG has a wide range of process-industry application. PRODIAG is an 1998 R&D 100 Award winner.
PRODIAG’s diagnostic system continuously receives process data — such as fluid temperature, pressure, flow and level — from the plant and identifies components whose failure has caused the off-normal plant condition — for example, a leak in this heat exchanger, a clogged filter in that piping, or the inadvertent opening of a particular valve.
Uses thermal-hydraulic first principles, along with generic equipment data, in a two-level knowledge system. Generic, qualitative first-principle expert system rules of the system can rapidly indicate what’s causing a transient, e.g. water loss, heat added, etc., and identify where in the system the problem lies. The system wouldn’t need to be custom built for each plant, except to incorporate the plant’s schematics. It’s been validated through blind tests with a nuclear plant’s operator training simulator data. Next step is to hook it up to a full scale simulator, and then go for NRC approval. A fossil application would be much easier.
Contact Tom Wei, 630-252-4688,
or Jaques Reifman, 630-252-4685,
Steam Generator Tubing Diagnostics
Eddy Current (EC) Non Destructive Evaluation (NDE) techniques can detect the presence of small defects, but can’t characterize them well, in particular to predict a tube’s structural integrity and burst pressure. EC signal interpretation is difficult, and past attempts to correlate signal features with burst pressure have shown only limited promise. Argonne is developing a new class of model based on “artificial neural nets”. Using knowledge of tube fracture mechanisms, they select certain features of the signals to train and test the model. Early results show significant improvement in predicting burst pressure for the limited data that is available. The technique is being tried on other data sets, including data from Argonne’s own Leak/Burst Pressure test facility, where actual tubes are tested to failure.
Contact: Tom Wei, 630-252-4688,
Leak Rate Test Facility
Steam Generator tubes can be tested operating pressures and temperatures, and also under design-basis accident conditions, up to and including leakage and burst.
In support of the NRC Steam Generator Tube Integrity Program, the facility obtains data on burst pressures, failure modes, and leak rates of flawed tubing at temperatures up to 343°C (650°F), pressures of 21 MPa (3000 psi), and pressurized-water flow rates up to 760 L/min (200 gal/min). The important features of the facility are a large blowdown-vessel water inventory to ensure high, stable flow rates and permit full-range testing of initially stable leaking cracks to instability; piping and valves of a size appropriate to minimize pressure drop in the supply line to a flawed tube and thereby permit high flow rates; the use of a downstream back-pressure regulator valve to control tube secondary-side pressure, thereby minimizing nonprototypical two-phase flow from entering the tube; and a computer feedback valve control to allow programmed ramps of the pressure differential across the tube. The tubes tested in the facility have either laboratory-grown cracks produced by chemical means or machined flaws. Both axial and circumferentially oriented flaws are examined. Crack sizes range from very small cracks, which are stable under main steam line break (MSLB) conditions, to larger cracks, which will first propagate through the wall and then eventually grow unstable as the pressure is increased to that corresponding to MSLB.
Contact: Kenneth Kasza, 630-252-5224,
Advanced NOx Control with Gas Co-firing
Neural network based controller adjusts furnace control variables to get optimal distribution of gas injection to yield greatest NOx reduction. Typical systems use gas at 20% of heat input, to obtain up to 60% NOx reduction. This system uses gas at 7% of heat input to achieve up to 45% NOx reduction. Joint effort with ComEd, GRI, and Energy Systems Assoc.
Contact Jaques Reifman 630-252-4685,
or Tom Wei, 630-252-4688,
Enhanced Surface Condensers Improve Heat Rate
A long-established method to reduce the heat rate is to lower the back-pressure of the surface condenser. This is accomplished by retubing existing units with commercially available enhanced tube, Korodense LPD, made by Wolverine Tube, Inc.. TVA is the only utility to implement this on a widespread basis, and has had very good success for the past 15 years. The rest of the industry, however, has been very slow to consider or adopt it, though virtually every other type of heat exchanger uses surface enhancement (including many other power plant systems).
If the turbine is operating near the choked condition, backpressure reductions won’t improve performance, then it may not be worth doing. In many cases, however, payback can be as short as 1 to 3 years. Seasonal benefits can be significant, i.e. in the Summer, when both water temperature and demand are high.
Argonne has done analyses to 1. determine the potential heat-rate reductions that are possible by retubing with enhanced tubes; 2. make utilities aware of these benefits; and 3. eliminate such technical concerns as tube-side fouling, tube vibrations, and in-situ nondistructive tube inspections.
Argonne has written a computer program to calculate the heat-rate reduction obtained by retubing with enhanced tube. The program incorporates the thermal performance data obtained by monitoring 14 operating TVA condensers that were retubed. Although it is a research grade code, it has been and can be made available to interested parties.
All the major barriers to the use of enhanced condenser tubes have been eliminated: uncertainty of performance, concern of excessive fouling, and lack of long-term successful demonstrations. However, each potential application must be analyzed to evaluate the cost effectiveness.
Increases of 30-40 in the overall heat-transfer coefficient are obtained in the clean condition with Korodense LPD. Argonne continues to monitor the performance of these units and others to update these characteristics. For most river waters, the superior performance is maintained for a year or more after a cleaning by any of the usual methods. Intermittent chlorination also effectively controls biofouling. The 14 retubed TVA condensers are operating successfully, one of them for 18 years.
Penn State has developed good prediction techniques for newer tube types, and there is progress in identifying superior tube configurations for each potential application. If a host utility can be identified, it would be possible to demonstrate these performance improvements by conducting experiments with one of the company’s condensers.
Contact: C. B. Panchal, 630-252-8070,
Superconductor Technology
Argonne is involved in a number of programs applying superconductors to electric power systems:
– Superconducting Transmission Line – with SouthWire, a SC cable between the utility and one of SouthWire’s own plants. Argonne is doing the cryogenics, dielectrics and power electronics.
– Fault-current limiters act as nonlinear resistors and reactors and have diverse applications in electric power systems. With S&C Electric (Schweitzer & Conrad), Argonne investigated a HTSC resistive fault-current limiter design, and patented it and licensed it to Illinois Superconductor Corp. In a separate effort with S&C, they have also investigated several inductive-limiter designs in which the HTSC is used to magnetically shield a ferromagnetic material. Several small-scale models of this type of limiter have been demonstrated. It should be noted these designs use bulk superconductor, not wire.
– A cryostat current lead that conducts electrical power from room-temperature sources to devices operating at liquid helium temperatures. Working with Babcoc& Wilcox on a HTSC lead for a large SMES device, Argonne specified a design that has been adopted by several companies and resulted in an IR-100 award for American Superconductor. In a separate project with Superconductivity Inc. (SI) (now ASC), Argonne provided the material for a prototype lead that was tested at SI.
– SC bearings for the flywheel system under development at Argonne with funding from Com Ed. (See separate discussion.) In addition, there is a new DOE-funded flywheel project with Boeing that also uses HTSC bearings.
Contact: John Hull, 630-252-8580,
Sensors and Component Reliability
Argonne’s NDE capabilities include ultrasonic, pulse neutron tomography, NMR, and microwave/wave imaging. They also have facilities for alpha-gamma hot cell metallurgy. Their focus is generally on new technologies and specialized analyses (as compared with the EPRI NDE Center which works on more routine aspects).
Contact: Richard Valentin, 630-252-4483,
The Millimeter-Wave Laboratory at Argonne is doing R&D on gas-phase spectroscopy and nondestructive testing (NDT) of materials. For remote sensing of effluent and thermal signatures, Argonne is also developing a multichannel passive mm-wave radiometer system. In collaboration with Clean Air Engineering and two Russian institutes, they’re developing a mm and submm gas analyzer for real-time analysis of industrial pollutant gases. In the NDT area, Argonne has developed a unique mm-wave imaging system in the W-band (75-110 GHz range) for detection and imaging of flaws in low-loss materials such as plastics, ceramics, and composite materials. As a practical extension of this work, Argonne has developed a compact near-field imaging sensor for on-line inspection and control of process materials. Argonne received a 1996 R&D 100 Award for the on-loom millimeter wave fabric inspection system.
Millimeter-wave remote chemical sensor
Using a combination of Russian backward-wave oscillator tubes and Western detectors, Argonne has developed a unique mm-wave radar system in the 225-315 GHz range for remote detection of airborne chemicals. The Lab has portable hardware available for studies.
-Active and/or passive system for standoff detection of effluent chemicals related to nuclear proliferation
-Fenceline or aircraft mountable system with long-range, all-weather, day or night capability
-Incorporates a unique Russian mm-wave source technology in the prototype radar system
-Can measure a suite of airborne chemicals at ppm-m levels
-Can detect the presence of specific chemicals in an unknown plume
-Standoff detection of nuclear proliferant activities/facilities for NPT verification
-Supports Chemical Weapons Convention and Open Skies Treaty
-Environmental monitoring
Contact: Paul Raptis, 630-252-5930,
Near-Frictionless Carbon
A new carbon film many times slicker than Teflon reduces friction by up to 100 times and wear by up to 1,000 times below the levels achieved with conventional low-friction materials in a dry N2 test environment. Near-Frictionless Carbon films make rolling, sliding, and rotating machine parts operate more efficiently and last longer. The coating is also hard enough to show promise as a coating for automotive parts subjected to sliding friction and wear. An 1998 R&D 100 Award winner.
The new material’s coefficient of friction is less than .001 when measured in a dry nitrogen atmosphere — 20 times lower than the previous record holder, molybdenum disulfide. When tested under the same conditions, Teflon’s coefficient of friction is around .04 and steel’s is about 1.1.
The material’s wear resistance is tested in a machine that slides a sapphire ball in a circle on the coating’s surface under high pressure: one gigaPascal, about 145,000 p.s.i. or almost 10,000 times atmospheric pressure. In one test, the new material lost just one micron (four ten-thousandths of an inch) in thickness after five million cycles. The test left a barely visible ring on the material’s surface.
The material is produced in an “rf plasma chamber” which converts a proprietary gas containing carbon into plasma. Carbon and other elements drift down from the plasma onto a substrate, usually a polished disk of sapphire or steel, where they form the coating. The material has no crystalline structure. Argonne is still researching the material’s composition and formation process.
Compared to previous methods of producing carbon coatings, the new process is quick — it takes only a few hours — and can produce large amounts of the coating. The non-toxic material adheres well to many kinds of substrates, including plastics.
There is a great deal of interest from many directions, particularly in automotive and refrigeration, for application to seals (shaft, rotary, reciprocating, sliding, etc.). A brochure is available.
Contact: Ali Erdemir, 630-252-6571,
George Fenske, 630-252-5190,
Ice Slurry District Cooling
UFTO reported on this back in 93/94. It is now privately funded, and has advanced considerably. Ice slush dramatically increases the capacity of new or retrofitted central cooling distribution systems.
Argonne, under U.S. DOE funding, pioneered the development and fostering of ice slurries for district cooling. Because of the high energy content of ice slurries, which is due to the phase-change (i.e., melting) of the ice particles at a cooling load, the energy content of a slurry pumped to a load can be up to five times greater than that associated with chilled water delivered at the same mass flow rate. This high energy content also allows slurry transmission piping and storage tank sizes to be reduced significantly over what would be required with conventional, chilled-water cooling systems. Today both domestic and foreign interests have considered adopting this technology for the cooling of large loads.
The storage of ice slush in tanks, however, is complicated because under certain not well understood conditions, the ice crystals will progressively grow together, or agglomerate, making pumping of the slurry from the tank very difficult. It is desirable to store the slurry at the highest packing density possible, in order to most effectively utilize the available tank size. Therefore, even if the ice does not agglomerate in the tank, it must be carefully diluted to a packing density that is compatible with pumping it through a pipe delivery network. No reliable means has been developed for tank-slurry extraction or ice-loading control.
A research project, initiated in July 1997 in collaboration with NKK Corporation of Japan, is being conducted in the reconfigured Argonne Slurry Test Facility and is performing experimental studies on the factors influencing ice crystal agglomeration in ice slurry storage tanks. The studies will also address developing methods for minimizing agglomeration and for improving the efficiency and controllability of tank extraction of slurry for distribution to cooling loads. These studies will address the remaining engineering issues for utilization of the ice slurry cooling concept. Argonne is seeking additional participants in it’s program both the laboratory development and a field slurry demonstration.
Contact Ken Kasza, 630-252-5224,
GASMAP — Analysis and Tracking Tool for the Natural Gas Industry
**User Access is available on request, on a collegial basis.** The limitation is server capacity, so ANL is not in a position to throw it wide open. They are also very open to any companies that want to provide better data on their own gas T&D systems–which can be kept confidential.
(Taken from ANL webpage:
GASMAP, a comprehensive geographic information system (GIS), contains information never before gathered in one place and organizes it for use by professionals in the industry. Data include:
–All the government data forms collected by DOE including FERC and EIA, integrated in a common format and linked together
–Spatial data on natural gas pipelines and their respective points
–Energy-related data about cogeneration units, electric utility plants, service territories of local distribution companies (LDCs), and natural gas storage fields
Users can locate map data on more than 100 interstate pipelines, information on more than 2,000 companies and more than 1,000 variables.
GASMAP contains many layers of graphic data. This map identifies and locates 100 interstate pipelines. GASMAP integrates three commercial applications and links them through a custom graphical interface. MapInfo serves as the GIS component, Microsoft FoxPro is the relational database engine, and Microsoft Visual Basic supplies the menu system and interface. The system is PC-based and uses Windows.
Professionals use GASMAP’s analytical and tracking capability to assess pipeline capacity and deal with routing and location issues. They can also extract sales, customer, system flow, and storage data on utility companies. With simple menu selections, users can:
–Produce maps displaying specific pipelines or pipelines layered with other energy data and supporting background information (e.g., roads, streams, railroads)
–Produce tables and graphs
–Review data by company, state, or topic and compare them with related data
A data dictionary links all the forms and information into index files. The user can view all data for a specific state or company without knowing the files or variables being used. The menus guide the user through the query, address it, and provide results in either tabular or graphical form.
Contact Ron Fisher, 630-252-3508,
You can email him directly to set up an account. Indicate which version of Windows you are running (i.e., 3.1, 95, or NT).
Ceramicrete Phosphate Ceramic
Argonne has developed this low-cost, ceramic binder which can be used in a wide variety of commercial applications, ranging from hazardous waste disposal to low-cost insulation. 1996 R&D 100 Award. Called CERAMICRETE, the binder — developed to stabilize and solidify radioactive and hazardous wastes — can also join ceramics together and convert nonhazardous wastes into useful construction products and nonflammable structural materials. It is formed by mixing magnesium oxide powder and soluble phosphate powder (common low cost materials) with water.
It is particularly applicable to fly-ash, because it is completely insensitive to the pH level, and it immobilizes virtually any type of contaminant, including mercury and other heavy metals. It forms a nonporous leach-resistant, hard, and dense ceramic which lab tests indicate meet or pass the EPA TCLP leaching standards.
CERAMICRETE can be manufactured at a low cost compared to other ceramic binders because it is made at room temperature and does not need high-temperature treatment. The setting times are short. Equipment needed is conventional (much like for cement) and hence is readily available, and training required for operations is simple.
The final material can be cast in any shape, and is very dense and strong. It can be used as a structural material in buildings, roads or other structures, or as brick, blocks, or tiles. It has compressive strength ranging from 2000 psi with binder to 6-8000 psi and even more with binder plus additives. In fact, the materials properties can be tailored, with strength increased by compaction during formation.
Besides solidifying wastes, the process can be used to convert lumber wastes into non-flammable particle board or to recycle waste plastic into blowable insulation that is fire- and moisture-proof. CERAMICRETE has already been used to make insulation products with thermal resistance (R values) of 4.5 per inch.
Argonne is using the CERAMICRETE process to stabilize low-level radioactive waste, such as soil, sludge, and lead bricks in a 55-gallon drum mixer. Contaminated wastes that contain radioactive contaminants and hazardous volatiles, such as mercury, lead, and cadmium are solidified in the binding process at room temperature to form a ceramic, noncorrosive, and final waste form. The process is unique because contaminants are converted and stabilized chemically into their natural minerals in a single step. Once encapsulated, the chemicals do not dissolve in groundwater and are isolated from the environment. Performance tests show that the waste forms far exceed the regulatory performance criteria set by DOE and the U.S. EPA.
Contact: Arun Wagh, 630-252-4295,
Multi-Fuel, Compact Fuel Processor for Fuel Cells
Steam reforming and partial oxidation reforming are two of the techniques available to convert hydrocarbon fuels (natural gas, gasoline, LPG, methanol, ethanol) into hydrogen. Steam reformers are better developed but have poor transient response capability and are comparatively large. To overcome these limitations, Argonne is developing a catalytic partial oxidation reformer. The device is less than one-half the size of a car’s fuel tank, small enough to fit under the hood of a compact car beside a 50-kw PEM fuel cell.
Argonne’s reformer combines methanol with oxygen from the air to produce a hydrogen-rich mixture of gases that is injected into the fuel cell. Compared to other reformers, Argonne’s is lightweight, compact and energy-efficient. It is also flexible enough to respond well to frequent startups and shutdowns and to the rapidly changing engine demands of daily stop-and-go driving. The design is simple and inexpensive to manufacture. In addition to hydrogen, the reformer produces carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. A small on-board chemical reactor would convert the carbon monoxide into carbon dioxide.
The device is a cylinder packed with a catalyst. Fuel and water are sprayed onto the top of the catalyst. An ignition source starts the reaction with air. This reaction rapidly heats the fuel/water solution to appropriate temperatures. Variations in power demands can be met easily by changing the feed rates into the reformer, in a manner very similar to that used in today’s fuel-injected internal combustion engines.
An engineering-scale reformer has been tested with methanol, using an inexpensive and commercially available catalyst. Argonne has developed a new class of catalysts that are capable of converting gasoline, ethanol, and natural gas. Tests are in progress. Very recently, the engineering reactor has been operated with gasoline and natural gas.
(ref: 32nd IECEC, July 1997, vol 2, pp 843-846)
Contact: Shabbir Ahmed, 630-252-4553,
Advanced Fuel Cells for Utilities
Argonne is conducting R&D on a solid oxide fuel cell and a molten carbonate fuel cell, both of which are targeted for use as small power plants in utility applications such as hospitals.
For the solid oxide fuel cell, Argonne is developing new electrodes, electrolytes, interconnect materials, and processing techniques to reduce the operating temperature from the present 1000 deg C to 800 deg C, or even lower. At these lower temperatures, manufacturing costs would be reduced, operating efficiency increased, and cell durability improved. They have also developed glass and glass/ceramic materials to seal along the edges of each cell and between the gas supply manifold and fuel cell stack. These sealants are able to seal different cell components and withstand the requisite cell operating temperatures and gas compositions.
In the present molten carbonate fuel cells, the nickel oxide cathodes limit cell lifetime because of cathode dissolution and migration to the nickel anode. Argonne has developed lithium ferrate and lithium cobaltate cathodes that are expected to yield the long cell lifetimes (over 40,000 hours) needed for utility applications.
In addition, advanced cell designs are being developed for higher power density and lower cost. The power density is being increased through use of multiple gas manifolding, pressurized operation, and design optimization. The cost is being reduced through eliminating complex and expensive stamped metal parts that currently form the gas flow channels, the electrode supports, and the current collectors for each cell.
Contact: Walter Podolski, 630-252-7558,
GC Tool: A Dynamic Fuel Cell System Simulation Model
Argonne researchers have developed GCtool, a system design and analysis software for fuel cell and other power plants for automotive and stationary applications. GCtool can be used for steady-state and dynamic analyses of arbitrary system configurations. It uses a C-language interpreter for interfacing precompiled modules (component models) and can handle modules and interconnecting flows of any level of sophistication. The user can establish constraints, conduct parameter sweeps, and perform constrained optimizations. New component models can be written in any C-linkable language (e.g., FORTRAN) and easily added to GCtool.
GCTool’s mathematical utilities include a nonlinear equation solver, a constrained nonlinear optimizer, and an integrator for ordinary differential equations. Property codes are provided for gas-phase and multi-phase chemical equilibria, condensable pure substances, and steam/water properties. The component model library includes various types of fuel cells, heat exchangers, fluid devices, reactors (for example, steam and partial-oxidation reformers, water-gas shift reactors, preferential oxidizers for carbon monoxide cleanup, and catalytic burners), and other components, such as electric motors, generators, and controllers for use in vehicle systems.
This software tool has been used for the analysis of a variety of PEM fuel cell systems using different fuels, fuel storage methods, and fuel processing techniques. These include compressed hydrogen systems; hydride, glass microsphere, and sponge-iron hydrogen storage systems; and fuel cell systems with reformers for methanol, natural gas, and gasoline, using partial-oxidation reforming and/or steam reforming.
GCtool has been used to analyze reference pressurized and atmospheric pressure automotive PEM systems. These analyses include identification of the key constraints and the important design parameters to meet those constraints, off-design operation, system dynamics and transient performance, and the effects of operation in extreme ambient temperature conditions. In the dynamic mode, GCtool has been used to analyze system start-up from cold and warm conditions, as well as to determine system performance and efficiency during ramp-up and ramp-down transients. GCtool is being enhanced to incorporate component weight, volume, and packaging calculations, as well as component and system cost functionalities.
Contact: Walter Podolski, 630-252-7558,
Independent Testing of Fuel Cells
The Fuel Cell Test Facility at Argonne National Laboratory provides independent testing to evaluate and validate fuel cell technologies. Through standardized tests and test conditions, Argonne provides its sponsors with comparative data on the performance, operational characteristics, and durability of fuel cells. The test results also help developers and sponsors evaluate technical progress. When appropriate, post-test analysis can identify sources of performance limitations.
For stacks and systems up to 50 kW, the equipment allows control of the temperature, pressure, humidity, and flow rate of both the fuel and air supplies. The effect of these operating parameters on performance can be quantified under various power profiles. The fuel can be either pure hydrogen or simulated reformate (the output gas of a reformer, a device to produce hydrogen from other fuels). The effectiveness of water management systems can also be monitored and evaluated. Future testing is expected to include the evaluation of integrated fuel cell systems, including fuel reformers, compressor/expanders, and energy storage devices.
Contact: William Swift, 630-252-5964,
Batteries and Energy Storage
Argonne has extensive programs in batteries, flywheels and ultracapacitors.
Research is being conducted on advanced batteries composed of lithium-aluminum/metal sulfide, lithium polymer, and nickel/metal hydride. Argonne capabilities include testing and evaluation of these systems under various cycling profiles (e.g., constant current, constant power, current interrupt, dynamic stress test, peak power, and specialized cycles), as well as the development of boxes/purification systems, power supplies/cyclers, data acquisition and control systems, and other test apparatus.
Lithium Polymer – Argonne is working with 3M and Hydro Quebec) doing the major USABC project to use Li Polymer Battery technology in Electrical Vehicles applications.
Contact: Dennis Dees, 630-252-7349,
Ultracapacitors – Using Metal Organic Vapor Deposition (MOVD), Argonne has been able to sputter thin coatings of PZT/BST (Pb Zr Ti O3) ceramic, which has a very high dielectric constant. This enables the fabrication of small, high power capacitors which can operate at high frequency, and important advantage to reduce weight of inverters that switch at speeds of 100kHz.
Contact: Mike Lanagan, 630-252-4251,
– Superconducting Flywheel – In collaboration with Commonwealth Edison, Argonne has developed a flyhweel with high temperature superconducting magnetic bearings that have the world’s lowest coefficient of friction. With a 300 lb rotor, the system will store 20 kwh of energy, with standby losses of of Contact: Ken Uherka, 630-252-7814,
Battery Analysis and Diagnostic Laboratory
Since 1976, researchers have used Argonne’s Battery Analysis and Diagnostic Laboratory to test battery systems for applications such as zero-emission vehicles and utility load-leveling during peak demand periods. The facility houses two laboratories:
-A computer-operated test laboratory, where individual cells and multicell modules of battery systems are subjected to performance and lifetime tests under simulated real-world conditions, and
-A post-test laboratory, where failed cells are analyzed to assess component reliability and correlate operational performance with material changes.
The Analysis and Diagnostic Laboratory has tested more than 3,000 cells, configured into multicell modules and full-size batteries. These units represent 13 types of battery systems provided by 18 battery developers.
Contact: K. Michael Myles, 630-252-4329,
Information Management
Argonne has extensive capabilities in advanced computing applications, information management and systems security, e.g., databases, data visualization, geographic information systems, internet and intranet technology, parallel processing, expert systems and decision support systems.
The Decision and Information Sciences Division (DIS) develops and applies tools, models, and information systems. Over 380 multidisciplinary staff (computer science, engineering, economics, law, social sciences, and the physical and resource sciences) serve a diverse customer base of federal agencies, state, local and international governments, private companies and other organizations. Core competencies include Information Management, Systems Analysis, Modeling and Simulation, Cost Engineering, Policy Analysis, and Emergency Management. Website:
Contact: Tom Wolsko, 630-252-5464,
Craig Swietlik, 630-252-8912,
Dynamic Information Architecture System (DIAS)
Contact: Craig Swietlik, 630-252-8912,
DIAS is a flexible, easily expandable information framework in which new or existing (“legacy”) software models and applications can operate harmoniously and synergistically. Such applications may include simulation models, database access and data discovery engines, analytical tools, and display software of various types (and languages). The DIAS software is fully object based, supported by a true object database, and can be run in a fully distributed fashion. DIAS incorporates an advanced object-based geographic information system (which is also Web enabled) for spatial data manipulation and display. DIAS implements an expert-system-guided protocol for coupling software applications by allowing them to selectively link to an object based representation of the problem. The applications to be linked, as well as the details of the linkages and data flows, are determined automatically at run-time, based on the context of the simulation or analysis. The context is represented by user-supplied goals and constraints. The DIAS architecture supports an unprecedented degree of flexibility and ease of use for complex, multidisciplinary analyses. Argonne has delivered DIAS-based software systems to numerous sponsors since 1993.
An external graphical user interface (GUI) is used to input the commands that describe the “context” of the simulation as well as to display the results. DIAS accommodates a wide variety of data types and formats. For example, it can accept terrain elevation and surface features in NIMA-, USGS-, and TIGER- supported formats; interpreted remote sensing imagery; CAD-type data of 3-D objects; weather data in World Meteorological Organization formats; and data from most commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) database management systems. The GUI system uses a GeoViewer module that can display results spatially at user-selectable levels of resolution. The GeoViewer also can manipulate, query, and analyze the displayed data.
DIAS provides easy integration of both new and legacy-type models or objects and application tools (in their original language). It allows the easy use of COTS programs to provide scientific visualization and business graphics capability. If proprietary data file structures can be interpreted, DIAS can also link with products such as Arc Info and ERDAS. (To integrate a model or application, a “registration” process is employed. Once a model or application has been “registered”, it can interact, if the context is appropriate, with any DIAS simulation.) See additional details at:
As an example, DIAS may provide the framework for linking various models for electric production analysis. These models may include weather predictions for a specific region, load forecasting algorithms to anticipate electric load requirements for the next day, maps to show the locations of utility power plants within the region, and optimization algorithms to examine the trade-offs between purchasing power from various local utilities. This type of application illustrates the complex information interchange requirements involved in linking models so that the feedback mechanisms are adequately represented.
Mesoscale Weather Modelling
The Dynamic Environmental Effects Model (DEEM), the first well-developed application using DIAS, has been used by the USAF Air Weather Service as the software framework for a multidisciplinary environmental modeling effort in support of theater-level mesoscale weather forecasting. It has also been used by the South Florida Water Management District as its framework for an advanced hydrological modeling system; by Forces Command to incorporate environmental impacts into mobilization estimates; and by DoD OSD to simulate environmental effects for the Joint Warfare Simulation Program.
The weather modeling work done by Argonne also includes the porting of the National Center for Atmospheric Research MM-5 mesoscale model from a Cray to an IBM SP-2 parallel computer. The parallelization of this model involved detailed analysis of the computational structure and processing inherent in the model and subsequent restructuring to optimize the code in a parallel machine environment. Along with this work, advanced data visualization tools were developed to interpret the results from the weather models and display the data over a map of the particular region.
Parallel processing technology is particularly applicable to large-scale computer codes, which typically have long execution times and yet are sufficiently modular that they can be restructured for processing in a parallel environment.
Facility Profile Information Management System (FPIMS)
The FPIMS for Environmental Site Data is a comprehensive repository that stores hundreds of documents for more than 80 DOE facilities, such as Baseline compliance assessments, National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) reports, Environmental audits, Environmental impact statements, Guidance manuals, and Site maps. FPIMS provides researchers with the information to: conduct policy, trend, and other analyses; gather information for decision making; and respond to Freedom of Information requests
FPIMS, a fully automated search-and-retrieval information system, organizes information like an electronic library. A highly graphical interface allows users to locate information by using a location map and bookcases organized by category, with lower-level selections on bookshelves and individual documents. Searches are simplified through the use of key words and phrases, prioritized selections, and comprehensive hyperlinks.
FPIMS is World Wide Web-based and fully automated. It is one of Argonne’s “Live Systems,” at
Argonne applies advanced text retrieval display tools, search aids, and analysis tools which provide context for information, and which go beyond commercially offered solutions. These digital libraries organize and structure large information repositories to allow researchers to locate data rapidly and efficiently without having detailed knowledge of the information collection. This type of large-scale information system provides the foundation for a data warehouse, which integrates various types of data into a single repository. Technical information on various facilities can be maintained and searched in these on-line text databases, together with photos, site maps, floor plans, equipment layouts, and multimedia components.
Hazardous Materials Information Exchange (HMIX)
Argonne hosted this system for over 10 years, but as of September 1, it has been consolidated into other Web-based information systems at the Department of Transportation and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
HMIX [was] a comprehensive national clearinghouse for hazardous materials management and emergency planning, containing up-to-date information of importance to professionals in hazardous materials management and emergency management, with procedures for handling hazardous materials; prevention, preparedness, training, and response for both disasters and emergencies; status and availability of print and media training courses; segional, state, and local activities; schedule of field exercises and conferences; and pertinent laws and regulations
Contact: Dee Seymour, 630-252-8023,
Technology Evaluation
Argonne has done technology evaluation studies for: electric system expansion options; production costs and optimal dispatch of generating units; optimal operation of hydro power plants and reservoir management policies; marginal costs of electricity generation; load flow optimal operation of interconnected power systems; and environmental impacts and pollution control strategies. The focus of this work has been predominantly international.
Analytical tools available at Argonne include:
ENPEP – ENergy and Power Evaluation Program
DECPAC – Integrated technical, economic, and environmental model for comparative assessment of different energy sources for electricity generation
WASP-III – Model for least-cost expansion planning for electric power systems
PC-VALORAGUA – Model for determining optimal operating strategy for mixed hydro-thermal systems
ICARUS – Investigation of Cost And Reliability in Utility Systems
Hydro LP – Model Model for determining optimal hourly operation for an integrated hydropower system
MCITOS – Multi-Criteria Interval Trade-Offs System (decision analysis model)
STATS – Stochastic Analysis of Technical Systems.
SMN – Spot Market Network (model for determining optimal power transactions between utility companies)
Waste- SIMS Waste management Strategic Interactive Modeling System
Since 1978, Argonne has been conducting two- to nine-week training courses in electricity demand forecasting, electric system expansion planning, total energy system analysis, and energy/environmental analysis.
More than 600 experts from 70 developed and developing countries have been trained at Argonne to use methodologies and computer models for energy and environmental analysis. In addition, Argonne has assisted IAEA in conducting training courses held in several developing countries.
Contact: William Buehring, 630-252-3785,
Strategic Planning Systems
Strategic planning systems are helpful for allocating research and development budgets, conducting mission planning, selecting computer hardware and software, and siting facilities.
Argonne’s systems are based on a logical and systematic approach to decision making that can be used successfully to explain and defend decisions. Systems are customized to deal with the specific problems and issues of a particular customer.

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