ORNL Invention Alert for August 2023

ORNL Invention Alert for August 2023
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ZEISS, ORNL sign licensing agreement for inspection of 3D-printed parts

A licensing agreement between Oak Ridge National Laboratory and research partner ZEISS will enable industrial X-ray computed tomography, or CT, to perform rapid evaluations of 3D-printed components using ORNL’s machine learning algorithm, Simurgh. Incorporating machine learning into CT scanning is expected to reduce the time and cost of inspections by more than ten times while improving quality.

New ORNL inventions

Route Risk Profile Algorithm
202104953 // Security and Defense // Transportation
Technologies directed to a route risk profile algorithm are described.

Method to Manufacture Continuous Silicon Nitride Fiber
202104977 // 
Manufacturing // Materials
Silicon nitride fiber is a critical material mainly used in the aerospace industry but has many applications. This fiber is prized for its properties, as it is transparent to electromagnetic radiation but allows signals to go through it. It is commonly used in protection domes for government antennae or planes to shield sensitive electronics from damage. But it is only produced as a short fiber, and outside the U.S. This technology provides for production of long continuous silicon nitride fiber and eliminates many of the manufacturing challenges of producing silicon nitride fibers.

Hybrid Neural Network Modeling and AI Closed-Loop Control for Traffic Signals

202205213 // Analytical Instrumentation // Transportation
Pairing hybrid neural network modeling techniques with artificial intelligence, or AI, controls has resulted in a unique hybrid system that creates a smart solution for traffic-signal timing. Applied to multiple vehicle intersections along a single corridor, or across a broad range of traffic-signal layouts amid varying traffic conditions, this invention enables smoother traffic flow, resulting in reduced congestion and a reduction in the energy required to operate the system. 

Automated Depowdering and Transfer of Additively Manufactured Parts via Robotics
202205220 // Healthcare and Biology // Manufacturing
One way to create 3D-printed parts uses metal powders. The part is grown in a bed of the powder; then, it must be removed from the bed and the powder blown off so that all crevices and surfaces are clean. The state-of-the art in additive manufacturing is for human operators to remove the part from the powder and manually clean each layer of the powder in a time-consuming process. This technology utilizes a robot to automatically remove metal parts from their powder bed, clean the parts, and transfer them to the next location with no human interaction. 

Self-Standing Interconnected Polymer/Ceramic Composite Solid Electrolyte
202305284 // Manufacturing // Transportation
ORNL researchers have developed a scalable approach for manufacturing a polymer/ceramic composite electrolyte. The composite material boasts a 5-fold improvement in lithium-ion transference when compared to a pure polymer electrolyte, leading to greatly improved cell cycling. Furthermore, the composite is much more resistant to lithium dendrite formation compared to a pure ceramic electrolyte.

Insulation Foam Enabled by Synergistic Foaming Strategies
202305288 // Materials // Transportation
ORNL researchers have developed a new set of methods for producing thermal insulation foam in which the resulting materials’ thermal conductivity is not directly tied to material density. These new capabilities will enable production of a range of high-performance materials for applications in commercial and residential buildings, cold-storage transportation, and beyond. The new materials are made by incorporating variable amounts of two sources of porosity, porous hollow glass spheres and expandable thermoplastic microspheres, with synergistic effects.

Open Air Cold Plasma Nitridation Process of Metallic Bipolar Plate
202305329 // Energy and Utilities // Manufacturing
ORNL researchers have developed a novel surface treatment method for the metallic bipolar plates in hydrogen fuel cells and electrolyzers. The new method offers improved time and cost efficiency by providing an alternative to conventional coating techniques, which require high temperatures, strong vacuum conditions, and long deposition times. Surface treatment is a key step in metallic bipolar plate design, as it facilitates important structural and electrical transference functions.

Nondestructive Microwave Radar Moisture Detector for Durable Building Envelope Retrofits
202305343 // Detectors and Sensors // Energy and Utilities
Current methods of measuring the moisture content of key materials, such as wall sheathing, inside the building envelope are destructive because they require contact with the material. Technology describes use of microwave radar to see inside the envelope and probe key materials to determine the quantitative moisture content.

Industrially Processable Thermoset Foam Insulation Dough
202305345 // Manufacturing // Materials
Researchers have developed a new method for producing thermoset foam insulation with improved processing and installation outcomes. The new material is a moldable dough with adjustable shape and viscosity, allowing for increased flexibility in production and application.

Plastication and Compression Molding of Recycled Polymer Granulate
202305352 // Manufacturing // Materials
Polymer composite recyclate is demonstrated as a viable industrial feedstock for manufacturing.

Compositional Control of Additive Manufacturing
202305353 // Manufacturing // Materials
The technologies provide various embodiments relating to additive manufacturing providing compositional control of a material build in three-dimensions. Composition of a material can be controlled in a plane in a spatial manner by directly irradiating the material with an energy beam using a combination of energy scan techniques to volatilize elements of the material away from the material. Such processing can include a change between two distinct scan strategies to produce a spatial variation in composition of the material. Additional systems and methods are provided.

Grain-Boundary Strengthened Cast Aluminum Alloys for Enhanced Creep Resistance
202305356 // Materials // Transportation
Weak grain-boundary regions reduce the creep resistance of high-temperature cast ACMZ alloys. This invention disclosure proposes methods to strengthen grain boundaries and creep resistance in cast ACMZ alloys for use in weight critical automotive and aerospace applications.

Cyber Grid Guard: A Distributed Ledger Technology Framework for Increasing the Trustworthiness of Power Grid Infrastructure
202305366 // Energy and Utilities // Security and Defense
The Cyber Grid Guard Framework harnesses the power of distributed ledger technology, specifically blockchain, to leverage a variety of core cryptographic capabilities to distribute and secure electrical grids. The result is a decentralized, transparent, verified grid of secured, tamper-resistant devices. 

Antimony-Chelating Compositions and Their Use in Nuclear Medicine
202305391 // Healthcare and Biology
ORNL researchers have identified a chelator that can form a highly stable complex with radio-Sb. This chelator can quantitatively bind Sb-1xx near neutral pH at relatively low chelator concentrations. The resulting complex remains intact over at least one-half life of Sb-119 (half-life = 38 h) when incubated in human serum and in excess cysteine. 

Unipolar Polyphase Wireless Charging System
202305398 // Energy and Utilities // Transportation
Technologies directed to mismatched unipolar polyphase wireless charging system are described. The disclosed technologies potentially provide lower emissions, optimal wire routing, and better interoperability.

To learn more about these technologies, email partnerships@ornl.gov or call