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Carbon-reducing technologies target climate change

Posted: 02 Dec 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:NASA? IPCC? climate change? gasoline? solar cell?

Gasoline forever

With the Saudi's pumping enough oil to keep prices below $2 a gallon, there is little incentive to pay a premium price for an electric car. Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is counting on this, plus the fact that internal combustion still has the highest performance to weight ratio, by continuing to create ever lighter weight powertrain materials. ORNL's stated target is Obama's 55 miles per gallon mandate by 2025 and if they meet their goal, with near-zero emissions, the slow adoption of electric vehicles (EV) will be of little consequence.

Titan supercomputer

Using ORNL's Titan supercomputer, researchers are modelling the atomic structure of new alloys to select the best candidates for ultra-lightweight powertrains that can achieve over 54 miles per gallon. (SOURCE: Oak Ridge National Laboratory, used with permission)

ORNL claims that by "using higher temperature cast aluminum alloys we can contribute to cutting down green-house gases emissions using two beneficial characteristics; lighter weight and increased temperature capacity. The higher temperature capacity of cylinder head materials enables combustion strategies that result in higher efficiency engines that burn less fuel and generate fewer emissions," stated ORNL scientist James Allen Haynes.

ORNL has joined forces to meet their goal with Chrysler (renamed FCA US LLC) and Nemak (Monterrey, Mexico) the legendary foundry for cast-aluminum engine blocks, all funded by the Department of Energy's Propulsion Materials Program in its Vehicle Technologies Office. (Ford and General Motors are also participating in the DoE programme to develop high-performance alloys that operate at 300°C, in collaboration with other universities and national laboratories.) These low-emission engines of the future will need to withstand both elevated temperatures and the higher pressures of these planned high-efficiency turbocharged engines. However, the real challenge, according to DoE programme manager, Jerry Gibbs, will be meeting the time-deadline with materials that are still low-cost enough for automotive manufacturers.

To cut through the trial-and-error usually involved in new materials development, ORNL is using its Titan supercomputer, the fastest supercomputer in the U.S, to run integrated computational materials engineering (ICME) software that models new alloys at the atomic level. Modelling at the level of quantum-mechanical principles, the ORNL team hopes to narrow down the number of materials it needs to physically test.

Amit Shyam

Researcher Amit Shyam is using high-performance computing to speed the development of new high-temperature aluminum alloys for automotive cylinder heads and other parts of the internal combustion power train. (SOURCE: Oak Ridge National Laboratories, used with permission)

DoE has set aside six million hours on Titan to narrow down the materials it needs to test. ORNL's Centre for Nanophase Materials Science will then check Titan's predictions using atomic scale imaging with a transmission electron microscope (TEM) along with analytic chemistry, to verify Titan's predictions about the exact placement of atoms in precipitates of the alloy's matrix and at their interfaces to other materials.

- R. Colin Johnson
??EE Times

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