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04/16/2014    

 

 

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Clean Energy
Clean Energy

Science and Innovation
Clean Energy

Among the most critical future challenges for our nation is the development of abundant, reliable and sustainable energy sources.  Providing the energy security fix in America will require an energy mix — a variety of energy sources.

The expertise of the Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL), located at the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Savannah River Site (SRS), is a valuable resource for leading the nation to new, clean, safe, secure methods of obtaining energy sources.  In particular, hydrogen, which is central to SRNL’s history, is proving to have tremendous potential for providing energy for our vehicles, homes, and industries.  SRNL has expertise related to nuclear technology, materials science, geosciences, microbiology, modeling, atmospheric technologies and biotechnology, all of which contribute to helping the nation meet the crucial need for energy independence.
It is the mission of the SRNL Energy Security Program to provide technology-based solutions for meeting our country's energy security objectives.  We will do this by providing applied technologies through multidisciplinary programs of scientific research and applied engineering. 

Innovations in Clean Energy

Natural Gas to Fuel Vehicles

Natural Gas to Fuel Vehicles
SRNL, in collaboration with Ford Motor Company, BASF, and the University of California-Berkeley, has been awarded a grant to develop vehicles fueled by natural gas.  This research will explore an innovative low-pressure material for use in fuel systems for automobiles and other light vehicles.  This project will use high surface area materials within a heat exchange system to increase natural gas density.

This research is part of the Department of Energy’s Methane Opportunities for Vehicular Energy – or MOVE – program, which is aimed to engineer light-weight, affordable natural gas tanks for vehicles.  This also falls in line with President Obama’s blueprint to invest in energy security.

Ceramic Coating for Accident Tolerant Fuels
Ceramic Coating for Accident Tolerant Fuels
In accident conditions, nuclear fuel cladding material must remain strong and avoid chemical reactions like those that released hydrogen and caused the Fukushima reactor explosions. MAX phase ceramics are similar to titanium metal in density, but are three times as stiff. The compounds have good thermal conductivity, elevated temperature ductility and fracture toughness, and are “weldable.” The material has a high resistance to chemical attack and resists heavy ion irradiation damage. In an upcoming test, samples of MAX phase carbides will be sprayed onto cladding used in existing LWR fuel and compatible with SMR designs. The coating demonstrates remarkable promise to provide increased reaction time under accident conditions.

Power Grid Simulator
The electrical transmission infrastructure in the United States needs to be updated to improve efficiency, reliability and security. Central to that update is the development and certification of new technologies that can be added into the existing electrical grid and meet this challenge. The nation lacks a high fidelity independent capability for testing, validating, and certifying new electrical power system technology without the risk of service disruption or grid collapse. A paradigm shift in the electric power industry is vital in meeting the needs of the future. This shift begins with the creation of a high power grid simulator that puts real hardware to the test. The Savannah River National Laboratory and Clemson University have joined forces in the design and construction of an electrical grid simulator for testing multi-megawatt power systems. The system will be capable of testing, certifying, and simulating the full-scale effects of new large-scale power system technology under stressed or hypothetical operating conditions. This unique grid simulator capability with appropriate programmatic focus will accelerate innovation and commercialization of new power systems by reducing risk to utilities and rate payers.

Power Grid Simulator

The Smart Grid Simulator will allow for the testing of cyber security approaches and technology in order to eliminate vulnerabilities. The simulator will rigorously test equipment at full scale for code compliance, examine energy storage and distribution capabilities, and investigate wireless sensors and cyber security – all without exposing transmission systems to risks. The 15MW grid simulator will be the highest power experimental utility-scale facility in the world, combining testing of energy sources with advanced power instruments and systems.

SunShot Thermal Energy Storage Technologies for Concentrating Solar Power Systems

SunShot Thermal Energy Storage Technologies for Concentrating Solar Power Systems
The current practice for energy storage in many concentrating solar power (CSP) systems is to produce more hot molten salt during daylight hours than is needed to run the turbine to produce power. The excess hot salt is kept in a large volume insulated tank to be used for power produce when the sun is not available. Using molten salts as heat transfer fluids and reaction media at high temperatures is common in industrial processes such as metal refining, but more understanding is needed on high temperature heat transfer fluids and corrosion at high temperatures because advanced power cycles at high temperatures are needed to increase CSP system efficiency.

A multi-disciplinary team led by SRNL is researching the durability of high-temperature alloys in molten chloride and molten fluoride salts and testing the effectiveness of proposed corrosion mitigation methods. Through this project, SRNL will develop an increased understanding of high-temperature corrosion and how to minimize it for CSP applications. Today’s state of the art heat transfer fluids are capable of operating at temperatures up to about 550°C. Temperatures in excess of 650°C are needed to reach efficiencies greater than 50%, which allows CSP plants to capture more energy. This SRNL project focuses on identifying corrosion resistant materials and corrosion prevention strategies that will allow operation at temperatures up to 1000°C.

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