ORNL appoints Oak Ridge Crossroads Innovation Entrepreneur Cohort


Six science and technology innovators from across the United States joined the Fifth Cohort of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Innovation Crossroads program in June.

As the only Southeastern research and development program for entrepreneurs based in a US Department of Energy national lab, Innovation Crossroads provides support to science startups to help advance breakthrough technologies from the lab to the marketplace, according to a press release.

Innovation Crossroads is sponsored by the Advanced Manufacturing Office of the US Department of Energy.

New this year, the DOE Building Technologies Office is supporting an innovator in building energy efficiency research. The Tennessee Valley Authority has again joined as a sponsor of the program for the third year, enabling an innovator focused on energy-related research.

The six innovators were selected through a merit-based process and had the opportunity to advance the technologies they aim to bring to market by working with world-class scientific experts and capabilities unique to ORNL. These include Summit, the most powerful supercomputer in the country; the Manufacturing Demonstration Facility, the DOE’s largest advanced manufacturing research center; the Building Technologies Research and Integration Center, the only DOE user facility dedicated to building research; and the spallation neutron source, providing atomic-level insight into materials. The innovators will be partnered with a network of mentoring organizations in the South East to help develop business strategies to bring their technological breakthroughs to market.

According to the press release, the fifth cohort of Carrefour de l’Innovation scholarship recipients and the respective projects are as follows.

Caleb Alexander: Sodium ion membrane for a high energy, low cost sodium-air battery

Alexander’s aqueous sodium-air battery can achieve the highest possible energy density while using low-cost elements like sodium, which is free to acquire as it is found in the oceans. The sodium-air battery will allow industry to economically switch to solar and wind power, while making electric vehicles affordable, same-day drone delivery, and even electric aviation technically feasible. Battery fabrication will use a novel roll-to-roll manufacturing process to create flexible, stable, and fast conduction sodium-ion composite membranes with stable and active oxygen catalysts. Alexander holds a doctorate in chemical engineering from the University of Texas.

Sam Evans: magnetic nano-absorbent supported by carbon

Evans developed a new water filtration process using mesoporous carbon derived from scrap tires infiltrated with magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles to bind to contaminants in the water and then be easily filtered by magnets. By ensuring that the nanoparticles occupy the porous carbon framework, they do not degrade by interaction with the surrounding air. The iron oxide nanoparticles provide the material properties with improved stability, increased magnetic response and improved adsorption. The combination of the carbon carrier and the magnetic iron nanoparticles allows a higher adsorption capacity of a wider range of toxic contaminants. Evans holds a doctorate in energy science and engineering from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Tommy Gibbons: Energy efficient, carbon negative and bio-based insulation

Gibbons has developed a non-toxic, high performance, carbon-free hemp fiber insulation to manufacture. The hemp-based product can significantly reduce a building’s carbon footprint while improving the health and comfort of occupants. The fire resistant material also has the potential to achieve a high R-value, which denotes efficiency. Hemp-based insulation has no carbon emissions and can be manufactured inexpensively because the material can be sourced entirely from the United States. Gibbons holds an undergraduate degree in public policy from Princeton University and is a Certified Green Associate of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. .

Shuchi “SK” Khurana: Real-time monitoring of metal additive manufacturing

Khurana created an additive manufacturing monitoring platform, using an artificial intelligence model to determine defects based on images collected during the manufacturing process. By deploying a combination of infrared and near infrared cameras, the accuracy of detected faults can be improved. Monitoring technology improves the efficiency of additive manufacturing and enables the production of higher quality components. This is expected to lead to increased adoption of metal additive manufacturing for production-ready components. Khurana holds a Masters of Business Administration and Science degree from Ohio State University.

Forrest Shriver: Building Databases Using Machine Learning for Cyber ​​Attack Detection

Shriver has developed a continuous and machine learning system to create operational asset-specific databases. The technology performs the collection and synthesis of high-throughput data sources that remain robust under varying conditions, where the amount of data entering at any given time can be significantly different in terms of the volume and importance of the data entering at one. another moment in time. The secure system also removes the need for manually supervised data collection and is expected to be scalable and deployable across various industries. Shriver holds a doctorate in nuclear engineering from the University of Florida.

Philip Stuckey: 3D hierarchical separator and catalyst support system for fuel cells

Stuckey’s new bipolar plate separators offer a robust structure to meet the durability requirements of fuel cells while extending the life of a fuel cell’s electrocatalyst. By using a new catalyst support system and a process for revitalizing and renewing platinum group catalysts at the fuel cell electrode, the durability and efficiency of the fuel cell will increase. This process will also reduce the overall cost of the fuel cell vehicle over its lifetime. Stuckey holds a doctorate in chemical engineering from Case Western Reserve University.

“We look forward to welcoming this new cohort of innovators to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory campus and the Innovation Crossroads program,” said Moe Khaleel, ORNL’s Acting Assistant for Science, Technology and Engineering. projects, in the press release. “These diverse entrepreneurs are developing technologies that will dramatically improve manufacturing, transportation, building technologies and energy applications across the United States and will be part of our local innovation in the Knoxville-Oak Ridge area with opportunities to work. with large companies in the South East. . “

The innovators received a two-year fellowship that provides a cost of living allowance, full support for the business development plan and up to $ 200,000 for collaborative R&D at ORNL, the largest science and energy laboratory in the world. country. Innovation Crossroads welcomed the first cohort of innovators in May 2017. The program is part of the In-Lab Entrepreneurship Program – created by the Advanced Manufacturing Office within the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy of the DOE – to help guide and support world-class technology science startups from the lab to the marketplace. The lab-integrated entrepreneurship program fills critical human capital gaps by providing scholarships and institutional homes where talented innovators become first-time entrepreneurs.

“Through Innovation Crossroads, the Advanced Manufacturing Office connects scientists and engineers with the resources and mentors they need to turn promising ideas into breakthrough energy and manufacturing technologies,” said Michael McKittrick, director of interim AMO in the press release. “This latest group of innovators joins the program with a host of ideas that could help increase the competitiveness of the US manufacturing sector and make possible our clean energy future.”

“We are delighted to sponsor the inaugural Building Technologies Office Fellow at Innovation Crossroads,” said Mary Hubbard, Go-to-Market Technology Manager at BTO, in the press release. “We can’t wait to see the impact our innovator will have on high performance, low carbon building materials. Shifting these types of materials into highly market-adopted products will put the United States on the path to a carbon-free buildings industry by 2050. “

“Science-based start-ups are developing and amplifying breakthrough technologies that will help shape the future,” Joe Hoagland, vice president of innovation and research at TVA, said in the statement. “TVA is delighted to continue its partnership with Oak Ridge National Laboratory and honored to support this class of visionaries. They are developing innovative technologies with the potential to make real differences for the people we serve in the Tennessee Valley, as well as for everyone across the country and around the world.


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