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Story tips from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, January 2014

To arrange for an interview with a researcher, please contact the Communications staff member identified at the end of each tip. For more information on ORNL and its research and development activities, please refer to one of our media contacts. If you have a general media-related question or comment, you can send it to

HIGHWAYS The road to efficiency . . .

City Traffic Engineer John Van Winkle, who has positioned Chattanooga as a national leader in intelligent transportation and communication technologies, is headlining a seminar scheduled at Oak Ridge National Laboratory Jan. 10. The event will highlight recent successes in Chattanooga and examine how Internet and communications technologies combined with sensors are coming together in increasingly meaningful ways as traffic engineers strive to reduce congestion and increase safety on highways. Jan-Mou Li, organizer of the seminar and a member of ORNL's Vehicle Systems Research Group, will also discuss potential partnerships with Chattanooga and his recent work related to fuel economy with connected vehicle technology, traffic simulation and the electrification of the nation's highways. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226;]

ENERGY Challenge Homes gaining steam . . .</p>

Since 2008, more than 1,000 Zero Energy Ready Homes have been built, saving owners millions of dollars in utility bills while increasing comfort, health and durability. From Vermont to Washington, buyers have done the math and know their monthly utility bill savings easily exceed the additional monthly mortgage cost for a high-performance home. And, through the Department of Energy's Challenge Home program, which targets 40 percent minimum energy savings, an ever-increasing number of builders are committing to construct Zero Energy Ready Homes. DOE chief architect Sam Rashkin, builders and homeowners around the country invite journalists to tour these houses, which Rashkin believes are the future of housing. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226;]

ENVIRONMENT Nano soil science . . .

Cross-disciplinary research at Oak Ridge National Laboratory is yielding new insight into the carbon cycle, contaminated soils and soil fertility. An ORNL team is using a novel combination of neutron reflectometry experiments and supercomputer simulations to provide a detailed view of the interactions between organic matter and minerals in soil. The research suggests that relationships among these compounds are governed by simpler principles than previously thought. "It changes the whole way we think about how carbon, nutrients and contaminants interact with soils, which therefore affects fertility, water quality, and the terrestrial carbon cycle," said ORNL's Loukas Petridis. "We don't understand these topics very well because until now we haven't had the techniques capable of getting data at this resolution." The researchers' study is published in Environmental Science and Technology. [Contact: Morgan McCorkle, (865) 574-7308;]


Contact: Ron Walli
DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory

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