Discover Magazine awards are presented annually to the best technologies developed by U.S. corporate, academic, and government research centers.
2001 Finalist: Transportation: Using "X-ray Vision" to Study Fuel Spray Processes Inside Engines
By using high-brilliance X-rays from Argonne's Advanced Photon Source, researchers are able to obtain never-before-possible, time-resolved and quantitative information on the structure of gasoline and diesel fuel sprays at the very moment they enter the engine cylinder. Prior to the new "X-ray vision" technique, the portion of fuel sprays nearest the injector nozzle (the first one inch) had been too opaque for visible light to penetrate, leaving engine designers and manufacturers to guess at conditions inside the fuel spray. With such an innovation, we have paved the way to see directly inside an engine to study the complete range of fluid dynamics and chemistry of fuel sprays and fuel spray processes. Argonne's research was funded by the Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Office of Transportation Technologies, Office of Advanced Automotive Technologies. (More...)
2000 Finalist: Process for Recovering Usable Plastics from Mixed Plastic Waste
Argonne researchers have developed and patented a process, called "froth flotation," that separates individual, high-purity plastics from waste streams containing a mixture of plastics. The technology has been used to separate such plastics as acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS), high-impact polystyrene (HIPS), and polypropylene (PP) from other plastics – without using hazardous chemicals – during scrap shredding and metal recovery operations. So far, the technology has proven successful in recovering selected plastics from obsolete appliances, auto shredder residue, disassembled car parts, industrial scrap plastics, and consumer electronics – and its potential for separating plastics is extensive. The recovered polymers are compatible with virgin materials and can be used for such products as computers, office equipment, auto parts, telephones, and home appliances. (More...)
1998 Winner: Ethyl Lactate Solvents Are Low-Cost and Environmentally Friendly
Millions of pounds of toxic industrial solvents could be replaced by environmentally friendly solvents made with ethyl lactate, thanks to a new cost-cutting manufacturing process developed by researchers from Argonne's Energy Systems Division. In addition to the 1999 Discover Magazine Award, this innovative technology also won a 1998 Presidential Challenge Green Chemistry Award.
1999 Finalist: Near-Frictionless Carbon Coating Is Slick Stuff
Argonne's near-frictionless carbon (NFC) film coating has a coefficient of friction of less than 0.001 when measured in a dry
nitrogen atmosphere--20 times lower than the previous record holder, molybdenum disulfide. (Under the same conditions, Teflon's
coefficient of friction is around 0.04.) While the most promising applications appear to be those that operate in essentially
air-free environments, such as bearings for ultrahigh vacuum instruments, certain mechanical seals, and selected cryogenic, space,
and aircraft applications, the material's properties in air and on lubricated surfaces also are impressive. This new material
may find applications in automobile and engine parts such as turbocharger rotors, piston rings, gears and bearings, air-conditioning
compressors, and fuel injector components, including possible applications in electronic and microelectromechanical systems. In
addition, this technology has won a 1998 R&D 100 Award.