Powerful X-ray could improve vehicles’ fuel efficiency and emissions

Welcome to Monday… Nothing big happened over the weekend, right? Just kidding! Obviously, on Saturday Joe Biden was named the projected winner of the 2020 presidential race, prompting a premarket trading surge for renewable energy and electric vehicle stocks, reports Seeking Alpha. Biden reiterated a commitment to promptly rejoining the Paris Agreement following the United States’ official withdrawal last week.

Now, for non-political Midwest tech news, beginning with work at Argonne National Laboratory to improve vehicles’ fuel efficiency and reduce emissions. Engineers there are using one of the world’s most powerful X-rays to peer through metal to figure out how to fix small manufacturing imperfections in auto fuel injector nozzles. The imperfections cause component erosion and poor performance, including reduced fuel efficiency and more emissions.

  • The X-rays generate 3D images of the fluid flow inside a fuel injector nozzle — the first time this is being observed. The 3D visualization could help manufacturers improve their design models for creating fuel injectors.
  • This X-ray method allows for real-time research in real-world settings, specifically seeing fluid flow through steel parts. “It is fascinating that we can still see the liquid/gas interface through the nozzle’s thick steel body,” Kamel Fezzaa, a physicist with Argonne’s X-ray Science division, said in a news release. Previous fluid flow research relied on low-pressure simulations with transparent plastic or glass nozzle replicas, but real-world fuel injector pressures would break those replicas.
  • The Argonne engineers also created open-source software so others can analyze images in low-light conditions.

Today’s headlines:


  • University of Michigan laboratory is working on machines that mimic how animals operate, including energy generation and storage. The lab is among the research and development efforts on structural batteries: storing power in auto bodies instead of using battery packs, reports Ars Technica.
  • Recent investments make General Motors one of the few automakers showing real progress in the transition to electric vehicle development and could position the company as one of the top industry players alongside TeslaCNN reports.

💻 EVENT: Argonne scientists will moderate a virtual panel on Nov. 19 examining how energy storage technologies can boost manufacturing competitiveness.


  • Boulder, Colorado-based quantum atomics startup ColdQuanta raised $32 million in series A funding, reports the Denver Business Journal. Universities and U.S. Department of Energy national laboratories are among the technology developer’s customers.
  • Texas A&M University researchers developed a water-energy nanogrid. It optimizes the use of solar energy to decontaminate water so the water filtration is not hampered by solar energy fluctuations throughout the day. The technology is viewed as a promising, economical solution for underprivileged communities, especially in rural areas.
  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers may have uncovered a finding that helps to overcome energy storage capacity barriers, with the discovery that lithium-ion battery cathodes’ heat transport ability is much lower than previously thought. That leads to less battery energy density and lower performance.
  • The National Renewable Energy Laboratory has added the Waste-to-Energy System Simulation (WESyS) Model to its open-source data and tool collection to support the development of waste-to-energy technologies.
  • Sandia National LaboratoriesFlowserve, and Kairos Power received a $2.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy for a project that investigates a new molten salt valve as part of a complete solar energy management system. It is expected to lower the cost and improve the efficiency of concentrating solar power.
An investigator checks for molten salt valve deterioration at Sandia National Laboratories’ Molten Salt Test Loop. Photo credit: Randy Montoya


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