In the automotive sector, initiatives to develop advanced vehicles with ultra-low emissions and higher energy efficiency take a front seat. In the quest for this, researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory are accelerating a research engine that gives engineers and scientists an unparalleled view inside atomic-level functioning of combustion engines in real time.
In fact, the new capability will result in an engine specifically built to function inside a beam of neutron line. In terms of capability, the neutronic engine provides a unique sample environment that allows examination of structural changes in new alloys, and are designed to sustain high-temperature environment, realistic conditions in which advanced combustion engine operate.
Meanwhile, the capability of neutronic engine first unveiled in 2017, when researchers successfully examined a small, prototype engine. The experiment was the world’s first initiative wherein a running engine analyzed by neutron diffraction with the help of VULCAN neutron diffractometer at the Spallation Neutron Source, Department of Energy at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
The findings of the research is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Besides proving the hardiness of the unique alloy, the finding also demonstrates the value of employing non-destructive methods such as neutrons to analyze new materials.
Nonetheless, neutrons penetrate deeply even through dense metals. When neutron scatter atoms of a material, researchers gain a wealth of structural information up to the atomic level. For the initiative, scientists determined how alloys perform in extreme conditions such as extreme stress and high heat to detect even the smallest defects.
Taking a cue from the success of the experiment, researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have undertaken to design a purpose-built research engine to use in VULCAN relevant for industry scale.