News

Oct
26
2021

AMPED Holds Successful First Meeting

MEMS, Electrical & Computer, All SSoE News, UPCAM, Spotlight

On October 7th, the Advanced Magnetics for Power and Energy Development (AMPED) held its inaugural consortium meeting both remotely and in person at the Pittsburgh Energy Innovation Center.The event had 75 attendees, comprised of 25 members from universities and 50 from industry representing 35 unique companies. Lynn Peterson from the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and Andre Pereira from the Department of Energy (DOE) were the keynote speakers. The schedule also included a student poster session and time for networking with other attendees.Led by Director Prof. Paul Ohodnicki (MEMS) and Co-Director Prof. Brandon Grainger (ECE) at the University of Pittsburgh, the AMPED Consortium was formed in 2020 with the mission to develop an innovation ecosystem and educational programs for advancing soft magnetic materials and component technologies spanning fundamental science to end-use application in collaboration with various agencies, offices, and programs.After establishing university collaborations with faculty members at Carnegie Mellon University (Director Prof. Michael McHenry, Co-Director Maarten deBoer) and North Carolina State University (Director Prof. Subhashish Bhattacharya, Co-Director Dr. Richard Beddingfield), an Industry Advisory Committee (IAC) made of industry and government agencies was established to guide the foundational goals of the consortium. In mid-2020, the group received a SEEDER grant, followed later that year by a MOMENTUM grant, both from the University of Pittsburgh. The team used these funds and additional support from Pitt to start bringing in paying participants and soliciting lab equipment donations.Through frequent discussions with the IAC, the consortium has identified areas of need and launched their first two projects. They are: 1. Tunable Magnetics for WBG and UWBG High Frequency Power Electronics Applications and 2. REE-Free and REE-Lean Electric Motors for Extreme Environment Applications. These areas represent two primary topics of focus for AMPED moving into the future, and other major initiatives are also anticipated as the initiative grows and matures.Workforce development is the top priority for the AMPED Consortium. The group hopes to help bridge a critical gap in providing training opportunities for current employees, along with investing in students for future hires. The AMPED Consortium’s vision is to become the premier pipeline of future employees in the magnetics field and a major research entity.The inaugural consortium meeting was just the first of what is intended to be a yearly meeting, and the AMPED Consortium also plans to engage the group throughout the year with monthly technical seminars and quarterly project meetings to ensure the projects and center goals stay focused on real-world needs.The AMPED Consortium would not be possible without its full participants who have provided financial contributions to help fund research projects. Thank you to: BPMI/NNL/NRL/NAVSEA, GMW, Metglas, Powdermet, L3Harris and Eaton. The Consortium would also like to thank its charitable contributors who provided the equipment for the newly forming AMPED Lab: Omicron Lab, Computer Aided Technology (CATI), ANSYS, TestEquity, Keysight and Lake Shore Cryotronics. Additional thanks go to the University of Pittsburgh Center for Advanced Manufacturing (UPCAM) for providing administrative support.If you are interested in becoming a Participant or Contributor in the AMPED Consortium, please reach out to Liza Allison. We are excited to partner with you!
Sep
28
2021

Shedding Light on the Value of Solar Power

MEMS, Grants, Banner, UPCAM, MCSI, Spotlight

For the United States to meet its goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050, renewable energy integrated across the grid will be key. But vast swaths of the country get their power from rural utilities with very limited real-time visibility of solar and other distributed energy resources installed by customers �behind the meter� (BTM). This lack of visibility creates challenges for the wide use of solar energy while retaining grid reliability and resiliency.A new project led by Paul Ohodnicki, associate professor of mechanical engineering and materials science at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering, will provide under-served rural and small electric utilities with access to new sensors and analytical tools that will give them a real-time picture of solar energy and other distributed energy resources throughout their systems. The project recently received $3 million from the Department of Energy through its Solar Energy Technologies Office.Titled �Fusion of Low-Cost Sensors and Distributed Analytics for Enhanced BTM Visibility,� it will combine new low-cost distributed sensors with �virtual sensors,� which aggregate and analyze existing data that is already being measured by installed solar inverters at the grid interconnection. In addition, the project will integrate both existing and new data streams into advanced analytics being developed by industry (GE Global Research) and utility (through the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, NRECA) partners on the project. �The new sensors combined with the �virtual sensors� and advanced analytics technologies being developed and deployed will give utilities a clearer understanding of the ways that higher penetration levels of solar power by their customers can ultimately benefit their service territories in terms of higher reliability and lower costs, rather than the traditional perspective that variability and intermittency of solar can introduce risks on the distribution system,� said Ohodnicki. �Giving utilities an improved understanding of the value of solar power generation behind the meter could help them to provide their customers with clear signals and incentives to promote a shift toward increased renewable energy.�In addition to newly developed sensors, the project will also take advantage of state-of-the-art commercial micro-phasor measurement units (micro-PMUs) sensors. Micro-PMUs are a class of sensors that are capable of measuring electrical parameters with both time-synchronization and position identification through the global positioning system (GPS) in order to develop a map of the electrical state of the distribution system in real time. The researchers plan to aggregate data collected across a large number of newly developed sensor nodes, integrate them through commercial micro-PMUs to provide additional value and reduce communication costs, perform local analysis of aggregated data, and to provide a subset of that information to the utilities. Micro-PMUs are a sensor technology specifically for deployment on the distribution, originally inspired by phasor measurement units (PMUs) that were widely deployed on the transmission system in the 2010s as part of the Smart Grid Initiative. The project was selected as a part of the SETO 2021 Systems Integration and Hardware Incubator funding program, an effort to advance research, development, and demonstration projects that will improve the affordability, reliability, and domestic benefit of solar technologies on the grid. It is one of several projects that will enhance solar energy�s contribution to grid resilience and reliability by developing communications systems that integrate distributed sensor measurements into utility data systems. Ohodnicki will partner with researchers from North Carolina State University, Sandia National Laboratory, GE Global Research, and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association on the project. GE, which provides technology that supports one-third of the world�s electricity, brings deep technical and product experience through its renewable energy business and global research lab for enabling high penetration renewables and distributed grid integration.�Co-operative utilities, whose service areas cover well over half of the entire U.S. landscape power more than 20 million customers, have a major role in the energy transition and meeting the nation�s emissions goals,� said Arvind Tiwari, program manager at GE Research. �This is especially true with enabling increased PV penetration into the grid. We know from experience that by driving new advances in sensing, measurement, analytics and control technologies, we can bring more solar online while maintaining and even enhancing grid stability and reliability,� added Honggang Wang, principal investigator at GE Research.The project will build on technology originally developed through the Grid Modernization Laboratory Consortium, putting it to work in rural, traditionally underserved co-operatives with a goal of ultimately enabling widespread deployment and commercialization. The group is also partnering with the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), which allows greater collaboration directly with rural utilities to facilitate technology adoption.�As communities and electric co-ops plan for a future that depends on electricity to drive much of the economy, preserving reliability and improving resilience of our electric system is critical,� said Dr. Emma Stewart, NRECA�s chief scientist. �We�re excited to explore ways to expand the usefulness and adoption of solar and other distributed energy resources. Enhanced data sharing and improved visibility into the development of these technologies is an important part of the process. We look forward to working with the University of Pittsburgh to test new approaches that enhance DER visibility on the system and preserve reliability.�About the Solar Energy Technologies Office The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office supports early-stage research and development to improve the affordability, reliability, and domestic benefit of solar technologies on the grid. Learn more at energy.gov/solar-office.
Sep
21
2021

Lightening the Load of Multi-Material Manufacturing with 3D Printing

Grants, MEMS, Chemical & Petroleum, Banner, UPCAM, Spotlight

The rise of 3D printing has transformed the manufacturing industry, enabling manufacturers to quickly and precisely create specialized parts for any application. Soft robotics, flow actuators, electrical circuits and sensors all make use of these customizable 3D-printed parts, and the list of applications continues to grow.3D printing has enabled the production of components made of multiple materials, each with their own unique properties. However, the process—which typically includes changing out vats of liquid and cleaning the lines in the middle of production—causes slow-downs and increases costs. Research led by University of Pittsburgh engineers promises to streamline this process by using different wavelengths of light to create reactions that imbue one specialized material system with different properties, rather than changing out the material itself to achieve the same goal. The research recently received $500,000 in funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Future Manufacturing Seed Grant. “Existing multi-material manufacturing methods have to switch over the material in the middle of production, rotating between materials like resins and waxes to create a single component,” explained Xiayun Zhao, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and materials science, who is leading the project. “Instead, we’re advancing the use of a single resin vat that can replace that process by exhibiting different characteristics when cured with different wavelengths of light.”Unlike the popular, consumer 3D printers that melt a filament of solid material to print layers, the 3D printing that is used for manufacturing is more complex, using a liquid that is cured by light exposure using a laser as the layers are printed into place. Prior research has explored the use of wavelength selectivity to create distinct reactions that cure material for 3D printing in different ways. This project is the first systematic and comprehensive study to establish the chemistry theory in the practice of multi-material photopolymer 3D printing. “It’s traditionally very hard, but very useful, to use multiple materials within a single, complex, 3D shape,” said Sachin Velankar, professor of chemical engineering and co-principal investigator. “3D printing has made it more attainable, but it’s still difficult. By using two lasers of different wavelengths, we can bypass the slowest part of the process.” Joining Zhao and Velankar is Sarah Bergbreiter, professor of mechanical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. Bergbreiter will apply the technology in her soft robotics and sensors work to test its capabilities."I'm particularly excited to explore the possibility of printing conductive materials and structural materials simultaneously for robotics applications,” said Bergbreiter.The project, “Establishing a Cyber-Physical Framework and Pilot System of Wavelength Selective Photopolymerization based Rapid Continuous Multi-Material Manufacturing,” begins Jan. 15, 2022, and will extend through 2023. 
Aug
24
2021

AMPED Consortium Receives Suite of Equipment from Keysight Technologies to Enhance Power Magnetic Research Capabilities at the Energy Innovation Center

Grants, Electrical & Computer, MEMS, UPCAM

Keysight Technologies, a leading technology company that delivers advanced design and validation solutions to help accelerate innovation to connect and secure the world, has donated a suite of essential testing equipment to the Advanced Magnetics for Power & Energy Development (AMPED) Consortium, coordinated by the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering. The equipment will significantly enhance the consortium members’ capabilities in testing and developing new magnetic materials for power and energy applications.The suite will be housed in the Energy Innovation Center (EIC), a not-for-profit organization in Pittsburgh’s Hill District that seeks to support emerging clean and sustainable energy markets through community engagement, workforce development and education, technology development and business incubation. “The donation from Keysight will greatly enhance the AMPED lab facilities at the EIC and open up opportunities for testing and measuring new materials for high voltage electrical applications,” said Brandon Grainger, co-director of AMPED, Eaton Faculty Fellow, and assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Pitt. “We’re incredibly grateful for Keysight’s contribution which will allow researchers to do critical measurements, and will familiarize students with these core instruments.”Keysight’s test equipment will enable researchers to perform high-end characterization of magnetic materials and devices, including the standardization of magnetic core and sensor measurements important for a number of applications including electric vehicles, grid integration of renewables, and other electrical power conversion applications.“The suite of instrumentation donated by Keysight will help us with our own individual group research efforts, but most importantly, it will also broadly allow students at Pitt and other university partners of the AMPED consortium to access the facilities for their research as well. In addition, we will use the facilities to ultimately develop and offer hands-on laboratory course work focused around magnetic measurements in the AMPED space at the EIC,” said Paul Ohodnicki, AMPED director and associate professor of mechanical engineering and materials science at Pitt. “This facility really is for everyone, and we are all grateful for the generous donation by Keysight.” “Keysight has a strong history of supporting and enabling engineering education through sponsorship, mentoring, and technology assistance,” stated Noah Schmitz, Director of University Development at Keysight Technologies. “The innovative power and energy research being conducted at AMPED prepares the next generation of scientists to contribute to industry, while making the world a safer, cleaner, more energy efficient place for all of us. We’re proud to partner with Pitt in this endeavor.” 
Aug
23
2021

New $3 million National Science Foundation center aims to connect materials data science research to industry

Industrial, Research, Banner, UPCAM, Spotlight

Case Western Reserve University and the University of Pittsburgh will launch a joint center this fall that uses cutting edge data-science and materials research to help companies make more reliable and durable products. The Center for Materials Data Science for Reliability and Degradation (MDS-Rely) is a $3 million center supported by a $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the remainder from fees paid by member companies and other organizations, such as government agency labs.The MDS-Rely Center aims to produce breakthrough research that also benefits the U.S. economy by linking industry innovators, government agency labs and a world-class, multidisciplinary academic team. The Center also plans to help prepare skilled workers and provide employment opportunities for Case Western Reserve and Pitt students and graduates.In Cleveland, the Case Western Reserve Center is led by Roger French, the Kyocera Professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the Case School of Engineering. In Pittsburgh, the site is led by Paul Leu, BP America Faculty Fellow and associate professor of industrial engineering at the Swanson School of Engineering.“Right now, there is a digital transformation happening known as Industry 4.0, where companies are interested in gathering lots of data and using that data to make better and more-informed decisions,” French said. “This transformation is driven by new capabilities in data science, computing and statistics. Our center seeks to apply these methods to better understand how and why materials degrade and use this knowledge to extend their lifetimes.”The new center is a research extension of ongoing work at Pitt and Case Western Reserve, where French is also director of the Solar Durability and Lifetime Extension (SDLE) Research Center. The SDLE center also focuses on degradation science and designing better, longer-lasting materials and systems.The MDS-Rely Center, leaning on the combined research power of some 40 faculty members from both institutions, will work with partners to understand how a material’s structural, electronic, chemical and optical properties change over time, informing both what the materials can do and how their function will change over time. “This work not only allows us to understand how long these materials can last in certain products, but can enable us to neutralize degradation mechanisms and extend the lifetime of various products,” added Leu. “So, for example, instead of using a product for five years, perhaps we can use it for 30 years.”MDS-Rely has a dozen committed members, some of which have already joined. It expects to continue growing each year as additional organizations join.  Opportunities for industry and academiaThe work of MDS-Rely will give industry and government partners opportunities to gain from pre-competitive research and science-based improvements.One of the Center’s primary goals is to help industry become more efficient—especially in costly fabrication materials. The industrial and government lab partners would also be able to recruit researchers and students from the two universities.It also offers the universities a new vehicle to accelerate the impact of basic research and a way to expose aspiring researchers to real-world applications of their work.French is joined in leading the Center at Case Western Reserve by Laura Bruckman, associate research professor of materials science and engineering, and Jonathan Steirer, who will serve as Managing Director of MDS-Rely. Satish Iyengar, professor and chair of the Department of Statistics, and MDS-Rely Industry Liaison Officer, Liza Allison, also program administrator at the University of Pittsburgh Center for Advanced Manufacturing (UPCAM), join Leu in leading the Pitt site. The Center is also supported by the UPCAM and Case Western Reserve’s Great Lakes Energy Institute (GLEI). It is part of the NSF’s Industry–University Cooperative Research Centers (IUCRC) program created in 1973.For more information, visit www.mds-rely.org and follow the center on Twitter @mdsrely. Interested organizations can reach out to contact@mds-rely.org. ###Case Western Reserve University is one of the country's leading private research institutions. Located in Cleveland, we offer a unique combination of forward-thinking educational opportunities in an inspiring cultural setting. Our leading-edge faculty engage in teaching and research in a collaborative, hands-on environment. Our nationally recognized programs include arts and sciences, dental medicine, engineering, law, management, medicine, nursing and social work. About 5,100 undergraduate and 6,700 graduate students comprise our student body. Visit case.eduto see how Case Western Reserve thinks beyond the possible.Founded in 1787, the University of Pittsburgh is an internationally renowned leader in health sciences, learning, and research. A top-10 recipient of NIH funding since 1998, Pitt repeatedly ranks as the best public university in the Northeast, per The Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education. Pitt consists of a campus in Pittsburgh—home to 16 undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools—and four regional campuses located throughout western Pennsylvania. Pitt offers nearly 500 distinct degree programs, serves more than 33,000 students, employs more than 14,000 faculty and staff, and awards 9,000 degrees systemwide.  
Aug
12
2021

Designing a More Sustainable Electric Vehicle

Grants, Electrical & Computer, MEMS, UPCAM, Spotlight

The global market for electric vehicles (EVs) is expected to grow by more than 25 percent by 2030, with some politicians and manufacturers alike calling for a phase-out of gasoline-powered vehicles by 2035. The White House is even expected to ask automakers to commit to at least 40 percent of its new vehicle sales being electric by the year 2030. However, most electric motors for electric vehicles rely on permanent magnets made with rare-earth metals, which are—as the name implies—a limited resource. In addition to their rarity, extracting and processing these materials has severe environmental consequences, leaving behind a significant amount of toxic waste. And since China accounts for the vast majority of rare-earth production, price volatility is another concern. To meet the needs of a growing market, designing electric motors without rare-earth metals is a crucial step, especially for sustainable supply chains.Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering are working with Powdermet Inc., a nanomaterials and advanced materials research and development company in Euclid, Ohio, to develop such an alternative. The Powdermet-led project hopes to create an electric machine that uses permanent magnets made of more abundant metals instead of rare-earth metals. The project recently received $200,000 in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) that will allow Powdermet to commercialize MnBi-based permanent magnetic materials developed at the U.S. Department of Energy Ames Laboratory Critical Materials Institute (CMI).“The Green technologies of the future—electric vehicles, wind turbines, wave energy, drones, and more—rely on rare earth permanent magnets not currently available from domestic suppliers, resulting in significant supply chain risk. Powdermet is tremendously excited to bring our 25 years of nanostructured powder processing experience to rapidly scale production of rare earth free magnet technology developed at CMI,” said Andrew Sherman, founder and Chief Technology Officer of Powdermet and principal investigator. “Collaboration with the technical experts at AMPED, Pitt, and CMI will allow us to accelerate introduction of domestically produced rare earth free permanent magnets to North American supply chains.”At Pitt, this work will be led by Paul Ohodnicki, associate professor of mechanical engineering and materials science, and Brandon Grainger, Eaton Faculty Fellow and assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering. Together, the Pitt team will use ANSYS MotorCAD to benchmark an electric motor design that takes advantage of the novel magnetic materials. “Permanent magnets are used in electric motors because they can produce and maintain a strong magnetic field, even in the presence of an opposing magnetic field, as opposed to electromagnets, which require an electric current,” explained Paul Ohodnicki, associate professor of mechanical engineering and materials science at Pitt. “Using alternative materials such as MnBi-based permanent magnets, developed at the Ames Laboratory, to create a permanent magnet instead of rare-earth metals like neodymium and dysprosium would make electric vehicles more affordable, accessible, and sustainable, and would help the U.S. become a leader in the EV market.” Powdermet is an industry participant of the Advanced Magnetics for Power & Energy Development (AMPED) Consortium, a research consortium led by director Ohodnicki and co-director Grainger at the University of Pittsburgh. AMPED includes several schools at Pitt, Carnegie Mellon University, North Carolina State University, national labs, and industry partners, bringing together an interdisciplinary skillset well-suited to the research and development of magnetic materials for power electronics and power conversion systems.“AMPED’s mission is both to prepare the next generation of multidisciplinary researchers to innovate with soft magnetics materials in future power conversion systems and to help our partners in industry develop and test the innovations that the world needs now,” said Grainger, who is also associate director of the Energy GRID Institute. “This partnership with Powdermet is a great example of the kind of foundational research and development work we can do when we collaborate with our partners from various engineering disciplines, and we’re excited by the potential impact on the future of EVs.”
Jul
15
2021

IE PhD Student Moataz Abdulhafez captures Best Poster Award at ASME MSEC Conference

Honors & Awards, Industrial, UPCAM, Spotlight

Research investigating graphene production at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering was recently recognized at the 2021 ASME Manufacturing Science and Engineering Conference (MSEC).Moataz Abdulhafez, a fifth-year PhD student in the Swanson School’s Department of Industrial Engineering, received the conference’s Best Poster Award for his work, titled “Direct laser-induced nanocarbon formation on flexible polymers: Tailoring porous and fibrous morphologies.” Abdulhafez works in the NanoProduct of his advisor, Assistant Professor Mostafa Bedewy.“When I started working on graphene fabrication using lasers, I realized that we can create a large variety of types of graphene-related nanomaterials,” said Abdulhafez. “Hence, we started to investigate how to tune our process to deliberately create each of these different morphologies and eventually identified the abrupt transitions that happen at specific combination of parameters, which was really exciting.”“In our lab we focus on advanced manufacturing and materials engineering at the nano-scale, and Moataz has developed a unique approach for spatiotemporal control of the laser process to enable creating different types of graphene-based nanomaterials on the same flexible substrate,” Bedewy explained. “His research enabled unprecedented control on morphology and chemistry in laser-induced graphene fabrication. This may have tremendous impact on the scalable manufacturing of flexible devices with tailored graphene having distinctive and desired properties.”
Jul
9
2021

Pitt Engineer Mostafa Bedewy Selected for the Frontiers of Materials Award by TMS

Honors & Awards, Industrial, Accolade, UPCAM, Spotlight

The Minerals, Metals and Materials Society (TMS) has selected Mostafa Bedewy, assistant professor of industrial engineering at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering, as a recipient of the 2022 Frontiers of Materials Award. Bedewy’s research on the fabrication of graphene and related carbon nanomaterials directly on polymers enables the realization of flexible and wearable electronic devices, such as implantable biomedical sensors and bendable batteries. His NanoProduct Lab focuses on advanced manufacturing of bio- and nano-materials that impact major societal challenges in energy, healthcare and the environment.“I’m excited about the opportunity to bring more attention to this emerging area of research, and honored that TMS has selected me to lead the discussion,” said Bedewy, who also holds appointments in Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science. “I look forward to the innovations and collaborations that will emerge from this meeting with my colleagues in the field.”“This award is a testament to the outstanding and innovative efforts Mostafa has put into developing his interdisciplinary research group since he joined our faculty in 2016,” said Bopaya Bidanda, the Ernest E. Roth Professor and chairman of the Department of Industrial Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering. “We are thrilled by this achievement and the visibility it brings to Mostafa’s work.” The Award recognizes top-performing early career professionals who are able to organize a Frontiers of Materials symposium on a hot or emerging technical topic at the TMS Annual Meeting & Exhibition, which will be held in 2022 in Anaheim, Calif. As a recipient, Bedewy will also deliver a keynote lecture during the event and will be invited to organize a suite of thematic papers for an upcoming issue of JOM, the Member Journal of the Minerals, Metals & Materials Society. Dr. Bedewy’s previous awards include the Outstanding Young Investigator Award from the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers’ Manufacturing and Design (IISE M&D) Division in 2020, the Outstanding Young Manufacturing Engineer Award from the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) in 2018, the Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award from the Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) in 2017, the Robert A. Meyer Award from the American Carbon Society in 2016.
Jun
25
2021

Pitt Nuclear Engineering Awarded $1.6 Million in Research Funding from U.S. DOE

Grants, Electrical & Computer, MEMS, Nuclear, Banner, UPCAM

Interdisciplinary researchers at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering are recipients of $1.6 million in advanced nuclear energy R&D funding from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The investment announced this week is part of more than $61 million in funding awards for 99 advanced nuclear energy technology projects in 30 states and a U.S. territory, $58 million of which is awarded to U.S. universities. According to DOE, the projects focus on nuclear energy research, cross-discipline technology development, and nuclear reactor infrastructure to bolster the resiliency and use of America’s largest domestic source of carbon-free energy.The Swanson School’s funding is through the DOE Nuclear Energy University Program, which seeks to maintain U.S. leadership in nuclear research by providing top science and engineering faculty and their students with opportunities to develop innovative technologies and solutions for civil nuclear capabilities. “Pittsburgh is the global nexus of peacetime nuclear energy history and research, and we are proud to contribute to its continued success,” noted Brian Gleeson, the Swanson School’s Harry S. Tack Professor and Department Chair of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science. “Our faculty and students have a strong foundation in modeling and simulation, materials, sensing technologies, and non-destructive evaluation of critical reactor components, and so we are thankful to DOE and NEUP for supporting our research.”The Pitt awards in the Fuel Cycle Research and Development category include:Fragmentation and Thermal Energy Transport of Chromia-doped Fuels Under Transient ConditionsPI: Heng Ban, the Richard K. Mellon Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, Associate Dean for Strategic Initiatives, and Director of the Stephen R. Tritch Nuclear Engineering Program, Swanson School of EngineeringCollaborators: Jie Lian, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; Liping Cao and Yun Long, Westinghouse Electric CompanyThis project will focus on multiple aspects of experimental testing and engineering-scale modeling in understanding thermal energy transport from high burnup, fractured/fragmented accident tolerant fuels, establishing a strong scientific basis to fill a critical knowledge data gap for modeling and simulation of transient fuel performance and safety, such as loss of coolant accident, for future integral testing and fuel licensing.Fusion of Distributed Fiber Optics, Acoustic NDE, and Physics-Based AI for Spent Fuel MonitoringPI: Paul Ohodnicki, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, Swanson School of EngineeringCollaborators: Kevin Chen, the Paul E. Lego Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Swanson School of Engineering; Ryan Meyer, Kayte Denslow, and Glenn Grant, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL); and Gary Cannell, Fluor CorporationThe proposal will leverage new concepts in the fusion between fiber optic distributed acoustic sensing and advanced acoustic nondestructive evaluation techniques with artificial intelligence enhanced classification frameworks to quantitatively characterize the state of dry cask storage containers for spent fuel monitoring, externally and non-invasively, without introducing additional risks of failure.Additionally, Daniel G. Cole, associate professor of mechanical engineering and materials science, Swanson School of Engineering, is a collaborator with Shanbin Shi, assistant professor of mechanical aerospace and nuclear engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, on a $800,000 award to investigate the thermal and electric power dispatch and required control algorithms for dynamic heat dispatch of up to 50 percent of the thermal energy from a Boiling Water Reactor (BWR) plant to a hydrogen plant.“Nuclear power is critical to America’s clean energy future and we are committed to making it a more accessible, affordable and resilient energy solution for communities across the country,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “At DOE we’re not only investing in the country’s current nuclear fleet, but we’re also investing in the scientists and engineers who are developing and deploying the next generation of advanced nuclear technologies that will slash the amount of carbon pollution, create good-paying energy jobs, and realize our carbon-free goals.”The DOE’s announcement stated, “Nuclear power provides a fifth of America’s overall electricity and more than half of our zero-emissions energy, making it a key part of our clean energy future. To realize nuclear’s full potential, more research and development is needed to ensure the creation and operation of cost-effective nuclear power and to establish new methods for securely transporting, storing and disposing of spent nuclear fuel waste. It will also help to meet the Biden-Harris Administration’s ambitious goals of 100% clean electricity by 2035, and net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.”###
Jun
2
2021

Printing a Better Microgrid

Research, Industrial, Banner, UPCAM, Spotlight

The future of electronic displays will be thin, flexible and durable. One barrier to this, however, is that one of the most widely used transparent conductors for electronic displays—indium tin oxide (ITO)—doesn’t perform as well on larger areas and can crack and break down with wear. Indium is also a rare earth mineral, which is relatively scarce, and the process to create ITO requires high energy consumption and expensive equipment.One emerging alternative is metal “microgrid” conductors. These microgrids can be customized to their application by varying the microgrid width, pitch and thickness, and they can be made with a variety of metals.New research from the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering investigates the use of microgrids printed with particle-free silver inks, demonstrating its advantages when compared with other particle-based inks. The paper is published in ACS Applied Electronic Materials and is featured on a supplemental cover of the journal.“Among the alternatives to ITO being explored, metal microgrids are an attractive option because of their low sheet resistance and high transparency, which is well suited to many optoelectronic applications,” explained Paul Leu, Associate Professor of Industrial Engineering, whose Laboratory for Advanced Materials at Pittsburgh (LAMP) conducted the research. “However, because of the fabrication processes available, it’s difficult to perfect. Our research focuses on addressing key issues in fabricating silver microgrids using particle-free silver ink, and we found it has some key advantages over particle-based inks.”The project is a continuation of the LAMP lab’s collaboration with Electroninks, a technology company in Austin, Texas. The company produces a circuit drawing kit called Circuit Scribe, which uses conductive silver ink to allow users to create working lights with circuits drawn on paper. Circuit Scribe sparked Leu’s initial interest in working with the company to develop their particle-free metal ink as a way to address some of the limitations of ITO.The researchers found that the particle-free fabricated microgrids were more reliable than those printed with particle-based inks, showing better transparent electrode performance, lower roughness, and better mechanical durability, which is necessary for flexible displays. To test its durability, the researchers performed several tests, including adhesion, bending and folding tests.“These microgrids outperformed both particle-based ink-formed microgrids and ITO microgrids in all of our tests,” said lead author and PhD student, Ziyu Zhou. “Our research paves the way for better performing, less expensive and more durable displays that don’t rely on the mining of rare earth minerals.”In addition to evaluating the microgrids as a replacement for ITO in OLEDs, the team is evaluating them for transparent antennas and electromagnetic interference (EMI) shielding.The research paper, “Polymer-Embedded Silver Microgrids by Particle-Free Reactive Inks for Flexible High Performance Transparent Conducting Electrodes,” (DOI: 10.1021/acsaelm.1c00107) was coauthored by Ziyu Zhou, S Brett Walker, Melbs LeMieux and Paul W Leu.The supplemental cover, designed by Randal McKenzie, is featured in the May 25th issue of the journal.
May
20
2021

Engineering Smarter Stents

Grants, Industrial, Banner, UPCAM, Spotlight

An estimated two million people will need a coronary artery stent every year. A small mesh tube inserted into a narrow or blocked coronary artery, a stent can help ensure blood can continue to flow through the artery unimpeded. Today, many also contain a coating that releases a steady dose of medication to improve healing and keep the blockage from coming back.Stents, however, are not without their risks: Restenosis—the re-narrowing of an artery—is one risk of coronary artery stents and occurs in three to 10 percent of cases in the first six to nine months. There is also a risk of blood clot formation, or thrombosis, that can also occur as the stent’s medicinal coating dissolves, exposing a metal surface.Youngjae Chun, associate professor of industrial engineering at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering, is part of a consortium from industry, academia and research that will seek to revolutionize the design of heart stents. The new stents will feature ultra-low profile struts and a uniquely textured “smart” surface that will help improve healing and lessen the risks of restenosis and thrombosis.The consortium, which includes members from industry, academia and research, recently received $2 million in funding from the South Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy’s Outstanding Company Research Center Promotion Project (ATC+).“The uniqueness of our stent is in both the thin struts that may reduce the risk of restenosis and the smart surface, which can help improve healing and prevent clots,” said Chun, who is a co-principal investigator. “When you introduce specialized micro and nanopatterns on the material—like grouped patterns, dimples, cavities or diamond patterns—you can improve biocompatibility.”Most widely-used drug-eluting stents (DES) have a polymer coating mixed with a drug that is released over several months to help prevent restenosis. After that period, however, the metal stent is exposed. The unique, patterned surface on the proposed DES design would encourage endothelial cells—cells that form a barrier between vessels and tissue to control the flow of fluids in the body—to grow on the surface of the stent, helping to speed healing and reduce the risk of blood clot formation.Chun’s lab will provide the computational modeling of the stent, as well as the creation of the smart surface. They will work with lead investigator and DES manufacturing company Osstem Cardiotech, as well as Daegu Gyeongbuk Medical Innovation Foundation, located in South Korea.The project, “Development of a Coronary Artery Drug Eluting Stent That Contains Smart 60um Ultra-Thin Struts and Surface Structures for Rapid Vascular Healing Process,” began in April 2021 and will last four years.
Apr
28
2021

Designing New Alloys for Additive Manufacturing

MEMS, Banner, Research, UPCAM, Spotlight

Additive manufacturing (AM), a burgeoning technology for alloy fabrication, allows engineers to specifically manufacture a complex component in any shape. However, due to the unique processing involved, the alloy behaves differently during fabrication using AM when compared with other traditional manufacturing techniques.The alloy components produced by AM can easily develop a texture that makes them behave like wood in some ways—stronger along the grain than against it—and thus limits the strength (its resistance to distortion and fracture) and ductility (how much it can elongate before it breaks). There is a well-known trade-off between strength and ductility, which cannot be fully solved using current AM techniques, like reducing the grain size through externally applied deformation.Wei Xiong, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and materials science at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering, will study the fundamental mechanisms behind this trade-off in a new project that received a $526,334 Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The five-year project, titled “Unraveling Fundamental Mechanisms Governing Grain Refinement in Complex Concentrated Alloys Made by Additive Manufacturing Towards Strong and Ductile Structures,” began on April 15, 2021.“The ability to produce strong yet tough structural alloys is a necessary step toward getting the most out of new, innovative materials and manufacturing,” said Xiong, who last year also received the Early Career Faculty Fellow Award from the Minerals, Metals & Materials Society (known as TMS). “This project will provide a fundamental understanding that can overcome the well-known problem that, in general, the stronger a material is, the less ductile it becomes. Moreover, we will also design new alloys that can be additively manufactured”.Grain refinement is a method used to augment a material by changing the size of its grain structure, improving both its strength and ductility. Xiong’s project aims to understand the underlying mechanism of grain refinements in complex concentrated alloys made by additive manufacturing of combinations of multiple chemical element additions.Xiong’s Physical Metallurgy and Materials Design Lab will investigate whether increasing entropy, or disorder, in an alloy system will slow grain coarsening and stabilize microstructures, making the material both strong and ductile. Particularly, they will focus on mixing alloy powders to print complex concentrated alloys, which is a new type of material that usually stabilizes the microstructure due to its resulting high entropy.There are plenty of earthly reasons that AM has exploded as a way to fabricate alloy parts. There are some good interplanetary reasons, too.“Think about, in the future, if we colonize Mars and want to build stations using 3D printing. No one wants to bring hundreds of different alloy powders to travel with the rocket,” said Xiong. “We want to bring maybe only three or four different types of powders to serve the needs of building an entire station on Mars, so we can mix them with different ratios to fabricate different parts by additive manufacturing.”“The developed technique can also help to save the cost of alloy powder production for various engineering purposes and enhance the sustainability of 3D printing by providing recipes to recycle and reuse existing metal powders," he continued. “Therefore, it is important to explore the effective pathways of microstructure engineering of these alloys by additive manufacturing, and that is why I proposed such a topic.”According to the NSF, the Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program is its most prestigious award in support of early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization. This award marks the fourth consecutive year that a faculty member in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science has received a CAREER Award.Maggie Pavlick, 4/28/2021Contact: Maggie Pavlick
Apr
20
2021

University of Pittsburgh Collaboration Supports Energy Innovation at NETL for More Than a Decade

Electrical & Computer, UPCAM

NETL amplifies the impacts of its nationally recognized technical competencies through collaboration with a variety of organizations, including university partnerships crucial to early-stage development of energy technologies that will lead the nation to a net-zero carbon emissions economy by 2050.One prime example of these valuable partnership efforts is the work of an ongoing collaborative research team comprising NETL and University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) researchers who have developed and commercialized sensor technologies, won multiple Carnegie Science Awards, produced more than a dozen patents and pending patents, advanced the understanding of energy production through high-impact research papers, and most recently, applied a first-of-its-kind distributive sensing method to solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) — a promising clean energy technology.For the most recent accomplishment, which was aimed at improving the durability of SOFCs, Professor Kevin Chen, Ph.D., led the Pitt researchers, who leveraged the extensive research laboratories of the University’s Swanson School of Engineering, to fabricate and functionalize the distributed sensors that were then tested and characterized by NETL researchers in their own cutting-edge facilities.“NETL has been collaborating with Dr. Chen’s group on a variety of sensor projects since approximately 2008,” said Michael Buric, Ph.D., who leads current NETL work on the team. “At that time, we were working to construct the world’s fastest Raman gas analyzer using novel hollow waveguide technology. After patenting and licensing the Gas Analyzer technology, we focused on optical fiber sensors that enable distributed sensing capabilities, which means they have the ability to sense parameters of interest all along the optical sensing fiber.”The NETL-Pitt team continued developing the distributed sensing technology, applying their novel sensing methods to a range of measurement and monitoring applications across the energy infrastructure spectrum to enable new capabilities in operational efficiency, reliability and safety. The team found that optical fibers are capable of performing at high temperatures, in erosive or corrosive environments, and in highly oxidizing or reducing conditions. This led to the discovery of a fiber optic sensor capable of measuring the temperature and gas concentration distribution inside an operating planar SOFC.“This was a truly collaborative effort, as we used a unique laser fabrication capability to create the high-temperature stable and hydrogen-resistant distributed fiber sensors at Pitt,” Chen said. “And this work wouldn’t have been possible without NETL’s extensive sensor development and testing facility, fuel cell testing facility and modeling capability.”After the success of the SOFC distributed sensor work, the team is looking to the future to develop even more robust sensors capable of operating in even more extreme conditions, which will lead to greater power generation efficiencies. Furthermore, the team is working to apply this sensor technology to support efforts that address climate change. Chen explained that the team envisions using their unique sensor capability to harness valuable data with high temporal and spatial resolution to develop better engines, turbines, battery systems and solar thermal systems.“We are extremely grateful for NETL’s incredibly open attitude toward university collaborations,” Chen said. “Our graduate students and faculty are able to tap into NETL’s wide range of research expertise, which has resulted in not only world-class university research, but also highly trained personnel. NETL’s materials, sensor and modeling expertise supports innovation across so many fields, and previous collaborative work with the Lab has helped to produce energy experts that are now advancing the fields of SOFCS, combustion, rare earth elements, renewable energy and many others. For us, since the Lab is just down the road in South Park Township, NETL is a true national treasure right in our neighborhood.”The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory develops and commercializes advanced technologies that provide clean energy while safeguarding the environment. NETL’s work supports DOE’s mission to ensure America’s security and prosperity by addressing its energy and environmental challenges through transformative science and technology solutions.###
Mar
30
2021

Research on New Magnetic Materials Gets AMPED Up

Grants, Electrical & Computer, MEMS, UPCAM

As society continues to grapple with the realities of climate change, it looks toward electric vehicles and renewable energy as technological solutions. With these growing technologies, however, there is a greater need for improved soft magnetic materials that can operate in these systems. Meeting this need requires an interdisciplinary skillset, including materials science, applied physics, and electrical engineering, as well as collaboration with end-users in industry.A new consortium created to address this gap, focused on the research and development of magnetic materials for power electronics systems, has received $60,000 in funding from a University of Pittsburgh Momentum Funds Teaming Grant.The consortium, Advanced Magnetics for Power and Energy Development (AMPED), will include members from several schools at Pitt, as well as North Carolina State University and Carnegie Mellon University.“There’s been a historical gap in research and development funding to support these quickly emerging areas, both with new and established industries in the electric power sector,” said Brandon Grainger, Eaton Faculty Fellow and assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering. “Our hope is that with this funding, we can invest in the relationships and innovation spaces needed to fill that gap.”Grainger, who is also associate director of the Energy GRID Institute and co-director of AMPED, is leading the effort to establish AMPED at the University of Pittsburgh with Paul Ohodnicki, associate professor of mechanical engineering and material science and director of AMPED. Faculty leadership of the consortium also includes Director Michael McHenry and Co-Director Maarten DeBoer from Carnegie Mellon University, as well as Director Subhashish Bhattacharya and Co-Director Richard Beddingfield from North Carolina State University.At Pitt, Grainger and Ohodnicki are joined by Rabikar Chatterjee from the Katz Graduate School of Business and Daniel Mosse from the School of Computing and Information. Chatterjee will bring to the consortium his experience and research in technology-to-market planning and competitive analyses.“Understanding the potential markets and assessing their needs warrants a business perspective, for which the Katz Graduate School of Business can provide the expertise,” said Chatterjee. “I am personally very excited to be part of the team, given my industry experience and research interests that cover the analysis of business markets and assessing the markets’ response to technology-driven innovation. Energy and sustainability are important priorities at Katz for faculty and graduate students, and this project is right in our sweet spot.”On the technological side, Mosse will help to develop novel algorithms for optimizing magnetics and power electronics technology."It is exciting to participate in this interdisciplinary team with the promises of developing new technologies that will improve efficiency in electric vehicles, the smart grid, and other devices, all with the goal carbon emissions,” said Mosse. “This is the first step toward developing a large collaborative center where industry, academia, and governmental partners will come together to make great things happen, all in pursuit of a cleaner, more sustainable world."The Teaming Grant is a one-year award to support the formation of multi-disciplinary collaborations at Pitt to successfully pursue large-scale external funding. AMPED will use the funds to establish synergies through facilitated team collaborations, supporting graduate student stipends, and investing in lab space at the Energy GRID Institute at Pitt. The group hopes to attract federal funding to further their research, and welcome corporate partners to the consortium to fuse research with industry needs.“More research into improved magnetic materials is crucial for a sustainable future, and it’s important that we’re working in harmony with people at all stages of the research and development process, from theory to manufacturing. Establishing this consortium within the university system also ensures that we can provide industry with the interdisciplinary, skilled workforce required to support their needs moving into the future,” said Ohodnicki, who is also chief technology officer for the soft magnetics manufacturing startup CorePower Magnetics. “I am thrilled to be working with a team whose skills and expertise have the potential to have an enormous impact on the future of energy.”
Mar
29
2021

Pitt and the Global Manufacturing And Industrialization Summit Join Efforts To Advance Research And Development Efforts In Manufacturing

Industrial, UPCAM

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (March 29, 2021) ... The University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) and the Global Manufacturing and Industrialization Summit (GMIS) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to enhance research collaboration and knowledge sharing in technology, manufacturing, and education across borders. The partnership will see GMIS and Pitt, in particular its Swanson School of Engineering, collaborate to explore opportunities to encourage research and development in manufacturing, develop academic papers, and facilitate knowledge exchange between different universities and educational institutes worldwide. The partnership aims to foster cross-sector collaboration through academic research and expertise to address the industry's challenges. Dr. David Vorp, the Swanson School’s John A. Swanson Professor of Bioengineering and Associate Dean for Research, and Namir Hourani, Managing Director of the Global Manufacturing and Industrialization Summit (GMIS) signed the MoU. The partnership is designed to further the two organizations’ shared objectives to drive sustainable innovation that will help reshape the global manufacturing landscape, serving economies, industry, and civil society better. Commenting on the partnership, Namir Hourani, Managing Director of the Global Manufacturing and Industrialization Summit (GMIS), said: “We are pleased to sign the MoU with the University of Pittsburgh as we continue to rollout long-term partnerships with world-class, research-focused universities from all over the world. These partnerships play a very important role within our ecosystem and contribute to multiple activities that run alongside the Global Manufacturing and Industrialization Summit. “The city of Pittsburgh is a major center for technological innovation and advanced manufacturing in the United States and across the world, and this partnership will provide a platform for us to jointly showcase best practices from the city on the world stage.”James R. Martin II, U.S. Steel Dean of Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, said: “The University of Pittsburgh is indeed excited to be a global academic partner with GMIS, and reflects Pittsburgh’s commitment to excellence in academics, research, and sustainability. “Pittsburgh represents the intersection of Industry 5.0 and Society 5.0, as indicated when Worth magazine recently named it as the nation’s second-most resilient city. Pittsburgh was the burning heart of the Second Industrial Revolution, and the past three decades of re-invention have shown how our region has once again established itself as the nexus for creating new knowledge that improves the human condition. And as we celebrate the 175th year of engineering education at Pitt in 2021, the Swanson School is proud to help lead the way in research, academics, and cultural competency.”The University of Pittsburgh will join the Global Manufacturing and Industrialization Summit (GMIS) in the development of its Leadership Program which was announced at #GMIS2020 and focuses on shaping future global leaders to prioritize advancing humanity and promoting global prosperity. Together with the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering, the GMIS platform will work towards developing future leaders that can set their organizations on the path to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Swanson School will be instrumental in supporting with the research, developing the curriculum, engaging with stakeholders, implementing the programs, and supporting in creating awareness of for the program amongst relevant institutions all over the world.Dr. David Vorp, the Swanson School’s John A. Swanson Professor of Bioengineering and Associate Dean for Research, added: “The integration of sustainable industrial development in the mission for GMIS sets a well-charted path for our partnership. Pitt has endeavored to be a university leader in sustainable innovation, and at the Swanson School, our faculty and students are exploring new materials, advanced manufacturing, and tools that have the potential to improve the triple bottom line – social, environmental, and economic – for industry around the world. We are excited to join the GMIS ecosystem as a global academic partner and to be able to share the city of Pittsburgh’s success stories and innovations on the world stage of industrial and manufacturing excellence.”# # #About GMIS: The Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit (GMIS) was established in 2015 to build bridges between manufacturers, governments and NGOs, technologists, and investors in harnessing the Fourth Industrial Revolution’s (4IR) transformation of manufacturing to enable the regeneration of the global economy. A joint initiative by the United Arab Emirates and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), GMIS is a global platform that presents stakeholders with an opportunity to shape the future of the manufacturing sector and contribute towards global good by advancing some of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.The first two editions of the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit were held in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates in March 2017, and Yekaterinburg, Russia in July 2019, respectively, with each edition welcoming over 3,000 high-level delegates from over 40 countries. The third edition, GMIS2020, was held virtually in September 2020 and convened over 10,000 attendees and close to 100 thought-provoking leaders from governments, businesses, and civil society. GMIS2021, the fourth edition of the Global Manufacturing and Industrialization Summit, will be held once again in the United Arab Emirates from November 22 to 27, alongside EXPO Dubai, under the theme – Rewiring Societies: Repurposing Digitalization for Prosperity. To learn more about GMIS, please visit https://gmisummit.com/ and follow GMIS on Twitter: @GMISummit, Instagram: @gmisummit, LinkedIn: GMIS - Global Manufacturing & Industrialization Summit, and Facebook: @GMISummit. Press Contact:Reethu ThachilCommunications ManagerM Three Marcomms LLC, Press Office for:Global Manufacturing & Industrialisation Summit Mohammed Bin Rashid Initiative for Global Prosperity +971 58 847 6870/ press@gmisummit.comReethu Thachil, GMIS Communications Manager, 3/29/2021Contact: Paul Kovach
Mar
29
2021

Swanson School Researchers Receive More than $270K Through Manufacturing PA Initiative

MEMS, UPCAM, Spotlight

PITTSBURGH (March 29, 2021) — Four University of Pittsburgh researchers at the Swanson School of Engineering have received over $270,000 through Governor Wolf’s Manufacturing PA Initiative to further advance the manufacturing industry in Pennsylvania. The projects are part of the fellowship program through the PA Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED), which will offer graduate and undergraduate students a chance to work directly with Pennsylvania’s growing manufacturing industry.“Our region has had a long history of industrial innovation and manufacturing leadership, from the steel industry that earned Pittsburgh its Steel City nickname to the emerging AI and robotics sector today,” said Brian Gleeson, Harry S. Tack Chaired Professor and chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science. “I’m pleased that this initiative recognizes our talented faculty and exceptional students who are advancing that work and making Pittsburgh a leader in manufacturing.”The program awarded nearly $2 million for 29 research partnerships with 15 Pennsylvania colleges and universities. The projects will “help advance innovation in several sectors of manufacturing, from advanced medical, to waste sustainability, to artificial intelligence,” according to the Commonwealth’s press release.The Swanson School’s recipients are:Markus Chmielus, associate professor of mechanical engineering and materials science, received $68,075 for a partnership with ExOne and ANSYS Inc. The project will build reusable N95 mask filters using binder jet 3D-printing, a powder-based additive manufacturing technique that can create optimally-designed structures without the need to machine parts or build tools first. The work will be informed by 3D-modeling and builds on previous work to systematically study and optimize the process. Graduate student Aaron Acierno will join Chmielus on the project, along with an undergraduate student who is yet to be determined.C. Isaac Garcia, professor of mechanical engineering and materials science, received $68,680 for work with the U.S. Steel Corporation Research and Technology Center in Munhall, Pa. The project will study the influence of casting and rolling processes on precipitation reactions in titanium/niobium (Ti/Nb) steels. Garcia will work with Pedro De Souza Ciacco, an associate researcher in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science. The project will give Ciacco and an additional undergraduate student this summer the chance to integrate university coursework and sophisticated laboratory tools into problem solving with an established metals producer.Paul Ohodnicki, associate professor of mechanical engineering and materials science, received $64,433 for work with Carnegie Mellon University and Carpenter Technology Corporation in Philadelphia. The project will explore new ways to process the high-performing commercial iron cobalt-based soft magnetic alloys developed by Carpenter Technology. While traditional processing methods result in a trade-off between mechanical and magnetic properties, the new methods would improve upon these trade-offs to optimize the material’s properties. Ultimately, the project will work towards demonstrating a commercially viable way to make these materials optimal for motors in electric vehicles and hybrid-electric aircrafts. Ohodnicki will work with Tyler Paplham, an undergraduate studying MEMS at Pitt that will be taking a PhD position within his research group, and Walter Robinson, a PhD candidate at Carnegie Mellon University, in collaborations with his colleagues Professors Maarten deBoer and Michael McHenry.Albert To, William Kepler Whiteford Professor of mechanical engineering and materials science, received $68,900 for his work with Pennsylvania companies Wabtec, ExOne, and ANSYS. The project will overcome a critical issue that hinders the broad adoption of binder jet printing: the warping of jetted parts after they’re treated with heat (sintered). The project will develop a new gradient-based method for minimizing warpage that changes the structures such that they will settle into the correct shapes after printing and sintering. To will work with Basil Paudel and Hao Deng, graduate students in mechanical engineering and materials science.
Mar
1
2021

Pitt�s Manufacturing Assistance Center Expands to Pitt Titusville and Partners with Conturo Prototyping in Homewood

Industrial, Diversity, UPCAM

PITTSBURGH (March 1, 2021) … In a strategic move to adapt to the economic challenges of COVID-19 while providing greater reach and more flexible programming, the University of Pittsburgh’s Manufacturing Assistance Center (MAC) will expand its program to Pitt’s Titusville campus while launching a new hands-on partnership with Conturo Prototyping LLC in Homewood. The restructuring extends the MAC’s career training and placement program to prospective students in Crawford and surrounding countries, and links with Conturo Prototyping to continue to provide the hands-on curriculum to students in Homewood. Remote learning will still be provided from the MAC’s current home location at 7800 Susquehanna Street, and eventually extended to the Community Engagement Center (CEC) in Homewood and the Hill District CEC.Additionally, the curriculum will be made more accessible for working students by front-loading the three-week computer-based sessions, followed by a three-week machine program. Since many of the MAC’s students are adult learners with different time constraints than traditional students, the shift to a 50-50 hybrid model and compressed curriculum will be more accessible. “This restructuring is an exciting urban-rural partnership that will expand the reach of the University of Pittsburgh in a meaningful way,” said Dr. Catherine Koverola, Pitt-Titusville president. “We look forward to continuing to work with all of our hub partners to bring to fruition this innovative educational model, which will help to meet the education and workforce needs of our neighbors in the Titusville region.”Bopaya Bidanda, co-founder of the MAC and department chair of industrial engineering at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, explained that COVID-19 required a reimagination of the MAC’s day-to-day operations by integrating virtual learning with the instruction of competitive manufacturing skills. “There continues to be a pressing need for advanced manufacturing training both in the city and across Pennsylvania’s rural counties, especially those surrounding Pitt’s Titusville campus. By streamlining our delivery system, we can reach more students while operating more efficiently within our resource constraints,” Bidanda said. “COVID-19 created a financial hardship for our operating model and so pivoting to an online curriculum and a shorter, intensified hands-on component allows us to reformat the MAC, serve a greater population, and more quickly get our graduates in front of employer demand.”Bidanda added that the MAC will be another strong component for the Titusville Education and Training Hub and further support workforce training in Crawford and surrounding counties. The University in 2018 began its transition of the Titusville campus to a community-focused resource with a combination of traditional college courses and vocational training, with both academic and corporate partners.The MAC’s new partnership with Conturo Prototyping, according to company founder and Swanson School alumnus John Conturo, helps to solve three obstacles: maintaining the MAC’s presence in Homewood; providing accessible training for communities east of the City; and addressing the “skills gap” in the machining and manufacturing industries.“Over the past few decades there has been a sharp decrease in the number of individuals pursuing trades rather than a traditional 4-year degree, especially in manufacturing. Because of this, the skills gap is making it difficult to keep up with demand for precision parts and machining services. If the workforce to address that demand doesn't exist, we need to create it,” Conturo explained. Indeed, Conturo and his company were planning on developing their own advanced training facility and curriculum until he learned that a partnership with the MAC would address public, private, and community needs. “I’ve employed a handful of MAC students, so I know the quality of students that come out of the program. By creating this partnership with the MAC, I can expand to a new facility in Homewood to accommodate more full-time staff and resources; absorb the classes currently offered; provide more advanced resources for hands-on training in a state-of-the-art facility; and provide a stronger, successful resource for Homewood and surrounding communities.”Lina Dostilio, associate vice chancellor for community engagement, noted that Pitt’s Community Engagement Centers (CECs) will be an important resource that was unavailable when the MAC relocated to Homewood from Harmar Township in 2018. “The CECs will lift some of the burden from the MAC’s operational structure,” she explained. “We can help to market the MAC to prospective students, especially in the city’s underserved neighborhoods, and will include virtual programming through our CEC in the Hill’s Digital Inclusion Center. The delivery of the online interface, any proctoring or office hours, and educational support will still be led by the MAC.”Bidanda noted that most student costs are absorbed through external funding, including grants, workforce redevelopment funds, trade adjustment, and the GI Bill. The MAC’s placement rate for graduates is a healthy 95%.James R. Martin II, U.S. Steel Dean of Engineering at Pitt, emphasized that this new model maintains the MAC’s mission and Pitt’s commitment to the communities it serves while addressing employer demand for workforce manufacturing skills.“The strength of a major university like Pitt is its ability to see beyond traditional academics and research to support the people who live in its communities and to provide lifelong learning skills,” Martin said. “Engineering in particular, which throughout history has helped people develop tools and new learning that then advance society, is the perfect conduit for connecting people with the knowledge they need to advance their own lives.The disruption caused by COVID-19 has forced academia and industry alike to regroup and develop new programs that address the needs of the communities we serve. I am incredibly proud of how the MAC, Dr. Koverola, the CECs, and John have come together to develop what I think will be a stronger program than when we started. This is a win-win all around.”###About Conturo Prototyping LLCConturo Prototyping is a precision manufacturing company located in the East End. With a specialty in producing complex machined components, Conturo plays a vital role in the local technology ecosystem by providing parts for autonomous vehicles, cutting edge robotics, moon landers and much much more. The business was founded in 2016 by Pittsburgh native, John Conturo after he graduated from the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. Since inception, the enterprise has experienced rapid growth and now occupies 17,000 sq ft with a staff of 21 full time machinists, engineers, technicians and administrators across both of locations in Pittsburgh, PA and Boston, MA.
Feb
10
2021

Origami Powered by Light

Industrial, MEMS, Banner, UPCAM, Spotlight

PITTSBURGH (Feb. 10, 2021) — If you watch the leaves of a plant long enough, you may see them shift and turn toward the sunlight through the day. It happens slowly, but surely. Some man-made materials can mimic this slow but steady reaction to light energy, usually triggered by lasers or focused ambient light. New research from the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University has discovered a way to speed up this effect enough that its performance can compete against electrical and pneumatic systems.“We wanted to create machines where light is the only source of energy and direction,” explained M. Ravi Shankar, professor of industrial engineering and senior author of the paper. “The challenge is that while we could get some movement and actuation with light-driven polymers, it was too slow of a response to be practical.” When the polymer sheet is flat, the light animates it slowly, curving or curling over time. The researchers found that by forming the polymer into a curved shape, like a shell, the bending action happened much more quickly and generated more torque. “If you want to move something, like flip a switch or move a lever, you need something that will react quickly and with enough power,” said Shankar, who holds a secondary appointment in mechanical engineering and materials science. “We found that by applying a mechanical constraint to the material by confining it along on the edges, and embedding judiciously thought-out arrangements of molecules, we can upconvert a slow response into something that is more impulsive.” The researchers used a photoresponsive azobenzene-functionalized liquid crystalline polymer (ALCP) film that is 50 micrometers thick and several millimeters in width and length. A shell-like geometry was created by confining this material along its edges to create a curve. Shining light on this geometry folds the shell at a crease that spontaneously nucleates. This folding occurs within tens of milliseconds and generates torque densities of up to 10 newton-meters per kilogram (10Nm/kg). The light driven response is magnified by about three orders-of-magnitude in comparison to the material that was flat. “The outcomes of the project are very exciting because it means that we can create light powered actuators that are competitive with electrical actuators,” said Kaushik Dayal, coauthor and professor of civil and environmental engineering at CMU.“Our approach towards scaling up the performance of light-driven polymers could reinvent the design of fully untethered soft robots with numerous technological applications,” added lead author and post-doctoral researcher at CMU Mahnoush Babaei. The paper, "Torque-dense Photomechanical Actuation,” (DOI: 10.1039/D0SM01352H) was published in the journal Soft Matter. Author: Maggie PavlickContact: Maggie Pavlick
Jan
13
2021

Breathing Easier with a Better Tracheal Stent

Bioengineering, Chemical & Petroleum, MEMS, Banner, UPCAM, Spotlight, Biotechnology

PITTSBURGH (Jan. 13, 2021) — Pediatric laryngotracheal stenosis (LTS), a narrowing of the airway in children, is a complex medical condition. While it can be something a child is born with or caused by injury, the condition can result in a life-threatening emergency if untreated.Treatment, however, is challenging. Depending on the severity, doctors will use a combination of endoscopic techniques, surgical repair, tracheostomy, or deployment of stents to hold the airway open and enable breathing. While stents are great at holding the airway open and simultaneously allowing the trachea to continue growing, they can move around, or cause damage when they’re eventually removed. New research published in Communications Biology and led by the University of Pittsburgh is poised to drastically improve the use of stents, demonstrating for the first time the successful use of a completely biodegradable magnesium-alloy tracheal stent that avoids some of these risks.“Using commercial non-biodegradable metal or silicone based tracheal stents has a risk of severe complications and doesn't achieve optimal clinical outcomes, even in adults,” said Prashant N. Kumta, Edward R. Weidlein Chair Professor of bioengineering at the Swanson School of Engineering. “Using advanced biomaterials could offer a less invasive, and more successful, treatment option.” In the study, the balloon-expandable ultra-high ductility (UHD) biodegradable magnesium stent was shown to perform better than current metallic non-biodegradable stents in use in both in lab testing and in rabbit models. The stent was shown to keep the airway open over time and have low degradation rates, displaying normal healing and no adverse problems.“Our results are very promising for the use of this novel biodegradable, high ductility metal stent, particularly for pediatric patients,” said Kumta, who also holds appointments in Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, and the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine. “We hope this new approach leads to new and improved treatments for patients with this complex condition as well as other tracheal obstruction conditions including tracheal cancer.”The paper, “In-vivo efficacy of biodegradable ultrahigh ductility Mg-Li-Zn alloy tracheal stents for pediatric airway obstruction,” (DOI: 10.1038/s42003-020-01400-7), was authored by the Swanson School’s Jingyao Wu, Abhijit Roy, Bouen Lee, Youngjae Chun, William R. Wagner, and Prashant N. Kumta; UPMC’s Leila Mady, Ali Mübin Aral, Toma Catalin, Humberto E. Trejo Bittar, and David Chi; and Feng Zheng and Ke Yang from The Institute of Metal Research at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.Author: Maggie PavlickContact: Maggie Pavlick
Dec
22
2020

IE's Youngjae Chun Receives Second-Year Funding From Children's Heart Foundation For Congenital Heart Defect Research

Bioengineering, Industrial, UPCAM

NORTHBROOK, Ill. (December 22, 2020/PRNewswire) ... Youngjae Chun, associate professor of industrial engineering and bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering, will receive second-year research funding as part of more than $735,000 from the The Children's Heart Foundation, the nation's leading organization dedicated to funding congenital heart defect (CHD) research.Chun is one of three researchers receiving second-year funding for research that, according to the Foundation, has made significant progress this year: Kristopher B. Deatrick, MD [University of Maryland] for continued work on Stem Cell Therapy for Post- Cardiopulmonary Bypass Low Cardiac Output Syndrome.Youngjae Chun, PhD [University of Pittsburgh] for research on A Self-Growing Percutaneous Heart Valve Frame to Treat Congenital Heart Disease.Allen Everett, MD [Johns Hopkins University] for ongoing study of the Role of Cyclohexanone Toxicity in Mediating Congenital Cardiac Surgical Outcomes. These research efforts will help experts learn more about the life-long care needs of individuals living with CHDs and how to continue to improve their overall quality of life. Announced in March 2020, Chun's research focuses on developing a new type of metallic frame for pediatric heart valves that could not only be placed by a minimally invasive catheter-based procedure but would also grow with the child, eliminating the need for follow-up surgeries. The Foundation will fund over in CHD research and scientific collaborations this year across four key initiatives: 1. independent research funded by the Foundation, 2. collaborative research with the American Heart Association through joint Congenital Heart Defect Research Awards, 3. funding the American Academy of Pediatrics' Pediatric Cardiology Research Fellowship Award, and 4. funding Cardiac Networks United (CNU), a national pediatric and congenital cardiovascular research network.The Children's Heart Foundation provides funding to Cardiac Networks United to improve outcomes for children with CHDs. One of CNU's current research efforts—the Chest Tube Project—is now being implemented at nearly 20 U.S. hospitals as researchers consider the optimal time for chest tube removal in young CHD patients. In addition, the Foundation funded the American Academy of Pediatrics' 2020 Pediatric Cardiology Research Fellowship Award given to David Staudt, MD, PhD, pediatric cardiology fellow at Stanford University. His research—Unraveling Molecular Modifiers of Hypertrophic and Restrictive Cardiomyopathy—is important because it begins to identify genetic mutations and underlying causes of hypertrophic and restrictive cardiomyopathies, which could lead to therapies that counteract or prevent CHDs. "Amidst uncertainty in 2020, our dedication to funding the most promising research has remained unchanged," said Barbara Newhouse, President & CEO of The Children's Heart Foundation. "The research we're funding is truly moving the needle." Every 15 minutes, a baby is born with a congenital heart defect, making CHDs America's most common birth defect. The Children's Heart Foundation's mission is to advance the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of CHDs by funding the most promising research. Since 1996, the Foundation has been a proven leader, funding nearly $14 million of CHD research and scientific collaborations. About The Children's Heart FoundationThe Children's Heart Foundation will mark its 25th anniversary in 2021. Its mission is to advance the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of congenital heart defects by funding the most promising research. For more information, visit www.childrensheartfoundation.org and follow us on Facebook, Instagram,  Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube.Author: Author: The Children's Heart Foundation (via PR Newswire)Contact: Paul Kovach
Nov
18
2020

Wei Xiong Faculty Fellow Award

MEMS, UPCAM

Wei Xiong, assistant professor of materials science, is one of two recipients of the 2021 Early Career Faculty Fellow Award given by The Minerals, Metals, & Materials Society (TMS). This award recognizes assistant professors for their accomplishments that have advanced the academic institution where employed, and for abilities to broaden the technological profile of TMS. Xiong will receive free travel and registration to two TMS annual meetings and will be given technical support and guidance in developing new programming for TMS symposiums.Department Chair, Professor Brian Gleeson notes, “Dr. Xiong is a tireless and dedicated educator and researcher. Moreover, he is remarkably good at the essential skills required for academic success. His considerable professional service is equally impressive. His outstanding communication skills coupled with his sound understanding of the fundamental aspects of his research make him a standout in any academic or research arena. He is truly exceptional.”Since joining the MEMS Department in 2016, Xiong became Director of the Physical Metallurgy and Materials Design Laboratory. His current research focuses on advancing the fundamental aspects of alloy design using both computational and experimental approaches. In collaboration with fellow MEMS professor Albert To, he established the MOST-AM (Modeling and Optimization Simulation Tools for Additive Manufacturing) consortium which has seen much success since its inception with 25 industry members and 7 government agency members. He has received funding from several prestigious sources such as NASA, ONR, NSF and DOE.Xiong says of the award, “TMS provides a phenomenal platform for junior metallurgists to collaborate with and learn from other researchers and engineers in our community. I am immensely honored to receive this prestigious award and will continue to support various activities organized by the TMS.”Contact: Meagan Lenze
Oct
13
2020

Pitt Joins Southwestern PA Defense Manufacturing Community Consortium

All SSoE News, UPCAM

PITTSBURGH (Oct. 13, 2020) — The U.S. Department of Defense recently designated a consortium of southwestern Pennsylvanian defense industry organizations as a Defense Manufacturing Community, awarding the group $5 million toward the Artificial Intelligence in Manufacturing (AIM) Defense Industry Consortium. Two representatives from the University of Pittsburgh will join the Consortium, which is led by Catalyst Connection.Robert Stein, Associate Vice Chancellor for Innovation and Entrepreneurship & Executive Director at Pitt’s Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence (IEE), and Liza Allison, program administrator for the University of Pittsburgh Center for Advanced Manufacturing (UPCAM), will serve among the 30 consortium members in the region.The goal of the AIM defense industry ecosystem is to focus on the integration of DoD modernization priorities in artificial intelligence, additive manufacturing and robotics, together with the DoD critical needs for advanced metals and materials."Pitt is excited to collaborate with Catalyst Connection on this exciting Department of Defense grant to strengthen the defense supply chain,” said Stein. “Pitt's efforts include a cohort for product commercialization and an industry liaison between Pitt and the defense industrial base.”According to Catalyst Connection, the AIM Consortium’s strategy for its three-year project includes “establishing anchor sites for defense manufacturing collaboration and assistance, conducting a research and innovation alliance, filling gaps and boosting connections in the defense industries supply chain, enhancing and integrating workforce training and education, providing technical assistance and support to small defense industry manufacturers, and building the defense manufacturing ecosystem with convenings and communications.” “Pitt is honored to be a part of this regional endeavor. Our innovations in the conventional metals industry and research into new and novel manufacturing technologies will continue to advance and can be enhanced by the vital government-industrial-academic relationship such as envisioned in the DMCP,” said Allison. “I look forward to the many opportunities this consortium will bring to our region and to our University.” Author: Maggie PavlickContact: Maggie Pavlick
Jul
7
2020

Two Pitt Researchers Receive Manufacturing Innovation Challenge Funding for COVID-19 Response

Covid-19, MEMS, UPCAM

PITTSBURGH (July 7, 2020) — COVID-19 has spurred research partnerships across sectors and industries. Two University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering faculty members, who are partnering with Pennsylvania companies, have recently each received $25,000 in funding from Pennsylvania’s Manufacturing PA Innovation Program COVID-19 Challenge to continue addressing the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.As the pandemic spread, the N95 masks—which include respirator filters that block out contaminants like the virus that causes COVID-19—were increasingly difficult to find. Xiayun Zhao and Markus Chmielus, assistant professors of mechanical engineering and materials science (MEMS) at Pitt, both received funding for their projects developing alternative, reusable filters for N95 masks.“The response by the MEMS Department in aiding to address needs during this COVID-19 pandemic has been impressive, and I particularly applaud the efforts of Professors Zhao and Chmielus who are applying their expertise in advanced manufacturing in this response," said Brian Gleeson, Harry S. Tack Chair Professor of MEMS.Zhao is partnering with Du-Co Ceramics Company on a project entitled “Rapid Manufacturing of Polymer-Derived Ceramic Films for Respirators.” This partnership will use polymer-derived ceramics (PDCs) to create ceramic filter films for N95 masks. The project will take advantage of photopolymerization-based additive manufacturing to rapidly create reusable and sterilizable ceramic filters.Chmielus is working with the ExOne Company on a reusable N95 filters that uses metal binder-jet 3D printing. ExOne’s binder jetting technology is a high-speed form of 3D printing that can produce metal parts with specific porosity levels that can effectively filter out contaminants while allowing airflow. The reusable copper and stainless-steel filters are being designed to fit into a respirator cartridge for sustainable, long-term protection. Zhao and Chmielus are part of the University of Pittsburgh Center for Advanced Manufacturing (UPCAM) Materials Engineering and Processing group, which “supports fundamental research addressing the interrelationship of materials processing, structure, properties and/or life-cycle performance for targeted applications,” according to the website.Author: Maggie PavlickContact: Maggie Pavlick
Jul
2
2020

The Department of Energy Awards $1.9M to Swanson School Faculty and Students for Nuclear Energy Research

Electrical & Computer, MEMS, Student Profiles, Nuclear, UPCAM, Spotlight

PITTSBURGH (July 2, 2020) … Humankind is consuming more energy than ever before, and with this growth in consumption, researchers must develop new power technologies that will address these needs. Nuclear power remains a fast-growing and reliable sector of clean, carbon-free energy, and four researchers at the University of Pittsburgh received awards to further their work in this area.The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) invested more than $65 million to advance nuclear technology, announced June 16, 2020. Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering received a total of $1,868,500 in faculty and student awards from the DOE’s Nuclear Energy University Program (NEUP).According to the DOE, “NEUP seeks to maintain U.S. leadership in nuclear research across the country by providing top science and engineering faculty and their students with opportunities to develop innovative technologies and solutions for civil nuclear capabilities.”“Historically, our region has been a leader in the nuclear energy industry, and we are trying to keep that tradition alive at the Swanson School by being at the forefront of this field,” said Heng Ban, Richard K. Mellon Professor of Mechanical Engineering and director of the Swanson School’s Stephen R. Tritch Nuclear Engineering Program. “I’m thrilled that the Department of Energy has recognized the innovative work from our faculty, and I look forward to seeing the advancements that arise from this research.”The DOE supported three projects from the Swanson School.High Temperature Thermophysical Property of Nuclear Fuels and MaterialsPI: Heng Ban, Richard K. Mellon Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Director of Stephen R. Tritch Nuclear Engineering Program$300,000Ban, a leading expert in nuclear material thermal properties and reactor instrumentation and measurements, will use this award to enhance research at Pitt by filling an infrastructure gap.  He will purchase key equipment to strengthen core nuclear capability in the strategic thrust area of instrumentation and measurements. A laser flash analyzer and a thermal mechanical analyzer (thermal expansion) will be purchased as a tool suite for complete thermophysical property information.Fiber Sensor Fused Additive Manufacturing for Smart Component Fabrication for Nuclear EnergyPI: Kevin Chen, Paul E. Lego Professor of Electrical and Computer EngineeringCo-PI: Albert To, William Kepler Whiteford Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science$1,000,000The Pitt research team will utilize unique technical capabilities developed in the SSoE to lead efforts in sensor-fused additive manufacturing for future nuclear energy systems. Through integrated research efforts in radiation-harden distributed fiber sensor fabrication, design and optimization algorithm developments, and additive manufacturing innovation, the team will deliver smart components to nuclear energy systems to harness high spatial resolution data. This will enable artificial intelligence based data analytics for operation optimization and condition-based maintenance for nuclear power systems.Multicomponent Thermochemistry of Complex Chloride Salts for Sustainable Fuel Cycle TechnologiesPI: Wei Xiong, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and materials scienceCo-PIs: Prof. Elizabeth Sooby Wood (University of Texas at San Antonio), Dr. Toni Karlsson (Idaho National Laboratory), and Dr. Guy Fredrickson (Idaho National Laboratory)$400,000Nuclear reactors help bring clean water and reliable energy to communities across the world. Next-generation reactor design, especially small modular reactors, will be smaller, cheaper, and more powerful, but they will require high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) as fuel. As the demand for HALEU is expected to grow significantly, Xiong’s project seeks to improve the process of recovering uranium from spent nuclear fuels to produce HALEU ingots. Part of the process involves pyrochemical reprocessing based on molten salt electrolysis. Hence, developing a thermodynamic database using the CALPHAD (Calculation of Phase Diagrams) approach to estimate the solubilities of fission product chloride salts into the molten electrolyte is essential for improving the process efficiency. The results will help in estimating the properties that are essential for improving the HALEU production and further support the development of chloride molten salt reactors.Two Swanson School students also received awards from NEUP. Jerry Potts, a senior mechanical engineering student, received a $7,500 nuclear energy scholarship, one of 42 students in the nation. Iza Lantgios (BS ME ‘20), a matriculating mechanical engineering graduate student, was one of 34 students nationwide to be awarded a $161,000 fellowship. Swanson School students have secured 20 NEUP scholarships and fellowships since 2009.# # #Contact: Leah Russell
Jun
23
2020

Five Pitt Researchers Receive PA Department of Community and Economic Development Grants

Electrical & Computer, MEMS, UPCAM

PITTSBURGH (June 23, 2020) — Five researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering have received grants from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) through the Manufacturing PA initiative. The DCED has approved more than $2.8 million in grants to 43 projects that will “spur new technologies and processes in the manufacturing sector,” according to their press release.“As engineers, we are applied scientists, and our singular goal in performing research is to produce public impact,” said David Vorp, associate dean for research and John A. Swanson Professor of bioengineering. “I am proud that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania saw the potential of these projects by our Swanson School faculty and their industrial partners to have benefit to their citizens.” The five researchers to receive funding at the Swanson School are:Kevin Chen, Paul E. Lego Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering$67,991—Femtosecond Laser Manufacturing of 3D Photonics Components in Nonlinear Optical Substrates for Electro-Optic ApplicationsMarkus Chmielus, associate professor of mechanical engineering and materials science$70,000—Improving 3D Binder Jet Printed Tungsten-Carbide Parts via Strategies to Increase Green Density and StrengthJung-Kun Lee, professor of mechanical engineering and materials science$70,000—Smart Crucible: Monitoring Damage of Crucibles by Embedded Electric Resistance SensorAlbert To, associate professor of mechanical engineering and materials science$69,450—A Computational Tool for Simulating the Sintering Behavior in Binder Jet Additive ManufacturingXiayun Zhao, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and materials science$70,000—Pushing the Boundaries of Ceramic Additive Manufacturing (CAM) with Visible light initiated Polymerization (ViP)Author: Maggie PavlickContact: Maggie Pavlick