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Argonne National Laboratory


Argonne Impacts State by State

Argonne’s collaborations in Indiana and across the United States have led to groundbreaking discoveries and development of new technologies that help meet the nation’s needs for sustainable energy, economic prosperity, and security.

Indiana native builds successful energy tech company with assist from Argonne program

Ian Hamilton (right), CEO of Atlas Energy Systems and Chain Reaction Innovations Cohort 1 member, works with Sergey Chemerisov (left) at Argonne National Laboratory on thermionic energy conversion technology. (Image by Argonne National Laboratory.)

Fort Wayne, Indiana, native and Purdue University graduate Ian Hamilton is founder and CEO of Atlas Energy Systems, LLC, a company that develops energy converters for waste heat power generation, concentrated solar power and advanced nuclear reactors.

From 2017 to 2019, Hamilton was an innovator in Chain Reaction Innovations (CRI), a highly sought-after entrepreneurship program at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory that provides the most promising innovators from across the U.S. with world class technical support and business mentorship. Hamilton, who was named to Forbes’s 30 Under 30 In Energy list in 2018, worked with senior Argonne scientists and engineers while at CRI and gained access to facilities and tools that helped him make breakthroughs that have proved pivotal to the company’s success.  

Argonne, Energy Vision study Indiana farm for trailblazing project on renewable natural gas

Dairy cow manure is converted into R-CNG vehicle fuel, using a large anaerobic digester. (Image by Elisabeth Aardema / Shutterstock)

Fair Oaks, Indiana-based Fair Oaks Farms, a large dairy cooperative with about 36,000 cows, is part of a trailblazing project that bodes well for the future of renewable natural gas. The farm converts manure to renewable compressed natural gas (R-CNG) using a large anaerobic digester, and then the fuel powers its milk tanker trucks. Argonne and the sustainable energy NGO Energy Vision collaborated on a 2018 case study, funded by the DOE Vehicle Technologies Office’s Technology Integration program, that highlights Fair Oaks as among the first to produce R-CNG vehicle fuel by using anaerobic digesters to capture  biogases from decomposing organic waste. R-CNG is a fully renewable fuel and produced from anaerobic digestion of waste, which means making and using it results in lower atmospheric greenhouse gas (GHG) than if the fuel were never made or used.

R-CNG can achieve the greatest GHG reductions of any transportation fuel today — 70 percent or more as compared to gasoline or diesel,” said Marianne Mintz of Argonne’s Energy System division, who co-authored the case study. Argonne’s Energy and Global Security division also participated.

ArcelorMittal, Purdue Northwest, Argonne, team up to improve steel manufacturing

Improving steel-reheating-furnace efficiency can improve steel slab quality, increase productivity and reduce energy consumption. (Image by SimoneN / Shutterstock)

East Chicago, Indiana-based ArcelorMittal Global Research and Development is partnering with Argonne and Purdue University Northwest on high-performance computing to enable energy-efficient, defect-free manufacturing of steel slabs. Reheat furnaces have an essential role in steel production, but their operation is both energy-intensive and complex. This collaborative research uses advanced simulation and high-performance computing technologies to investigate ways that steel manufacturers can improve slab quality, increase productivity, reduce energy consumption and improve environmental benefits. It was funded in 2019 by the DOE’s High-Performance Computing for Manufacturing (HPC4Mfg) program.

The HPC4Mfg program aims to help U.S. manufacturers become more productive and competitive through the advancement of energy-efficient and cleaner production technologies. With this research project, we hope to develop synergies by tapping expertise from all three organizations to advance science and engineering, while contributing to the growth of the steel manufacturing industry,” said May Wu, principal environmental systems analyst in Argonne’s Energy Systems division. Argonne’s Leadership Computing Facility and Computational Science division also participated.