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The research of a UT professor working to create a battery that packs several thousand times more energy than batteries used today has received a boost from Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU).

Eric Lukosi, an assistant professor in nuclear engineering, received a $10,000 Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award, including $5,000 from ORAU and $5,000 in matching funds from the UT Office of Research. The award is given to thirty young faculty members at ORAU member institutions with the goal of enriching their research and professional growth, spurring new funding opportunities.

ORAU provides innovative scientific and technical solutions for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and other federal agencies to advance national priorities in science, health, education, and national security. A nonprofit corporation and federal contractor, ORAU manages the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education for the DOE.

“The Powe Award is very prestigious, and Eric’s important research is very deserving,” said Wayne Davis, dean of the College of Engineering. “This honor bodes well for his future success in sponsored research.”

Lukosi’s research focuses on the development of a long-lived, innovative nuclear battery termed a High Temperature Direct Energy Conversion (HiTDEC). The proposed battery operates by converting radioactive energy to electrical energy using a semiconducting diamond transducer.

“Current direct energy conversion nuclear batteries are very sensitive to radiation damage, thereby limiting the useful lifetime to a few days,” said Lukosi. “The proposed nuclear battery aims to surpass this limitation by providing power generation for over a year. This can be especially useful for spacecraft and sensors.”

The funds will be used for initial investigations into techniques that lessen radiation damage to the diamond transducer. The study is important to the success of the HiTDEC nuclear battery and will help define the achievable potential energy stored in the battery.

“ORAU is excited to support thirty exciting new ideas proposed by junior faculty from member institutions,” said Arlene Garrison, ORAU vice president of University Partnerships, in a statement. “This funding enables creative exploration at a critical early career stage.”

For more information on the Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award, visit ORAU’s website.

C O N T A C T:

Whitney Heins (865-974-5460,