Solving the big problems

ORNL entrance

Entrance to ORNL’s main campus

Oak Ridge National Laboratory is the largest US Department of Energy science and energy laboratory, conducting basic and applied research to deliver transformative solutions to compelling problems in energy and security.
ORNL’s diverse capabilities span a broad range of scientific and engineering disciplines, enabling the Laboratory to explore fundamental science challenges and to carry out the research needed to accelerate the delivery of solutions to the marketplace. ORNL supports DOE’s national missions of:
  • Scientific discovery—We assemble teams of experts from diverse backgrounds, equip them with powerful instruments and research facilities, and address compelling national problems;
  • Clean energy—We deliver energy technology solutions for energy-efficient buildings, transportation, and manufacturing, and we study biological, environmental, and climate systems in order to develop new biofuels and bioproducts and to explore the impacts of climate change;
  • Security—We develop and deploy “first-of-a-kind” science-based security technologies to make the world a safer place.

ORNL supports these missions through leadership in four major areas of science and technology: 

  • Neutrons—We operate two of the world’s leading neutron sources, which enable scientists and engineers to gain new insights into materials and biological systems;
  • Computing—We accelerate scientific discovery through modeling and simulation on powerful supercomputers, advance data-intensive science, and sustain US leadership in high-performance computing;
  • Materials—We integrate basic and applied research to develop advanced materials for energy applications;
  • Nuclear—We advance the scientific basis for 21st century nuclear fission and fusion technologies and systems, and we produce isotopes for research, industry, and medicine.

ORNL facts and figures

  • Director: Thomas E. Mason
  • Staff: 4,400, including scientists and engineers in more than 100 disciplines
  • Users and visiting scientists, annually: 3,200
  • Budget: $1.4 billion
  • Location: In eastern Tennessee, near Knoxville
  • Established: 1943 as part of the
    Manhattan Project
  • US patents issued since 2004: 594
  • Active licenses as of Sept. 30, 2014: 130
  • Management and operating contractor: UT-Battelle LLC