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Parans Paranthaman, a researcher in the Chemical Sciences Division at ORNL, coordinated research efforts to study the filter efficiency of the N95 material. His published results represent one of the first studies on polypropylene as it relates to COVID-19. Credit: ORNL/U.S. Dept. of Energy

When COVID-19 was declared a pandemic in March 2020, Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Parans Paranthaman suddenly found himself working from home like millions of others.

Kashif Nawaz, researcher and group leader for multifunctional equipment integration in buildings technologies, is developing a platform for the direct air capture of carbon dioxide that can be retrofitted to existing rooftop heating, ventilation and air conditioning units.  Credit: ORNL/U.S. Dept. of Energy

When Kashif Nawaz looks at a satellite map of the U.S., he sees millions of buildings that could hold a potential solution for the capture of carbon dioxide, a plentiful gas that can be harmful when excessive amounts are released into the atmosphere, raising the Earth’s temperature.

Neutron scattering experiments show electric charges, shown in red, blue and grey, in the SARS-CoV-2 main protease site where telaprevir binds to the structure. The experiments provide critical data for the design of small-molecule drugs to treat COVID-19. Credit: Jill Hemman and Michelle Lehman/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Scientists have found new, unexpected behaviors when SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes COVID-19 – encounters drugs known as inhibitors, which bind to certain components of the virus and block its ability to reproduce.  

ORNL has modeled the spike protein that binds the novel coronavirus to a human cell for better understanding of the dynamics of COVID-19. Credit: Stephan Irle/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

To better understand the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers have harnessed the power of supercomputers to accurately model the spike protein that binds the novel coronavirus to a human cell receptor.

ORNL recognized the small businesses that have made a positive impact on ORNL’s operations at the virtual 2020 Small Business Awards. Credit: ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Thirty-two Oak Ridge National Laboratory employees were named among teams recognized by former DOE Secretary Dan Brouillette with Secretary’s Honor Awards as he completed his term. Four teams received new awards that reflect DOE responses to the coronavirus pandemic.

Merlin Theodore holding N95 mask filtration material produced at DOE's Carbon Fiber Technology Facility

Three technologies developed by ORNL researchers have won National Technology Transfer Awards from the Federal Laboratory Consortium. One of the awards went to a team that adapted melt-blowing capabilities at DOE’s Carbon Fiber Technology Facility to enable the production of filter material for N95 masks in the fight against COVID-19.

Researchers at ORNL’s Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences and the University of Tennessee Health Science Center partnered to design a COVID-19 screening whistle for convenient home testing. Credit: Michelle Lehman/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Collaborators at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Tennessee Health Science Center are developing a breath-sampling whistle that could make COVID-19 screening easy to do at home.

Paul Kent, shown above posing with Summit in April 2018, received the 2020 ORNL Director’s Award for Outstanding Individual Accomplishment in Science and Technology. Credit: ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

The annual Director's Awards recognized four individuals and teams including awards for leadership in quantum simulation development and application on high-performance computing platforms, and revolutionary advancements in the area of microbial isolation techniques. Two awards were specific to the COVID-19 pandemic: one given in recognition for ensuring the safety for ORNL staff during the COVID-19 pandemic and another for the rapid development and deployment of melt blowing and charging technology to enable domestic production of N95 media.


A multi-institutional team, led by a group of investigators at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, has been studying various SARS-CoV-2 protein targets, including the virus’s main protease. The feat has earned the team a finalist nomination for the Association of Computing Machinery, or ACM, Gordon Bell Special Prize for High Performance Computing-Based COVID-19 Research.

An organic solvent and water separate and form nanoclusters on the hydrophobic and hydrophilic sections of plant material, driving the efficient deconstruction of biomass. Credit: Michelle Lehman/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Experiments led by researchers at ORNL have determined that several hepatitis C drugs can inhibit the SARS-CoV-2 main protease, a crucial protein enzyme that enables the novel coronavirus to reproduce.