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Snapshot of total temperature distribution at supersonic speed of mach 2.4. Total temperature allows the team to visualize the extent of the exhaust plumes as the temperature of the plumes is much greater than that of the surrounding atmosphere. Credit: NASA

The type of vehicle that will carry people to the Red Planet is shaping up to be “like a two-story house you’re trying to land on another planet. 

Tyler Gerczak, a materials scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, is focused on post-irradiation examination and separate effects testing of current fuels for light water reactors and advanced fuel types that could be used in future nuclear systems. Credit: Carlos Jones/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Ask Tyler Gerczak to find a negative in working at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and his only complaint is the summer weather. It is not as forgiving as the summers in Pulaski, Wisconsin, his hometown.

Weiju Ren’s knowledgebase is making the nuclear world safer. Called DOE’s Gen IV Materials Handbook, it manages data about structural materials for the Very High Temperature Reactor. Credit: Carlos Jones/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Six new nuclear reactor technologies are set to deploy for commercial use between 2030 and 2040. Called Generation IV nuclear reactors, they will operate with improved performance at dramatically higher temperatures than today’s reactors.

Combining fundamental chemistry with high-performance computing resources at ORNL, researchers demonstrate a more efficient method for recovering uranium from seawater, unveiling a prototype material that outperforms best-in-class uranium adsorbents. Credit: Alexander Ivanov/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy.

Scientists have demonstrated a new bio-inspired material for an eco-friendly and cost-effective approach to recovering uranium from seawater.

ORNL collaborator Hsiu-Wen Wang led the neutron scattering experiments at the Spallation Neutron Source to probe complex electrolyte solutions that challenge nuclear waste processing at Hanford and other sites. Credit: Genevieve Martin/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy.

Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Washington State University teamed up to investigate the complex dynamics of low-water liquids that challenge nuclear waste processing at federal cleanup sites.

ORNL staff members (from left) Ashley Shields, Michael Galloway, Ketan Maheshwari and Andrew Miskowiec are collaborating on a project focused on predicting and analyzing crystal structures of new uranium oxide phases. Credit: Jason Richards/ORNL

Scientists at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory are working to understand both the complex nature of uranium and the various oxide forms it can take during processing steps that might occur throughout the nuclear fuel cycle.

Molecular dynamics simulations of the Fs-peptide revealed the presence of at least eight distinct intermediate stages during the process of protein folding. The image depicts a fully folded helix (1), various transitional forms (2–8), and one misfolded state (9). By studying these protein folding pathways, scientists hope to identify underlying factors that affect human health.

Using artificial neural networks designed to emulate the inner workings of the human brain, deep-learning algorithms deftly peruse and analyze large quantities of data. Applying this technique to science problems can help unearth historically elusive solutions.


While studying the genes in poplar trees that control callus formation, scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have uncovered genetic networks at the root of tumor formation in several human cancers.

Pellet selector

When it’s up and running, the ITER fusion reactor will be very big and very hot, with more than 800 cubic meters of hydrogen plasma reaching 170 million degrees centigrade. The systems that fuel and control it, on the other hand, will be small and very cold. Pellets of frozen gas will be shot int...

Processing plutonium-238

Since its 1977 launch, NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft has travelled farther than any other piece of human technology. It is also the only human-made object to have entered interstellar space. More recently, the agency’s New Horizons mission flew past Pluto on July 14, giving us our first close-up lo...