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Chuck Kessel

Chuck Kessel was still in high school when he saw a scientist hold up a tiny vial of water and say, “This could fuel a house for a whole year.”

Blue sky above ORNL campus.

ORNL and three partnering institutions have received $4.2 million over three years to apply artificial intelligence to the advancement of complex systems in which human decision making could be enhanced via technology.

Data collection instruments at the North Pole

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory were part of an international team that collected a treasure trove of data measuring precipitation, air particles, cloud patterns and the exchange of energy between the atmosphere and the sea ice.

These fuel assembly brackets, manufactured by ORNL in partnership with Framatome and Tennessee Valley Authority, are the first 3D-printed safety-related components to be inserted into a nuclear power plant. Credit: Fred List/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

The Transformational Challenge Reactor, or TCR, a microreactor built using 3D printing and other new advanced technologies, could be operational by 2024.

MPEX ribbon cutting

Department of Energy Under Secretary for Science Paul Dabbar joined Oak Ridge National Laboratory leaders for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark progress toward a next-generation fusion materials project.

An ORNL researcher holds a capsule of molten salt. Preliminary experiments seem to indicate that irradiation can slow corrosion of metal in liquid salt. Credit: ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Irradiation may slow corrosion of alloys in molten salt, a team of Oak Ridge National Laboratory scientists has found in preliminary tests.

Light moves through a fiber and stimulates the metal electrons in nanotip into collective oscillations called surface plasmons, assisting electrons to leave the tip. This simple electron nano-gun can be made more versatile via different forms of material composition and structuring. Credit: Ali Passian/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Scientists at ORNL and the University of Nebraska have developed an easier way to generate electrons for nanoscale imaging and sensing, providing a useful new tool for material science, bioimaging and fundamental quantum research.

Innovation Network for Fusion Energy, or INFUSE

The Department of Energy announced awards for 10 projects with private industry that will allow for collaboration with DOE national laboratories in accelerating fusion energy development.

Fuel pellets sometimes degrade to a sandlike consistency and can disperse into the reactor core if a rod’s cladding bursts. ORNL researchers are studying how often this happens and what impact it has, in order to let reactors operate as long as possible without increasing risk.

A developing method to gauge the occurrence of a nuclear reactor anomaly has the potential to save millions of dollars.

This photo shows the interior of the vessel of the General Atomics DIII-D National Fusion Facility in San Diego, where ORNL researchers are testing the suitability of tungsten to armor the inside of a fusion device. Credit: General Atomics

The inside of future nuclear fusion energy reactors will be among the harshest environments ever produced on Earth. What’s strong enough to protect the inside of a fusion reactor from plasma-produced heat fluxes akin to space shuttles reentering Earth’s atmosphere?