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Argon pellet injection text

As scientists study approaches to best sustain a fusion reactor, a team led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory investigated injecting shattered argon pellets into a super-hot plasma, when needed, to protect the reactor’s interior wall from high-energy runaway electrons.

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.

Tungsten tiles for fusion

Using additive manufacturing, scientists experimenting with tungsten at Oak Ridge National Laboratory hope to unlock new potential of the high-performance heat-transferring material used to protect components from the plasma inside a fusion reactor. Fusion requires hydrogen isotopes to reach millions of degrees.

Desalination process

A new method developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory improves the energy efficiency of a desalination process known as solar-thermal evaporation. 

Nuclear—Tiny testing fuels

For the first time, Oak Ridge National Laboratory has completed testing of nuclear fuels using MiniFuel, an irradiation vehicle that allows for rapid experimentation.

An ORNL-developed graphite foam, which could be used in plasma-facing components in fusion reactors, performed well during testing at the Wendlestein 7-X stellarator in Germany.

Scientists have tested a novel heat-shielding graphite foam, originally created at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, at Germany’s Wendelstein 7-X stellarator with promising results for use in plasma-facing components of fusion reactors.

Lauren Garrison

The materials inside a fusion reactor must withstand one of the most extreme environments in science, with temperatures in the thousands of degrees Celsius and a constant bombardment of neutron radiation and deuterium and tritium, isotopes of hydrogen, from the volatile plasma at th...