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ORNL is designing a neutronic research engine to evaluate new materials and designs for advanced vehicles using the facilities at the Spallation Neutron Source at ORNL. Credit: Jill Hemman/ORNL, U.S. Dept of Energy, and  Southwest Research Institute.

In the quest for advanced vehicles with higher energy efficiency and ultra-low emissions, ORNL researchers are accelerating a research engine that gives scientists and engineers an unprecedented view inside the atomic-level workings of combustion engines in real time.

Distinguished Inventors

Six scientists at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory were named Battelle Distinguished Inventors, in recognition of obtaining 14 or more patents during their careers at the lab.

ORNL researchers have developed a new class of cobalt-free cathodes called NFA that are being investigated for making lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles. Credit: Andy Sproles/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers have developed a new family of cathodes with the potential to replace the costly cobalt-based cathodes typically found in today’s lithium-ion batteries that power electric vehicles and consumer electronics.

Drawing of air taxi

If air taxis become a viable mode of transportation, Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers have estimated they could reduce fuel consumption significantly while alleviating traffic congestion.

A Co-Optima research team led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Jim Szybist in collaboration with Argonne, Sandia and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, created a merit function tool that evaluates six fuel properties and their impact on engine performance, giving the scientific community a guide to quickly evaluate biofuels. Credit: ORNL/U.S. Dept. of Energy

As ORNL’s fuel properties technical lead for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Co-Optimization of Fuel and Engines, or Co-Optima, initiative, Jim Szybist has been on a quest for the past few years to identify the most significant indicators for predicting how a fuel will perform in engines designed for light-duty vehicles such as passenger cars and pickup trucks.

Six ORNL scientists have been elected as fellows to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, or AAAS. Credit: ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Six ORNL scientists have been elected as fellows to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, or AAAS.

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.


Seven ORNL scientists have been named among the 2020 Highly Cited Researchers list, according to Clarivate, a data analytics firm that specializes in scientific and academic research.


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.

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.