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Verónica Melesse Vergara speaks with third and fourth graders at East Side Intermediate School in Brownsville. Credit: ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Twenty-seven ORNL researchers Zoomed into 11 middle schools across Tennessee during the annual Engineers Week in February. East Tennessee schools throughout Oak Ridge and Roane, Sevier, Blount and Loudon counties participated, with three West Tennessee schools joining in.

Martin Wissink of ORNL’s Buildings and Transportation Science Division applies neutrons and other diagnostic tools at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in pursuit of cleaner, sustainable and more flexible transportation technologies. Credit: Genevieve Martin/ORNL, U.S. Dept of Energy

For a researcher who started out in mechanical engineering with a focus on engine combustion, Martin Wissink has learned a lot about neutrons on the job

The Perseverance rover

On Feb. 18, the world will be watching as NASA’s Perseverance rover makes its final descent into Jezero Crater on the surface of Mars. Mars 2020 is the first NASA mission that uses plutonium-238 produced at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Associate Laboratory Director Kathy McCarthy heads the ORNL directorate that manages proto-MPEX, a linear plasma device that informs the development of the MPEX tool for study of fusion materials. Credit: Carlos Jones/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy
From the helm of a one-of-a-kind organization that brings nuclear fusion and fission expertise together to pave the way to expanding carbon-free energy, Kathy McCarthy can trace the first step of her engineering career back to
ORNL welder Devin Johnson uses a new orbital welder to seal a hollow target in a glovebox in the lab’s Radiochemical Engineering Development Center. The new welder makes a clean seam on the metal target, eliminating the need for hand-finishing afterward. Credit: Carlos Jones/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

A better way of welding targets for Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s plutonium-238 production has sped up the process and improved consistency and efficiency. This advancement will ultimately benefit the lab’s goal to make enough Pu-238 – the isotope that powers NASA’s deep space missions – to yield 1.5 kilograms of plutonium oxide annually by 2026.

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.

self-healing elastomers
Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory developed self-healing elastomers that demonstrated unprecedented adhesion strength and the ability to adhere to many surfaces, which could broaden their potential use
The 2021 Fuel Economy Guide, compiled by ORNL researchers, provides tips for keeping fuel costs down and helps consumers find the most fuel-efficient vehicle. Credit: ORNL/U.S. Dept. of Energy

Fuel economy can take a tumble when temperatures plummet, according to the Department of Energy’s 2021 Fuel Economy Guide. Compiled by researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the guide includes several tips to improve a vehicle’s fuel performance.

An X-ray CT image of a 3D-printed metal turbine blade was reconstructed using ORNL’s neural network and advanced algorithms. Credit: Amir Ziabari/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Algorithms developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory can greatly enhance X-ray computed tomography images of 3D-printed metal parts, resulting in more accurate, faster scans.

Oscar Martinez loads a special form capsule into the leak tester for a helium leak test in the packaging facility of the National Transportation Research Center. Credit: Jason Richards/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

As program manager for the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Package Testing Program, Oscar Martinez enjoys finding and fixing technical issues.