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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.

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.

In situ monitoring to evaluate nickel-based superalloys as they are printing gave Mike Kirka, an ORNL materials scientist, the ability to see potential weaknesses that could lead to part failure. Credit: ORNL/U.S. Dept. of Energy

Growing up in the heart of the American automobile industry near Detroit, Oak Ridge National Laboratory materials scientist Mike Kirka was no stranger to manufacturing.

Suman Debnath is using simulation algorithms to accelerate understanding of the modern power grid and enhance its reliability and resilience. Credit: Carlos Jones/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Planning for a digitized, sustainable smart power grid is a challenge to which Suman Debnath is using not only his own applied mathematics expertise, but also the wider communal knowledge made possible by his revival of a local chapter of the IEEE professional society.

U.S. Department of Energy Deputy Secretary Mark Menezes (right) tours the DemeTECH N95 filter material production area with Xin Sun, ORNL interim associate laboratory director (center) and Craig Blue, ORNL advanced manufacturing program manager. Credit: US Dept. of Energy

A collaboration between the ORNL and a Florida-based medical device manufacturer has led to the addition of 500 jobs in the Miami area to support the mass production of N95 respirator masks.

Jianlin Li employs ORNL’s world-class battery research facility to validate the innovative safety technology.

Soteria Battery Innovation Group has exclusively licensed and optioned a technology developed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory designed to eliminate thermal runaway in lithium ion batteries due to mechanical damage.

Xunxiang Hu, a Eugene P. Wigner Fellow in ORNL’s Materials Science and Technology Division, designed this machine to produce large, crack-free pieces of yttrium hydride to be used as a moderator in the core of ORNL’s Transformational Challenge Reactor and other microreactors. Credit: Xunxiang Hu/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

About 60 years ago, scientists discovered that a certain rare earth metal-hydrogen mixture, yttrium, could be the ideal moderator to go inside small, gas-cooled nuclear reactors.

A selfie from the Curiosity rover as it explores the surface of Mars. Like many spacecraft, Curiosity uses a radioisotope power system to help fuel its mission. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Radioactive isotopes power some of NASA’s best-known spacecraft. But predicting how radiation emitted from these isotopes might affect nearby materials is tricky

Battery materials at interface

Scientists seeking ways to improve a battery’s ability to hold a charge longer, using advanced materials that are safe, stable and efficient, have determined that the materials themselves are only part of the solution.

The hybrid inverter developed by ORNL is an intelligent power electronic inverter platform that can connect locally sited energy resources such as solar panels, energy storage and electric vehicles and interact efficiently with the utility power grid. Credit: Carlos Jones, ORNL/U.S. Dept of Energy.

ORNL researchers have developed an intelligent power electronic inverter platform that can connect locally sited energy resources such as solar panels, energy storage and electric vehicles and smoothly interact with the utility power grid.