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ORNL's Communications team works with news media seeking information about the laboratory. Media may use the resources listed below or send questions to news@ornl.gov.

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ORNL assisted in investigating proteins called porins, one shown in red, which are found in the protective outer membrane of certain disease-causing bacteria and tether the membrane to the cell wall. Credit: Hyea (Sunny) Hwang/Georgia Tech and ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Scientists from Oak Ridge National Laboratory used high-performance computing to create protein models that helped reveal how the outer membrane is tethered to the cell membrane in certain bacteria.

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.

 Using the ASGarD mathematical framework, scientists can model and visualize the electric fields, shown as arrows, circling around magnetic fields that are colorized to represent field magnitude of a fusion plasma. Credit: David Green/ORNL

Combining expertise in physics, applied math and computing, Oak Ridge National Laboratory scientists are expanding the possibilities for simulating electromagnetic fields that underpin phenomena in materials design and telecommunications.

The 1250 ton cyrostat base is positioned over the ITER tokamak pit for installation. This base is the heaviest lift of tokamak assembly. Credit: ITER Organization

ITER, the world’s largest international scientific collaboration, is beginning assembly of the fusion reactor tokamak that will include 12 different essential hardware systems provided by US ITER, which is managed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Computing – Mining for COVID-19 connections

Scientists have tapped the immense power of the Summit supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory to comb through millions of medical journal articles to identify potential vaccines, drugs and effective measures that could suppress or stop the spread of COVID-19.

ORNL’s collaboration with Cincinati Children’s Hospital Medical Center will leverage the lab’s expertise in high-performance computing and safe, secure recordkeeping. Credit: Genevieve Martin/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Oak Ridge National Laboratory will partner with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center to explore ways to deploy expertise in health data science that could more quickly identify patients’ mental health risk factors and aid in suicide prevention strategies.

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.

CellSight allows for rapid mass spectrometry of individual cells. Credit: John Cahill, Oak Ridge National Laboratory/U.S. Dept of Energy

Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have received five 2019 R&D 100 Awards, increasing the lab’s total to 221 since the award’s inception in 1963.

Fusion—Heating the core

In a recent study, researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory performed experiments in a prototype fusion reactor materials testing facility to develop a method that uses microwaves to raise the plasma’s temperature closer to the extreme values reached in a fusion energy reactor’s exhaust system.

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.