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From left, Peter Jiang, Elijah Martin and Benjamin Sulman have been selected for Early Career Research Program awards from the Department of Energy's Office of Science. Credit: Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

The Department of Energy’s Office of Science has selected three Oak Ridge National Laboratory scientists for Early Career Research Program awards.

At the U.S. Department of Energy Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at ORNL, this part for a scaled-down prototype of a reactor was produced for industry partner Kairos Power.

Scientists at the Department of Energy Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at ORNL have their eyes on the prize: the Transformational Challenge Reactor, or TCR, a microreactor built using 3D printing and other new approaches that will be up and running by 2023.

Transformational Challenge Reactor Demonstration items

Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory are refining their design of a 3D-printed nuclear reactor core, scaling up the additive manufacturing process necessary to build it, and developing methods

Catherine Schuman, top right, spoke to Copper Ridge Elementary School fifth graders about her job as an ORNL computer scientist as part of the lab’s STEM outreach during the COVID-19 pandemic. Credit: Abby Bower/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

With Tennessee schools online for the rest of the school year, researchers at ORNL are making remote learning more engaging by “Zooming” into virtual classrooms to tell students about their science and their work at a national laboratory.

Nuclear – Finally, a benchmark

In the 1960s, Oak Ridge National Laboratory's four-year Molten Salt Reactor Experiment tested the viability of liquid fuel reactors for commercial power generation. Results from that historic experiment recently became the basis for the first-ever molten salt reactor benchmark.

VERA’s tools allow a virtual “window” inside the reactor core, down to a molecular level.

A software package, 10 years in the making, that can predict the behavior of nuclear reactors’ cores with stunning accuracy has been licensed commercially for the first time.

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.

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.

The Consortium for Advanced Simulation of Light Water Reactors uses its Virtual Environment for Reactor Applications (VERA) software for the modeling and simulation of various nuclear reactors, such as the Westinghouse AP1000 pressurized water reactor.

The Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory is collaborating with industry on six new projects focused on advancing commercial nuclear energy technologies that offer potential improvements to current nuclear reactors and move new reactor designs closer to deployment.