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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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An interactive visualization shows potential progression of BECCS to address carbon dioxide reduction goals. Credit: ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

The combination of bioenergy with carbon capture and storage could cost-effectively sequester hundreds of millions of metric tons per year of carbon dioxide in the United States, making it a competitive solution for carbon management, according to a new analysis by ORNL scientists.

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

3D-printed 316L steel has been irradiated along with traditionally wrought steel samples. Researchers are comparing how they perform at various temperatures and varying doses of radiation. Credit: Jaimee Janiga/ORNL

It’s a new type of nuclear reactor core. And the materials that will make it up are novel — products of Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s advanced materials and manufacturing technologies.

Pu-238 pellet drawing

After its long journey to Mars beginning this summer, NASA’s Perseverance rover will be powered across the planet’s surface in part by plutonium produced at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

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.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory scientists have developed an experiment for testing potential materials for use in interplanetary travel. The experiment exposes prototype materials to temperatures over 2,400 degrees Celsius with only 300 watts of input electrical power. Credit: Carlos Jones, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

If humankind reaches Mars this century, an Oak Ridge National Laboratory-developed experiment testing advanced materials for spacecraft may play a key role. 

Nuclear—Deep space travel

By automating the production of neptunium oxide-aluminum pellets, Oak Ridge National Laboratory scientists have eliminated a key bottleneck when producing plutonium-238 used by NASA to fuel deep space exploration.

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.