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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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Nuclear — Seeing inside particles

Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers working on neutron imaging capabilities for nuclear materials have developed a process for seeing the inside of uranium particles – without cutting them open.

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.

Postdoctoral researcher Nischal Kafle positions a component for a portable plasma imaging diagnostic device at ORNL in February. The device, a project for ARPA-E, is built of off-the-shelf parts. Credit: Carlos Jones/ORNL

The techniques Theodore Biewer and his colleagues are using to measure whether plasma has the right conditions to create fusion have been around awhile.

Starch granules

Scientists at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have developed a new method to peer deep into the nanostructure of biomaterials without damaging the sample. This novel technique can confirm structural features in starch, a carbohydrate important in biofuel production.

The agreement builds upon years of collaboration, including a 2016 effort using modeling tools developed at ORNL to predict the first six months of operations of TVA’s Watts Bar Unit 2 nuclear power plant. Credit: Andrew Godfrey/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Feb. 19, 2020 — The U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Tennessee Valley Authority have signed a memorandum of understanding to evaluate a new generation of flexible, cost-effective advanced nuclear reactors.

This simulation of a fusion plasma calculation result shows the interaction of two counter-streaming beams of super-heated gas. Credit: David L. Green/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

The prospect of simulating a fusion plasma is a step closer to reality thanks to a new computational tool developed by scientists in fusion physics, computer science and mathematics at ORNL.

ORNL researchers developed sodium-ion batteries by pairing a high-energy oxide or phosphate cathode with a hard carbon anode and achieved 100 usage cycles at a one-hour charge and discharge rate. Credit: Mengya Li/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Researchers at ORNL demonstrated that sodium-ion batteries can serve as a low-cost, high performance substitute for rechargeable lithium-ion batteries commonly used in robotics, power tools, and grid-scale energy storage.

ORNL's Battery Manufacturing Facility

Energy storage startup SPARKZ Inc. has exclusively licensed five battery technologies from the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory designed to eliminate cobalt metal in lithium-ion batteries. The advancement is aimed at accelerating the production of electric vehicles and energy storage solutions for the power grid.

Geothermal energy storage system

Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers created a geothermal energy storage system that could reduce peak electricity demand up to 37% in homes while helping balance grid operations.

Smart Neighborhood homes

To better determine the potential energy cost savings among connected homes, researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory developed a computer simulation to more accurately compare energy use on similar weather days.