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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.

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.

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.

Dalton Lunga

A typhoon strikes an island in the Pacific Ocean, downing power lines and cell towers. An earthquake hits a remote mountainous region, destroying structures and leaving no communication infrastructure behind.

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.

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.

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. 

Jason Nattress, an Alvin M. Weinberg Fellow, is developing new nuclear material inspection and identification techniques to improve scanning times for ocean-going cargo containers.

Jason Nattress, an Alvin M. Weinberg Fellow at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, found his calling on a nuclear submarine.