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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.

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.