Reactor Technology

Nuclear Science research supports the Department of Energy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in conducting research and development on technologies for extending the operating life of the existing fleet of commercial nuclear power plants; developing advanced small modular reactor concepts (SMRs); evaluating siting options for new nuclear capacity; examining advanced fuels for light water reactors, advanced reactors, and space power systems; developing advanced instrumentation and control (I&C) systems; and analyzing the safety implications of these new technologies and reactor designs. ORNL employs a broad range of expertise that includes reactor physics, modeling and simulation, thermal hydraulics including computation fluid dynamics, digital I&C, safety analysis, systems engineering, and reactor operations to address the challenging and complex issues associated with the development of these advanced reactor technologies. This expertise is coupled with the availability of engineering scale experimental facilities and access to ORNL’s 85 MW High Flux Isotope Reactor that produces the highest flux reactor-based source of neutrons for research in the U.S. to provide a world-class capability to conduct fundamental and applied research to address the important technology issues for the future in extending the life of existing reactors, addressing post-Fukushima concerns, and developing the next generation of new reactors.

Research Highlights

Kurt Terrani selected for a Breakthrough Award

Popular Mechanics recently announced the 2017 Breakthrough Awards, naming NSED's Kurt Terrani as one of the winners. This year's nominations highlight early career scientists that have made dramatic impacts through science, technology, and engineering. 

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ORNL team developing key molten salt reactor simulation tools

More than 50 years after the development of molten salt reactors (MSRs), the nuclear community has renewed interest in the technology because of its potential to provide the next generation of nuclear power production. Now, the US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Oak Ridge National...