Nuclear Science and Technology

By producing 50 grams of plutonium-238, Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers have demonstrated the nation’s ability to provide a valuable energy source for deep space missions.

ORNL achieves milestone with plutonium-238 sample

Nuclear Science Research at ORNL

In World War II’s Manhattan Project, ORNL helped usher in the nuclear age. Today, our researchers hold leading roles in using nuclear technologies and systems to improve human health; explore safer, more environmentally friendly power; and support science discoveries that address national challenges. Around the lab, you will find researchers:

  • Producing isotopes for medical research, scientific discovery, national security, and industry.
  • Leading research in the entire nuclear fuel cycle, from development of advanced reactor technologies to storage of used fuel.
  • Using modeling and simulation to improve operations and safely extend the life of existing nuclear reactors.
  • Supporting national security through nuclear safeguards and technology, nuclear material detection, and fuel-cycle signature analysis.
  • Managing and supporting US contributions to ITER, the international effort to demonstrate fusion’s power-generating potential.
  • Paving the way toward a workable fusion power reactor through research in plasma physics, fusion reactor materials, plasma materials interactions, plasma heating, and fuel pellet injection technologies.

ORNL has an unmatched combination of computing, reactor, radiochemical, and materials research facilities that create a rewarding and scientifically stimulating environment for advancing nuclear science and technology.