Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is an American multiprogram science and technology national laboratory sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and administered, managed, and operated by UT–Battelle as a federally funded research and development center (FFRDC) under a contract with the DOE. Established in 1942, ORNL is the largest science and energy national laboratory in the Department of Energy system by size[1] and by annual budget. ORNL is located in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, near Knoxville. ORNL's scientific programs focus on materials, neutron science, energy, high-performance computing, systems biology and national security.

ORNL partners with the state of Tennessee, universities and industries to solve challenges in energy, advanced materials, manufacturing, security and physics.

The laboratory is home to several of the world's top supercomputers including the world's most powerful supercomputer ranked by the TOP500, Summit, and is a leading neutron science and nuclear energy research facility that includes the Spallation Neutron Source and High Flux Isotope Reactor. ORNL hosts the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences, the BioEnergy Science Center,[2] and the Consortium for Advanced Simulation of Light-Water Reactors.[3]

Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Oak Ridge National Laboratory logo
Research typeMultiprogram
Budget$1.4 billion
DirectorThomas Zacharia
LocationOak Ridge, Tennessee, U.S.
35°56′N 84°19′W / 35.93°N 84.31°WCoordinates: 35°56′N 84°19′W / 35.93°N 84.31°W
CampusORNL occupies about 10,000 acres (40 km2) of the approximately 35,000 acres (140 km2) Oak Ridge Reservation
Operating agency
Oak Ridge National Laboratory is located in Tennessee
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Location in Tennessee


ORNL Campus Photo 4
The ORNL campus

Oak Ridge National Laboratory is managed by UT–Battelle,[4] a limited liability partnership between the University of Tennessee and the Battelle Memorial Institute, formed in 2000 for that purpose.[5] The annual budget is US$1.65 billion, 80% of which is from the Department of Energy; the remainder is from various sources paying for use of the facilities.[6] As of 2012 there are 4,400 staff working at ORNL, 1,600 of whom are directly conducting research, and an additional 3,000 guest researchers annually.[7]

There are five campuses on the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge reservation; the National Laboratory, the Y-12 National Security Complex, the East Tennessee Technology Park (formerly the Oak Ridge Gaseous Diffusion Plant), the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education, and the developing Oak Ridge Science and Technology Park, although the four other facilities are unrelated to the National Laboratory.[8][9] The total area of the reservation 150 square kilometres (58 sq mi) of which the lab takes up 18 square kilometres (7 sq mi).[6][10]


X10 Reactor Face
Workers in 1943 loading uranium slugs into the X-10 Graphite Reactor (now a National Historic Landmark)

The town of Oak Ridge was established by the Army Corps of Engineers as part of the Clinton Engineer Works in 1942 on isolated farm land as part of the Manhattan Project.[11] During the war, advanced research for the government was managed at the site by the University of Chicago's Metallurgical Laboratory.[12] In 1943, construction of the "Clinton Laboratories" was completed, later renamed to "Oak Ridge National Laboratory".[11] The site was chosen for the X-10 Graphite Reactor, used to show that plutonium can be created from enriched uranium. Enrico Fermi and his colleagues developed the world's second self-sustaining nuclear reactor after Fermi's previous experiment, the Chicago Pile-1. The X-10 was the first reactor designed for continuous operation.[13] After the end of World War II the demand for weapons-grade plutonium fell and the reactor and the laboratory's 1000 employees were no longer involved in nuclear weapons.[11][14] Instead, it was used for scientific research.[13] In 1946 the first medical isotopes were produced in the X-10 reactor, and by 1950 almost 20,000 samples had been shipped to various hospitals.[13][14] As the demand for military science had fallen dramatically, the future of the lab was uncertain. Management of the lab was contracted by the US government to Monsanto; however, they withdrew in 1947.[14] The University of Chicago re-assumed responsibility, until in December 1947, when Union Carbide and Carbon Co., which already operated two other facilities at Oak Ridge, took control of the laboratory. Alvin Weinberg was named Director of Research, ORNL, and in 1955 Director of the Laboratory.[14][15]

In 1950 the Oak Ridge School of Reactor Technology was established with two courses in reactor operation and safety; almost 1000 students graduated.[14] Much of the research performed at ORNL in the 1950s was relating to nuclear reactors as a form of energy production, both for propulsion and electricity. More reactors were built in the 1950s than in the rest of the ORNL's history combined.[14]

Another project was the world's first light water reactor. With its principles of neutron moderation and fuel cooling by ordinary water, it is the direct ancestor of most modern nuclear power stations. The US Military funded much of its development, for nuclear-powered submarines and ships of the US Navy.[14]

The US Army contracted portable nuclear reactors in 1953 for heat and electricity generation in remote military bases.[16] The reactors were designed at ORNL, produced by American Locomotive Company and used in Greenland, the Panama Canal Zone and Antarctica.[14] The United States Air Force (USAF) also contributed funding to three reactors, the lab's first computers, and its first particle accelerators.[14] ORNL designed and tested a nuclear-powered aircraft in 1954 as a proof-of-concept for a proposed USAF fleet of long-range bombers, although it never flew.[14][16]

The provision of radionuclides by X-10 for medicine grew steadily in the 1950s with more isotopes available. ORNL was the only Western source of californium-252.[14] ORNL scientists lowered the immune systems of mice and performed the world's first successful bone marrow transplant.[14]

In the early 1960s there was a large push at ORNL to develop nuclear-powered desalination plants, where deserts met the sea, to provide water. The project, called Water for Peace, was backed by John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, and presented at a 1964 United Nations conference, but increases in the cost of construction and falling public confidence in nuclear power caused the plan to fail.[14][16] The Health Physics Research Reactor built in 1962 was used for radiation exposure experiments leading to more accurate dosage limits and dosimeters, and improved radiation shielding.[14]

In 1964 the Molten-Salt Reactor Experiment began with the construction of the reactor. It was operated from 1966 until 1969 (with six months down time to move from U-235 to U-233 fuel), and proved the viability of molten salt reactors, while also producing fuel for other reactors as a byproduct of its own reaction.[14]

The High Flux Isotope Reactor built in 1965 had the highest neutron flux of any reactor at the time.[14] It improved upon the work of the X-10 reactor, producing more medical isotopes, as well as allowing higher fidelity of materials research.[14]

Researchers in the Biology Division studied the effects of chemicals on mice, including petrol fumes, pesticides, and tobacco.[14]

In the late 1960s, cuts in funding led to the cancellation of plans for another particle accelerator, and the United States Atomic Energy Commission cut the breeder reactor program by two-thirds, leading to a downsizing in staff from 5000 to 3800.[14]

The inside of ORMAK, an early tokamak, was gold plated for reflectivity

In the 1970s, the prospect of fusion power was strongly considered, sparking research at ORNL. A tokamak called ORMAK, made operational in 1971, was the first tokamak to achieve a plasma temperature of 20 million Kelvin.[17] After the success of the fusion experiments, it was enlarged and renamed ORMAK II in 1973; however, the experiments ultimately failed to lead to fusion power plants.[14]

The US Atomic Energy Commission required improved safety standards in the early 1970s for nuclear reactors, so ORNL staff wrote almost 100 requirements covering many factors including fuel transport and earthquake resistance. In 1972 the AEC held a series of public hearings where emergency cooling requirements were highlighted and the safety requirements became more stringent.[14]

ORNL was involved in analysing the damage to the core of the Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station after the accident in 1979.[14]

Also in 1972, Peter Mazur, a biologist at ORNL, froze with liquid nitrogen, thawed and implanted mouse embryos in a surrogate mother. The mouse pups were born healthy.[14] The technique is popular in the livestock industry, as it allows the embryos of valuable cattle to be transported easily and a prize cow can have multiple eggs extracted and thus, through in vitro fertilisation, have many more offspring than would naturally be possible.[14]

In 1974 Alvin Weinberg, director of the lab for 19 years, was replaced by Herman Postma, a fusion scientist.[14]

In 1977 construction began for 6 metre (20 foot) superconducting electromagnets, intended to control fusion reactions. The project was an international effort: three electromagnets were produced in the US, one in Japan, one in Switzerland and the final by remaining European states. Experimentation continued into the 1980s.[14]

The 1980s brought more changes to ORNL: a focus on efficiency became paramount.

An accelerated climate simulation chamber was built that applied varying weather conditions to insulation to test its efficacy and durability faster than real time.[14] Materials research into heat resistant ceramics for use in truck and high-tech car engines was performed, building upon the materials research that began in the nuclear reactors of the 1950s.[14] In 1987 the High Temperature Materials Laboratory was established, where ORNL and industry researchers cooperated on ceramic and alloy projects. The materials research budget at ORNL doubled after initial uncertainty regarding Reagan's economic policy of less government expenditure.[14]

In 1981, the Holifield Heavy Ion Research Facility, a 25 MV particle accelerator, was opened at ORNL. At the time, Holifield had the widest range of ion species and was twice as powerful as other accelerators, attracting hundreds of guest researchers each year.[14]

The Department of Energy was concerned with the pollution surrounding ORNL and it began clean-up efforts. Burial trenches and leaking pipes had contaminated the groundwater beneath the lab, and radiation tanks were sitting idle, full of waste. Estimates of the total cost of clean-up were into the hundreds of millions of US dollars.[14]

The five older reactors were subjected to safety reviews in 1987, ordered to be deactivated until the reviews were complete. By 1989 when the High Flux Isotope Reactor was restarted the US supply of certain medical isotopes was depleted.[14]

In 1989 the former executive officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Alvin Trivelpiece, became director of ORNL; he remained in the role until 2000.[14]

In 1992, a whistleblower, Charles Varnadore, filed complaints against ORNL, alleging safety violations and retaliation by his superiors. While an administrative law judge ruled in Varnadore's favor, the Secretary of Labor, Robert Reich, overturned that ruling. However, Varnadore's case saw prime contractor Martin Marietta cited for safety violations, and ultimately led to additional whistleblower protection within DOE.[18]

In January 2019 ORNL announced a major breakthrough in its capacity to automate Pu-238 production which helped push annual production from 50 grams to 400 grams, moving closer to NASA's goal of 1.5 kilograms per year by 2025 in order to sustain its space exploration programs.[19]


Housing built at Oak Ridge was located at "Townsite," along with stores and other necessary buildings. Housing was segregated. There were separate dorms for single men and women, with houses available for marrieds. The dorms tended to be overcrowded, with "four sinks for forty-two women."[20] Most of Townsite has now been replaced by the modern city of Oak Ridge.

Areas of research

ORNL conducts research and development activities that span a wide range of scientific disciplines. Many research areas have a significant overlap with each other; researchers often work in two or more of the fields listed here. The laboratory's major research areas are described briefly below.

  • Chemical sciences – ORNL conducts both fundamental and applied research in a number of areas, including catalysis, surface science and interfacial chemistry; molecular transformations and fuel chemistry; heavy element chemistry and radioactive materials characterization; aqueous solution chemistry and geochemistry; mass spectrometry and laser spectroscopy; separations chemistry; materials chemistry including synthesis and characterization of polymers and other soft materials; chemical biosciences; and neutron science.
  • Electron microscopy – ORNL's electron microscopy program investigates key issues in condensed matter, materials, chemical and nanosciences.
  • Nuclear medicine – The laboratory's nuclear medicine research is focused on the development of improved reactor production and processing methods to provide medical radioisotopes, the development of new radionuclide generator systems, the design and evaluation of new radiopharmaceuticals for applications in nuclear medicine and oncology.
  • Physics – Physics research at ORNL is focused primarily on studies of the fundamental properties of matter at the atomic, nuclear, and subnuclear levels and the development of experimental devices in support of these studies.
  • Population – ORNL provides federal, state and international organizations with a gridded population database, called Landscan,[21] for estimating ambient population. LandScan is a raster image, or grid, of population counts, which provides human population estimates every 30 x 30 arc seconds, which translates roughly to population estimates for 1 kilometer square windows or grid cells at the equator, with cell width decreasing at higher latitudes.[22] Though many population datasets exist, LandScan is the best spatial population dataset, which also covers the globe. Updated annually (although data releases are generally one year behind the current year) offers continuous, updated values of population, based on the most recent information. Landscan data are accessible through GIS applications and a USAID public domain application called Population Explorer.[23]


The laboratory has a long history of energy research; nuclear reactor experiments have been conducted since the end of World War II in 1945. Because of the availability of reactors and high-performance computing resources an emphasis on improving the efficiency of nuclear reactors is present.[24][25] The programs develop more efficient materials, more accurate simulations of aging reactor cores, sensors and controls as well as safety procedures for regulatory authorities.[25]

The Energy Efficiency and Electricity Technologies Program (EEETP) aims to improve air quality in the US and reduce dependence on foreign oil supplies.[26] There are three key areas of research; electricity, manufacturing and mobility. The electricity division focuses on reducing electricity consumption and finding alternative sources for production. Buildings, which account for 39% of US electricity consumption as of 2012, are a key area of research as the program aims to create affordable, carbon-neutral homes by 2020.[27] Research also takes place into higher efficiency solar panels, geothermal electricity and heating, lower cost wind generators and the economic and environmental feasibility of potential hydro power plants.[28][29][30]

Fusion is another area with a history of research at ORNL, dating back to the 1970s. The Fusion Energy Division pursues short-term goals to develop components such as high temperature superconductors, high-speed hydrogen pellet injectors and suitable materials for future fusion research.[31][32] Much research into the behaviour and maintenance of a plasma takes place at the Fusion Energy Division to further the understanding of plasma physics, a crucial area for developing a fusion power plant.[31][32] The US ITER office is at ORNL with partners at Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory and Savannah River National Laboratory.[33] The US contribution to the ITER project is 9.1% which is expected to be in excess of US$1.6 billion throughout the contract.[34][35]


A simulation of CelS, a type of Cellobiohydrolase that hydrolyzes the glycosidic bonds of cellulose (cellulolysis)

Oak Ridge National Laboratory's biological research covers genomics, computational biology, structural biology and bioinformatics.[36] The BioEnergy Program aims to improve the efficiency of all stages of the biofuel process to improve the energy security of the United States.[37] The program aims to make genetic improvements to the potential biomass used,[38] formulate methods for refineries that can accept a diverse range of fuels and to improve the efficiency of energy delivery both to power plants and end users.[39][40]

The Center for Molecular Biophysics conducts research into the behaviour of biological molecules in various conditions. The center hosts projects that examine cell walls for biofuel production,[41] use neutron scattering to analyse protein folding and simulate the effect of catalysis on a conventional and quantum scale.[42][43]

Neutron science

There are three neutron sources at ORNL; the High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR), the Oak Ridge Electron Linear Accelerator (ORELA) and the Spallation Neutron Source. HFIR provides neutrons in a stable beam resulting from a constant nuclear reaction whereas ORELA and SNS produce pulses of neutrons as they are particle accelerators.[44][45] HFIR went critical in 1965 and has been used for materials research and as a major source of medical radioisotopes since.[46] As of 2013, HFIR provides the world's highest constant neutron flux as a result of various upgrades.[47] As part of a US non-proliferation effort the HFIR is scheduled to switch from highly enriched uranium (>90%, weapons grade) to low-enriched (3–4%) in 2020; the last reactor in the US to do so.[48] Berkelium used to produce the world's first sample of tennessine was produced in the High Flux Isotope Reactor as part of an international effort.[49] HFIR is likely to operate until approximately 2060 before the reactor vessel is considered unsafe for continued use.[48]

The Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) is a particle accelerator that has the highest intensity neutron pulses of any man-made neutron source.[50] SNS was made operational in 2006 and has since been upgraded to 1 megawatts with plans to continue up to 3 megawatts.[47] High power neutron pulses permit clearer images of the targets meaning smaller samples can be analysed and accurate results require fewer pulses.[51]


Cat Regenerator
A particulate filter housing for a regenerative burner made of CF8C Plus stainless steel

Oak Ridge National Laboratory conducts research into materials science in a range of areas. Between 2002 and 2008 ORNL partnered with Caterpillar Inc. (CAT) to form a new material for their diesel engines that can withstand large temperature fluctuations.[52] The new steel, named CF8C Plus, is based on conventional CF8C stainless steel with added manganese and nitrogen; the result has better high–temperature properties and is easier to cast at a similar cost.[52] In 2003 the partners received an R&D 100 award from R&D magazine and in 2009 received an award for "excellence in technology transfer" from the Federal Laboratory Consortium for the commercialisation of the steel.[52]

There is a high-temperature materials lab at ORNL that permits researchers from universities, private companies and other government initiatives to use their facilities. The lab is available for free if the results are published; private research is permitted but requires payment.[53] A separate lab, the Shared Equipment User Facility, is one of three DOE sponsored facilities with nano-scale microscopy and tomography facilities.[54]

The Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences (CNMS) researches the behaviour and fabrication of nanomaterials. The center emphasises discovery of new materials and the understanding of underlying physical and chemical interactions that enable creation of nanomaterials.[55] In 2012, CNMS produced a lithium-sulfide battery with a theoretical energy density three to five times greater than existing lithium ion batteries.[56]


Oak Ridge National Laboratory provides resources to the US Department of Homeland Security and other defense programs. The Global Security and Nonproliferation (GS&N) program develops and implements policies, both US based and international, to prevent the proliferation of nuclear material.[57] The program has developed safeguards for nuclear arsenals, guidelines for dismantling arsenals, plans of action should nuclear material fall into unauthorised hands, detection methods for stolen or missing nuclear material and trade of nuclear material between the US and Russia.[57] The GS&N's work overlaps with that of the Homeland Security Programs Office, providing detection of nuclear material and nonproliferation guidelines. Other areas concerning the Department Homeland Security include nuclear and radiological forensics, chemical and biological agent detection using mass spectrometry and simulations of potential national hazards.[58]

High-performance computing

Throughout the history of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory it has been the site of various supercomputers, home to the fastest on several occasions.[59] In 1953, ORNL partnered with the Argonne National Laboratory to build ORACLE (Oak Ridge Automatic Computer and Logical Engine), a computer to research nuclear physics, chemistry, biology and engineering.[16][59][60] ORACLE had 2048 words (80 Kibit) of memory and took approximately 590 microseconds to perform addition or multiplications of integers.[60] In the 1960s ORNL was also equipped with an IBM 360/91 and an IBM 360/65.[61] In 1995 ORNL bought an Intel Paragon based computer called the Intel Paragon XP/S 150 that performed at 154 gigaFLOPS and ranked third on the TOP500 list of supercomputers.[59][62] In 2005 Jaguar was built, a Cray XT3-based system that performed at 25 teraFLOPS and received incremental upgrades up to the XT5 platform that performed at 2.3 petaFLOPS in 2009. It was recognised as the world's fastest from November 2009 until November 2010.[63][64] Summit was built for Oak Ridge National Laboratory during 2018, which benchedmarked at 122.3 petaflops. As of June 2018, Summit stands as the world's fasted [clocked] supercomputer with 202,752 CPU cores, 27,648 Nvidia Tesla GPUs and 250 Petabytes of storage.[65]

Since 1992 the National Center for Computational Sciences (NCCS) has overseen high performance computing at ORNL. It manages the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility that contains the machines.[66] In 2012, Jaguar was upgraded to the XK7 platform, a fundamental change as GPUs are used for the majority of processing, and renamed Titan. Titan performs at 17.59 petaFLOPS and holds the number 1 spot on the TOP500 list for November 2012.[67] Other computers include a 77 node cluster to visualise data that the larger machines output in the Exploratory Visualization Environment for Research in Science and Technology (EVEREST), a visualisation room with a 10 by 3 metre (30 by 10 ft) wall that displays 35 megapixel projections.[68][69] Smoky is an 80 node linux cluster used for application development. Research projects are refined and tested on Smoky before running on larger machines such as Titan.[70]

In 1989 programmers at the Oak Ridge National Lab wrote the first version of Parallel Virtual Machine (PVM), software that enables distributed computing on machines of differing specifications.[71] PVM is free software and has become the de facto standard for distributed computing.[72] Jack Dongarra of ORNL and the University of Tennessee wrote the LINPACK software library and LINPACK benchmarks, used to calculate linear algebra and the standard method of measuring floating point performance of a supercomputer as used by the TOP500 organisation.[59][73]

See also


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  4. ^ Dimitri Kusnezov (July 18, 2014). "The Department of Energy's National Laboratory Complex" (PDF).
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  8. ^ "Who We Are Not". Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Retrieved February 9, 2013.
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  11. ^ a b c "Solving the Big Problems" (PDF). Oak Ridge National Laboratory. 2007. Retrieved November 11, 2012.
  12. ^ "Timeline of ORNL Science – construction". www.ornl.gov. Retrieved February 11, 2019.
  13. ^ a b c Rettig, Polly (December 8, 1975). "X-10 Reactor, Graphite Reactor". National Register of Historic Places. Retrieved November 11, 2012.
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  18. ^ Martin, Douglas, Charles Varnadore, whistleblower at lab, dies at 71, New York Times, August 5, 2013, p. B8
  19. ^ Ellis, Ellis. "Nuclear–Deep space travel". www.ornl.gov. Retrieved February 5, 2019.
  20. ^ Dillon, Millicent G. (June 2011). "In the Atomic City". The Believer. San Francisco: McSweeney's.
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  22. ^ LandScan Home, ornl.gov
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  31. ^ a b "Fusion Energy Division Fact Sheet" (PDF). Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Retrieved February 6, 2013.
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  33. ^ "About US ITER". US ITER. Retrieved February 6, 2013.
  34. ^ McGrath, Matt (June 17, 2009). "Fusion falters under soaring costs". BBC. Retrieved February 6, 2013.
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  41. ^ "Biophysical origins of biomass recalcitrance to hydrolysis". Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Retrieved January 23, 2013.
  42. ^ Parks, Jerry M. "Enzymatic Mechanisms of MerA and MerB". Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Retrieved January 23, 2013.
  43. ^ Saharay, Moumita. "Catalytic Mechanism of Cellobiohydrolase, CelS, on Cellulose Degradation". Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Retrieved January 23, 2013.
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  53. ^ "What We Do". Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Retrieved January 20, 2013.
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  55. ^ "Science At The CNMS". Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Retrieved January 22, 2013.
  56. ^ "High Energy Lithium-Sulfur Batteries". Oak Ridge National Laboratory. June 2012. Retrieved January 20, 2013.
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Further reading

  • Lindsey A. Freeman, Longing for the Bomb: Oak Ridge and Atomic Nostalgia. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2015.
Alvin M. Weinberg

Alvin Martin Weinberg (; April 20, 1915 – October 18, 2006) was an American nuclear physicist who was the administrator at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) during and after the Manhattan Project. He came to Oak Ridge, Tennessee, in 1945 and remained there until his death in 2006. He was the first to use the term "Faustian bargain" to describe nuclear energy.

A graduate of the University of Chicago, which awarded him his doctorate in mathematical biophysics in 1939, Weinberg joined the Manhattan Project's Metallurgical Laboratory in September 1941. The following year he became part of Eugene Wigner's Theoretical Group, whose task was to design the nuclear reactors that would convert uranium into plutonium.

Weinberg replaced Wigner as Director of Research at ORNL in 1948, and became director of the laboratory in 1955. Under his direction it worked on the Aircraft Nuclear Propulsion program, and pioneered many innovative reactor designs, including the pressurized water reactors (PWRs) and boiling water reactors (BWRs), which have since become the dominant reactor types in commercial nuclear power plants, and Aqueous Homogeneous Reactor designs.

In 1960, Weinberg was appointed to the President's Science Advisory Committee in the Eisenhower administration and later served on it in the Kennedy administration. After leaving the ORNL in 1973, he was named director of the Office of Energy Research and Development in Washington, D.C., in 1974. The following year he founded and became the first director of the Institute for Energy Analysis at Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU).

Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences

The Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences(CNMS) was the first to open of the five Nanoscale Science Research Centers the United States Department of Energy sponsors. The Center's location is in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The CNMS is a collaborative nanoscience user research facility for the synthesis, characterization, theory/ modeling/ simulation, and design of nanoscale materials and is co-located with Spallation Neutron Source.

Clarence Larson

Clarence Edward Larson (September 20, 1909 – February 15, 1999) was an American chemist, nuclear physicist and industrial leader. He was involved in the Manhattan Project, and was later director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory and commissioner of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission.

Clifford Shull

Clifford Glenwood Shull (September 23, 1915 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – March 31, 2001) was a Nobel Prize-winning American physicist.

Cresson Kearny

Cresson Henry Kearny (; (1914-01-07)January 7, 1914 – (2003-12-18)December 18, 2003) wrote several survival-related books based primarily on research performed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Fallout shelter

A fallout shelter is an enclosed space specially designed to protect occupants from radioactive debris or fallout resulting from a nuclear explosion. Many such shelters were constructed as civil defense measures during the Cold War.

During a nuclear explosion, matter vaporized in the resulting fireball is exposed to neutrons from the explosion, absorbs them, and becomes radioactive. When this material condenses in the rain, it forms dust and light sandy materials that resemble ground pumice. The fallout emits alpha and beta particles, as well as gamma rays.

Much of this highly radioactive material falls to earth, subjecting anything within the line of sight to radiation, becoming a significant hazard. A fallout shelter is designed to allow its occupants to minimize exposure to harmful fallout until radioactivity has decayed to a safer level.

Jaguar (supercomputer)

Jaguar or OLCF-2 was a petascale supercomputer built by Cray at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The massively parallel Jaguar had a peak performance of just over 1,750 teraFLOPS (1.75 petaFLOPS). It had 224,256 x86-based AMD Opteron processor cores, and operated with a version of Linux called the Cray Linux Environment. Jaguar was a Cray XT5 system, a development from the Cray XT4 supercomputer.

In both November 2009 and June 2010, TOP500, the semiannual list of the world's top 500 supercomputers, named Jaguar as the world's fastest computer. In late October 2010, the BBC reported that the Chinese supercomputer Tianhe-1A had taken over the top spot, achieving over 2.5 quadrillion calculations per second, thereby bumping Jaguar to second place. The November 2010 TOP500 list confirmed the new rankings.In 2012 the Cray XT5 Jaguar was upgraded to the Cray XK7 Titan hybrid supercomputing system by adding the Gemini network interconnect and fitting all of the compute nodes with Kepler generation Nvidia GPUs.

Manson Benedict

Manson Benedict (October 9, 1907 – September 18, 2006) was an American nuclear engineer and a professor of nuclear engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). From 1958 to 1968, he was the chairman of the advisory committee to the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission.

Molten-Salt Reactor Experiment

The Molten-Salt Reactor Experiment (MSRE) was an experimental molten salt reactor at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) researching this technology through the 1960s; constructed by 1964, it went critical in 1965 and was operated until 1969.The MSRE was a 7.4 MWth test reactor simulating the neutronic "kernel" of a type of inherently safer epithermal thorium breeder reactor called the liquid fluoride thorium reactor. It primarily used two fuels: first uranium-235 and later uranium-233. The latter 233UF4 was the result of breeding from thorium in other reactors. Since this was an engineering test, the large, expensive breeding blanket of thorium salt was omitted in favor of neutron measurements.

In the MSRE, the heat from the reactor core was shed via a cooling system using air blown over radiators. It is thought similar reactors could power high-efficiency heat engines such as closed-cycle gas turbines.

The MSRE's piping, core vat and structural components were made from Hastelloy-N and its moderator was a pyrolytic graphite core. The fuel for the MSRE was LiF-BeF2-ZrF4-UF4 (65-29-5-1), the graphite core moderated it, and its secondary coolant was FLiBe (2LiF-BeF2), it operated as hot as 650 °C and operated for the equivalent of about 1.5 years of full power operation.

The result promised to be a simple, reliable reactor. The purpose of the Molten-Salt Reactor Experiment was to demonstrate that some key features of the proposed molten-salt power reactors could be embodied in a practical reactor that could be operated safely and reliably and be maintained without excessive difficulty. For simplicity, it was to be a fairly small, one-fluid (i.e. non-breeding) reactor operating at 10 MWth or less, with heat rejection to the air via a secondary (fuel-free) salt.

Molten salt reactor

A molten salt reactor (MSR) is a class of nuclear fission reactor in which the primary nuclear reactor coolant and/or the fuel is a molten salt mixture. MSRs offer multiple advantages over conventional nuclear power plants, although for historical reasons, they have not been deployed.

The concept was first established in the 1950s. The early Aircraft Reactor Experiment was primarily motivated by the small size that the technique offered, while the Molten-Salt Reactor Experiment was a prototype for a thorium fuel cycle breeder nuclear power plant. The increased research into Generation IV reactor designs renewed interest in the technology.

Multiprogram Research Facility

The Multiprogram Research Facility (MRF, also known as Building 5300) is a facility at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. It is used by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) to design and build supercomputers for cryptanalysis and other classified projects. It houses the classified component program of the High Productivity Computing Systems (HPCS) project sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

National Center for Computational Sciences

The National Center for Computational Sciences (NCCS) is a United States Department of Energy Leadership Computing Facility. The NCCS provides resources for calculation and simulation in fields including astrophysics, materials, and climate research. This research is intended to enhance American competitiveness in industry.

The NCCS, founded in 1992 and located at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), currently manages a 2.33-petaflop (theoretical peak) Cray XT5 supercomputer named Jaguar for use in open research by academic and corporate researchers. Jaguar was named the world's fastest computer at SC09, a position it held until October 2010.

Founded in 1992, the NCCS is a managed activity of the Advanced Scientific Computing Research program of the Department of Energy Office of Science (DOE-SC).

National Transportation Research Center

For the sigma N-transcription factor activator protein in prokaryotes, see NtrC

The National Transportation Research Center (NTRC) is an institution, located in Knoxville, Tennessee, that conducts research and development aimed at increasing the efficiency and safety of transportation systems and reducing their energy utilization and effects on the environment.

It is operated as a partnership between the United States Department of Energy, the University of Tennessee, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and is located approximately halfway between the university campus and the ORNL site in Oak Ridge.

About two-thirds of the 83,000 sq ft (7,700 m2) NTRC building contains research laboratories.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory Distributed Active Archive Center

The ORNL DAAC (Oak Ridge National Laboratory Distributed Active Archive Center) for Biogeochemical Dynamics is a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS) data center managed by the Earth Science Data and Information System (ESDIS) Project. Established in 1993, the ORNL DAAC is operated by Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, under an interagency agreement between NASA and the Department of Energy (DOE). Within the ORNL, the ORNL DAAC is part of the Remote Sensing and Environmental Informatics Group of the Environmental Sciences Division (ESD) and a contributor to the Climate Change Science Institute (CCSI).EOSDIS data centers process, archive, and distribute data collected during Earth Observing System (EOS) satellite and field missions. They also develop tools for accessing data, provide user services, promote data usage, and collect metrics on the use of data and user satisfaction. The ORNL DAAC specializes on data and information relevant to terrestrial biogeochemistry, ecology, and environmental processes, which are critical to understanding the dynamics of Earth's biological, geological, and chemical components.

As provided on the website,

The mission of the ORNL DAAC is to assemble, distribute, and provide data services for a comprehensive archive of terrestrial biogeochemistry and ecological dynamics observations and models to facilitate research, education, and decision-making in support of NASA's Earth Science.

The ORNL DAAC is listed in the Registry of Research Data Repositories and is a Regular Member of the ISC World Data System.

Spallation Neutron Source

The Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) is an accelerator-based neutron source facility in the U.S. that provides the most intense pulsed neutron beams in the world for scientific research and industrial development. Each year, this facility hosts hundreds of researchers from universities, national laboratories, and industry, who conduct basic and applied research and technology development using neutrons. SNS is part of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which is managed by UT-Battelle for the United States Department of Energy (DOE). SNS is a DOE Office of Science user facility, and it is open to scientists and researchers from all over the world.

Summit (supercomputer)

Summit or OLCF-4 is a supercomputer developed by IBM for use at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which as of November 2018 was the fastest supercomputer in the world, capable of 200 petaflops. Its current LINPACK is clocked at 148.6 petaflops. As of November 2018, the supercomputer is also the 3rd most energy efficient in the world with a measured power efficiency of 14.668 GFlops/watt. Summit is the first supercomputer to reach exaop (a quintillion operations per second) speed, achieving 1.88 exaops during a genomic analysis and is expected to reach 3.3 exaops using mixed precision calculations.

The Alvin Weinberg Foundation

The Alvin Weinberg Foundation was a registered UK charity, operating under the name Weinberg Next Nuclear, that campaigned for research and development into next-generation nuclear energy. In particular, it advocated advancement of Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor (LFTR) and other Molten Salt Reactor (MSR) technologies.It was named for Dr Alvin M. Weinberg, Director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory between 1955–1973 and the main advocate of MSR development.

Thomas Zacharia

Thomas Zacharia (born 1957 in Kerala, India) is an Indian-born American computer scientist. He received his bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from National Institute of Technology, Karnataka in 1980 and a master’s degree in Materials Science from the University of Mississippi in 1984. He obtained his doctoral degree from Clarkson University in 1987.

He has contributed to research in computational materials science, particularly on Marangoni Effect in solidification processes. He previously served as the executive vice president and chief port officer captain at Qatar Science and Technology Park at Qatar Foundation.Zacharia was previously deputy director for science and technology at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and a professor at the University of Tennessee.

On June 1, 2017, UT-Battelle named Zacharia as ORNL's new laboratory director. He succeeds Thom Mason.


UT–Battelle, LLC is a nonprofit limited liability company (LLC) organized under the laws of Tennessee. Its members consist of the University of Tennessee and Battelle Memorial Institute. UT–Battelle administers, manages, and operates the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). It does so as a federally funded research and development center (FFRDC) under a contract with the DOE.

UT–Battelle first assumed its responsibilities for ORNL in April 2000 after winning a competitive procurement process. After the conclusion of the initial five-year contract with the DOE, the contract was renewed for a second five-year period, extending through 2010.

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