Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Strengthening the nation's leadership in key areas of research.

Mission: Conduct basic and applied research and development to provide solutions that strengthen the nation's leadership in key areas of science; increase the availability of clean, abundant energy; restore and protect the environment; and contribute to national security.

Areas of Research: Materials, neutron science, energy, high-performance computing, systems biology and national security.


Location: Oak Ridge, Tennessee

Owned By: U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science

Managed By: UT-Battelle, LLC
(Battelle and the University of Tennessee are the LLC member companies)

Website: www.ornl.gov

Commercial Innovations

Modeling and Simulation: Improving Fuel Efficiency

Discovery: Oak Ridge National Laboratory developed models to increase the fuel efficiency of thermoelectric materials. Insights from atomistic determination of PbTe-AgSbTe2 nanocomposites and growth mechanism explained the low thermal conductivity of these materials.

Development: Using simulations, Laboratory personnel designed retrofit parts for Class 8 long-haul trucks that reduced fuel consumption by up to 3,700 gallons and carbon dioxide by up to 41 tons per truck per year.

Deployment: The computational tools and models were adapted for the airline industry, reducing the time it takes to validate new technology and transition from research to airplane design and development.

Explosives and Narcotics Detection: Ensuring Safe Travel

Discovery: Oak Ridge National Laboratory, a leader in the development of radioactive isotopes used in explosives, focused research on the production of a next-generation, high-specific-activity isotope, 63Ni.

Development: Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Radiochemical Engineering Development Center produced purified 63Ni. This isotope was demonstrated to detect explosives, narcotics and hazardous chemicals and vapors.

Deployment: 63Ni is made at Oak Ridge National Laboratory under the U.S. Department of Energy’s Isotope Production and Applications Program and sold worldwide for use in detectors at airports and other sensitive locations.

Advanced Alloys: Improving Performance, Reliability, and Energy Use

Discovery: Oak Ridge National Laboratory originally performed materials development for reactors during the 1950s; this work shifted to industrial energy efficiency in the 1970s.

Development: In 1987, Oak Ridge National Laboratory built the High Temperature Materials Laboratory, where scientists worked with industry researchers to develop and test advanced ceramics and alloys solutions for transportation, power generation and energy conservation.

Deployment: Partnerships with companies including Caterpillar, Carpenter Steel, Delphi, BP, DuPont and Exxon have yielded higher reliability in trucks, energy savings in steel manufacturing, and higher performance in refining operations.

An Introduction to Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Dr. Thom Mason discusses "big science" challenges the lab is solving.