ORNL is able to support aspects of the DOE mission by identifying and then pursuing major activities that build on ORNL’s core strengths and capabilities. The following projects are underway.

United States Contributions to the ITER Project (US ITER)

The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, ITER, Project is an unprecedented global collaboration to demonstrate the scientific and technological feasibility of fusion energy. The research facility, currently being constructed in Cadarache, France, will allow scientists to study reactor-scale burning plasmas and explore technical challenges relevant to the development of a power-producing fusion reactors.

ITER will be home to the world's largest tokamak and ultimately will demonstrate 500 MW of fusion power for 400 to 600 seconds.  The collaboration members include the European Union (host) plus China, India, Japan, Korea, Russia and the United States. All partners provide components and financial contributions to the project. As a collaboration member, the United States, receives full access to all ITER-developed technology and scientific data but bears less than 10% of the total construction cost.

US ITER, a Fusion Energy Sciences project funded by the Office of Science, is responsible for delivering the components of 12 essential systems to fulfill U.S. commitments and realize operational and research success. The project includes design of hardware systems plus fabrication and delivery of a subset of hardware to ultimately support deuterium-tritium operations. Project scope includes central solenoid magnets, electrical, cooling water, vacuum and roughing pumps systems, exhaust processing systems, electron and ion cyclotron heating transmission lines, instrumentation and controls and diagnostic systems.  Over $1.7B of US ITER funding for hardware components goes to US industry, universities, and national laboratories.

Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility - 6th Gen

OLCF-6 is the next generation supercomputer in development at ORNL. The project achieved CD-1 in 2024 and will deploy a next generation supercomputer by 2028 to maintain leadership class computing capabilities as a national asset. This will support increasing demand for access to leadership computing resources for the Nation’s largest scale simulations, data-intensive science, integrated research infrastructure (IRI), and artificial intelligence (AI) applications to enable the DOE scientific mission across a wide range of disciplines.

This project is building on the lessons learned from deploying the Frontier supercomputer at ORNL, which is currently the world’s most powerful computer on the TOP500 list with a performance of over 1.1 exaflops which continues to deliver breakthroughs in scientific discovery, energy assurance, economic competitiveness, and national security.

Translational Research Capability

The Translational Research Capability, or TRC, is a new multipurpose research facility that will provide state-of-the-art laboratory space for expanding scientific activities at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The TRC will be purpose-built for world-leading research in computing and materials science.

The TRC, under construction in the central ORNL campus, will accommodate sensitive equipment, multipurpose labs, heavy equipment and inert environment labs. Approximately 75 percent of the facility will contain large, modularly planned and open laboratory areas with the rest as office and support spaces. Construction of the facility began in 2021 and will be completed in 2024.

Exascale Computing Project

To support the delivery of the nation’s first exascale systems, ORNL played a primary role in leading the Exascale Computing Project. ECP was launched in 2016 to bring together research, development, and deployment activities as part of a capable exascale computing ecosystem to ensure an enduring exascale computing capability for the nation. ECP is scheduled to be completed in 2024 and has achieved all its project goals.

ECP delivered specific applications, software products, and outcomes within DOE computing facilities. Integration across these elements with specific hardware technologies for the manifestation of exascale systems was fundamental to the success of ECP.

ECP accelerated the delivery of a capable exascale computing ecosystem and provided breakthrough solutions that addressed critical challenges in scientific discovery, energy assurance, economic competitiveness, and national security.

Proton Power Upgrade

The Proton Power Upgrade (PPU) project at ORNL will double the power capability of the Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) linear accelerator, from 1.4 to 2.8 megawatts, to facilitate new types of experiments and discoveries. The PPU will:
  • provide up to 40% more power to the SNS First Target Station (FTS) target, delivering more neutrons to accelerate the pace of scientific discovery across a wide range of materials and technologies,
  • enable novel neutron experiments, in more extreme environments, using smaller and less-concentrated samples,
  • leverage existing ORNL facilities and capabilities for maximum cost-effectiveness, and
  • power the Second Target Station (STS) to provide the world’s brightest “cold” neutrons and enable studies of more complex materials. STS, in turn, will provide up to 22 new instruments—8 initially—for unprecedented experiments on complex matter with its high-peak brightness beams of “cold” neutrons at high-repetition rates.

Planned PPU activities for FY 2024 include the installation of last 3 superconducting radio frequency (RF) cryomodules and supporting RF equipment; installation of ring and target systems; Ring-to-Target-Beam-Transport stub construction; and testing, commissioning, and readiness activities. Early project completion is planned for early calendar year 2025.

Materials Plasma Exposure Experiment

The Material Plasma Exposure eXperiment (MPEX) is a next-generation linear plasma device that will support study of the way plasma will interact long term with the components of future fusion reactors—in particular, the divertor, the power and particle “exhaust system” of a fusion reactor. MPEX will support materials research relevant for next-generation fusion devices, such as a fusion pilot plant.

On October 29th, 2020, MPEX received Critical Decision-3A approval, which included facility preparation and long-lead procurements. On August 22, 2022, MPEX received CD-2/3 Approval, which set the project baseline and approval construction for the remainder of the project.  The project is currently in procurement and fabrication and early stages of device assembly.

Stable Isotope Production Facility

In 2018, the Department of Energy began construction of the Stable Isotope Production Facility (SIPF) to produce stable isotopes that are in short supply and cannot be enriched with current domestic capabilities. These isotopes will benefit medicine, industrial manufacturing, nuclear and physical science research, and homeland security. Scheduled for completion by 2025, the $25.5 million facility on the Oak Ridge National Laboratory campus will be housed in the same space as the Enriched Stable Isotope Prototype Plant (ESIPP). SIPF will establish a full-production cascade for enriched stable isotopes, filling government research and other domestic needs not met by commercial suppliers.

Stable Isotope Production & Research Center

The U.S. Stable Isotope Production and Research Center (SIPRC) will expand the nation’s capability to enrich stable isotopes for medical, industrial, research, and national security uses. The demand for these isotopes has increased significantly over the past decade, and SIPRC will reduce our nation’s dependency on foreign suppliers for critical isotopes. The single-story, 64,000-square-foot building, designed to allow for future expansion, will be on ORNL’s main campus. It will house two types of isotope separation equipment. 

Second Target Station

ORNL is moving forward with plans for a third neutron source: the Second Target Station (STS) at the Spallation Neutron Source (SNS), to address emerging science challenges. The STS will complement the Spallation Neutron Source First Target Station (FTS) and High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR) by filling gaps in materials research that require the combined use of intense, cold (long-wavelength) neutrons and instruments optimized for exploring more complex materials. Together, the three facilities will ensure long-term US global leadership in neutron science capabilities. 

The initial suite of eight instruments will provide new capabilities to study quantum materials, soft matter, energy materials, biology, and structural materials. The US Department of Energy approved Critical Decision 1 (CD-1) in November 2020, which affirmed the project’s conceptual designs, cost and schedule range, and general acquisition plans. This allowed the team to begin work on the preliminary design and next phase of development activities and progress the project towards Critical Decision 2 (CD-2) when the project’s performance baseline would be approved.

Domestic Uranium Enrichment Centrifuge Experiment

Within Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Enrichment Science and Engineering Division, staff are leading the pursuit of the Domestic Uranium Enrichment Centrifuge Experiment Project, or DUECE. The project, which started in 2016, leverages expertise and capabilities from across ORNL. Scientists and engineers are working to develop centrifuge technology to provide the United States a unique domestic production capability for enriched uranium. The goal is to demonstrate the developed technology in time to support the National Nuclear Security Administration mission need for low enriched uranium (LEU) in the 2040s. 

Craft Resources Support Facility

The Craft Resources Support Facility, or CRSF, which received CD-1 approval in April 2020 and is currently under construction in the east campus, will provide modern office, shop, and storage capabilities for vehicle maintenance, hoisting and rigging, paint and signage, and other key craft support functions that support the entire laboratory. CRSF will be completed in 2024 and will enable the deactivation and decommissioning of several 1950s vintage facilities by 2026.

Versatile Neutron Spectrometer

VENUS is a state-of-the-art imaging instrument under construction at the Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) that will be used to study a wide range of diverse materials such as battery materials, advanced alloys, nuclear materials, plant physiology, biology, and even archaeological artifacts. VENUS will provide time-of-flight imaging capabilities, enabled by the SNS pulsed-source accelerator, used to simultaneously capture information about the structure and behavior of materials at the atomic scale. Physical construction of the beamline began in 2019.

By FY 2024, the large, two-story instrument cave where the experiment samples will be staged was built and most components had been designed and were in various stages of procurement, testing, and installation.  Installation of components will continue to progress through the long SNS outage, and the Instrument Readiness Review planned for late-Spring or early-Summer 2024.