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.

International ITER Fusion Project

ITER is an unprecedented global collaboration to demonstrate the scientific and technological feasibility of fusion energy.

The ITER research facility will allow scientists to study reactor-scale burning plasmas--a key step in fusion energy development-- and explore technical challenges relevant to the development of a power-producing fusion reactor. Now under construction in southern France, ITER will be home to the world's largest tokamak and ultimately will demonstrate 500 MW of fusion power for 300 seconds.

ITER partners are Europe (host) plus China, India, Japan, Korea, Russia and the United States. All partners provide in-kind and financial contributions to the project. As an ITER 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. Over 80% of US ITER funding for hardware contributions goes to US industry, universities and national laboratories.

US ITER - Subproject 1

US ITER, a Fusion Energy Sciences project funded by the Office of Science, is responsible for delivering 12 essential systems to the ITER project in order to fulfill U.S. commitments to the international ITER project and realize operational and research success. Subproject-1 includes design of all 12 hardware systems plus fabrication and delivery of a subset of hardware for first plasma. This scope includes magnet, electrical, cooling water, vacuum and roughing pumps systems, electron cyclotron transmission lines, and associated instrumentation and controls.

US ITER - Subproject 2

US ITER Subproject-2 includes the fabrication and delivery of hardware systems essential for post-First Plasma research operations leading ultimately to deuterium-tritium operations at 500 megawatts. The scope includes hardware for tokamak exhaust processing, roughing pumps, plasma fueling, and diagnostic systems, plus electron cyclotron and ion cyclotron heating transmission lines and associated instrumentation and controls. 

Office of Leadership Computing - 5th Gen

OLCF-5 is the Frontier supercomputer under construction at ORNL, which will debut in 2021 as the nation’s first exascale system. Upon its debut, Frontier is expected to be the world’s most powerful computer with a performance of greater than 1.5 exaflops. By solving calculations up to 10 times faster than the nation’s top supercomputers—exceeding a quintillion, or 10^18, calculations per second—Frontier will enable researchers to deliver breakthroughs in scientific discovery, energy assurance, economic competitiveness, and national security.

As a second-generation AI system—following the world-leading Summit system deployed at ORNL in 2018—Frontier will help researchers investigate otherwise inaccessible global problems: from designing new materials, energy sources, and treatments for disease to modeling complex phenomenon related to weather or space to gaining new insights by analyzing gargantuan amounts of data. Currently being built by HPE Cray, Frontier will feature Cray’s new EX architecture with high-performance AMD EPYC™ CPU and AMD Radeon Instinct GPU technology.

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, located 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.

Exascale Computing Project

To support the delivery of the nation’s first exascale systems, ORNL plays a primary role in leading the Exascale Computing Project. ECP was launched in 2016 and brings 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, a 7 year project, is focused on delivering specific applications, software products, and outcomes on DOE computing facilities. Integration across these elements with specific hardware technologies for the manifestation of exascale systems is fundamental to the success of ECP.

The outcome of ECP is the accelerated delivery of a capable exascale computing ecosystem to provide breakthrough solutions that address our most critical challenges in scientific discovery, energy assurance, economic competitiveness, and national security.  

Proton Power Upgrade

Providing up to 40% more power to the First Target Station (FTS), the PPU project will enable novel neutron scattering experiments with thermal neutrons at high energy resolution. Such experiments will include studies under extreme environments of pressure, temperature, and magnetic field, using smaller and less-concentrated samples. These capabilities will, for example, allow us to understand how networks of atomic-scale chemical reactions influence materials synthesis. The PPU project (with possible early completion in 2024) will double SNS power capability to 2.8 megawatts (MW) to deliver a 2 MW proton beam to the FTS. Planned PPU project activities in FY 2021 include completion of klystron gallery construction, initial equipment installation, and delivery of the first superconducting cryomodule.

Neutron Electric Dipole Moment Experiment

The goal of the neutron electric dipole moment (nEDM) experiment at the Fundamental Neutron Physics Beamline at ORNL’s Spallation Neutron Source is to make the world’s most precise measurement of the neutron’s electric dipole moment, improving the current precision by two orders of magnitude. The nEDM project uses a unique approach to measure this quantity; a confirmed nonzero measurement will unlock a new mechanism for explaining the matter-antimatter asymmetry in the universe. 

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.

As of September 2020, MPEX completed a Department of Energy (DOE) Critical Decision-3A Independent Project Review, —which includes approval for the preparation of the facility and long-lead procurements—moving it one step closer to the start of construction. The device assembly is projected to begin in the spring of 2023.

Transformational Challenge Reactor

The TCR program leverages advances in manufacturing and computational science to deliver advanced nuclear technology at a reduced cost. To achieve this goal, TCR brings together advanced manufacturing with computational design and artificial intelligence. In addition, the program takes advantage of unique ORNL research facilities, including the Spallation Neutron Source, Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility, the High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR), and the Manufacturing Demonstration Facility.

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 $27 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, 54,000-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: Electromagnetic Isotope Separators (EMIS), and Gas Centrifuge Isotope Separators (GCIS).

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. With eight initial instruments, the capabilities of the STS will complement those of the SNS First Target Station (FTS) and HFIR, by filling gaps in materials research that require the combined use of intense, cold (longer wavelength) neutrons and instruments that are optimized for exploration of complex materials. Together, these three facilities form an unbeatable combination that will maintain US global leadership in neutron science capabilities. The STS reached a major milestone in November 2020 when the US Department of Energy (DOE) officially gave the project Critical Decision 1 (CD-1) approval. CD-1 status affirms the project’s conceptual designs, cost and schedule range, and general acquisition plans, while allowing the team to begin work on the next phases of design and development.

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, which received CD-1 approval in April 2020, will provide modern facilities in the form of a vehicle garage and shops for sheet metal workers, carpenters, mechanics, and electricians, thereby enabling the D&D of 10 or more 1950s vintage facilities.

Centrifuge Manufacturing Capability

The Centrifuge Manufacturing Capability at Oak Ridge National Laboratory will support the Stable Isotope Production Facility by enabling the fabrication and assembly of centrifuge components. ORNL has modified an existing facility for the CMC, and a vault-type room ensures security. ORNL plans to use similar equipment to that of the Domestic Uranium Enrichment Centrifuge Experiment (DUECE).

Versatile Neutron Spectrometer

VENUS is a state-of-the-art imaging instrument under construction at the Spallation Neutron Source 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, and work is on track to begin commissioning VENUS in 2023.