Oak Ridge National Laboratory

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Oak Ridge National Laboratory (USA)
Hanford Site, Richland, Washington
Hanford Site ,
Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tennessee
Oak Ridge
Oak Ridge,
Trinity Test, White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico
Trinity Test ,
White Sands
Missile Range,
New Mexico
Some locations of the Manhattan Project
Architect's drawing of the planned liquid-metal-cooled fast breeder reactor from 1973

The Oak Ridge National Laboratory ( ORNL ) is a scientific and technical research and development facility in Oak Ridge , Tennessee, USA . It has approximately 4,750 employees and is operated by the American Battelle Institute ( UT Battelle LLC ) for the United States Department of Energy (DOE).


The ORNL was founded in 1943 as Site X of the Manhattan Project and was initially called the Clinton Engineer Works. Its original mission was to make enriched uranium for the first atomic bombs. For this purpose, on the one hand the gas diffusion process was developed and a large-scale system ( K-25 ) was built for it, on the other hand a larger number of calutrons were installed. The highly enriched uranium required - used, among other things, for the Hiroshima bomb - was obtained using a combination of these two isotope separation processes .

Later and present activities

With the electromagnetic method of isotope separation - on which the calutron and also every mass spectrometer is based - stable and radioactive isotopes for medical and other purposes were and are obtained in the ORNL.

Enriched uranium will continue to be produced for nuclear reactors in the US Navy and lithium enriched with Li-6 for nuclear weapons . Area Y-12 with around 4500 employees, which produces these nuclear fission and fusion fuels for military purposes, is also subject to the DOE, but is organisationally separated from the ORNL as of today (2020).

The ORNL has been working intensively theoretically and experimentally on the concept of molten salt reactors since the 1960s .

The ORNL has become a research and development center for various energy and environmental issues. It is also home to Summit , one of the most powerful supercomputers in the world. With the secret Multiprogram Research Facility , the National Security Agency is also developing the evaluation of signals intelligence and cryptanalysis using supercomputers.

Individual evidence

  1. ORNL homepage, accessed May 2, 2020 [1]
  2. Jeffrey Strickland: The Men of Manhattan: Creators of the Nuclear Era . Lulu Inc., 2011, ISBN 978-1-257-76188-3
  3. ^ JG Tracy: Status of the isotope enrichment program at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section A , Vol. 303 (1991) pp. 3-8. [2]
  4. Note on the ORNL website, accessed May 2, 2020 [3]
  5. ^ Website of Y-12 [4]
  6. ^ PN Haubenreich, JR Engel: Experience with the Molten-Salt Reactor Experiment . (PDF, reprint) In: Nuclear Applications and Technology . 8, 1970, pp. 118-136.
  7. CF Baes Jr .: The chemistry and thermodynamics of molten salt reactor fuels. Journal of Nuclear Materials Volume 51 (1972) pp 149-162, [5]
  8. DE Holcomb, GFFlanagan et al .: Fast Spectrum Molten Salt Reactor Options. Report ORNL / TM-2011/105, 2011 [6]
  9. James Bamford, The NSA Is Building the Country's Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say) , Wired, March 15, 2012

Coordinates: 35 ° 59 ′ 9.8 ″  N , 84 ° 15 ′ 31 ″  W.