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Oak Ridge National Laboratory

From Academic Kids

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is a multiprogram science and technology national laboratory managed for the United States Department of Energy by UT-Battelle, LLC. ORNL is located in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, near Knoxville. Scientists and engineers at ORNL conduct basic and applied research and development to create scientific knowledge and technological solutions that strengthen the nation's global leadership in key areas of science, increase the availability of clean, abundant energy, restore and protect the environment, and contribute to national security.

ORNL also performs other work for the Department of Energy, including isotope production and separation, information management, and technical program management, and provides research and technical assistance to other organizations. ORNL runs the National Transportation Research Center jointly with the University of Tennessee.

ORNL was formed in 1942 by the United States Army Corps of Engineers from an approximately 60,000 acre (243 km²) valley 25 miles (40 km) northwest of Knoxville, Tennessee. Originally known as the Clinton Engineering Works, ORNL was established as part of the secret World War II Manhattan Project in 1943 to carry out a single, well-defined mission: production and separation of uranium and plutonium for the Manhattan Project. This was carried out in 3 large facilities, the Y-12, X-10, and K-25 plants. K-25 was a gaseous diffusion plant to separate U235 from U238; this single building covered 42 acres. Y-12 was for the electromagnetic separation of U235. X-10 was a demonstration plant for the process to produce plutonium from uranium by nuclear bombardment. It was a prototype for the larger plant built at Hanford, Washington. Monsanto operated Oak Ridge National Laboratories for the Manhattan Project.

In the Oak Ridge Institute for Nuclear Studies, lethal doses of radiation were tested on 200 unwary cancer patients, turning them into "nuclear calibration devices" for the AEC and NASA, until 1974.

The Laboratory has evolved into a unique resource for addressing important national and global energy and environmental issues. Today, ORNL pioneers the development of new energy sources, technologies, and materials and the advancement of knowledge in the biological, chemical, computational, engineering, environmental, physical, and social sciences. Y-12 is the repository of much US bomb grade fissionable material, and was the destination of fissile materials that had been removed from Eastern European nuclear facilities that were inadaquately guarded since the end of the USSR.

ORNL facts and figures

  • Staff: 3800 total, 1500 scientists and engineers
  • Budget: $870 million, 80% Department of Energy, 20% work for others
  • Replacement cost of buildings: $7 billion
  • Total land area: 58 square miles (150 km2)
  • Guest researchers: 3000 each year, about 25% from industry
  • Visitors: About 30,000 each year, plus 10,000 precollege students

External links

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