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Nuclear Energy

Nuclear Energy

Nuclear-generated electricity has benefits beyond keeping our homes warm, lights on, and cell phones charged. The federal government estimates use of carbon-free nuclear energy in the United States avoids nearly 650 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year.

At PNNL, we facilitate the design of advanced reactors, safely extend the lives of the existing fleet, and develop processes for recycling, safe storage, transportation, and disposal of spent nuclear fuel.

PNNL has a long heritage supporting our nation's nuclear energy programs extending back many decades. For instance

  • We were the S&T authority for operation of the Hanford reactors
  • We led the International Nuclear Safety Program on behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy
  • We led R&D for the Fast Flux Test Facility sodium-cooled fast reactor
  • We were the waste form qualification authority for Yucca Mountain, the Materials Characterization Center, the Basalt Waste Isolation Project, and for the DOE Used Fuel Disposition Campaign

Our contributions to the nation's nuclear energy future continue. Staff expertise and state of the art nuclear facilities—such as the Radiochemical Processing Laboratory, a Category 2 Nuclear Facility—are substantial assets to both the federal government and the commercial nuclear sector in helping our nation move towards a reliable, safe and secure energy future.

  • PNNL Workshop Gathers International Experts to Forecast the Future of Electron Microscopy

    PNNL Workshop Gathers International Experts to Forecast the Future of Electron Microscopy

    World-renowned experts representing five countries came to the PNNL-hosted NexTEM Workshop, Workshop in October 2018 to discuss the future of electron microscopy, including emerging needs and potential solutions.

  •  At RPL, a drum of irradiated samples is rotated into a horizontal configuration for subsequent sample transfer to a hot cell

    Fast and Hot, Samples Go From PNNL to CERN

    Post-irradiation materials received at PNNL's Radiochemical Processing Laboratory undergo tensile and micro-hardness tests, quantitative chemical analyses, atom probe tomography, atomic force microscopy, transmission electron microscopy, and scanning electron microscopy with electron backscatter diffraction imaging.

  • PNNL Staff Are Among the 'Titans of Nuclear'

    PNNL Staff Are Among the 'Titans of Nuclear'

    International podcast aims to educate the tech-savvy on nuclear energy by interviewing experts on topics including reactors, regulation, rare earth elements, and risk analysis. Among the Titans of Nuclear interviewees are PNNL’s Steve Unwin, Tara O’Neil, Brady Hanson, Ron Omberg, and Chad Painter.

Nuclear Energy

Research Areas & Services