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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 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.

  • Seawater yields first grams of yellowcake

    Seawater yields first grams of yellowcake

    For the first time, researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and LCW Supercritical Technologies have created five grams of yellowcake — a powdered form of uranium used to produce fuel for nuclear power production — using acrylic fibers to extract it from seawater.

  • EA&E Nuclear Materials Projects

    EA&E Nuclear Materials Projects

    EA&E staff are addressing a broad set of environmental, and regulatory, and border-security projects involving the storage, detection, and safe disposition of our nation’s nuclear materials. From siting small nuclear reactors to detecting illicit materials at the U.S. borders, from responding to emergencies to safe disposition and storage of spent nuclear materials, EA&E staff are solving problems and leading our nation into a safer, cleaner future.

Nuclear Energy

Research Areas & Services