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About Oak Ridge National Laboratory

As DOE's largest multi-program science and energy laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory possesses scientific and technical capabilities that span basic and applied research in fields ranging from fundamental nuclear physics to applied research and development on advanced energy systems. The Tennessee lab's mission is to deliver scientific discoveries and technical breakthroughs that will accelerate the development and deployment of solutions in clean energy and global security, thereby creating economic opportunity for the nation. Payroll and procurement tops $1 billion annually.


Enhanced Geothermal Systems

  • Development of neutron imaging and scattering techniques to understand flow through fractures and the hydraulic fracture process
  • Geological sample characterization using conventional and neutron scattering techniques including multi-scale pore size distribution measurement
  • Geochemical and fluid property characterization at high pressure and temperature


  • Material Science R&D to improve well construction technologies including high temperature material development and characterization
  • Development of harsh environment sensors and measurement methods for reservoir characterization including design and fabrication of wide band-gap microelectronics

Low Temperature and Co-Produced Resources

  • Energy conversion technologies including the exploration of improved thermodynamic cycles and working fluids
  • Development of more efficient heat exchanger technologies for energy conversion
  • Ground source heat pump technology development and analysis
  • Development of novel uses of low grade thermal resources
  • Mineral recovery from geothermal brines including membrane, solvent extraction, ion exchange and sorbent technologies


  • High Temperature Materials Laboratory: Six centers - Diffraction (x-ray and neutron); Friction and wear testing, inspection; Mechanical characterization; Microstructural analysis; Residual stress measurements; Thermography; and Thermophysical properties determination.
  • Manufacturing Demonstration Facility
  • Neutron scattering user facilities: the Spallation Neutron Source and the High Flux Isotope Reactor - Small and ultra-small angle scattering instruments provide capabilities to study the porosity of geothermal cores and the VULCAN diffractometer is capable of performing residual stress, texture, and microstructure studies.
  • Neutron imaging prototype facility at (HFIR) – 2D (radiography) and 3D (computed tomography) neutron imaging capabilities. Provides high sensitivity to hydrogen within rock so that water content and flow can be imaged in real-time and analyzed to quantify volumes and flow rates.
  • Seafloor Process Simulator: Large scale pressure vessel, 3000 psi. 41 access ports, instrumented with a fiber-optical Raman spectrometer. Can be used to study downhole rock-fluid interactions and test out sensors.
  • World unique high pressure-temperature geothermal experiment laboratory: Vibrating tube densimeters for bulk and pore-confined fluid pressure-volume-temperature studies; liquid-vapor equilibration system for determining partitioning of solutes between brines and coexisting vapors; long-term, high precision pH monitoring apparatus for fluid/rock interaction studies; vapor pressure absorption apparatus for determining activity of water and CO2 in brines and sorption on rock and mineral substrates; cold-seal and piston cylinder systems for rock/fluid reaction studies.

Additional Information