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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.


ORNL is home to a nationally recognized and highly qualified team of scientists conducting basic and applied research on small- to large-scale hydropower systems (basin-, regional-, and national -scales), equipment, and technology.

Enabling capabilities of the ORNL hydropower team include:

  • Hydrodynamic modeling and simulation — to resolve fluid energy losses and energy efficiency of complex highly turbulent flows in intakes, turbines, and diffusers, to resolve fluid forces on 3D-printed composite and additive components, to optimize component shapes and advanced modular designs, and to simulate the cost-benefit of alternative surface finishes;

  • Riverine habitat and hydrology — to provide industry leading field observations, laboratory experimentation, and computer modeling and simulation of hydropower effects on fish and water quality, threats to fish species, optimized flow releases for fish passage, dissolved oxygen deficit mitigation, and frameworks for effective environmental flows.

  • Structural (static and dynamic) modeling — to simulate stresses and factors of safety within turbine-generator components, and to accommodate the use of more complex shapes and composite materials engendered by additive manufacturing;

  • Magnetic, thermal, and structural modeling of generator components — to model performance, stresses, and deflections in advanced modular generator designs, including integrated water-cooling of generator components;

  • Materials and interface modeling — to explore the feasibility of optimizing composite materials and joining techniques at the microstructure level to enhance price-performance tradeoffs and further reduce the costs of fit-for-purpose small hydropower designs;

  • Techno-economic analysis — to incorporate and analyze how advanced materials and manufacturing, alternative designs, and performance of new designs affect initial, production, and levelized costs and benefits.


ORNL houses several state-of-the art research and manufacturing facilities capable of supporting next-generation clean energy technology development.

  • Manufacturing Demonstration Facility (MDF) — world-class 3D printing capabilities, with ultrasonic, electron beam, and laser deposition additive manufacturing techniques and recognized expertise in titanium powder and near-net shape consolidation processes. The MDF has nearly 100 industry partners, and is actively seeking ways to assess manufacturing capabilities for new renewable energy technologies;

  • Carbon Fiber Technology Facility — a companion facility to the MDF, offering a highly flexible, highly instrumented carbon fiber line for demonstrating advanced technology scalability and producing market-development volumes of prototypical carbon fibers. Researchers are developing next generation carbon fiber composite materials and lightweight metal alloys to meet weight-reduction targets across a variety of industries;

  • Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility — home to Titan, the nation’s most powerful supercomputer for open science. Titan is a hybrid-architecture Cray XK7 system with a theoretical peak performance exceeding 27,000 trillion calculations per second (27 petaflops). It features 18,688 computational nodes, each equipped with four quad-core CPUs and two GPU cards. Archival data are stored on the High-Performance Storage System, which is capable of archiving hundreds of petabytes of data to support scientific exploration;

  • Environmental Effects Laboratory — sensor and sensor system development space for applications that advance science and improve energy efficiency, including microfabricated sensors and integration, metrology development for unique applications, and evaluation of complex instrumentation systems;

  • National Transportation Research Center — developing revolutionary new power electronics, electric motor, and powertrain technologies with lower cost and better performance.

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