Decades of Nuclear Expertise Guides Global Nonproliferation Innovation Today

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Image of an Oak Ridge National Lab researcher.
Source: Carlos Jones/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

June 11, 2024 | Originally published by Oak Ridge National Laboratory on May 16, 2024

Researchers tackling national security challenges at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory are upholding an 80-year legacy of leadership in all things nuclear. Today, they’re developing the next generation of technologies that will help reduce global nuclear risk and enable safe, secure, peaceful use of nuclear materials worldwide.

ORNL’s rich history of nuclear technological innovation entered the record books on the morning of November 4, 1943, when the lab’s graphite reactor – the world’s first continually running nuclear reactor – went critical. The graphite reactor’s criticality represents a watershed moment in nuclear history, but internationally recognized breakthroughs in nuclear science and technology have continued to emerge at ORNL every decade since.

“This laboratory is truly unmatched in its legacy of nuclear discovery and innovation, and we’ve built impressive infrastructure over the years to support research and development across nuclear energy, medicine, and nonproliferation,” said Cary Crawford, director of ORNL’s Nuclear Nonproliferation Division. “Today, we’re developing next-generation science and technology to understand advanced nuclear applications to help move that science into practical application and then commercialize it so we can better understand and mitigate any risks.”

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