The mission of Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is to advance the frontiers of science and technology in three broad arenas: energy, the environment, and economic competitiveness.
ORNL staff are seeking better ways of producing, distributing, and conserving energy. They work to reduce the environmental and health effects of energy technologies and to increase understanding of environmental processes. Scientists, engineers, and policy experts at ORNL are working to shape energy options and policies that are sensible, comprehensive, and visionary.
ORNL's environmental expertise has its roots in pioneering studies of the ecological effects of radioactive fallout. In the 1960s, experiments used radioisotopes to "tag" forest nutrients, shedding light on key chemical reactions in the nutrient cycle and revealing the role played by bacteria and insects in breaking down organic matter. ORNL has gone on to examine the effects of radioactive and chemical contamination of the food chain: the ecological effects of releasing heated water from power plants into rivers: and the environmental impacts of new power plants, hydroelectric dams, and other energy-related projects. In addition, ORNL's expertise in instrumentation, detection, and ecosystem modeling--likewise rooted in nuclear studies--is now being harnessed to develop sophisticated new methods for pollutant detection and environmental monitoring.
ORNL is committed to helping maintain the U.S. lead in science and technology. ORNL's expert staff, specialized facilities, and innovative knowledge-sharing programs make it one of the nations's leaders in restoring Americas's competitive edge. Collaborations linking ORNL with U.S. industries and universities bridge long-standing gaps between pure research and manufacturing technology. Flexible arrangements and an open environment make it possible for thousands of outside experimenters to benefit from ORNL's capabilities each year. And ongoing partnerships with The University of Tennessee and the Tennessee Valley Authority leverage ORNL's resources in both research and the energy industry. ORNL also strongly supports and promotes math and science education to inspire a new generation of scientists and engineers.
In pursuit of its mission, ORNL conducts basic and applied research in these key areas of strength:
Integrated Assessment Briefs. 1995. ORNL/M-4227. Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN.