Some ‘Secret City’ secrets shouldn’t stay hidden

(Originally published on The Oak Ridger)

By D. Ray Smith/Historically Speaking

Oak Ridge might be known as the “Secret City,” but sometimes, secrets are too important to stay hidden. One of these “secrets” the Oak Ridge community should be proud of is Centrus Energy’s effort to bring advanced nuclear manufacturing and innovation to East Tennessee. Right now, the company is working on advanced nuclear fuel production to ensure the country has a reliable fuel supply for the next generation of nuclear reactors — a notable mission worth recognizing.

Centrus Energy’s work emphasizes that Oak Ridge is and always has been on the forefront of scientific discoveries. From fighting a global pandemic to space travel to nuclear medicine, Oak Ridge experts are making incredible discoveries and producing outstanding solutions every single day.

After all, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory is leading in the fight against COVID-19 through its expertise in computational science, advanced manufacturing, data science, and neutron science. Early ORNL discoveries using the IBM AC922 Summit supercomputer led to the foundation of The COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium, while other researchers recently completed a three-dimensional atomic map of COVID-19’s viral replication mechanism. In advanced manufacturing, Cummins and the Carbon Fiber Technology Facility (CFTF) recently partnered to produce enough filter media to supply over a million face masks and respirators a day. This effort was possible because of the work of the inventor of N95 filter media and local hero, Peter Tsai.

Oak Ridge might not be the first city that comes to mind when discussing space, but key institutions have formed valuable partnerships with NASA to advance the future of space travel. On NASA’s Mars 2020 mission that began last summer, NASA announced ORNL-produced plutonium-238 will power the agency’s Perseverance rover across the planet’s surface. In 2017, experts at Y-12 National Security Complex manufactured and delivered a uranium reactor core for NASA’s Kilopower Reactor Using Stirling Technology, or KRUSTY, to support deep space travel.