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The University of Tennessee
Bredesen Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Graduate Education (UTK-ORNL)

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ITER 3D plasma equilibrium
This figure shows the ITER plasma surface and toroidal magnetic field coils.
Bioenergy
An atomistic model of cellulose (blue) surrounded by lignin molecules (green) comprising of a total of 3.3 million atoms.
Energy
Global water vapor
The proper simulation of the distribution of water vapor in the climate system is essential to the accurate treatment of the hydrological cycle and the planetary radiation budget.


Energy Research Themes

The unique collaboration between Oak Ridge National Laboratory and The University of Tennessee, Knoxville provides students with the opportunity to tackle the 10 "big challenges" of critical importance to America's energy future.

Nuclear Energy

HFIR imageMeeting a growing demand for energy without increasing carbon emissions will require an expanded role for the nuclear industry. ORNL is developing reprocessing technologies that could enable up to 97 percent of spent fuel to be reused instead of permanently stored. New research tools, including ORNL's and UTK's supercomputers, are bringing the dream of fusion energy closer to reality. ORNL is leading the U.S. role in ITER, the international effort to build an experimental fusion reactor that could lead to an inexhaustible source of energy.

 

Bioenergy and Biofuels

Gas pump in fieldMany Americans seeking a substitute for gasoline prefer ethanol that is not made from valuable food supplies. ORNL's Bioenergy Science Center and Tennessee's Biofuels Initiative are developing new forms of cellulosic ethanol that can be grown on millions of acres of marginal land with little need for water or fertilizer.

 

Renewable Energy

Solar PanelsReplacing energy from fossil fuels will require lowering the cost of solar power. New thin-film photovoltaic cells, hundreds of times thinner than a human hair, could open the door to the next generation of solar technologies.

 

Energy Conversion and Storage

WindmillNew ways of storing energy will be critical to efforts to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels. ORNL's and UTK's expertise in advanced materials will play a leading role in developing a new generation of batteries that can store energy generated by solar panels, wind turbines, and electric cars.

 

Energy Materials

Lightbulb with tree inside

 

Distributed Energy and Grid Management

SupercomputerORNL is testing high temperature superconducting cables that can carry up to 140 times more electric current without losses. Superconducting cables will reduce the number of power outages and lessen the need for additional power plants.

 

 

Environmental and Climate Sciences

CloudsWhat are the effects of global warming, and how can we respond to those changes, are among the most critical questions of the next decade. ORNL is marshaling a variety of resources, including environmental sciences and high-performance computing, in the quest for environmentally sound energy solutions. One aspect of reducing the volume of carbon emissions into the air involves understanding the potential alternative of placing the carbon underground and the resulting impact on the ecosystem. ORNL and UTK research will help form the basis for assessing strategies for ocean and soil-based carbon sequestration.

 

Transportation Sciences

Highway imageWith a goal of reducing the consumption of fossil fuels, ORNL researchers developed a new generation of composite materials that could greatly reduce the weight of cars and trucks. Combined with efforts to increase engine performance, cars of the future could achieve 100 miles per gallon with no compromise of safety or performance.

 

Cross-Cutting Energy Sciences

House iconReducing the energy consumption of homes, offices, and factories is a major goal of America's energy policy. Working with the Tennessee Valley Authority, ORNL has constructed five Habitat for Humanity homes with an electric bill of only 40 cents per day. Researchers hope to develop a zero-energy home by 2012.

 

Energy Geography

 

           

 

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Contact Information

Lee Riedinger
Professor of Physics
Director

Mike Simpson
Professor of Material Sciences and Engineering
Assistant Director

Wanda Davis
Assistant to the Director
443 Greve Hall
821 Volunteer Blvd University of Tennessee
Knoxville, TN 37996
865-974-7999

Ben Allen
Coordinator & Recruiter
418 Greve Hall
821 Volunteer Blvd University of Tennessee
Knoxville, TN 37996
865-974-9374

Fax: 865-974-9482

bredesencenter@utk.edu