Refrigeration — Cooling COVID-19 vaccines

Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers have retrofitted a commercial refrigeration container designed to ensure COVID-19 vaccines remain at ultra-low temperatures during long transport and while locally stored.

Most COVID vaccines, depending on the manufacturer, are stored at minus 70 or 30 degrees Celsius. Current transport methods use dry ice to maintain desired temperatures. However, longer travel times, particularly to remote locations without supportive infrastructure, require extended refrigeration.

Materials — Radiation-resistant sensors

To advance sensor technologies, Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers studied piezoelectric materials, which convert mechanical stress into electrical energy, to see how they could handle bombardment with energetic neutrons. This irradiation disturbs the position and behavior of atoms, which can affect the conversion of mechanical stresses into electricity.

Sensors made of piezoelectric materials could help guide the design of prototype nuclear reactors and monitor the health of aging reactors — if the materials can withstand extreme conditions.

Khaleel named associate lab director for national security sciences

Moe Khaleel has been selected to lead the National Security Sciences Directorate, or NSSD, at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory. In his role as associate lab director, he will oversee efforts in nuclear security, nonproliferation, biosecurity, cybersecurity, grid security and security for manufacturing, autonomous systems and other emerging fields.

“I am excited about working with the NSSD staff at the forefront of addressing national security challenges, and I look forward to the accomplishments we are going to make,” Khaleel said.

Top 10 science stories of 2021

Despite challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, research at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in 2021 continued apace, with developments across the lab’s broad science and technology missions. Among our most popular news stories in the past year:

SupercomputingSupercomputers aid scientists studying the smallest particles in the universe

Hubbard named Deputy for Science and Technology at ORNL

Susan Hubbard, an acclaimed scientific leader and researcher, has been named Deputy for Science and Technology at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Her appointment is effective March 1, 2022.

“Dr. Hubbard brings skilled and passionate leadership that will enable world-leading impact across our portfolio,” said ORNL Director Thomas Zacharia. “She is a true champion of the DOE mission, the National Laboratory System and our responsibility to leverage powerful user facilities and multidisciplinary teams in the national interest.”