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Energy and Environment,


Steve Unwin

(509) 375-2448

Nuclear-generated electricity produces benefits beyond keeping our homes warm, lights on, and cell phones charged. The federal government estimates use of carbon-free nuclear energy in America avoids some 650 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year.

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory understands nuclear power and its many environmental, energy, and economic benefits. We apply and leverage our expertise, built over several decades, to help facilitate the design of new reactors, safely extend the lives of existing reactors, and develop processes for recycling, safe storage, transportation and disposal of used nuclear fuel. A combination of S&T expertise, a unique Hanford history, and highly equipped facilities - such as the Radiochemical Processing Laboratory, a Category 2 Nuclear Facility - allow us to bring substantial resources to helping solve the nation's nuclear energy challenges.

By serving the Department of Energy, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the nuclear power industry, we ensure that our expertise and research assets are having tangible impact on U.S. energy security.

  • Mining Uranium from Seawater

    The world's oceans hold more than four billion tons of uranium—enough to meet global energy needs for the next 10,000 years. But for half a century researchers have tried to mine uranium from seawater with limited success—until now. A braid of polyethylene fibers developed by researchers from Oak Ridge National Laboratory and tested by PNNL has shown the capacity to hold 5.2 grams of uranium per kilogram of adsorbent in 49 days of natural seawater exposure.

  • Inventor of the Year Named by PNNL

    Thallapally Presents Metal-Organic Framework Research

    Kudos to PNNL materials scientist Dr. Praveen K. Thallapally for being invited to present his research on metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) to the Department of Energy's Office of Nuclear Energy Advisory Committee (NEAC) Subcommittee on Fuel Cycle Technologies. He gave a 40-minute presentation titled "Metal Organic Frameworks for Removal of Xenon and Krypton from Nuclear Reprocessing Plants" April 6 in Washington, DC.

  • Safe, Secure Spent-Fuel Shipping

    Safe, Secure Spent-Fuel Shipping

    Researchers at PNNL have laid groundwork for removal of spent nuclear fuel from twelve sites that no longer have operating reactors. A related effort cut a year off the schedule and $180,000 off the cost of designing a railcar to transport the waste.

Energy and Environment

Core Research Areas