Nuclear Energy and the Environment Capabilities
PNNL's nuclear energy and regulatory activities benefit from the use and integration of the following key capabilities.
Applied Nuclear Science and Technology
The Applied Nuclear Science and Technology capability is broad-based and flows out of PNNL's historic role at Hanford. We tap this capability to inform a host of activities, from safety assessments for the international community to irradiated materials examination. PNNL's Advanced Condition Monitoring concept will draw upon numerous ANS&T capabilities—such as non-destructive evaluation and radiochemical processing—to better understand reactor processes in real time and in predictive modes.
Applied Materials Science and Engineering
PNNL is widely recognized for its Applied Materials Science and Engineering capabilities. PNNL expertise includes materials theory, simulation, design, and synthesis; materials characterization; and materials performance in hostile environments. This capability is central to PNNL's efforts to formulate, fabricate, and qualify waste forms for safe, long-term storage.
Advanced Computer Science, Visualization, and Data
PNNL's internationally-known advanced scientific computing, information visualization, and data management capabilities provide a solid foundation for modeling and simulation, a vital resource for understanding processes and predicting their behavior. We lead the Fundamental Modeling Methods program for the Department of Energy's Nuclear Energy Advanced Modeling and Simulation Program, which is developing models with applications in separations and safeguards, waste forms, fuels and advanced reactors.
Chemical and Molecular Sciences
This capability advances the understanding, prediction, and control of chemical and physical processes in complex, multi-phase environments. Separations and analysis, actinide science, and material defects expertise are among the disciplines residing within this capability set and meeting nuclear energy and regulatory needs.
We tap our longstanding, multi-disciplinary set of environmental assessment-related capabilities to conduct environmental reviews for nuclear power plants. Our subject matter expertise spans from aquatic biology, archaeology and hydrology, to cultural resources. These capabilities help the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission identify natural resource impacts for proposed power plant sites, as well as for existing reactors seeking license extensions.
Radiochemical Processing Laboratory (RPL)
This laboratory and its research teams serve as a cornerstone of our nuclear research and development. A Hazard Category II Non-Reactor Nuclear Facility, RPL's capabilities and research in areas including radiochemical processing and irradiated materials examination are resolving technical and safety issues and informing innovations in nuclear reactor technologies and processes. One of the RPL's distinguishing features is the ability to receive and examine full-length irradiated fuel rods and targets; this is expected to be an increasingly important capability for government and industry as work proceeds on addressing the fuel cycle.
Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL)
EMSL, a DOE national scientific user facility located at PNNL, provides the fundamental science that serves as a basis for technology advances in nuclear energy and related fields. By inquiring at a fundamental level and transposing that information into a model or simulation, it is possible to develop and test potential new solutions for a range of technical challenges. Further integration of this approach with capabilities at the Radiochemical Processing Laboratory has produced unique equipment and techniques for conducting research in the fields of radiological surface science, actinide chemistry, and analytical chemistry.
Applied Process Engineering Laboratory (APEL)
APEL, along with the Radiochemical Processing Laboratory and the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory, is one of three PNNL strategic facilities. APEL features engineering- and manufacturing-scale space and research laboratories, and its glass and materials labs are particularly vital to waste form research. The facility offers crucible-to-large scale experiments, allowing research teams to comprehensively test and analyze waste characteristics, processing, and forms in the same facility.