High-voltage power lines carry electricity generated by the Tennessee Valley Authority to ORNL. Credit: Dobie Gillispie/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of EnergyThe US Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) on 1 March signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to co-operate in advancing decarbonisation technologies.

“ORNL applies a broad range of scientific capabilities to the development of clean energy solutions,” ORNL Director Thomas Zacharia said, “and TVA is an invaluable partner for deploying these technologies for the benefit of East Tennessee and the nation.”

Partnerships between TVA and ORNL date to the earliest days of the lab, with recent collaborations including the first full-scale computer simulation of a working nuclear reactor and installation of 3D-printed reactor components, all aimed at accelerating cost-effective deployment of carbon-free nuclear power.

The institutions will work together to promote, pursue, evaluate and demonstrate the feasibility, operability and affordability of utility-scale decarbonisation technologies. These technologies will focus on electricity, but the partners may also explore related developments such as hydrogen generation and grid modernisation and security.

Areas for co-operation will include: direct air carbon capture; converting carbon dioxide into valuable products; hydrogen generation and utilisation; static and dynamic electric vehicles; light water SMRs and fourth-generation advanced nuclear reactors; long-duration energy storage; electrification of parts of the economy currently fuelled by fossil energy; and modernisation of the grid to enhance reliability and resiliency, improve cybersecurity and prevent outages due to extreme weather.

ORNL’s campus will serve as a living laboratory to accelerate the development, demonstration and deployment of these emerging technologies.

Photo: High-voltage power lines carry electricity generated by the Tennessee Valley Authority to ORNL. (Credit: Dobie Gillispie/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy)