Engineering at ORNL is integrated with nearly all of the scientific research areas and user facilities. In particular, ORNL has core capabilities chemical engineering and systems engineering.
Chemical engineering moves knowledge gained from fundamental chemical research toward applications. For example, this capability supports the development of fuel reprocessing techniques and enables radioisotope production, isotope separation, and development of isotope applications. This capacity also contributes to advances in energy efficiency, renewable energy, fossil energy, waste management and environmental remediation, and national security. Chemical engineering efforts at ORNL make use of a variety of distinctive resources: radiological laboratories and nuclear facilities; biochemical laboratories for investigating environmental and biofuels technologies; chemistry and materials characterization resources (e.g., ShaRE, SNS, and CNMS); and specialized combustion and catalytic emission control research facilities at the National Transportation Research Center (NTRC). Technology development through chemical engineering often builds directly on fundamental research in materials design, synthesis, and processing; chemical separations and catalysis; and neutron scattering, computational science, and nanoscience (leveraging CNMS)
ORNL’s core capability in systems engineering and integration is critical to its ability to translate breakthrough science into robust technologies, systems, and methods that address high-risk, high-complexity, multidisciplinary issues of national importance. This core capability is manifested in a culture that effectively creates and manages complex systems by (1) developing detailed analytical processes to establish requirements, (2) analyzing candidate system architectures, (3) engineering in critical performance attributes, and (4) delivering systems that operate as expected from the outset and maintain their performance over extended periods with little to no intervention.