Lowering Costs,
Accelerating Innovation


Nuclear energy provides nearly 20 percent of America’s electricity supply. But by 2055, all current nuclear reactors based on light water technology will likely retire due to expiring licenses. As far as advanced reactors go, currently there are none in operation, and it has been 40 years since this nation built and operated one.

To combat this, Oak Ridge National Laboratory launched the Transformational Challenge Reactor Program. The goal is simple: build an additively manufactured microreactor using the latest scientific innovation and allow nuclear industry to adopt the technology approach developed by TCR. Once TCR starts operation, it will be the first advanced reactor to operate in the United States in more than 40 years, representing a watershed moment for the domestic nuclear sector.

The TCR program is working diligently to transfer its technology to the industry almost as fast as it’s being developed and demonstrated. Industry leaders are already using TCR technology advancements to improve and implement their own designs and to provide clean and cost-competitive energy production immediately.

Fact sheet

Bringing ORNL Innovation to Nuclear

Iterative Design

Using advanced manufacturing to rapidly realize and inform complex design, accelerating the design cycle (fabricate, evaluate, and modify).

Advanced Materials

Exploiting advanced manufacturing to introduce new high-performance materials into nuclear energy systems.

Data Analytics

Coupling manufacturing process monitoring with data analytics to accelerate component certification.

Embedded Sensors

Using advanced manufacturing to incorporate sensors into critical structures to enable health monitoring and autonomy.