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Nuclear Energy



Image courtesy of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy


The interdisciplinary nuclear-related research performed at the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory spans across fission, fusion, and national security related topics.

Bredesen Center students who focus on nuclear energy investigate questions ranging from advanced reactors and nuclear non-proliferation to plasma material interactions and fusion technologies. Their work will ultimately lead to increased domestic energy security through the advancement of current nuclear technology as well as the development of fusion as a viable energy source.

In addition to addressing technical challenges, Bredesen Center students have the opportunity to craft policy solutions related to nuclear energy at local, national, and international levels. Students have participated in numerous local community outreach activities including serving on the Watts Bar 2 Community Action Panel that provided oversight for the first U.S. nuclear reactor commissioned in the 21st century. At the national level Bredesen Center students have coordinated with the American Nuclear Society to help shape its response to the EPA Clean Power Plan along with developing policy statements ranging from nuclear waste to reactor regulations. Furthermore, students were given the opportunity to partner with the U.S. Department of State to conduct a cost benefit analysis of nuclear fuel reprocessing options in Japan.

Advancing nuclear energy and energy security throughout the 21st century requires addressing both technology and policy challenges. Bredesen Center students not only have the opportunity to conduct state-of-the-art research at Oak Ridge National Laboratory but also contribute to the discussion on how nuclear fits within our global energy future.

Altogether, Bredesen Center students who engage in nuclear research are strengthening the nation’s energy security and the future of energy science, technology, and policy.

 For more information on specific dissertation projects visit our page highlighting the Bredesen Center Graduate Students and their research projects.


–  ESE Graduate Students Emily Clark and Guinevere Shaw along with ESE Graduates Beth Conerty, Justin Knowles, and Tracey Wellington. Please visit their biographies for more information about their individual research projects and work in related areas.